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1866 Buffaloes and Indians
2018 SOLD for $ 400K including premium
There was place for more than one Buffalo Bill in the Wild West. William Mathewson won this nickname during the winter 1860-1861 when he decimated several buffalo herds to avoid the starvation of the pioneers after a catastrophic drought.
In 1864 the Kiowa Indians enter the warpath again. The chief warns Mathewson in advance for intimidating him. Mathewson's trading post occupies a strategic position on the Santa Fe Trail. He informs the companies but it is too late for the Overland Transportation which has just started from New Mexico a convoy of 147 wagons loaded with rifles and ammunition, accompanied by 155 men.
After four days of siege in his post, Mathewson sees that the Indians had departed. He understands that they got a better target nearby. Indeed a few miles away from his post the Indians encircle the Overland train. Mathewson arrives by surprise and manages to unload a wagon and to provide arms to the men of the convoy. Indians give up. Buffalo Bill had altogether saved the goods and the men.
The pair of revolvers is presented to him in May 1866 by one of his customers in a small ceremony of thanks commemorating the Overland feat. The nameplate identifying donor and recipient on the case is dated from the next year.
In the Colt nomenclature, Army or Navy designation is not a reference to the government but to the standard of the gauge, .36 for the Navy. A similar cased 1861 Navy pair offered in 1863 by a cotton trading company to Major General McPherson was sold for $ 425K including premium by Bonhams on November 10, 2014.
Please watch the video shared by RIA.
This exceptional cased set of silver plated Colt 1861 Navy revolvers was presented to a man who saved hundreds of settlers, perhaps most famously by providing buffalo meat during a winter famine. His name is William Mathewson - the original Buffalo Bill. Available this September. pic.twitter.com/EB6PJD2GwA— Rock Island Auction (@RIAuction) June 27, 2018
1871 Happy Retirement, Mr Sheldon
2012 SOLD 370 K$ including premium
The U.S. Army has always been eager for the progress in firearms. The novelty of the time was the single action metallic cartridge revolver, with its reduced weight and its security increased by the need to cock the hammer.
Smith and Wesson developed their model No. 3 and, for once, Colt could lose the market.
The services rendered to the Colt company by Sheldon were certainly exceptional in that period of stubborn competition. His retirement gift was serial number 1 of the Colt single action cartridge revolver, numbered, inscribed with his name and dated.
This presentation arm was not intended for intensive use and remained almost intact in a beautiful case that also contains two boxes of .38 cartridges of that time. It had been kept by the family and will be sold on April 22 in Rock Island IL by RIAuction.
Colt won after changing the caliber. The .45 Long Colt revolver was accepted by the U.S. Army in 1873. This famous model was nicknamed the Peacemaker.
The number 1 of the Peacemaker was discussed in this group. In a condition that was far from perfect, it was sold $ 860K including premium by Greg Martin on January 18, 2009.
POST SALE COMMENT
This Colt with a unique history was sold $ 320K before fees.
Please watch the video shared by RIAuction on YouTube :
1872 The Colt that won the West
2009 SOLD 860 K$ including premium
We have already discussed the guns of that mark in this group, about the earliest models. Lot 51 of this next sale is more recent, but exceptional. This is the serial number 1 of the model Colt Single Action Army Revolver, patented in 1871 and 1872. For Americans, this six shots handgun is the "Colt that Won the West," and it was nicknamed "Peacemaker".
Here's what this firearm was then supposed telling to its owner. You will appreciate the true Western charm of this four lines of poetry:
"Be not afraid of any man,
No matter what his size,
Just call on me in time of need,
and I will equalize. "
This prestigious copy went to Christie's in 1987 and received the same year a leather showcase. After the sale, the purchaser has made some miniature replica edited by the U.S. Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia, with the authorization of the Colt company.
It is in fine condition (no more), and is estimated 500 K $.
POST SALE COMMENT
Excellent result for this serial number 1 of a prestigious model : $ 750 K before fees.
It is almost the price of the 1847 Colt Walker sold on 9 October 2008 at $ 800 K before fees by James D. Julia.
1876 The Colt from the Little Bighorn
2017 SOLD for $ 460K including premium
After the fire had stopped Captain Benteen, who was leading one of the other two battalions, visited the field of the massacre. The scattered dead men were stripped of all that might be useful to the Indians. Benteen identified Custer's corpse.
The looting was almost perfect except some artefacts that escaped the attention of the Indians. A guidon of the 7th Cavalry Regiment was sold for $ 2.2M including premium by Sotheby's on December 10, 2010. Benteen and his team picked up twelve Springfield rifles and three Colt revolvers of Single Action Army type.
Only one of these three Colt SAA remains in its original state. The other two were reissued during the Spanish-American War. This Colt is now the only unmodified revolver whose participation in the Little Bighorn is indisputable. For obvious reasons of security the Indians hid the firearms stolen from the US army and even when some of them went to resurface their true history could no longer be assessed.
This Colt from the Little Bighorn is in a heavy wear condition including bites related to blood stains. It is estimated in excess of $ 175K for sale by James D. Julia at Fairfield ME on April 11, lot 1129. Here is the link to the press release.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn also known as Custer's Last Stand holds a top position in the history of the conquest of the West. Julia remember that they sold in April 2000 for $ 680K including premium a forensically retrieved Winchester rifle used by an Indian warrior.
1876-1880 From Buggy to Buntline
2012 SOLD 550 K$ including premium
In 1876, on the occasion of the extraordinary Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Coltidentifies as the "buggy rifles" a type of revolver with very long barrel, .45 Long gauge, fitted with a detachable shoulder stock. About thirty serial numbers are assigned to this novelty, and the corresponding copies will be manufactured before 1882.
These thirty pieces include several variants. The example for sale got the longest available barrel, no less than 16 inches. In overall nice condition, it is estimated beyond $ 325K. It had been delivered in 1880 by Colt to a firearm dealer.
In December 2010, the same auction house sold $ 368K including premium a very similar unit in near new condition.
The term buggy rifle vanished after 1931. At that date, a novelist-biographer of the Wild West wanted to give a role, which has never been demonstrated, to his predecessor Ned Buntline in the promotion of this model. That "Colt Buntline" name will afterwards be generalized to other ultra-long barrel Colt revolvers.
History fades more and more behind legend. The spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone relived these extraordinary firearms with which the villains brandishing them become even more wicked.
POST SALE COMMENT
This spectacular and extremely rare firearm exceeded its higher estimate. It was sold $ 490K before fees, $ 550K including premium. This is an excellent result.
Please watch the pre-auction video, shared by RIAC on YouTube, introducing three Colts including this exciting example :
1877 The Hand Cranked Battery
2019 SOLD for $ 316K including premium
A few Gatling guns are bought privately by officers during the Civil War but the army does not rush. It was not until 1866 that this weapon was formally accepted. Gatling seeks to export, but the admiration of Napoléon III for his invention at the 1867 Exposition Universelle does not lead to an order.
Gatling is an inventor specializing in agricultural machinery and a licensed doctor. His battery is an application to firearms of his machines for sowing rice and wheat. He is not an officer. His machine does not have the flexibility to focus a target and is thus unusable by the infantry. Its high risk of jamming is unacceptable on the battlefield.
To improve and promote his invention, Gatling gives up independent manufacturing in 1870 while maintaining his engineering company. He sells his patents to Colt company and moves in with his family near the Colt Armory in Hartford. It is a wise decision. The resulting improvements culminate with the Model 1877 Bulldog, the only Gatling model to have received a nickname.
During this period Colt and Gatling brought a lot of simplifications. The number of barrels is reduced to 5. The mechanical transmission and the loading capacity have been improved, increasing the firing rate. The Bulldog is the first Gatling gun where barrels and breech are fully covered by a bronze housing, with a new compactness that allows its installation on a tripod.
The Bulldog was manufactured in 17 units. One of them, offered in its classic mounting on a two-wheeled carriage, was sold for $ 395K including premium by Heritage on December 14, 2014. A Bulldog on tripod is estimated $ 275K for sale on September 7 by RIAC at Rock Island, lot 1105. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. A second generation Bulldog was edited by Colt in 50 copies.
The Gatling Battery is a direct precursor of the automatic machine gun. Made obsolete because of its hand crank, it was demilitarized in 1911 and many guns were destroyed.
1879 A Peacemaker for the British Empire
2019 SOLD for $ 520K including premium
This firearm is made for use, not for prestige. The first opportunity to adorn SAAs with factory engraved panels is the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. The Colt's Fire Arms Co showcase is decorated with a spectacular rose window of revolvers including an inner corcle of sixteen SAAs.
One of them, a .45 in superb condition, was sold for $ 700K including premium by Julia in March 2009. The abundant engraving on nickel is attributed to Herman Ulrich. The side panels are illustrated respectively of a wolf and a bear in action in a mountain landscape. The rest of the piece is almost entirely embellished with foliated arabesques, plus a few secondary panels with floral motifs.
An engraved SAA is estimated $ 375K for sale by RIAC at Rock Island IL on December 6, lot 31. Its gauge is .455 in the British standard for use with black powder cartridges. Its serial number corresponds to a manufacture in 1879. The side panels are illustrated respectively of a bear hunt and a buffalo hunt, and a third panel shows a Native American on horseback.
All elements converge to consider it is as a piece of exhibition. Unknown up to now, it does not appear in Colt's sales records. It is in an almost mint condition with 95% of its original finish. The quality of the engraving by Herman Ulrich or Gustave Young is similar to the Centennial example described above.
The best scenario is that this revolver was prepared for the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880, in which the Colt company participated, and that it was never returned to the stock. Please watch the video in which Kevin Hogan, president of the auction house, tells his investigation.
1883 The Humanism of Dr. Gatling
2012 SOLD 240 K$ including premium
A weapon with a high rate of fire would indeed necessarily reduce the size of armies and thus counter the epidemics, major enemy of the troops.
The revolving battery gun is patented by Gatling in 1862, and will be operated by Colt from 1870. The charger could turn 200 rpm, a performance later increased up to 1500 rpm. It was activated by hand with a crank: the automatic machine gun will be invented by Maxim in 1884.
On April 22 in Rock Island IL, Rock Island Auction sells a Gatling Gun model 1883 manufactured by Colt, .45 caliber. It is complete of all its equipment including charger and carriage in an extraordinary original condition. This unit accepted by the U.S. Army in 1886 is estimated $ 200K.
This estimate is reasonable. I discussed earlier in this group a Gatling gun of the same model sold $ 172K including premium by Fontaine in August 2009 with later ammunition boxes. I mentioned in that article a model 1874 Gatling gun that was sold $ 230K by Rock Island Auction in September 2008.
POST SALE COMMENT
This very fine specimen was sold $ 210K before fees, 240K including premium, in the region of the lower estimate.
To introduce such a piece, nothing is better than a video. I invite you to play the video shared by Rock Island on YouTube.
1892 Ten Guns for a Gang of Five
2020 SOLD for $ 345K including premium
The Coffeyville raid, on the border of Kansas and Oklahoma, was planned to be the last operation of the gang, and its leader Bob Dalton wanted a memorable feat to enter the legend of the West. He was accompanied in that heist by two of his brothers and two other gangsters.
His strategy was crazy : the five men were split into two teams for robbing two banks simultaneously. It was also a fancy case by which the Daltons had fake beards to operate in their very hometown where they had lived with their parents. During the action, on October 5, 1892, the population reacted immediately. Bob and three other gangsters were killed.
In August 1892, Colt had delivered ten revolvers from the Single Action Army .45 model to an otherwise unidentified AE Williams, certainly an alias for the gang on a special order for the Coffeyville action.
The ten are factory engraved with mother-of-pearl grips. Emmett Dalton, the only outlaw who survived the raid, confirmed later that Bob had wanted the most flamboyant guns to eclipse the reputation of Jesse James.
One of the revolvers taken on the corpse of Bob Dalton was sold for $ 160K including premium by Bonhams and Butterfield on June 29, 2005. The other one from the same Bob's take was sold for $ 320K including premium by RIAC on September 7, 2012, lot 1281, and is estimated $ 350K for sale by RIAC in Rock Island IL on September 11, lot 181.
Please watch the two videos shared by RIAC. The 2012 video was also narrating another one of the ten Colts, whose holder at Coffeyville has not been identified. This piece was sold for $ 110K including premium in the 2012 auction, lot 1282.
1934 Bonnie and Clyde, Dead or Alive
2012 SOLD 264 K$ including premium
Bonnie and Clyde had already entered the romantic legend of the crime. Later, a collector got some artefacts of the action from the police officer who had led the ambush, along with some memories he had from the estate of Clyde's sister.
Time flows, leading now to the estate of this collector. Several lots are presented on September 30 in Nashua NH by RR Auction.
Worn in his belt, the Colt .45 of Clyde is a small caliber gun, ready to kill, and Clyde was known as a sharpshooter. It is estimated $ 100K.
Bonnie was a shamer. Her Colt .38 was found on her thigh, maintained by a medical tape. It is also estimated $ 100K. She was also a woman: the sale includes her cosmetic box found in the car.
I invite you to read the well illustrated article shared by Daily Mail.
The above estimates are reasonable. On January 21, Mayo had sold $ 130K a Thompson submachine gun seized in 1933 during a raid against these two bandits.
1934 was definitely a much better year for police than for gangsters. Two months later, John Dillinger was killed in Chicago.
In the featured item preview, the lower estimate of each of these lots is now $ 150K.
POST SALE COMMENT
Both firearms were sold at comparable prices with a slight advantage for Bonnie: $ 220K before fees, 264K including premium. Clyde's Colt was sold $ 200K before fees, 240K including premium.
Please watch the pre-sale video shared by RR Auction on YouTube. Here it is.