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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

General Burnside’s sword and Purdey and Sons earliest known pistols lead June Bonhams Arms & Armor auction

The Antique Arms and Armor auction at Bonhams, June 11, will feature such highlights as a sword presented to Civil War Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, as well as a cased pair of the earliest known dueling pistols made by the prestigious English gun-maker, James Purdey.

The historic figural hilt presentation sword was given to Major General Ambrose E. Burnside by the United States Sanitary Commission at the New York Metropolitan Fair, April 22, 1864, and is estimated to fetch $200,000-$300,000. It is one of a well-known group of swords given to prominent Union soldiers and sailors by the USSC.

The Burnside sword has descended through the family of his aide-de-camp, Captain Richard Hales Ives Goddard. Scion of a prominent Rhode Island family, Captain Goddard became General Burnside’s aide in 1862. His complete staff officer uniform grouping is also being offered in the sale, est. $20,000-$30,000.

The cased percussion conversion dueling pistols by James Purdey are serial number 492 and were built in 1823. They are noted as being the earliest known pair made by Purdey in the well-known book The Early Purdeys by L. Patrick Unsworth. They are expected to bring between $40,000 and $60,000.
Among other highlights are a group of fine cased continental pistols, including an extraordinary cased exhibition grade pair of Liegoise percussion pistols (est. $30,000-$40,000); a fine cased pair of gold encrusted French percussion pistols by Devisme, dated 1852 (est. $25,000-$35,000); and a second-half 19th century fine cased pair of French percussion salon pistols by Henry Rieger/Lefauchaux (est. $20,000-$25,000).

Edged weapons in the sale include early Scottish baskethilted broadswords, European small swords and military swords and a selection of American military swords from the collection of author Leonard Garigliano.
The Antique Arms and Armor illustrated auction catalog will be available online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at

Auction Preview: June 8-10, San Francisco
Auction: June 11, San Francisco