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See also : Historical arms Blade and armour US Civil War
Chronology : 1800-1809 1860-1869
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1778 Presented by Lafayette to Washington
2002 SOLD for $ 2M by Christie's
The involvement of the Marquis de La Fayette in the American Revolution is inextricably linked to his admiration for George Washington. The two men had met in August 1777, two months after Lafayette's arrival in America. The young French officer then participated in the difficult episodes of Brandywine and Valley Forge.
Lafayette knows that he has the means to help Washington. After the official alliance between France and the Americans, he returned temporarily to France in 1779 to contribute to propaganda and send reinforcements, spending at that time $ 200,000 on his personal fortune.
The steel mounted pistols inlaid with silver and gold are signed by Jacob Walster, a gunsmith operating in Saarbruck (Saarbrucken), little documented but whose competence is attested by the supply of a pair of pistols to King George III. La Fayette probably made this acquisition while he was garrisoned in Metz, between August 1775 and June 1776. The gift was probably made in 1778.
Transferred by inheritance from Washington to one of his nephews, these historic pieces are offered by the son-in-law of the nephew to Andrew Jackson in 1824 in testimony of support for his first presidential campaign, where he was overcome by John Quincy Adams. When he died, Jackson bequeathed the pistols to the son of Lafayette, who had also been a godson of George Washington. They will remain in Lafayette's family until 1958.
(1760) - 1780 War Pistols of Alexander Hamilton
2021 SOLD for $ 1.15M by RIAC
Entrusted in 1777 to occupy the State of New York by the campaign of Saratoga, he is court-martialed after the loss of Fort Ticonderoga. He is acquitted but leaves the army in 1779. He would then have a good political career.
Alexander Hamilton is full of bravery and talent. In 1777, aged 20, he becomes aide-de-camp and personal secretary to George Washington with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He marries a daughter of Schuyler in 1780. In 1781 he takes decisive action at the Battle of Yorktown.
Hamilton's descendants kept a pair of war pistols until 1942. According to an indisputable family tradition, they had been given by Schuyler to his son-in-law. These firearms signed by Ed Nicholson had been made around 1760 in London, which is consistent with Schuyler's only visit to England, in 1761-1762. A collector added a pair of service epaulettes worn by Hamilton during his time with Washington.
These memorabilia from one of the most prestigious Founding Fathers of the United States of America were sold together for $ 1.15M by RIAC on May 14, 2021, lot 125. Please watch the first view and full length videos shared by the auction house.
2016 SOLD for £ 2M by Sotheby's
Kangxi creates a nature reserve for the exclusive use of imperial hunting in the vast territory of Rehe. As anything from Kangxi, this choice is wise. Rehe is located between Manchuria from where the Qing were coming and Mongolia whose alliance was politically valuable for the consolidation of the new dynasty.
Qianlong is like his grandfather an avid hunter who often stays in Rehe where he welcomes foreign diplomats in his yurt in a less formal surrounding than in Beijing. His Mongol friends are using arrow and spear. The emperor knows easily to display his own superiority as the bullet from his musket reaches more distant animals. Qianlong is a skilled shooter.
On November 9, 2016, Sotheby's sold for £ 2M from a lower estimate of £ 1M a rare matchlock musket with the imperial mark of Qianlong, lot 100, which is probably the only example in private hands.
This deluxe firearm was manufactured by the imperial workshops. An undeciphered inscription may be the name of the gunsmith. This piece was identified in period as the best in its class by a control mark certifying it as Supreme Grade Number 1.
It is not dated but could have been made in the last years of the reign. Same as for clocks, the imperial craftsmen were reproducing the European techniques. The Chinese musket has similarities with a British firearm presented in Rehe by Lord Macaulay to Qianlong for celebrating his 80th anniversary in 1793 of our calendar.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
BOUTET (Manufacture d'Armes de Versailles)
The son of an arquebusier of Louis XVI, Boutet continued his career at Versailles. In 1792, when Prussia declares war on France, Benezech and Boutet are commissioned for creating an arms factory. They use for that purpose a wide disabled part of the palace, where they will produce carbines but also locks.
Such an official mission is also in the trend of the revolutionary decision to put an end to the privileges of the corporations, with a favorable consequence in Boutet's ability to hire the best workers from Europe.
The production by Boutet of presentation rifles, pistols and swords is responding to a request certainly made by the Premier Consul himself, probably as early as 1800. In 1806, when he granted new kingdoms to his brothers, Napoléon offered them weapons of the highest luxury.
Boutet was an incompetent financial administrator but his response to military and artistic needs was perfect. Napoléon gave him his confidence. Between 1800 and 1818, the Manufacture de Versailles produced 145,000 military firearms and 485,000 other weapons including swords. It employed 800 workers.
He moved to Paris in 1818 when the Versailles concession was terminated and went bankrupt in 1822.
1804-1806 Pistols ex Bolivar
2004 SOLD for $ 1.7 M by Christie's
These arms are decorated without being presentation pieces. They bear the mark of Boutet and the Manufacture de Versailles as well as an inscription of a controller who worked for Boutet from 1804 to 1806 only. The lid of the box has a silver plaque marking the gift by Manuela Saenz to Richard Illingworth at Bogota on June 1, 1830 of "esta caja de pistolas por haver sido esta del uso del Libertador".
Bolivar arrives in Paris in 1804. Born in the upper middle class of Caracas, the 21-year-old widower wants to change his mind and find his place in society. Firearms will be useful in the event of a duel. He admires the meteoric rise of Napoléon Bonaparte. Faced with the political decline of Spain, only independence will allow South America to escape French or English domination.
Bolivar's military successes have been exceptional, but his Greater Colombia is too disparate and he is ill. His resignation, offered on January 20, 1830, is accepted on May 4. He leaves Bogota on May 8. His mistress and very active collaborator Manuela arranges his property on his instructions. Richard was the assistant who managed his debts.
It appears in the highest probability that this pair of pistols was purchased new by Bolivar in Paris between 1804 and 1806. The firearms known to have belonged to Bolivar are very rare, and the correspondence of dates is no accident. Boutet had a showroom in Paris near the hotel where Bolivar resided.
Bolivar's final desire to honor his most loyal collaborators is evidenced by another example. The pair of silver mounted pistols, also by Boutet, which had been presented to him by Lafayette in 1825, was given to a friend who was supporting him financially. This pair was sold for $ 1.8M by Christie's in 2016.
(1797)-1808 Garniture ex Junot
2021 SOLD for $ 2.9M by RIAC
The provenance of this collection is referred to Général Junot, the aide de camp of the emperor. The garniture should have been presented by Napoléon to Junot at any time but tentatively when he was made gouverneur général of Portugal in 1807 or duc d'Abrantès in 1808. It had been sold by his widow in financial distress during the events of 1815.
The glaive is described as the robe sword carried in hand by Bonaparte in 1799 at Saint-Cloud during his coup d'Etat du 18 brumaire an VIII when he suppressed the Directoire for appointing himself as Premier Consul. It is supposed to have been presented to him by the Directoire in 1797. The five firearms have no evidence of having been carried by the emperor.
The collection was sold for $ 2.9M from a lower estimate of $ 1.5M by RIAC on December 3, 2021, lot 335. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1809 Presentation Pistols
2022 SOLD for £ 980K by Christie's
They surfaced at an unidentified date in the Imperial Russian Collection in the Palace of Tzarskoe Selo. They belong to a small group of pistols in the same serial number range, all bearing the Grand Aigle insignia of the Légion d'Honneur, all of them with a Russian provenance.
It would have been a joint presentation by the Emperor to the Russian dignitaries who had been granted that honor. Eight of them are listed in the 1812 Almanach Impérial. The War of 1812 is indeed the terminus ante quem for that presentation.
1825 presented by Lafayette to Bolivar
2016 SOLD for $ 1.8M by Christie's
Despite a major activity during the French Revolution, he was unable to turn his passion into a viable political program. Hostile to the nobles but not to the monarchy, he changed the spelling of his name to Lafayette.
The Americans have not forgotten this foreigner who had been a hero of their independence. He finally realizes at 67 his dream to visit again the United States. He is honored like a head of state and his tour is triumphant, from July 1824 to September 1825.
Lafayette admired Simon Bolivar. In October 1825, he enthusiastically accepts a request from the Washington family to send to El Libertador some souvenirs from the former President. A gorgeous pair of flintlock pistols by Boutet in a case dated 1825 is a personal gift by Lafayette to Bolivar, probably through the same shipment.
This pair of silver mounted pistols was sold for $ 1.8M by Christie's on April 13, 2016, lot 36. Please watch the video shared by Christie's.
Another pair of pistols made by the same manufacturer was owned by Bolivar during his stay in Paris between 1804 and 1806. It was sold for $ 1.7M by Christie's on November 17, 2004. lot 60.
1814 Le Page Pistols ex Roi de Rome
2015 SOLD for £ 960K by Sotheby's
Le Page realized in January 1814 this pair of short and light pistols, 21 cm including the stock, which may be held by a young boy. Arms and case are inlaid with precious materials, with all the symbols of the Empire along with the Iron Crown which is more specifically an attribute to the King of Rome.
The Emperor desired to express his confidence in the military future of his Aiglon. In a cartouche outside the box, the Centaur Chiron teaches the young Achilles to shoot.
The Empire runs just after into a disaster, with an unforeseen consequence on the art market. Frustrated to have lost the access to Paris for ten years, the English antiquarians rush and start acquiring Napoleonic souvenirs. The pair of pistols of the King of Rome was purchased in 1816 by William Bullock, naturalist and explorer who was a very active creator of museums in London.
This pair in its original case was sold for £ 960K by Sotheby's on July 8, 2015, lot 35. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's:
Colt and Winchester
see dedicated pages :
1863 US Grant's Remington Revolvers
2022 SOLD for $ 5.2M by RIAC
Remington released in 1863 their New Model Army revolver. The serial numbers 1 and 2 were presented in the summer or fall of 1863 or in early 1864 to Grant as a cased set by two veterans made wealthy from the cotton trade. The ivory grips were carved in raised relief with his bust on one side and US attributes including the flying eagle on the opposite side. These unsigned figures were made by the master engraver Louis D. Nimschke.
Hidden from public view, the pair surfaced on display in the Las Vegas Antique Arms Show in 2018. Offered in its deluxe rosewood case, was sold for $ 5.2M from a lower estimate of $ 1M by RIAC on May 13, 2022, lot 106. Both revolvers are in excellent condition with a deep sharp engraving. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Russia, which was a staunch ally to the Union, followed that example. In 1864, after a visit of the Russian fleet to the USA, their government commissioned another pair from the same model for presentation to Tsar Alexander II. Their ivory grips are decorated in raised relief, the left side with the Russian double headed eagle and the opposite side with the same US attributes as on the Grant revolvers. Nimschke signed these pieces with his trademark.
Re-united in 1991 by a keen historian after being separated since the Russian Revolution, the Russian pair in an exceptionally fine condition was sold for $ 460K by RIAC on May 15, 2021, lot 1158.
Remington New Model Army revolvers presented to Civil War general & 18th U.S. president Ulysses S. Grant sold for $5,170,000 (est. $1/3 million) May 13 at @RIAuction https://t.co/LL2Y9iwwcJ #antiques #antique #vintage #appraisal #Americana #gun #guns #Grant #POTUS #Remington pic.twitter.com/LcartuGeoR— Maine Antique Digest (@AntiqueDigest) June 22, 2022
(1915)-1977-2018 Star Wars Blaster
2022 SOLD for $ 1.06M by RIAC
Three blasters for the use of the leading character Han Solo had been built on a Mauser C96, the German sidearm of the First World War. These fire blank units were stripped of their Star Wars arrangement after the shootings and disappeared.
One of these Mausers was retrieved in a storage of film props in 2010 and reassembled as a replica of the Han Solo arm in 2018 by the original gunsmith of the film. That reconstituted prop integrates the unique original scope.
It was sold for $ 1.06M by RIAC on August 27, 2022 from a lower estimate of $ 300K, lot 1247. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. The original Mauser had been made between 1915 and 1921.
A Han Solo blaster from the third Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi released in 1983, was sold for $ 550K by Julien's on June 23, 2018, lot 932. This non firing prop had also been built on a C96 in a production of four made of one blank firing and three non firing. Han Solo was played in both films by Harrison Ford.