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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Strong Results for Bonhams & Butterfields November Antique Arms Sale

Antique arms, edged weapons, suits of armor and modern sporting guns brought more than $1.5-million during a day-long auction at Bonhams & Butterfields in San Francisco on Monday, November 23rd 2009. A global audience of collectors and dealers vied for Colt firearms, edged weapons and militaria, with strong prices realized throughout the sale. A rare ornate lime squeezer made in San Francisco in the mid-1800s brought nearly $30,000 – six times its pre-sale expectation.

Desirable lots in the November antique arms sale comprised Colt firearms. A factory engraved Colt single action Army revolver attributed to Cuno E. Helfricht brought $38,025, more than doubling the estimate. Colt factory records indicate the pistol was shipped in 1888. It retains its blued finish and scrollwork, its elephant ivory grip carved with a Mexican eagle grasping a snake. An historic Gustave Young-engraved Colt Model 1860 Army percussion revolver was one of a pair presented to military commanders. The .44-caliber pistol’s engraving depicts a dog’s head as well as an eagle’s head and has been illustrated in multiple books documenting the history and beauty of Colt engraving. Estimated at $12/18,000, the Colt pistol brought $16,380.

Another fine Gustave Young engraved and presentation inscribed Colt Model 1849 pocket percussion revolver doubled its estimate to bring $14,625. This pistol’s barrel displays an animal head engraved to one side while a stagecoach hold-up scene appears on the five-shot cylinder. A collector paid $15,210 for a scarce cased Colt Model 1851 Navy percussion revolver with shoulder stock, a Hartford-produced revolver intended for the London market but never shipped overseas.

An interesting and rare lot made by the noted (and highly collectible) San Francisco knife-maker Michael Price brought bids from several clients. An elaborate silver and ivory-mounted San Francisco lime squeezer by Price features silver handles in the form of bird claws gripping the egg-shaped elephant ivory squeezer, supported by marine ivory handles. Estimated at $3/5,000, bids climbed to nearly ten times the expectation, the lime squeezer ultimately bringing $29, 250.

Top lot of the day was a composite late-16th century Italian three-quarter suit of armor in the Pisan manner. The suit exceeded its estimate to sell for $70,200.

Bidders were attracted to many firearms, swords and Bowie knives stemming from private collections. Strong selling lots included: $15,210 paid for a First type Model 1808 Virginia Manufactory flintlock pistol and $21,060 paid for a U.S. Model 1811 flintlock martial pistol by Simeon North. A rare Confederate Morse Type I breech loading carbine is one of 200 rifles made. The model was designed by George Washington Morse, who was granted a patent on breach loading firearms as early as 1856. His rifles, manufactured in Greensboro, SC, were issued mainly to South Carolina units, the offered rifle brought $16,380.

A rare 1st Model Burnside breech loading percussion carbine, one of 300 produced by the Bristol Firearms Company, sold for $17,550 while another example of a 1st Model Burnside breech loading percussion carbine – this lot one of 50 altered transitional 1st Models – sold for $16,380. The majority of these Burnside carbines had been purchased by the government for the 1st US Cavalry. According to Bonhams & Butterfields specialists, the offered carbines were likely reserved for commercial sale.