James D. Julia, Inc.

Rare Firearms Division
Upcoming Auction.
To most firearms aficionados, Elmer Keith needs no introduction.

More Highlights

  Notable Treasure
Elmer's July 4th celebration accident in 1927 launched his literary career... He kept this blown cylinder as a reminder (Elmer Keith Estate Collection).

Happy Holidays!
by Mark Ford, CEO

I just want to take this time to thank all of our consignors and clients. It has been wonderful getting to know so many of you and learning about your business, collections and passions.

When the collections arrive at Julia's it is almost like watching the kids on Christmas morning. Typically the FEDEX driver drops off the package at the receiving dock and Tom will open it up and inspect it. Soon afterward, Jim meanders back into the receiving area to check out what just came in. If it is glass or lamps, Julie or Mike are soon there to take a look.

Article Image When Wes or John start to unpack the latest firearm delivery, Fred or I are down there to check out what just came through the door. JR and Malcolm are there to share their opinion and insight into each one and help make us a bit wiser.

One thing that I frequently hear during our auctions is that a Julia's auction is like... Read more.

What's It Worth

Jim Corbett's Tiger Rifle-the best quality .450-400 by W. J. Jeffery & Co., he killed many man-eating tigers for the Indian Government (Elmer Keith Estate Coll.)

If you have a single item, collection or entire Estate and want to know "What's it worth?" please take a picture and email us at firearms@jamesdjulia.com. We are always looking for rare & valuable items, as well as collections for our auctions.

Mister Magnum - Elmer Keith by Wes Dillon
To most firearms aficionados, Elmer Keith needs little introduction. Keith's iconic trademarks were his love for tobacco, his ten-gallon Stetson hat, right of center point of view, and practical expertise. Elmer became arguably the most famous and prolific gun writer in all of America over the span of his 60 year career. Even today his articles and books are widely reprinted with the content being as applicable, timely and entertaining as the day they were written.

Elmer Merrifield Keith was born March 8, 1899 in Hardin, Missouri, the heart of "Red Leg" guerrilla country during the Civil War. The Keith clan knew many of the legendary characters of the day and baby Elmer was fed tales of gunfighters, outlaws and cowboys while in the cradle, instead of Mother Goose and nursery rhymes every day. The age of the wild frontier was coming to a close and the new gilded age of progress and innovation was at the doorstep... at least in more urbanized America east of the Mississippi. Elmer's father, growing restless from the relative hustle and bustle of borderline Missouri, set out for western Montana, to raise his family and earn his keep tending the mercantile in a more comfortable environ...Elmer was six and his boyhood role models were the old war heroes, gunfighters and vigilantes of the frontier. As a young boy he spent many Montana summers in the company of such characters which served to mold and shape Elmer's unique outlook and shooting skills.

lmer Keith Estate Coll.
Fabulous Factory Engr S&W Pre-M29 .44 Mag, Pres to EK by S&W boss Carl Helstrom
(Elmer Keith Estate Coll.)

As a young man, Elmer was primarily a ranch hand and big game wrangler/guide in Oregon and Idaho. His tools were of the trade were a horse and a gun. He had a keen understanding of what worked for him and why, and began modifying his guns and ammunition to suit his needs and insatiable curiosity. He began to share his ideas with some of the early gun writers of the day with bits of shared ideas appearing in print as a result of his observations in the field. The first published article was in the American Rifleman in 1924. His writing style was pure and wreaked of frontier

Americana as this excerpt, describing his epiphany, a July 4th celebration with his Colt SAA .45LC; "When the gun rose from recoil of the first cartridge I unconsciously hooked my thumb over the hammer spur and thus cocked gun as it recovered from recoil. When I turned the next one loose I was almost deafened by the report and saw a little flash of flame. My hand automatically cocked gun and snapped again but no report. I stopped then knowing

lmer Keith Estate Coll.
The Last Word in Sixguns, ca 1927... The famous Colt SAA Number Five (Elmer Keith Estate Coll.)

something was wrong. The upper half of three chambers was gone. Also one cartridge and half of another case. Also the top strap over cylinder. My ears were ringing otherwise I was all O.K." (American Rifleman, August 15, 1925). Little did he know at the time that this event would change his life forever. Elmer kept the blown up cylinder as a visual reminder to himself that using oversized rifle bullets in a Sixgun was a No-No and the importance of proper bullet sizing on performance. This innocent Independence Day accident opened the door to a new career and independence for Keith. It is amazing to realize how ignorant Keith and most of the shooting world was in 1925 and how much he subsequently learned and taught us all. If that old Colt had not blown its top strap and cylinder, Keith may have spent most of his life ranching on the North Fork of the Salmon River and shooting his old .45 LC at Johnnie rabbits, with no one ever knowing what he was all about.

During World War II, he served as a small arms inspector at the Ogden, UT Arsenal with his cartouche, a small rectangle with initials OGEK. Martial arms that bear this inspector's mark are now considered quite collectable by devotees. Postwar, Keith subsequently devoted his full efforts towards the shooting sports (both hunting and target) and writing about the results. His works largely focused on the real world performance of the latest new gun offerings firing large, heavy bullets pushed to high velocities as well as his own "hot rod" hand-loaded creations. His field tests across North America and Africa provided a wealth of fresh material. During his career, he served on the editorial staff of The Outdoorsman,

The American Rifleman, Western Sportsman, Guns Magazine, and Guns and Ammo. Elmer also wrote 10 books, beginning with Sixgun Cartridges and Loads in 1936 and ending with his autobiography, Hell, I was there!, from 1979. His works are considered required reading for neophytes and serve as refreshment for the seasoned gunny Aside from his recognized and published works, Keith penned tens of thousands of personal letters that were hand-written to an ever growing throng of followers and antagonists from all walks of life and from all points on the globe. One might believe that his gruff exterior and remote lifestyle would harbor a solitary persona, but Elmer was very approachable. He was comfortable passing time with the ordinary Joe on the street and his Salmon, ID home was always open to those who made the

Elmer Keith Estate Coll.
Elmer's Personal Carry Gun... S&W M 29 .44 Mag w /4" bbl in Milt Sparks FBI holster
(Elmer Keith Estate Coll.)

pilgrimage in search of the truth or an argument. Elmer was very opinionated on matters where his experiences dictated facts and yet was not afraid to admit when he simply did not know something... a rare trait for someone in the public eye. Elmer was keen to discuss Sixguns as they were his tools of opportunity, both as a young rancher and later as an accomplished scholar. He liked big bullets with big powder charges. This magnum mentality made Keith famous. His first contribution, the .357 Magnum, was the result of handloading the .38 Spl cartridge well past the red line, taking full advantage of the greater frame and cylinder strength of the revolvers of the day. The longer cased .357 Magnum first became available in 1935 and quickly became a favorite among law enforcement and civilian users. The S&W "Registered Magnum" was an overnight sensation. The .44 Magnum was developed in much the same way, and was released commercially in 1956. Keith had earlier determined that the thinner chamber walls of the .45 Colt would... Read more.

At James D. Julia, Inc. we are always seeking high quality antiques of all types for our year-round auctions. We offer the best seller commission rates in the industry, as low as 0% for high value items and collections. Please contact us directly at 207-453-7125 (Maine office) or 781-460-6800 (Boston area office) to learn more or if you are considering consigning one item, an entire collection or an estate to auction. All inquiries are confidential and without obligation.

Lic#: ME:AR83 / MA: AU1406 / NH: 2511