Julia Firearms Auction Takes Record $12.7 million
Once again James D. Julia Auctioneers of Fairfield Maine established a new benchmark for the highest grossing firearms auction in history! This new record of $12.7 million attained with only 1,270 lots exceeds their October 2007 record of $11.235 million, which exceeded their previous world record of $9.2 million.
A huge crowd was in attendance at the Julia Spring Firearms auction Monday March 10th and Tuesday March 11th. Some had flown in on their own private jets to attend this fabulous extravaganza of firearms. And judging from the prices it appeared that no one was disappointed with what was offered.
The two-day sale, conducted on March 10th & 11th included a number of notable collections and an extraordinary diversity of rarity and quality, beginning with the collection of the late Bruce Stern of Connecticut. Mr. Stern was a passionate, lifelong collector of 20th Century military and was also a strong advocate of 2nd Amendment rights and a staunch supporter of the NRA. His military auction started off with 100 of his Class III weapons. Billed as the largest offering of Class III weapons offered anywhere in recent years, the Stern Collection was Julia’s initiation in the marketing of collectible Class III weapons. This collection, well known throughout North America, included a number of great rarities and resulted in tremendous interest from all over North America and fierce bidding throughout the collection. A Rheinmetall Germany FG42, Second Model machine gun was not only a choice example but also one of only a few currently known in this country. It carried a presale estimate of $50,000-$90,000 but saw tremendous bidding competition and ended up at $149,500. There were a great number of rarities within the Class III, many of them bringing far above their estimate. A rare and outstanding Johnson Model 1944 light machine gun, carrying a presale estimate of $10,000-$15,000 flew to $74,750. A British Sten MKI sub machine gun, estimated at $7,000-$9,000 brought $32,000. A U.S. Browning machine gun, cal .50M2HB, manufactured by Colt and estimated at $29,000-$39,000 sold for a final price of $51,750.
In addition to Class III weapons, the Stern collection included a number of other military firearms including a rare Borschardt Patent Model 1893 semi-automatic pistol. This outstanding cased example is a representative of one of the first successful semi-automatic pistols made. It carried a presale estimate of $30,000-$40,000 but went out at $51,750. A rare Colt Model 1900 Sight Safety, USN, estimated at $9,000-$13,000, sold for $21,850.
Extremely rare prototypes included a pre-WWII experimental semi-auto Japanese military rifle, SN 8 and cal. 6.5 carrying a presale estimate of $7,500-$12,500; it went out for a final bid price of $23,000. An extensive collection of sniper rifles, most from WWII included a Mauser 98K Shot Rail Sniper Rifle with sling and bayonet, estimated at $5,000-$7,500 and sold for a final bid price of $24,150. Late in the Second World War, the Germans, with most of their factories destroyed, had little capability of producing firearms and one of their last efforts was a crudely made semi automatic rifle known as the VG5 C. This example estimated at $12,000-$15,000 went out for a final price of $31,050. An unusual Swiss Mondragon Model 1908 Military Issue Semi-Auto Rifle, estimated at $2,500-$4,000 sold for $27,600. During the early part of the twentieth century, a man named Pedersen invented a device that could be mounted on a normal bolt-action rifle converting it to a semi-automatic rifle that came to be known as the Pedersen Device. An ultra rare US Model 1918 Mark 1 Pedersen Device from the Stern Collection, together with a few boxes of cartridges was estimated at $20,000-$30,000 but sold for $60,250.
The afternoon session consisted of an extraordinary array of high grade shotguns and one of the finest assemblages of American shotguns the Julia firm has offered to date. The very first lot was an extraordinary rare L.C. Smith grade 16 ga shotgun. Only two of these exquisite shotguns were ever made, this being the finest example in existence. It carried a presale estimate of $225,000-$275,000 and went out at $235,750. Also extremely rare was an L.C. Smith deluxe grade gold inlaid 20 ga., estimated at $125,000-$175,000; it sold for $138,000. A rare and high grade L.C. Smith hammer drilling carried a presale estimate of $8,000-$12,000 and sold for $28,750. An outstanding A.H. Fox CE grade 2 bbl set estimated at $20,000-$25,000 brought $31,625. A group of rare Ithaca’s included the very scarce Ithaca NID 7E grade side by side estimated at $27,500-$37,500 that sold for $28,750. An extraordinary factory custom Winston Churchill engraved Jerry Fisher stock Winchester model 21 shotgun 2 bbl set estimated at $30,000-$50,000 brought $74,750. An extremely beautiful and rare royal grade Thomas Bland & Sons rifle estimated at $40,000-$60,000 went out at $69,000. A fabulous engraved Bertuzzi side by side 12 ga estimated at $25,000-$35,000 sold for $40,000. And a lovely LeBeau Courally pigeon gun 12 ga was estimated at $15,000-$30,000 and finally sold for $40,000. A number of Brownings included a spectacular custom Churchill/Fisher cased Browning superposed shotgun estimated at $10,000-$20,000, which brought $ 21,850.
The second day began with an outstanding collection of single shot rifles, many of which came from the collection of the late Ron Kiser. A cased Daniel Frasier side lever single shot dropping block 303 rifle with original scope estimated at $7,000-$10,000 brought $17,250. An extremely rare and beautiful one of a kind engraved Harry Pope Fugger engraved Ballard single shot target rifle was estimated at $10,000-15,000 and went out at $21,275. An extremely rare Sharps extra heavy model 1874 target rifle estimated at $20,000-$30,000 realized $25,300.
Once again Julia’s had rounded up a spectacular array of Winchesters. Out in front was the extraordinary rare and important Ulrich deep relief engraved deluxe Winchester model 66 lever action from the Hank Vogel collection. It’s believed the gun was displayed at the Philadelphia exhibition of 1876 and has been illustrated in various books. Carrying a presale estimate of $275,000-$375,000, it sold for a final bid price of $322,000. A rare Hoggson engraved model 1860 Henry lever action rifle also from the Vogel collection estimated at $75,000-$100,000 brought $97,750. A rare and beautiful restored Winchester 1873, one of one thousand estimated at $40,000-$70,000 sold for $66,125. A recently discovered beautiful rare factory gold and nickel engraved Winchester 1866 deluxe lever action rifle estimated at $40,000-$70,000 brought $63,250. Many of the Winchesters were in a spectacular original condition such as the Winchester 1886 Musket with brilliant case hardening and finish estimated at $28,000-$30,000 brought a strong $45,000. A wonderful little factory engraved Winchester model 1890 deluxe pump with scope estimated at $5,000-$10,000 went out at $37,950.
Another recent discovery was as extremely rare engraved presentation Colt model 1855 full stock sporting revolving rifle in 44 cal. The workmen of Col. Colt’s Armory in Hartford, CT had presented this fabulous gun decorated by the renowned engraver Nimschke.” The gun carried a presale estimate of $30,000-$60,000 but shot through to double the high estimate at $126,500. The second day also included an extraordinary assortment of Colts. The ultra rare and spectacular presentation Glahn engraved gold plated Single Action Army revolver carried a presale estimate of $150,000-$200,000 went to a collector at $155,250. From the same collection an exceedingly rare Eugene Young factory engraved gold and nickel Frontier Six shooter estimated at $150,000-$300,000 brought $172,500. The third lot from this same private collection was an extraordinary, rare and desirable pair of engraved and inscribed silver plated Colt Single Action Army revolvers. In spectacular condition with little or no previous use they went out at $195,500. A fine Cuno Helfrecht engraved Colt Single Action Revolver, because of its age and the fine engraving, it had been cataloged with a presale estimate of $12,500-$25,000. However, before the auction Julia’s lead consultant, J.R. LaRue, discovered that the gun had actually been used in the famous Johnson County cattle range wars in Wyoming in the late 1800s. The checklist of guns turned in by the various gunslingers that took part in this famous western altercation showed this very Serial No. 102242 as being one of the guns turned in, and thus shot to over double its high estimate to $63,250. An extraordinary nearly new martially marked Colt Calvary Single Action Army revolver estimated at $ 75,000-$100,000 went out at $97,750. Even great holsters were bringing fabulous prices an extraordinarily rare F.A. Meanea double loop single action Colt holster estimated at $12,000-$17,000 was the subject of a fierce bidding battle and finally selling at $24,150. A magnificent case Gustav Young engraved presentation Colt model 1851 navy revolver was a beautiful presentation weapon, complete, cased, and with all the accessories. It was estimated at $100,000-$175,000, and sold for $105,000. Another exciting lot was an outstanding cased Colt revolver with accessories at one time the property of E.O. Perrin (compliments of Col. Colt). Perrin lived an exciting life and during the Civil War was dispatched to New Mexico where he served with the famous Kit Carson arranging for supplies for the Union Army. This revolver together with a group of ephemera including a photo of Perrin with the famous Kit Carson was estimated at $30,000-$45,000 and went out at $69,000. A spectacular condition Colt model 1851 Navy Revolver estimated at $20,000-$30,000 sold for $43,125. Coming from a direct descendant of a famous Mexican War and Civil War hero was a historic period State of New Jersey case presentation sword with battle honors and presidential commissions including Abraham Lincoln signed documents to a hero of Monterey and a brave Union Officer killed in action: Nathanial Beakes Rossell 5th Reg. U.S. Infantry. This exquisite sword estimated at $ 30,000-$45,000 saw a tremendous amount of competition and ended up at $66,125. A very important historical Civil War lot including a cased Civil War sword, numerous commissions including Abraham Lincoln signed documents and much more all from the property of famous Turner Maine Civil War Brigadier General Ruffis Ingalls. Ingalls was quarter master of the Army of the Potomac and one of the most famous quarter masters in the mid-19th century. This fabulous historic lot associated with a famous Maine ancestor brought $40,250.
Included in a select offering of Civil War items was a wonderful New Hampshire captured Confederate Flag that went out at $95,000. An exceedingly rare captured Confederate drum with period notation on the skin head was estimated at $10,000-$15,000 and went out at $20,700. During the early 19th century slave owners in Charleston and formerly Charleston Neck could rent out their slaves for a daily wage. But each slave offered in this manner had to be fitted with a copper slave tag purchased from the town fathers identifying the slave’s specialty, such as carpenter, house servant, etc. Slave tags are much reproduced, but this lot, a spectacular offering, was all genuine. 10 of the 13 had been dug up by a single well-known excavator and the collection was one of the largest groupings of slave tags ever offered in one lot. It carried a presale estimate of $85,000-$95,000 and sold for $184,000. A small collection of scrimshawed powder horns from the David Galliher collection featured a spectacular Revolutionary War Map Horn estimated at $ 3,500-$5,500 and sold for $6,900. A grouping of Indian related items included a rare Plains Indian ghost dance. The beautiful Catlin bowl inlaid with lead or pewter featured the Ghost Dance Thunderbird, and sold for just under $11,000. An exceedingly rare and outstanding Peter White relief carved Kentucky rifle estimated at $50,000-$75,000 went out at $63,250. Also featured in the sale was a fabulous offering of Philadelphia guns from the collection of Ron Gabel. Mr. Gabel renowned as one of the foremost Kentucky rifle experts today had collected the Philadelphia guns for much of his lifetime and is currently in the process of writing a definitive book on Philadelphia guns and their makers. This offering from the Gabel collection featured many rare Philadelphia makers. A supreme cased John Krider double bbl shotgun estimated at $8,000-$12,000 went out at $18,400, and a beautiful cased set of American percussion dueling pistols by Robertson estimated at $25,000-$50,000 went out at $42,550. Also from the well known Robert Sadler collection was a pair of exceptional matched Kunz (Kuntz) Kentucky pistols estimated at $50,000-$100,000. They brought a little over the midrange at $80,500. Kentucky pistols are exceedingly beautiful and rare, but matched pairs are extraordinarily rare. A model 1805 Harpers Ferry pistol also from the Sadler collection went out at $16,000. The only known 1822 dated model 1816 Harpers Ferry model flint lock Musket included its pattern tools. This rare example complete with tools sold for $36,800. A fine U.S. Model 1805 Harpers Ferry pistol, according to documentation, at one time belonged to Lewis Benedict Eader. Documentation indicated that Eader acted as an escort to General Lafayette during the General’s visit to Frederick, MD in 1825. The pistol carried a presale estimate of $25,000-$35,000 and went out for $43,125.
The sale concluded with a small interesting grouping of Patent models relating to firearms. One such Patent model included was a rare wood and brass Patent Model by Colonel Laidley, which sold for $1,265. The Julia auction not only broke a record for the largest grossing firearms auction ever held in the world but the 1,270 lots, which realized $12,700.000 averaged out to $10,000 per lot, the highest per sale average of any firearms auction EVER. Preceding the Julia firearms auction, Monday and Tuesday was the Poulin auction sale on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The sale of approximately 1,500+ lots included over a thousand items from the famous Bruce Stern collection-representing phase I. Their auction house located only 50 yards from the Julia Auction house was flush with activity over the three day period and ended up at $1.5 million, thus the combined total of the Julia auction and the Poulin auction in Fairfield Maine for that short duration of time resulted in $14.2 million worth of firearms sale, and extraordinary achievement. More details on this auction can be had by contacting James D. Julia or visiting their web site at www.juliaauctions.com. Julia’s next auction is a fine art antiques auction scheduled to take place in May at their Fairfield facility. Julia’s next firearms auction will take place in October 2008 and will be preceded by the Poulin auction company’s second phase of the famous Bruce Stern collection of Military items. Details regarding James D. Julia auctions can be obtained by contacting them by phone at 207-453-7125, or by fax (207) 453-2502 and via the internet. Details about the Poulin auction company and their sales, contact them at (207) 453-2114 or online at www.poulinantiques.com.