Extraordinary firearms sale surpasses $8 million, Pair of 1924 gold-inlaid .410-gauge guns claims top-lot honors at $135,350
DENVER, Pa. – An electrifying auction of rare and historically important sporting and collector firearms took in more than $8 million on April 24-25 at Morphy’s southeastern Pennsylvania gallery. Two stellar entries – a pair of British gold-inlaid miniature guns and a Spanish-American War cannon – battled for top-lot status, finishing only a few thousand dollars apart, at $135,300 and $132,000, respectively.
The auction turnout, both live and via remote methods, was “tremendous – one of our best ever in terms of registered bidders, and with the highest percentage of new bidders and buyers we’ve ever seen,” said Dan Morphy, president of Morphy Auctions. “On top of that, there were more than 50 unique bidders who spent over $50,000 each.”
Estimated at $110,000-$160,000, a highly select and extraordinarily rare pair of 1924 Westley Richards .410-gauge SXS Best Droplock miniature “Hummingbird” guns boasted 10-out-of-10 for eye appeal with their multicolored gold inlay and lavishly engraved images of hummingbirds. The plaque inside their original fitted case, engraved “23 Conduit St. London Gun Makers By Appointment to HM The King,” added the final note of quality that lured bidders from both sides of the Atlantic. The guns concluded their energetic bidding run at $135,300.
Following closely behind was a Hotchkiss revolving cannon #1198 used in Spanish-American War, and with correct Spanish army markings. The armament came with former museum provenance and 5 reloaded rounds of 37mm ammunition. An extremely fine survivor, it sold for $132,000 against an estimate of $40,000-$50,000.
One of the most heavily previewed guns in the sale was the Springfield Trumpeteer .45-.55 caliber trapdoor carbine that was forensically confirmed as a match to one of only 10 cartridges found on the Custer Battlefield (1876 Battle of Little Big Horn). The soldier who carried the gun that fired the cartridge known as specimen “707” was identified by the Custer Battlefield Firearms Identification Project as John Martin. This corresponds with the name “J. MArTIN,” which is crudely carved on the left side of the forestock, and the “H” – presumably for “Company H” – carved on the left side of the buttstock. The historically significant firearm went to a new owner for $98,400.
A fine, early Moravian flintlock rifle attributed to Andreas Albrecht (German/Pennsylvanian, 1718-1802), was the very gun detailed in both a 10-page section of an authoritative book on Moravian gunmaking by Robert Lienemann/Kentucky Rifle Foundation; and the 1980 book Rifles of Colonial America Volume I by George Shumway. Its distinctive carving and other features were deemed closely comparable to those seen in a signed Albrecht rifle made by the gunsmith after his move to Lititz, Pennsylvania. The rare gun sold within its estimate range for $78,000.
In addition to the aforementioned pair of Hummingbird guns, several other firearms with a British connection finished with distinction on auction day. An exquisite Holland and Holland Royal Deluxe rifle made in 1954, with original case and accessories, sold for $61,500; while an unfired Colt Model 1855 British military revolving carbine estimated at $12,000-$18,000 commanded $34,800.
A coveted and exceptionally rare modern gun, a Boss & Co. Best 28-gauge side-by-side sporting shotgun was originally delivered to Abercrombie and Fitch in 1968. Prior to the auction, Morphy’s Firearms Division expert Tony Wilcox had predicted collectors and investors would be “all over” the gun, as in his opinion it would likely be “many years before another one of its quality was available to purchase.” It landed well within its estimate range at $105,000.
“Our team went above and beyond all expectations in producing this auction,” Dan Morphy said, after the final lot had sold. “From the incomparable gun descriptions and photography to the catalog design and sale execution, there wasn’t a weak link in the entire process. As the final results show, everything came together perfectly, and the bonus is that we now have many new, highly motivated customers – some of them new collectors – who can’t wait for our next firearms event.”