A good way for collectors (and auctioneers) to keep a finger on the pulse of the market is to watch what’s garnering the most attention with bidders. This is most easily done through post-sale reports, but thanks to the wonderful world of computers, auction hosts can see how many hits pieces are getting leading up to a given sale.
So, let’s take a look at the top 5 most popular pieces at our August 2020 sales. First up will be the most-viewed pieces in the Edged Weapons, Armor, and Militaria sale.
LOT #1022: AN ATTRACTIVE COMPOSITE FULL SUIT OF GERMAN ARMOR IN THE STYLE OF ANTON PEFFENHAUSER
This is an extremely attractive and well-mounted full suit of armor. While unmarked, the style of the armor is extremely reminiscent of Anton Peffenhauser (1525-1603) of Augsburg. He was trained by the Helmschmied family. In addition to being a great suit, it is ready to be displayed in your own “castle” because it comes mounted on an articulated body on a raised and molded hardwood stand with raised panels on each side. Est: $30,000-$60,000.
LOT #2276: RARE AND NEWLY DISCOVERED “IMPROVED PATTERN” BOWIE KNIFE BY SCHIVELY, PHILADELPHIA
This fantastic knife is what Morphy Auctions specializes in: fresh to the market pieces. This Bowie was only recently discovered and has not been previously recorded or illustrated. Circa 1830s, this rare example has a dark horn handle rather than the more common ivory handles typically encountered. The straight back blade has a 11-3/16” sharpened false edge ground mainly from the right side, marked “SCHIVELY, 75 CHESNUT ST., PHILAD” on left side at top. The one piece checkered handle of dark horn features a nickel silver pommel, ferrule, pins, washers and S-guard. Est: $30,000-$60,000.
LOT #1076: EXCEPTIONAL CIVIL WAR CARVED PIPE OF JOHN CRAWFORD CO. F 18TH NEW YORK VOLUNTEERS
Profusely covered with raised carving, this is a wonderful example of a favorite pastime of Civil War soldiers: carving pipes. The pipe was carved by or for Private John Crawford of the 18th New York. The piece features a variety of names, dates, and symbols, including: Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, Col. W. A. Jackson, Col. George R. Meyers, LIBERTY, RALLY ROUND IT, THE UNION MUST AND SHALL BE PRESERVED, an American flag, an eagle, and much more. Est: $2,000-$3,000.
LOT #1090: VERY RARE 7 STAR CONFEDERATE FLAG
This design was the first national flag of the Confederacy representing the period March to May, 1861. Nicknamed the “Stars and Bars,” this first flag design flew over the state capitol of Alabama in Montgomery, the temporary national capital of the Confederacy. The flag had a square blue union the height of 2 bars, on which was placed a circle of white stars corresponding in number to the states of the Confederacy in 1861: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. The flag is accompanied by an affidavit from a direct descendant of Charles Henry Bromedge Caldwell, a Lt. Commander of the gunboat “Itasca” under Admiral Farragut during the Civil War, stating that he had come home from the War with this flag. Est: $40,000-$80,000.
GENERAL WILLIAM TECUMSEH SHERMAN’S 1869 FROCK COAT
The only uniform coats dating to this period of Sherman’s career known to us are one in a private collection illustrated in Langellier’s Army Blue (Vol. 1, p.28) and another with a Brooks Brothers label in the Smithsonian, but not on public view. Sherman was authorized to wear the coat as of March 4, 1869, when he assumed the rank of General Commanding the Army from Grant, who was obliged to resign the post upon assumption of the Presidency. Sherman retained the rank until 1883, long after army uniform patterns had changed from this. The coat certainly predates 1872 in style, giving it a fairly narrow date of acquisition by Sherman to 1869-1872 and wear for not many years after that. Est: $40,000-$60,000.
Now let’s take a look at the most-viewed pieces in the Field & Range Firearms sale.
LOT #1142: COLT 1860 ARMY .44 PERCUSSION REVOLVER
Civil War weapons are always popular, so it comes as no surprise that this martially marked Civil War-era Colt Model 1860 Army revolver is on the list. Featuring an 8″ round barrel and chambered in .44 percussion, it has one-piece walnut grips with the inspector’s cartouche on both sides, as well as sub-inspector stamps in proper places. Est: $800-$1,500.
LOT #1037: A MASSIVE FLINTLOCK WALL GUN, USED IN THE 1976 FILM “THE MISSOURI BREAKS”
This large unmarked composite smoothbore wall gun with a bore measuring 1-1/4″ is a reproduction “Tower” style flintlock with homemade turned trigger. The massive walnut stock with brass hardware and steel swivel mounting in set in a wooden stand. This rifle was used in the film “The Missouri Breaks,” a 1976 film starring Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson, where the gun appears mounted on a boat. It is accompanied by 2 photos of work being done on set with the rifle being carried over the shoulder of an actor in one photo, and being used as a leaning post by the same actor in another. Est: $2,000-$3,000.
LOT #3529: CHARLES BOSWELL 20 BORE SLE SIDE BY SIDE SHOTGUN WITH CASE
Made in 1909, this gorgeous Charles Boswell shotgun is engraved with floral and geometric designs as well as gold-inlaid birds. Professionally restored, the gun comes with a leather case with a reproduction Boswell label. Because of its condition, this is a fine firearm that you could take into the field without any worries of using it as was originally intended. Est: $3,000-$5,000.
LOT #1294: ENGRAVED COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY .45 COLT REVOLVER
With a four-digit serial number, this gun was made in 1874, which was the 2nd year of production for this now-iconic model. The gun has been engraved with a scroll and punch dot motif and sports a one-piece ivory grip. Single Action Army revolvers have maintained a steady popularity with both collectors and shooters for decades. Est: $5,000-$7,000.
LOT #1002: BRITISH LIGHT DRAGOON PISTOL
This antique flintlock pistol is a great example of antique military arms. The barrel was made without sights and is stamped over the breech with British proofs comprising a Crown over CP and a Crown over V. The original lock features a central Crown over GR. The majority of the gun’s furniture is brass: the sideplate, trigger guard, buttcap, ramrod tip, and ramrod retaining ferrule. Est: $1,000-$1,500.
So there you have it, the most-viewed pieces in both of our August 2020 auctions. Did the results surprise you? Or are they in line with what you expected to see? Either way, it’s a good snapshot of what’s popular with collectors right now.