This one-of-a-kind engraved and gold-inlaid lightweight Winchester model 1886 lever-action rifle, made for automobile pioneer John Francis Dodge, brought the top price of the sale, $333,500. Julia photos.
This cased model 1893 Borchardt pistol by Loewe, serial number 22, featured two-piece walnut checkered grips numbered to match the pistol and various Borchardt and Loewe markings, and came with the original black leather and green felt trunk case. All that was missing was the leather sling. It shot past the $50,000/75,000 estimate to finish at $103,500. The consignor indicated that the pistol was a presentation from Kaiser Wilhelm II to German attaché Admiral Charles Vreeland in the early 1900’s. Julia photo.
Among the best of the shotguns was this one, a gold-inlaid Parker Special .16 gauge, serial number 235676. According to the catalog, only six were made in .16 gauge, of which three were made with Peerless steel, and only two had 30" barrels. The gold-relief inlays of birds and hunting dogs put this one in a class by itself. With a contemporary oak, leather, and burgundy felt case, it finished above the $135,000/165,000 estimate, closing at $178,250.
This Savage 1899 Monarch-grade Deluxe lever-action rifle, serial number 45264, with a carved and checkered circassian walnut stock and forearm with relief grape leaves and grape clusters and engravings by Enoch Tue, was pushed to $97,750 (est. $40,000/60,000). Julia photo.
This Savage rifle was purported to be a gift from President Theodore Roosevelt to Timothy Lester Woodruff (1858-1913), who was elected to three terms as lieutenant governor of New York, each time under a different governor. Sporting engraved vignettes of a Bengal tiger and a buffalo, it was inscribed and dated “Timothy L. Woodruff, 1902,” the last year of Woodruff’s service as lieutenant governor. It passed through the Savage arms collection of A. Mabe, who first identified the Roosevelt connection. Mabe’s conclusion, however, wasn’t confirmed, although Woodruff served as lieutenant governor to Roosevelt and they remained friends throughout Roosevelt’s tenures as governor and president. Further supporting the connection was a Savage factory letter confirming that the rifle was shipped to Reuben Fox, then the secretary of the New York Republican party. Even though the Roosevelt connection wasn’t quite airtight, the rifle capped the $12,500/17,500 estimate to sell for $21,850.
Julia Auctions, Fairfield, Maine
Once again, on March 11 and 12 in Fairfield, Maine, James D. Julia executed an eight-figure two-day firearms auction with enough munitions changing hands to arm a small revolution. By the time the last gun had sounded, about 850 lots and more than $13 million had changed hands, with a standing-room-only crowd holding off an army of phone, Internet, and absentee bidders.
Many of the best Winchesters and Savages came from the third and final segment of the Wes Adams collection. The opening salvo came on the very first lot. A Winchester Briggs patent Henry rifle, serial number 1, scored a bull’s-eye by selling near the midpoint of the $75,000/125,000 estimate for $103,500 (includes buyer’s premium). It was one of ten lots to break into six figures. The receiver was a late Henry style with a sliding brass forearm. An engraved oval vignette on one side read in period script, “Presented to/ W.C. Dodge Esq./ by the New Haven Arms Co./ as a Testimonial of voluntary services/ in behalf of Breech Loaders/ 1865.” On the other side was a detailed engraving of a Spanish-style mission in a Western landscape. It had been in the collection of Norman Flayderman, among others, and came to auction from the Wes Adams collection.
Also from the Adams collection came a one-of-a-kind engraved and gold-inlaid lightweight Winchester model 1886 lever-action rifle, serial number 151483, made for automobile pioneer John Francis Dodge (1864-1920). It had an English walnut carved forearm and pistol grip stock checkered in 32-lines-per-inch patterns with arabesques and a fleur-de-lis. Gold-highlighted engravings of a whitetail doe, buck, and fawn in an elliptical vignette on one side and a bull moose and cow on the other were signed by John Ulrich. A two-page letter from the Cody Firearms Museum confirmed the details and the original order date of April 11, 1913, with charges billed to an E.A. Pallman. John Dodge was cofounder of the Dodge Brothers Company. John, his brother Horace, and a third-party investor founded a bicycle manufacturing company and later set up a machine shop to manufacture automobile parts. Later, they built engines for the Ford Motor Company and then developed their own line of Dodge automobiles. The rifle was one of the key successes of the sale, bringing $333,500 (est. $175,000/275,000).
The auction was replete with items of historical significance. A Tiffany presentation sword and brass scabbard was dedicated to Union General Daniel Edgar Sickles (1819-1914). The inscription read, “Presented to/ Gen. Daniel E. Sickles/ by his friends in New York./ As a token of their confidence in his bravery, their appreciation/ of his indomitable perseverance in raising the ‘EXCELSIOR BRIGADE’/ U.S. Volunteers for the ‘Suppression of Treason.’ And/ for his gallantry at the battle of ‘FAIR OAKS’ June 1st 1862.” Sickles was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1897 for his action at the Battle of Gettysburg even though he disobediently moved his command of the Third Army Corps to a position in which it was virtually annihilated. In the action, he lost his leg to a cannonball. His military and civil careers were marked by a number of scandals. He was censured by the New York State Assembly for consorting with a prostitute, whom he presented to Queen Victoria using the surname of a political opponent as her alias. In 1859 he shot and killed District of Columbia district attorney Philip Barton Key, the son of Francis Scott Key, who Sickles had discovered was having an affair with his wife. He was acquitted of murder in a sensational public trial on the grounds of temporary insanity induced by his wife’s infidelity. It was the first time such a defense was successfully employed. Ironically, the sword was presented after his murder trial but before his Medal of Honor citation. It sold within the $125,000/150,000 estimate for $132,250. His shattered leg bone is still on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine.
Another important historic rifle didn’t fare as well as was hoped. It was a Lorenzoni flintlock repeating rifle by Sebastian Hauschka that was presented to King Louis XV (1710-1774) of France, who became king at the tender age of five. It was accompanied by a notarized document from the consignor confirming the rediscovery of the gun in 1945 and its subsequent chain of family possession. The catalog described it as “built on the Lorenzoni/Berselli system with a rotating breech accessing separate ball and powder magazines contained in the butt and operated by a 2.75 inch silver lever on the left side.” The octagonal barrel was engraved “Sebastian Hauschka A Wolfenbuttel.” Hauschka was appointed as maker to the court of Prince and Duke August Wilhelm von Braunschweig-Wolfenbuttel, sovereign prince of the Holy Roman Empire and professional soldier, and is known to have made firearms for royalty such as King Charles VI of France, King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia, and Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. The rifle was elaborately engraved with fire-gilded brass furniture with an inlay of the personal insignia of Louis XV and numerous other decorations befitting royalty. It was suggested that since the rifle was obtained from a German source in 1945 it probably had been removed from France around 1815 at the time of an English and German occupation. For all its grandeur, there wasn’t enough interest to bring it up to the $150,000/250,000 estimate or the reserve, and it was unsold.
A Winchester carved 1886 lever-action rifle, serial number 124863, engraved, gold inlaid, and inscribed “Built for Benjamin Taft,” sold successfully. Benjamin Taft was a cousin of President William Howard Taft and a distant relative of Ohio Governor Bob Taft. The rifle was mounted with center crotch-cut flame-grained American walnut in the forearm and pistol grip stock. The John Ulrich engraving featured relief oval vignettes of two cow elks and a bull on one side and a pair of vignettes on the opposite side of a bull moose and a whitetail buck. It came with several letters from the Cody Firearms Museum and a document from Waddy Colvert’s research service reporting that there were only 2213 model 1886’s made with 22" barrels out of approximately 159,000 produced. From the Norman Flayderman, James Fowler, Gary Roberts, and LeRoy Merz collections, and finally from the Wes Adams collection, it closed within the $75,000/125,000 estimate for $92,000.
There was a strong provenance that linked an 1879 Springfield trapdoor carbine, serial number 126142, to George Armstrong Custer’s 7th Cavalry scout “Curley,” also known by his Crow Indian name, Ashi-
shishe, a survivor of the Custer massacre on the United States side. A letter by Wayne P. Gagner of the Springfield Research Service confirmed that the rifle had been issued to scout Private Curley and that previously it had been issued to scout Lance “Sgt. Fat.” But it wasn’t certain that this “Curley” was the same Curley who was at Little Bighorn. The less than solid connection, plus the deteriorated condition and the fact that the rifle was issued several years after the battle, held the price down to $17,250, within the $15,000/30,000 estimate.
For more information, visit Julia’s Web site (www.jamesdjulia.com) or call (207) 453-7125.
Standing out like an albino elk, this engraved Winchester 1866 saddle ring carbine featured an uncheckered ivory stock and forearm. The receiver was engraved with a Mexican eagle with flowing Nimschke-like foliate arabesques. It was estimated at $20,000/30,000, but it finished well above that for $51,750. It is possible that it was created for a South American politician or military figure.
This group of artifacts of the 7th Michigan Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, George Armstrong Custer’s original Civil War regiment, came from a direct descendant of Colonel George Briggs, the last commander of the regiment. The extensive lot included several pieces of reunion memorabilia, photographs of Briggs, and some wartime documents concerning him. Most of the value was centered around a few pieces, including a framed letter from Custer’s wife, Libbie, written to Briggs in 1908, which features a 2" x 1" souvenir sample of the Confederate “flag of truce” from Appomattox Courthouse, where Briggs was in attendance at the surrender of General Robert E. Lee; a piece of the desk on which the surrender was signed; a piece of the red bandana that Custer wore during the war; several cabinet photographs of Briggs and others; and numerous other artifacts. The most significant item was Briggs’s Tiffany gold Custer medal, inscribed “Geo. G. Briggs 7th Regt. Michigan Cavalry” and showing a pair of crossed sabers on a golden ribbon supporting a Maltese cross inlaid in blue enamel with the words “CUSTER” and “TUEBOR” (taken from the Michigan state seal and meaning “I will defend.”) There are only a handful of these medals extant, and only a few of Custer’s officers received one. It pushed the selling price of the collection to nearly triple the $45,000/65,000 estimate to $184,000, It sold to Martin Lane of New York City. Briggs joined the 7th Cavalry as a first lieutenant and eventually commanded the regiment with the rank of colonel, taking part in many engagements as part of the Army of the Potomac.
Originally published in the June 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest