Historic Winchester ‘1 of 1000’ 1876 lever-action rifle swept the field, selling for $344,400
DENVER, Pa. – America’s wild and woolly frontier days came to life with striking realism on October 25 as Morphy Auctions presented Part I of the venerable Paul Friedrich Collection. The single-owner sale honored an immensely important 60-year legacy that Paul’s family specifically wanted to perpetuate through other collectors who shared his passion. Led by a fabulous selection of rare and historical firearms, the auction lineup also featured a rich array of Gold Rush and Old West artifacts, including fine gold jewelry, coins and nuggets; gambling items, antique advertising and many other fascinating objects. At the end of the day, the 355-lot auction bonanza cashed out at a heady $3,454,916.
Born into a multigenerational farming family in California, Paul was captivated by TV cowboys of the 1950s and tales of prospectors who competed for treasure during the Gold Rush days. He learned how to handle firearms as a boy, and his love of antique arms, historical relics and the stories behind them stayed with Paul throughout his life.
The top prize of the Friedrich collection was an exceedingly rare and important Winchester “1 of 1000” 1876 lever-action rifle. The famous longarm is actually depicted in R.I. Wilson’s reference book Winchester: The Golden Age of Gunmaking and the Winchester 1 of 1000. Marked with the serial number 724, the gun was made during the model’s first year of production and is one of few three-digit examples of its type known to exist. Consistent with Paul Friedrich’s penchant for historical research and documentation, the rifle came to auction with associative archival literature that spanned the past 50 years. In superlative condition, it sold within its estimate range for $344,400.
The magical Colt name made several appearances in the auction’s top 10. A blued, factory-engraved .45-caliber Colt Model 1878 Frontier Double Action Revolver, shipped in 1892, was described in Morphy’s catalog as “quite possibly the highest-condition example known” and “a legend in the Colt-collecting community.” Dan Morphy, president of Morphy Auctions, remarked that the it was “one of the finest of all engraved Colt firearms of any type, with a record of former owners that reads like a who’s who of the hobby.” The famed revolver conveyed with a Colt factory letter and other supportive literature, and sold just below its high estimate for $123,000.
A factory-engraved Colt Model 1877DA Lightning Sheriff’s Model .38-caliber revolver with handsome mother-of-pearl grips displayed matching serial numbers on the frame, trigger guard and backstrap. A Colt Archive letter accompanying the gun confirmed that it was shipped to Bandle Arms Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1893 as part of a shipment of two guns. Another bonus that passed to the winning bidder was the coveted firearm’s original pink picture box. Against an estimate of $25,000-$35,000, it was chased to $92,250.
Fine Colts from the early 20th century also met with spirited bidding and landed in the upper reaches of prices realized. One of them, a museum-worthy Cuno Helfricht-engraved Colt Single Action Army Revolver with ox-head ivory grips, was shipped in 1912 as a shipment of 1. It flashed a near-mint original nickel finish and crisp engraving, and was described by Morphy’s experts as being “absolutely gorgeous” and in an extraordinary state of natural preservation overall. Offered with its original factory box, a Colt factory letter and other important letters, it sold within estimate for $88,560.
Factory-engraved by C.G. Tuffy, a .44-40 WCF Colt New Service Target Double Action Revolver with carved mother-of-pearl steer-head grips shipped to Von Lengerke & Antoine, Chicago, in 1925. Fewer than 75 engraved examples of this model were issued, perhaps even fewer in the same chamber as the auction example. Offered with a Colt factory letter, photo, and other literature, it swiftly reached $86,100 against an estimate of $30,000-$50,000.
An outstanding factory-engraved Colt .38-caliber Super Match semi-automatic pistol with pearl grips and engraving attributed to Wilbur Glahn was shipped to Abercrombie & Fitch in 1935 and purchased the following year. This stellar firearm is featured in Timothy J Mullin’s 1999 book American Beauty: The Prewar Colt National Match Government Model Pistol. Its provenance includes both the T J Mullin collection and the Robert Settani collection. The pistol surpassed its high estimate to retire at $153,750.
Just about every Gold Rush specimen comes with a story, sometimes lore and sometimes historical fact, like the gold ingot in the Friedrich collection that was salvaged from the famed shipwreck of the steamship Central America. Known as the “Ship of Gold,” the Central America sank in 1857 after it was engulfed by a hurricane, en route to New York City from Panama. Weighing 469 grams and graded .980 fine, it sold above its high estimate for $40,590.
An April 30, 2024 date has been tentatively chosen for Morphy’s sale of the Paul Friedrich Firearms & Gold Rush Collection Part II. On December 6-8, 2023, Morphy’s will conduct a Firearms, Militaria & Edged Weapons Auction that features fine antique, vintage and modern productions, including 107 NFA lots. To discuss consigning firearms, militaria or Old West relics to a future auction, please Morphy Auctions at +1 877-968-8880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. All inquiries are kept strictly confidential. Visit Morphy’s online: https://www.morphyauctions.com.
All prices quoted in this report are inclusive of buyer’s premium as detailed on Morphy Auctions’ website.
All images courtesy of Morphy Auctions, Denver, Pennsylvania, USA
Outstanding factory-engraved Colt .38-caliber Super Match semi-automatic pistol, pearl grips, adjustable sight, with factory box. Shipped to retailer Abercrombie & Fitch in 1935 and purchased in 1936. Featured in ‘American Beauty: The Prewar Colt National Match Government Model Pistol.’ Engraving attributed to Wilbur Glahn. Ex T J Mullin collection; Robert Settani collection. Sold above high estimate for $153,750
Legendary blued, factory-engraved .45-caliber Colt Model 1878 Frontier Double Action Revolver, shipped 1892, quite possibly the highest-condition example known. One of the finest of all engraved Colt firearms of any type. Line of former ownership includes who’s who of illustrious collectors. Conveyed with Colt factory letter, other literature. Sold just shy of high estimate for $123,000
Factory-engraved Colt Model 1877DA Lightning Sheriff’s Model .38-caliber revolver accompanied by original pink picture box. Colt Archive letter confirms gun was shipped to Bandle Arms Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1893 in a shipment of two guns. Mother-of-pearl grips. Matching serial numbers on frame, trigger guard and backstrap. Sold for $92,250 against an estimate of $25,000-$35,000.
1-lb gold nugget from the infamous Motherlode at Placerville, California. Total weight: 480g. Sold at the midpoint of its estimate range for $31,980
Highly important and exceptionally rare Winchester ‘1 of 1000’ 1876 lever-action rifle in superlative condition. Depicted in R.I. Wilson book ‘Winchester: The Golden Age of Gunmaking and the Winchester 1 of 1000.’ Serial No. 724 from the model’s first year of production, one of few three-digit examples of its type known to exist. Long line of documented provenance. Auctioned with archival literature spanning 50 years. Sold within estimate for $344,400
Museum-worthy Cuno Helfricht-engraved Colt Single Action Army Revolver with ox-head ivory grips, original factory box. Shipped in 1912 as a shipment of 1. Near-mint original nickel finish and crisp engraving. Extraordinary state of natural preservation overall. Auctioned with Colt factory letter, other important letters. Sold within estimate for $88,560
Gold ingot salvaged from famed shipwreck of the steamship ‘Central America,’ known as the ‘Ship of Gold,’ which sank in 1857 in a hurricane while en route to New York City from Panama. Weight: 469g, .980 fine. Sold above high estimate for $40,590
Colt New Service Target Double Action Revolver, .44-40 WCF, with carved mother-of-pearl steer-head grips, factory engraved by C G Tuffy. Shipped to Von Lengerke & Antoine, Chicago, in 1925. Fewer than 75 engraved examples of this model were produced, perhaps even fewer in this chamber. Auctioned with Colt factory letter, photo, other literature. Sold for $86,100 against an estimate of $30,000-$50,000