Lifelong collection features some of the finest and most important Colts and Winchesters ever made available for public sale
DENVER, Pa. – On October 25, Morphy’s will have the distinct honor of auctioning Part I of the Paul Friedrich Collection of antique and vintage firearms; Gold Rush and Old West artifacts; and gold jewelry, coins and nuggets. Additionally, the collection features 19th- and early 20th-century antique advertising, gambling items, and many other fascinating curios.
The 355-lot single-consignor sale celebrates the special legacy Paul Friedrich (1943-2022) left to the firearms-collecting hobby. Those who knew Paul best say he never approached collecting with quantity in mind. Rather, he was guided by quality, rarity and, above all, careful historical research. Over some 60 years, his peerless collection came together organically to form a unique time capsule boasting stellar examples of each particular category Paul embraced.
“Paul was everything a collector of historical American objects aspires to be,” said Morphy Auctions’ president, Dan Morphy. “As a buyer, he had uncanny intuition, and he never forgot a single detail about any of the items in his collection. He was one of a kind.”
Born into a multigenerational farming family in California, young Paul was captivated by TV cowboys of the 1950s and stories of the Old West and California’s Gold Rush days. At age 12 or 13, he learned about firearms while on hunting trips with his uncle. His passion for antique arms and historical relics followed him into his adulthood and never waned.
When not farming, Paul was either hunting in some exotic locale or scouring an antique gun show for new treasures to add to his incredible collection. A lifelong member of the NRA, Paul also belonged to numerous gun collector clubs and the Mystical Brotherhood of the Wild and Wooly West, a fraternity of enthusiasts who met annually to regale one another with tales of Western lore.
The top prize in Paul’s collection is an exceptionally rare and important Winchester “1 of 1000” 1876 lever-action rifle in superlative condition. This famous longarm is depicted in R.I. Wilson’s reference book Winchester: The Golden Age of Gunmaking and the Winchester 1 of 1000. It is from the manufacturer’s first year of production and, marked with the serial number 724, is one of few known three-digit examples. Its long and illustrious line of provenance is detailed in Morphy’s auction catalog. The rifle will convey with archival literature spanning 50 years. Its pre-sale estimate is $300,000-$500,000.
Paul’s fabulous assortment of rare Colts is led by a factory-engraved .45-caliber Colt Sheriff’s Model Single Action Revolver that was shipped in 1892 as a shipment of 1 to Dunlay & Geisler in Houston, Texas. In excellent condition with the barrel retaining nearly all of its original bluing, it is accompanied by a Colt factory letter, photos and additional literature. Estimate: $100,000-$150,000
A legendary factory-engraved .45-caliber Colt Model 1878 Frontier Double-Action Revolver was shipped 1892 and is quite possibly the highest-condition example known to exist. It is also one of the finest of all engraved Colt firearms of any type. With provenance that includes a who’s who of noted collectors, it transfers with a Colt factory letter and other relevant literature. Estimate: $75,000-$125,000
A museum-worthy Cuno Helfricht-engraved Colt Single Action Army Revolver with ox-head ivory grips shipped to Chicago in 1912 as a shipment of 1. It displays a near-mint original nickel finish and crisp engraving, and overall, it is in an extraordinary state of natural preservation. The handsome revolver comes with its original factory box, a Colt factory letter and several other significant letters that authoritatively flesh out its history. Estimate: $75,000-$125,000
And speaking of history, another Colt gem, a nickel-plated .45-caliber Colt Single Action Army Revolver that shipped in 1889, comes with a note stating it was carried by Sam J Higgens, director of First National Bank in Bastrop, Texas, while transferring money to and from the Federal Reserve Bank in Austin. The gun retains the majority of its original factory nickel finish and comes with its original Colt matching-picture box, factory letters, and photographs. Estimate: $40,000-$75,000
Morphy’s Oct. 25, 2023 auction of the Paul Friedrich Firearms & Gold Rush Collection Part I will be held live at Morphy’s gallery, 2000 N. Reading Rd., Denver, PA 17517, starting at 9 a.m. US Eastern Time. (Part II will be auctioned in April 2024). All forms of bidding will be available, including absentee, phone and live via the Internet through Morphy Live. For questions about any item in the auction, to reserve a phone line or leave an absentee bid, call 877-968-8880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. View the auction catalog online at www.morphyauctions.com.
All images courtesy of Morphy Auctions
Legendary blued, factory-engraved .45-caliber Colt Model 1878 Frontier Double Action Revolver, shipped 1892, quite possibly highest-condition example known. One of the finest of all engraved Colt firearms of any type. Provenance includes who’s who of illustrious collectors. Accompanied by Colt factory letter, other literature. Estimate $75,000-$125,000
Factory-engraved (attrib. master engraver Wilbert Glahn), .45-caliber Colt Single Action Army Revolver, shipped in 1929 as a shipment of 1. Retains virtually all of its factory-applied blue finish. Accompanied by Colt factory letter, photographs. Estimate $40,000-$70,000
Extremely rare factory-engraved Deluxe .50-95 Winchester Model 1876 lever-action rifle with special-order features. Built in 1881. Madis lists only 127 guns of this type with factory engraving. Accompanied by Winchester factory letters, photographs. Estimate $30,000-$75,000
Highly important and exceptionally rare Winchester ‘1 of 1000’ 1876 lever-action rifle in superlative condition. Depicted in the R.I. Wilson book ‘Winchester: The Golden Age of Gunmaking and the Winchester 1 of 1000.’ Serial No. 724 from first year of production, one of few known three-digit examples. Long line of documented provenance. Accompanied by archival literature spanning 50 years. Estimate $300,000-$500,000
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, overall in extraordinary state of natural preservation. Comes with Colt factory letter, other important letters. Estimate: $75,000-$125,000
Factory-engraved .45-caliber Colt Sheriff’s Model Single Action Revolver shipped in 1892 as a shipment of 1 to Dunlay & Geisler in Houston, Texas. Excellent condition with barrel retaining nearly all original bluing. Accompanied by Colt factory letter, photos and additional literature. Estimate $100,000-$150,000
Nickel-plated .45-caliber Colt Single Action Army Revolver carried by Sam J Higgens, director of First National Bank in Bastrop, Texas, while transferring money to and from Federal Reserve Bank in Austin. Shipped in 1889 in shipment of 10 guns. Retains majority of original factory nickel finish. Comes with original Colt matching-picture box, factory letters, photographs. Estimate $40,000-$75,000
Factory-engraved .45-caliber Colt Single Action Army Revolver with original factory box. Shipped in 1927 as a shipment of 1. Near-mint ivory stocks, crisp factory engraving attributed to master engraver Wilbert Glahn. Retains virtually of its factory-applied blue finish. Accompanied by Colt factory letter, other literature. Estimate $40,000-$60,000
Factory-engraved (by C.G. Tuffy) .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 produced, perhaps even fewer in this chamber. Comes with Colt factory letter, photo, other literature. Estimate $30,000-$50,000