Morphy’s issues a call to arms with a powerful Dec. 15-18 auction series featuring field & range firearms, edged weapons, militaria
Civil War rarities include mobile military telegraph field unit and inscribed sword presented in 1862 to Lincoln-appointed US Military Supervisor of the Telegraph
DENVER, Pa. – A high-caliber lineup of arms and militaria awaits bidders December 15-18 at Morphy Auctions’ spacious gallery conveniently located off the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The exciting four-day series will open with a Tuesday, December 15 auction session featuring more than 500 select lots of edged weapons, armor and militaria. The December 16, 17 and 18 Field & Range Firearms sessions are loaded with antique and modern rifles, shotguns, handguns, accessories and rare ammunition. In addition to attending in person, bidders have the option of taking part remotely either by phone or live online through Morphy Live; or by leaving a confidential absentee bid prior to the auction.
Unique and historically important, two Civil War highlights offered on Day 1 pertain to the Union Army’s prescient use of telegraphic communications on the battlefield. An extremely rare Beardslee Magneto-Electric Military Telegraph was adopted by Lieutenant Colonel Albert J. Myer, founder and Chief of the US Signal Corps, specifically for field use because of its mobility and functionality. “This instrument was powered by hand-turned magnetos to send the electronic signal over insulated wire and did not require the heavy batteries needed by civilian telegraphs,” said Morphy Auctions’ president, Dan Morphy. “It has an alphabet dial and pointer instead of the usual key for transmission. The operator needed only to move the lever to points on the dial representing the chosen alphabetic letters to compose his message, while on the receiving end, the dial would move to the corresponding position on the dial. It was quite advanced for its time.” One of two known examples in private hands (three others are in museum collections), the machine consigned to Morphy’s is estimated at $35,000-$100,000.
The second Civil War highlight is a cased sword presented in May 1862 to Colonel Edward S. Sanford, US Military Supervisor of the Telegraph. Prior to his military appointment by President Lincoln, Sanford was president of the American Telegraph Company. His fine Model 1850 Staff and Field Officer’s presentation sword has a 32-inch blade and total length of 38 1/8 inches. It is etched with views of federal symbols and mottos, and its inscription says the sword was gifted “… by many Friends as a / Testimonial to his Courtesy and Impartiality / Zeal and Fidelity.” In near-mint condition with its original scabbard, its auction estimate is $25,000-$75,000.
Among the finest of the 72 edged weapons in the sale is a 1929-1931 Scagel recurved hunting knife with a crown stag pommel, double-stamped kris and additional stamp reading W. SCAGEL/HANDMADE. Significantly, its hand-tooled leather sheath has a HEISER/DENVER button. This indicates the knife was originally retailed by Abercrombie & Fitch, whose practice was to send Scagel knives to Heiser for the manufacture of custom sheaths. With provenance from the Dr. James R. Lucie collection, it is expected to reach $8,000-$15,000 at auction.
From a different time and place, a formidable-looking kabuto, or Japanese warrior’s helmet, is composed of 69 “ken,” or iron plates; a “menpo,” or samurai mask; “fukigaeshi,” protuberances on the sides of the helmet, designed to stop an enemy’s sword from reaching the neck area; and a three-lame shikoro to protect the back of the neck. Estimate: $5,000-$8,000
A stellar array of antique-to-modern field and range firearms will cross the auction block in the December 16, 17 and 18 sessions. A top prize in the antique rifle category is a relief-carved flintlock Kentucky-style rifle attributed to John Graeff, a Lancaster, Pa., gunsmith who was active during and shortly after the Revolutionary War. He is known to have made rifles for the government. Lot estimate: $3,000-$5,000. Another early rifle capturing collectors’ attention is an experimental/prototype British .70-caliber military percussion musket. The Adams Patent gun is made in the form of a British Pattern 1851 Minie Rifle and has a (Lt. General) Henry Shrapnel Patent backsight. Its estimate is $4,000-$8,000.
Robustly crafted Brownings, whose registered company logo is “The Best There Is,” have their own avid following amongst firearms collectors. There is sure to be interest from their ranks when a “Diana Grade” superposed over/under 20-bore shotgun crosses the auction block. Made in Belgium for Browning Arms Co., in 1968, it is engraved with images of ducks and pheasants and is signed by the engraver “CH Servais.” Estimate: $4,000-$6,000
Those in the market for a top-notch shotgun need look no farther than a cased Pietro Beretta Model S04 Premium single-barrel 12-gauge made in the 1980s in Brescia, Italy. The pistol grip cap on this shotgun displays Monaco and Montreal Olympic markings which commemorate Beretta wins at these events. The auction estimate is $6,000-$10,000.
More than 580 antique and modern revolvers and other handguns are entered in the auction. One of many highlights is a boxed Colt Python 2nd-year-production double-action .357 Magnum with the unusual serial number “1300.” This desirable revolver from Colt’s “snake gun” series was made in 1956, then stored away for the next 66 years. Estimate: $5,000-$7,000
Providing they arrived on horseback, some lucky bidder may choose to depart the auction in the unmistakable high style of Edward H. Bohlin, Hollywood’s saddler to the stars. Lot 2528 consists of a Bohlin parade saddle, bridle and breast collar made in 1936 for Western film actor and Tom Mix contemporary Mickey Eissa (1896-1962). Eissa’s horse was outfitted in the lavish gear for the Tournament of Roses Parade and many other high-profile events, as well as a 1939 issue of Life magazine. The ensemble’s 500+ hand-cut, hand-engraved silver pieces are estimated to weigh a hefty 200 ounces. Auction estimate: $15,000-$25,000
Morphy’s December 15-18, 2020 auction series, consisting of a Dec. 15 Edged Weapons & Militaria session and Dec. 16-18 Field & Range Firearms sessions, will be held at the company’s Denver, Pennsylvania gallery, starting each day at 10 a.m. ET. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Morphy Live. Questions: call 877-968-8880 or email [email protected]. Online: www.morphyauctions.com.