Antique Arms & Armor and Modern Sporting Guns for Bonhams & Butterfields Auction

Property from Important Private Collectors to be Offered

Bonhams & Butterfields brings antique arms and armor and modern sporting guns to auction in San Francisco on November 23, 2009. The 800-lot sale features pistols; rifles; edged weapons; suits of armor; militaria and historic weaponry in use during the 16th and 17th centuries; as well as weapons made famous in the American Wild West. Strong collector interest is expected for property from three noted private collectors whose interest and extensive research inspired books and articles expanding knowledge and documenting the history of gun makers and models.

Antique Arms“Bonhams is pleased to bring property from noted collectors Bob Jeska, George Nikolas and Eric Wetherill Stroh to auction this Fall,” said Antiques Arms Dept. Director Paul Carella. “Bob Jeska focused on US Civil War carbines and US martial pistols during 50-years of collecting, resulting in a book which shed new light on early American weapons procurement. George Nikolas began to earnestly collect Colt Navies in the 1940s, his research and multiple articles in leading collectors’ magazines and newsletters established the base of knowledge on scarce variants from Colt, of much interest to today’s collectors.”

Highlights of the Collection of Robert D. Jeska include flintlock pistols, many by Simeon North, William Evans and Henry Deringer. The auction opens with Jeska’s US Model 1805 Harpers Ferry martial pistol, which could bring as much as $15,000. Many of the lots from his expansive collection stand as experimental and scarce pistols. The collection includes two rare US Navy Elgin cutlass pistols by C.B. Allen, only 150 pistols were ordered by the U.S. Navy for the government’s first official scientific expedition in 1838. They are each expected to bring as much as $12,000.

Colts feature prominently in the sale and include many percussion examples and a large group of single actions. Several Gustave Young engraved revolvers from other collections and estates should interest Bonhams’ bidders. A fine cased Young-engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy revolver bears the serial number of an 1859 production run. Its broad floral scrolls are enhanced by a depiction of a wolf’s head on the barrel, estimated at $30/50,000. A very fine 1849 pocket model from Young’s early period is one of the choice offerings in the sale. Another early and fine example of a cased and Young-engraved Colt Model 1851 percussion revolver and one of the few noted on his billing to the Colt Company, it is expected to bring $80/100,000, while an historic Model 1860 Colt presented to General Rosencrans and later to a Colonel Coolbaugh was one of a pair (est. $12/18,000).

From the George Nikolas Collection come several handsome cased Colts, as well as a rare US marked Colt 1st Model 1851 Navy “squareback” percussion revolver, estimated at $15/20,000. Based on the extensive research of the collector, this pistol is thought to be one of 50 pistols acquired from Colt for Admiral Perry’s 1850s expedition to Japan, destined to be presented to the Emperor. A scarce cased Colt Model 1851 Navy percussion revolver with varnished walnut shoulder stock was produced in Hartford for the London market, but was never shipped. It could bring $10/20,000. The Nikolas Collection also includes a very fine Colt Model 1849 pocket percussion revolver engraved by Gustave Young, which features a dog head on the barrel, elaborate scrollwork and elephant ivory grips (est. $5/8,000).

From the Stroh Collection comes a group of 1st, 2nd and 3rd Generation single action Army revolvers including two fine examples from the hand of noted Colt engraver Cuno Helfricht.

The diverse and desirable firearms on offer feature carved ivory, walnut, stag horn and mother-of-pearl hand grips with nickel, silver and gold plating. Long arms include Sharps, Winchesters, Remingtons and many other makers’ rare and scarce models.

Four 16th century German crossbows will be offered, the examples retaining original bowstrings and decorated with engraved bands of bone and stag horn. A crossbow dated 1592 and signed by G.H. Keller is estimated at $12/18,000.

Edged weapons include swords, daggers, stilettos, sabers, dirks and Bowie knives, as well as German and Swiss halberds. A nine-inch long half-horse/half-alligator Bowie by R. Bunting was formerly in noted collections and used as illustrations in several books. The knife was created with a German silver pommel and cross guard and mother-of-pearl grip scales, to be offered at $10/15,000. Many edged weapons, offered with scabbards, are composed of steel, brass and silver, with elaborate scrollwork engraving and presentation inscriptions.

Modern sporting guns conclude the sale, offering multiple rifles and shotguns with scrollwork, gold inlays and engraved depictions of flora and fauna. A Perazzi 12-gauge over/under shotgun features a gold line at the breech, landscape engraved sideplates with birds and dogs in gold, and a walnut stock, estimated at $15/20,000.

Previews of the offered lots open in San Francisco on Friday, Nov. 20, continuing daily until the auction on Monday, Nov. 23rd. The illustrated auction catalog is available online for review and purchase at www.bonhams.com/us.

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