Julia’s once again raised the bar for the highest grossing firearms auction in history at an incredible $19.2 million. They have said many times that they do not sell the greatest number of guns in a given year, but they do sell the greatest number of high-end expensive guns. This was once again affirmed by the great success of this recent auction. Approximately 550 lots realized $10,000 or above (nearly 37% of the sale). In addition, over 60 items realized $50,000 or more. This is a greater number of high-end lots than almost all other firearms auction houses in North America combined for the year. To illustrate the results even more, one has to take into consideration that the Poulin Auction Company (run by Julia’s sister and brother-in-law) conducted an auction immediately preceding the Julia Auction and sold $5.5 million. The end result of the gun sales for the week in Fairfield, Maine was approximately $25 million!
Another recurring theme at the Julia Auctions is the number of high-end iconic collections being offered. In this recent auction, the Julia included no fewer than nine major and iconic collections together with excerpts from numerous other collections. This in itself is a greater representation of important collections than all of the other North American auction houses combined. Most important of all is of course the results and this was truly a successful sale for all concerned, whether one is selling high-end shotguns, rare cannons, 17th century weapons, Class III machine guns, etc.
The first day began with Class III weapons. Most notable was the Evergreen Ventures Collection, which had formerly been on display at the Evergreen Aviation Museum. The collection formed by Delford Smith and his son, Michael King Smith, represented one of the largest finest offerings of Class III to ever come to auction. This sale included Session I of this notable collection. The top lot, an extremely rare and desirable Vickers Maxim Model 1904 formerly used by the Fox Movie Studios brought $74,750. The very next lot, an exceedingly rare lightweight experimental Maxim Watercool gun made for the 1906 Troop Trials bearing SN #1 realized $69,000. An exceedingly rare and unusual Villa Perosa 1915 Twin 9mm Machine gun originally made as anti-aircraft weapon was in outstanding nearly new condition and carried a pre-sale estimate of $40,000-60,000. It saw heavy bidding and went out at $57,500.
Almost more exciting than the machine gun itself was the next lot, an incredibly scarce Villa Perosa gunner chest (only a couple are known to exist) with ten magazines. It carried a pre- sale estimate of $5,000-10,000 and realized $34,500 Evergreen’s Class III’s however were not the only Class III’s offered in this sale. Also included was the personal collection of Brigadier General Theo C. Mataxis. General Mataxis was a veteran of WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam and an advisor in Afghanistan. During his lifetime of service to his country, he also collected war trophies in many key encounters in which he had been involved, which chronicled the history of his service. Most notable was the Chinese copy of a Soviet RPD belt fed machine gun that was captured November 1965 in Vietnam. It carried a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-25,000 and finished out at $100,625.
A Russian PPSH 41 submachine gun DeWat Negant Revolver that was captured at one of the most famous of Korean engagements in April of 1953 fought at Pork Chop Hill realized $13,800. A German MP 44 Assault Rifle DeWat captured from the 6th SS Mountain Division together with a Nazi flag carried a pre-sale estimate of $12,000-18,000. It realized $27,600. Day 1 also included Session III of the extraordinary Dr. Geoffrey Sturgess (of Zurich, Switzerland) collection of auto-loading weapons. This session offered an extraordinary Walther Armee Pistol with long barrel and matching magazine having an alloy frame and original stock bearing SN #10. In superb condition (other than a tight old stress crack in the rear of the slide cover), it carried a pre-sale estimate of $75,000-100,000. It was highly competed for and finally realized $155,250. A Walther Volkspistole all sheet metal SA prototype 9mm parabellum bearing SN #6 was estimated at $65,000-95,000. It experienced a fierce bidding battle, which topped out at $143,750.
A number of fine Lugers were offered. The most highly competed for was a unique and important Baby Luger SN #4. This was a unique hand-produced gun believed to have been made around 1925 by DWM after George Luger’s death in an attempt to enter the low-priced pocket pistol market that was then burgeoning in Germany. This is the only known genuine original example and carried a pre-sale estimate of $50,000-100,000 and topped out at $69,000. An extraordinarily rare Model 1906 US Test Trials Wembley-Frostbery semi-automatic revolver sold to a highly determined in-house collector who attended the auction specifically for this rare version. It carried a pre-sale estimate of $50,000-80,000 and sold for $77,625.
Another very rare offering was fabulous the Gabbett Fairfax Mars M-1905 cal. 360. This pistol, estimated at $35,000-55,000, went on to realize $63,250. Another exceedingly rare lot of particular interest to firearm aficionados from the State of Maine was the super rare Model 1897 Silverman-Maxim prototype pistol in 7.63mm. It carried a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-30,000, which was totally disregarded by bidders when it finally topped out at $47,125.
One of the inventors of this exceedingly rare pistol, Sir Hiram Maxim, was also the innovator of the machine gun sometime in the late 19th century. Maxim grew up in the small rural village of Sangerville, Maine, approximately 1.5 hours north of Julia’s auction facilities. Maxim was later knighted by the Queen of England for his invention and eventually decided to try his hand at producing semi-automatic pistols, of which this example was one of the few known.
Mausers were also at a premium and a superb very rare Mauser Nickel Prototype pistol in 45 ACP bearing SN #3 carried a pre-sale estimate of $45,000-75,000. It went out at $57,500. This session offered more of the Sturgess long arms. An exquisite and ultra-rare Springfield Peterson Model GX Prototype rifle SN #3, which carried a pre-sale estimate of $45,000-70,000 sold at $66,125. Another desirable lot was the extremely rare BSA-Howell Model 1916 self-loading conversion of the SMLE rifle. Estimated at $20,000-27,500, this rifle blew past the high estimate to generate $37,375. The spring 2015 auction will once again include an exciting offering of other rare arms from this world-renowned collection.
The day ended with the extraordinary Springfield Arsenal LLC artillery collection formed by John Morris. John has become one of the foremost authorities on antique artillery in the world today. His long admired collection of artillery was much anticipated by collectors from all over North America and throughout the world. The anticipation was well deserved. It is believed there has never been an offering equaling the Morris Collection. This auction represented one-half of what will eventually be offered with the second half to be presented at Julia’s in March 2015.
The top lot was the Spanish Siege Mortar dated 1750 and captured by DuPont at Fernadina, Florida in 1862. It carried a pre-sale estimate of $90,000-125,000 and approached mid-estimate to sell for $97,750. Another highly desirable lot was the Dahlgren Heavy 12 pounder bolt howitzer on original carriage. This superb specimen slipped past the upper end of its $60,000-90,000 pre-sale estimate to sell for $92,000. Estimated at $75,000 to 125,000, was a spectacular 1681 Dutch Falconette on carriage made for Count D.W. von Innhausen und Knyphausen. A true work of art with exquisite embellishments on the barrel, the gun attained a final selling price of $80,000.
Another highly sought after item was the Model 1906 Krupp 15mm Mountain cannon. It carried a pre-sale estimate of $35,000-45,000, which it quickly eclipsed at $69,000. Part of the extraordinary price and interest may have had something to do with the fact that Mr. Morris announced that he had about a dozen rounds of genuine ammunition that could be purchased separately to be used with this gun.
Also included in John’s collection was a wonderful grouping of cannon models, some of which did very well. An arsenal model of the 15-inch Rodman gun for 1864, estimated at $8,000-10,000, went out at $13,800. However, unlike the large cannons, a few of the extraordinarily rare cannon models failed to sell. Most notable was the extraordinarily rare, historic, and highly important personal model by John Dahlgren for the model 9-inch shell gun #2. This fabulous 1/8-scale model was made at John Dahlgren’s personal direction in 1853. The provenance included the ordinance museum from the Washington Navy Yard, then to a retired Admiral’s estate in Annapolis, MD, and then to the Springfield Arsenal. Also included in this lot were copies of Dahlgren’s personal notes regarding the building of this particular cannon. The lot was estimated at $20,000-25,000 but it surprisingly failed find a buyer.
The second day included some firearms ornamented with ivory. In some cases, it was a mere tiny speck of ivory used for a sighting bead. In other cases, it may have been carved ivory grips. Since the new Executive Order in February of 2014, legislature has been battling how the new law will read. Julia’s through its legal counsel and participation in various ivory organizations has tried to keep up with the current interpretation of the ruling that has evolved since March and changed on various occasions.
At the time of the auction, based on the current interpretation, Julia’s formulated a specific procedure involving any arms with ivory ornamentation. This specific procedure was in keeping with the current interpretation of the rule to be sure to protect the consignor, the buyer, and Julia’s against breaking any laws. Julia relayed to the crowd that many people dealing in antique or semi-antique ivory have taken the position that since the law has not been finalized they will simply continue to sell the material. However, Julia explained that the U.S. Fish & Wildlife website makes it very clear that once the regulation is worked out in legislature and becomes law, they reserve the right to pursue the matter retroactively all the way back to February 2014.
Firearms collectors were upset with regulations that impacted on ivory harvested and used 50, 100 or 150 years ago. Julia asked how many of those in attendance had written letters to the editors of their newspapers, congressman or the President. He went on to say that in a short period of time, whatever happens is going to become law and then it will be too late, and if those who complain now but do nothing about it can expect it will not play out in their favor.
Julia maintains that there are easily $1 to $2 billion worth of legitimate, old (pre-ban) ivory ornamented collectable goods currently in this country that have been legitimately acquired by the owners. If this law passes, it will likely prohibit the sale of these items and it will transform approximately $2 billion of value to a net value of $0. The bottom-line is, if strictly enforced, making antique and semi-antique ivory illegal would not save today’s elephant. Only severe laws that punish poachers and dealers of modern ivory will have any beneficial impact.
Day II included the Leyton and Lewis Yearout collection from Montana. A rare iron framed Henry bearing a pre-sale estimate of $40,000-70,000 went out at just under $55,000. An exceptional Colt Cavalry SA bearing a Clark inspection estimated at $20,000-30,000 flew out at $51,750. An engraved factory inscribed Model 1866 cataloged as being owned by famous Winchester salesman, Thomas O’Connor, turned out to be even more rare and desirable because rather than being owned by the salesman, it was engraved by Thomas O’Connell, whose exquisite engravings are very rare on Winchester rifles. This rare find sold for $27,600.
One of the largest offerings of Volcanic arms ever to come to auction were included. Highlights included the exceedingly rare cased and engraved New Haven Volcanic 25-inch Lever Action Carbine, which was in its original box and came from the esteemed collection of Dr. Edmund Lewis. Estimated at $100,000-150,000, it went out at just under $110,000. The most expensive Winchester of the day, however, was a rare Model 1873 “One of One Thousand.” This gun carried a pre-sale estimate of $200,000-300,000 and topped out at $258,750.
Also included in this day were some very fine Marlin rifles. The very rare deluxe factory engraved and inscribed Model 1881 with scope carried a pre-sale estimate of $25,000-35,000 and sold for $57,500 to a well-known Western movie star. Also a rare presentation inscribed engraved Marlin 1881 in extremely fine condition, estimated at $35,000-55,000 went out at $63,250.
Other highlights included two particularly choice oil on canvas paintings by L. P. Rosseau that were magnificent examples and fresh out of a southern estate. Each estimated at $20,000-40,000 and went out at $77,625 and $54,625, respectively.
The auction continued with an exceptionally rare and mint Boss 410 O/U single-trigger shotgun estimated at $100,000-200,000 that sold for $138,000. And a Boss side-by-side 410 in equally extraordinary condition and carrying the same estimate went out at $120,750. An exquisite pair of 28 ga. Holland & Holland Royal Deluxe single-trigger game guns with Sinclair engraved scenes estimated at $75,000-125,000 sold for $80,500.
A fine cased pair of James Purdey extra finish sidelock ejector guns in 12 ga. estimated at $35,000-65,000 was much competed for and flew by expectations to $77,750. An exceptional N. J. Makinson 600 nitro express H&H style sidelock ejector double rifle with wonderful engraving estimated at $50,000-80,000 topped out at $69,000.
Featured amongst the high-end American shotguns was the extraordinary collection of custom Model 21’s formed by Mr. Bill Phifer. Mr. Phifer first discovered and fell in love with the Winchester Model 21’s in the late 1970s and went on to order an extraordinary array of the finest Model 21’s the company made at that time. The guns were never fired, or even put together during his ownership. Included were some absolutely extraordinary examples.
The very first lot up was an unprecedented spectacular unique Winchester Model 21 Grand Royal with extra barrels and case in 28 ga. Embellished with numerous exquisite gold inlays and gold highlighting, it carried a pre-sale estimate of $60,000-90,000 but blew well past its high estimate to $115,000. A Model 21 Grand American, one of eight small bore sets, estimated at $50,000-80,000, just squeaked past the $80,000 high estimate to $80,500. An exemplary Winchester Model 21 410 Grand American #8 of 8 and estimated at $35,000-55,000 flew way past its high estimate to $92,000.
Parker shotguns always perform strongly at Julia’s and the best lot in this auction was an exceptionally rare high condition 410 Parker GHG estimated at $35,000-55,000 and flew past its high estimate to $69,000. A very fine 20 ga. Parker AAG with unusual engravings carrying a pre-sale estimate of $30,000-50,000 was right on target, selling for $40,250. Another highly competed for American made gun was a truly exceptional unique 20 ga. All Option, Ithaca NID grade S7E with 32 inch barrels. A truly spectacular gold inlaid gun estimated at $35,000-65,000 saw a great deal of competition and topped out at $77,625.
Day III began with Colts—a strong suit at any Julia’s auction. One of the earliest lots was a Colt factory presentation Model 1855 side hammer shotgun presented to a retiring Colt employee in 1868. Estimated at $35,000-50,000, it topped out at $57,500. Of the three Colt Pattersons in the sale, an extraordinarily rare cased #1 Baby with all accessories and in extremely-fine condition realized $172,500. A matched pair of SA Army revolvers with mother of pearl grips estimated at $60,000-80,000 sold for $66,125. A minty late factory-engraved Wilbur Glahn Colt with original ivory grips estimated at $35,000-55,000 topped out at just under $50,000.
Another stunning gun was the extremely rare engraved pre-war government Model 38 Super Match semi-automatic pistol with original ivory grips and in its original factory box. This near mint example was estimated at $40,000-60,000. After a prolonged bidding battle, it went out at just under $75,000. A lot of three Smith & Wesson revolvers, at one time belonging to the greatest handgun shot of all times, Ed McGivern, was estimated at $10-15,000 and topped out at $24,000. McGivern was capable of unbelievable feats with a handgun. He was even known to have been able to hit pieces of buckshot that had been thrown in the air.
Perhaps the most intriguing handgun of all was an extraordinarily rare cased Smith & Wesson outdoorsman revolver that belonged to the former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. The pistol in its original case with presentation tag had been a gift from Earl Miller, former New York State policeman, who was the personal bodyguard for the President and Eleanor Roosevelt. He became a close personal friend of Eleanor’s and taught her how to shoot. In fact, the lot included an image of Eleanor holding this exact gun and target practicing with it. The recent Roosevelt miniseries on television featured a segment about Eleanor herself. Approximately one week before the auction took place, this segment mentioned the assassination attempt on FDR and how Miller shortly thereafter taught Eleanor how to shoot and provided her with a handgun that she carried in the glove compartment of her car. The gun referenced was this very pistol. It estimated at $45,000-65,000 and sold for $50,600.
A rare Confederate first national flag captured at the Battle of Fort Donaldson and descending through the family of Brigadier General Hiram Devol, 36th Ohio Infantry, was offered with a $15,000-20,000 estimate. After a prolonged bidding battle, it went out at $51,750. Included in this sale was also the collection of Judge George Green of Alabama. His collection had been displayed in a private museum until the time of his passing. This sale featured numerous treasures from his collection including a rare Confederate staff officer’s sword by Louis Haiman of Columbus, Georgia. Made for Major Francis Dillard and estimated at $20,000-40,000 sold for $48,875.
The rare and important official 1810 Navy log of the U.S. Frigate President and the U.S.S. Constitution (AKA “Old Ironsides”) was offered with a pre-sale estimate of $15,000-20,000. The handwritten journal, which had descended through the family of Tobias Lear (George Washington’s personal aide and secretary) and Commodore Decatur, realized $23,000.
Another expansive, old-time, previously unknown collection was that of Dr. Douglas Sirkin of Buffalo, New York. This auction represented Session III of the Sirkin collection, which continues to offer an expansive array of quality Kentucky rifles. Estimated at $30,000-50,000, a beautiful relief carved Kentucky by J. Shriver topped out at $40,250. Another Kentucky signed Martin Meillen in Germantown, 1705, could possibly be the earliest signed and dated Kentucky known. It was estimated at $10,000-50,000 and it, too, topped out at $40,250. Also from the Sirkin Collection was the superb pair of relief carved stump maple stocked long flintlock holster pistols with relief chiseled steel mounts, circa 1695. They carried a pre-sale estimate of $10,000-15,000 and topped out at $31,000.
Another large old-time collection included in this sale was that of John Montague of Memphis, Tennessee. Montague’s collection was quite diverse and included a great selection of Kentucky pistols, but the highlight of his collection were his southern Derringers and pistols. One lot, a rare J.B. Gilmore Derringer from Shreveport, Louisiana was estimated conservatively at $6,000-8,000. It saw a tremendous amount of competition and topped out at $40,250. Another fine lot was a cased pair of dueling pistols, also by Gilmore. This beautiful pair was estimated at a conservative $7,500-9,500 and these, too, went out at $40,250. A cased matched pair of Schneider & Glassick Derringers of Memphis, Tennessee estimated at $8,000-12,000 went out at $24,150.
More details about this historic auction can be had by visiting Julia’s website at jamesdjulia.com. Julia’s next firearms auction is scheduled for March 2015 and already includes various important collections and should prove to be another exciting event. Julia’s is currently accepting consignments for this and other upcoming auctions. Call immediately for inclusion. For more information or to place offers on unsold items, contact their offices at 207-453-7125. James D. Julia, Inc., P.O. Box 830, Dept. PR, Fairfield, ME 04937. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.