Julia’s Fall Firearms Auction–Another Historic Blowout

In March of this year James D. Julia Auctioneers conducted what is the largest grossing firearms auction ever in history. At nearly $18 million, nothing else had ever come close to that figure. It was hard to imagine ever putting together another sale of such monumental proportions, but the recent October sale certainly nearly approached it. At almost $16 million, the October sale is the second largest grossing firearms auction ever held in history.

The first day began with the second session of the Wes Adams Winchester Collection, and like those offered in Julia’s March auction, the participation was extraordinary. In fact, the crowd in attendance was one of the largest in recent years; many had come for the Adams’ Winchester and/or Savage Collection, both of which are considered to be the finest of their type ever offered at auction. Highlights included a fine 1860 Henry rifle, estimated at $65,000-95,000, and realized $109,000. The piece de resistance of this Adams’ session, however, was a spectacular cased, silver-plated and L.D. Nimschke engraved Model 1866. The gun was originally made for James J. Hill, a railroad and steamboat magnate, and reportedly when he died in the early 20th century, he left an estate of $53 million. The gun carried an estimate of $100,000-175,000, but when the smoke cleared, it had realized $224,250. This same gun had at one time been the focal point of the renowned Eldon Owen’s Collection, also considered to be one of the top Winchester collections ever offered at auction in the world. A fine Model 76 with beautiful case coloring was estimated at $15,000-25,000, and it brought just under $49,000. A rare, semi-deluxe Model 86 with extraordinary case coloring estimated at $25,000-40,000 brought just over $50,000. A rare Model 94 saddle-ring carbine estimated at $25,000-40,000 went out at just over $63,000. A presentation 1873 John Ulrich engraved Winchester, presented to George P. Bissell, carried a presale estimate of $30,000-50,000, and finally sold for just under $95,000. An early, special order Model 86 estimated at $50,000-80,000 realized just under $75,000.

Also featured in the first session from the Adams’ collection was Session One of his Savage collection, unquestionably the finest collection of Savages to ever come to auction in the world. Session One included a number of rare Savages. A factory D engraved Savage Model 99 with carved wood carried a presale estimate of $20,000-30,000 but went for $77,625. The very next gun, a spectacular one-of-a-kind factory engraved Model 99, also with carved wood, was estimated at $27,500-37,500 and brought just under $52,000.

Wes also had a great love for Colts, and this session included the remainder of his collection of Colts. A very rare, early pinch frame Colt SA, SN 2 carried a presale estimate of $40,000-60,000 and finally went out at $63,250. Also a rare Nimschke engraved Colt SA estimated at $30,000-50,000, went out at $69,000. The second session also included the remainder of Wes Adams’ Marlin collection and included some extraordinary examples. An extremely rare, deluxe, engraved presentation quality Model 1893 takedown in outstanding condition was estimated at $30,000-50,000 but sold way over high estimate at $80,500. Also an ultra-rare deep relief gold-plated presentation Model 1889 was estimated at $20,000-30,000, and that also went way over high estimate at $48,300.

The Adams’ Winchesters were not the only good Winchesters in this auction. A rare special order, deluxe Model 76 with a presale estimate of $55,000-75,000 blew past the high estimate to $86,250. Another great Henry in high condition was estimated at $60,000-100,000 and went out at $80,500. A group of rare Winchester advertising items, most of which were from an old-time Winchester collection, included a very rare 1891 Winchester calendar, estimated at $5,000-8,000. It more than doubled its high estimate to sell for $19,550.

Rare and wonderful Sharps rifles have been kind of a mainstay in the recent past Julia auctions, some bringing outstanding prices such as this extraordinary Freund 1874 “Boss” gun Sharps. This one went out at $166,750.

Historical arms also do extremely well at Julia’s, and this sale was no exception. Included was an extremely rare factory-engraved Colt SA Sheriff’s model that originally belonged to legendary lawman Jefferson Davis Milton. Milton was at one time a Texas Ranger, and eventually became Sheriff in various areas, including El Paso. He was commissioned by Theodore Roosevelt into the U.S. Immigration Service to patrol the southwestern border. Milton was not only a historic, but colorful, western lawman. In fact, his biography laid claim to the famous lawman’s statement, “I never killed a man that didn’t need killing.” His Colt was estimated at $150,000-250,000 and went out at just a tad over $200,000.

Holding the record for the collection to come from the greatest distance was a Dr. John and Margaret Pickup Collection of rare antique Colts. The Pickups, residents of Tasmania, had recently decided to dispose of their fine collection. One of the most stunning offerings was their extremely rare cased, 1st Model Dragoon, which was identified to C.H. Bowman of the Tampico Rangers. This is believed to be one of the finest 1st Model Dragoons known and carried a presale estimate of $125,000-225,000. It went out at just over $181,000. A Walker pistol complete with an appropriate size holster and rare Walker flask, carried a presale estimate of $100,000-150,000 and went out at $109,000. A rare Colt Paterson, No. 5 Texas Model revolver, estimated at $100-150,000, just squeaked by the low estimate at $103,500. A stunning and rare cased engraved pair of Colt 1851 London Navys, estimated at $75,000-125,000, brought over low estimate at $80,500 but still seemed like a very nice buy. Another historic gun, this one from the Pickup Collection, was a cased, 1860 Colt given to Attorney General Edward Bates by Samuel Colt. It originally had come from the famous John Hamilton Collection of identified firearms which Julia’s sold a number of years ago. This time it was estimated at $50,000-75,000 and went out at $51,750.

There were many other great Colts from collections other than the Pickups. One such example was a fine 2nd model Dragoon in outstanding condition, estimated at $60,000-75,000. It realized $69,000. A rare pair of Colts with great history was the plated and engraved, presentation cased set of 1861 Navys. These, at one time, belonged to Medal of Honor Winner, Adjt. Chas. A. Clark of the Maine Volunteer Infantry. Estimated for $100,000-$150,000, is sold at just over $109,000.

The second session began with a spectacular offering of U.S. Civil War swords from the renowned Kevin Hoffman Collection. The highlight of this grouping was a rare, statue hilted sword worn by Brig. General Joseph Haskin. The sword’s grip featured a Civil War Officer impaling a serpent with his sabre all in beautiful gilt highlighting. It was estimated at $90,000-110,000 and neared mid-estimate at $109,250. An outstanding grouping of rare Confederate swords included a fine Courtney & Tennent Naval Officer’s sword. It was estimated at $40,000-50,000 and went out above estimate at $56,000. A fine Leech & Rigdon Confederate revolver estimated at $40,000-60,000 brought nearly high estimate at $57,500. A Confederate uniform once belonging to Capt. Mark S. Cockrill, of Rutledges Battery 1st Tennessee Artillery was estimated at $30,000-60,000. It sold for $48,500.

As with every auction, there were bargains, and there were some things that didn’t sell. One such item was a fabulous early American silk, embroidered jumpsuit made during the first half of the 19th century. This extraordinary rare piece featured embroidered naval anchors, spread-winged eagles and flags and carried what seemed to be a very reasonable presale estimate of $10,000-20,000. A rare and spectacular Confederate battle flag considered to be one of the finest of its type ever offered at auction was estimated at $75,000-125,000. It went out at $120,750. A historical A&V battle flag of the 2nd South Carolina Palmetto Regiment carried a presale estimate of $50,000-100,000. A number of bidders had lined up to bid on this historic flag. The flag quickly got to $50,000, when noted Confederate expert and dealer, John Sexton, hollered out “$51,000 on behalf of the South Carolina Museum.” At that point everyone stopped and the flag sold for $58,650 (of course including the 15% buyer’s premium).

Julia’s recently opened a new satellite office in Woburn, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston. Although they have only been open a few months, the dividends from the office have already paid off significantly. For instance, a collection of rusty, old artillery projectiles from the Gettysburg battle were discovered in an old Massachusetts house which was being renovated. The projectiles had at one time been part of the J.A. Danner Battlefield Museum in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Danner had collected these projectiles shortly after the actual battle and mounted many of them on little wooden plaques on which he painted the location of where they were found. Many of these projectiles retained these original small wooden plaques, one of which was inscribed, “Pickett’s Front,” another “Hancock Front,” etc. The entire grouping of relics were offered with a total presale estimate of $24,000-38,000, but blew far by the high estimate to finally realize $100,800.

All the big money was not just for Colts. An extremely rare cased presentation quality Savage revolver from the Civil War era carried a presale estimate of $27,500-32,500, and when the smoke cleared, it blew well past the high estimate to $46,000. Another great was a deluxe cased engraved presentation quality Starr SA revolver estimated at $15,000-20,000. It was hotly contested for and finally sold over double the high estimate at $41,400. Items associated with General George Custer and/or The Battle of Little Big Horn frequently crop up at Julia sales. A rare Indian used Custer range Springfield 1873 saddle-ring carbine carried a presale estimate of $6,500-9,500, but the bidders just kept bidding and bidding until the final sale price was over three times high estimate at $33,350.

The Pickup Collection also featured fine antique Smith and Wessons, one of which was a rare Model 320 revolving rifle with accessories. Estimated at $20,000-30,000, it reached over double high-estimate at $63,250. A unique collection of thirteen engraved 18th Century powder horns, believed to have been executed by the same carver had been written up in various articles over the years. The lot carried a presale estimate of $60,000-90,000 and went out at $69,000. Kentucky rifles have also been a staple at Julia’s. In fact, over the past two years they have set and broken the world record for a Kentucky rifle twice–the latest record being approximately $195,000. A double signed Ohio long rifle by James & William Clark was estimated at $35,000-55,000 did just over mid-estimate, selling for $46,000. Another exceptional carved and engraved long rifle by Jacob Sell was estimated at $45,000-65,000 and went out at $46,000. A British patent 1877 short land musket, estimated at $10,000-15,000, saw a lot of competition and brought twice over high estimate at $32,200.

Over the years Julia’s has established themselves as the preeminent seller of rare, high-grade and important sporting shotguns and rifles. A couple of years ago they set the world record for the most expensive shotgun ever sold at auction–a Fox shotgun that brought well over $800,000. This sale included a spectacular offering, rich in quality and rarity, which in turn attracted a great number of very motivated buyers. A beautiful full-relief engraved J. Rigby rising bite double rifle made for Mohammed Nasrullah Kahn in caliber 350 Rigby was estimated at $40,000-60,000. This was a prize and lots of serious collectors hoped to own it, and it ended up well above high estimate to sell for $80,500. Noted golfer Tom Watson’s 28 ga. Purdey best side lock ejector game gun was estimated at $70,000-90,000 and nudged low estimate at $69,000. A pair of fine cased Holland & Holland royal deluxe 20 bore game guns topped the charts for non-American sporting shotguns at this auction. Estimated for $75,000-100,000, they finally went out just above high estimate at $109,000. Another pair of Holland & Holland Grifnee engraved, deluxe game guns which were estimated at $75,000-100,000 realized just over $89,000. A beautiful pair of Westley Richards side lock ejector game guns were estimated at $45,000-55,000 and sold well above high estimate at almost $60,000.

The star of the sporting arms, however, was in the American shotguns. A rare and exceptional Parker 20 bore A-1 Special with beautiful deep relief engraving was estimated at $125,000-175,000 and came close to high estimate at $166,750. Another Parker, DHE 28 ga., estimated at $25,000-35,000, sold at just over $36,000. A fabulous Winchester Model 21 deluxe, No. 5, engraved two-barrel set for Chicago Industrialist, S. H. Wacky Arnolt, was estimated at $35,000-55,000 and went for a strong but not wacky price at $39,675. A rare and historic Parker was a Parker Bros. VHE 12 ga. The gun, originally ordered by Annie Oakley’s husband, Frank Butler, featured vignette engravings on either side of the breach of the famous crack-shot Annie Oakley herself, wearing her traditional broad-brimmed bonnet. The gun was estimated at $30,000-50,000 and neared low estimate at $28,750.

Another field in which the Julia company has dominated the market is in Class III items. A few years ago Julia’s handled the extraordinary Sterns Collection of rare military and Class III. The Class III segment of the collection was the largest and finest that had been offered at auction in many years, realizing between $1-2 million. Many of the examples in the Sterns Collection brought extraordinary prices. Since that time Julia’s has continued to attract a number of rare and wonderful Class III items and continues to generate very strong and impressive results. This sale included an extremely rare and early MG42/59 by Rheinmettal. It went out at $63,500. The M-60 caliber 308 manufactured by Maremont saw tremendous competition. It was estimated at $25,000-30,000 and sold way above high estimate at $37,950. Prices were generally strong throughout the Class III in this particular sale. An H&K M5, Sear conversion to full auto (fully transferable) in .22 caliber conversion kit, was estimated at $13,000-17,500, and it sold for almost double the high estimate at $31,050.

More details about this historic auction can be had by visiting Julia’s website at jamesdjulia.com, and catalogs together with prices realized lists are still available by contacting the office at 207-453-7125. Julia’s next auction will take place in late November and will include a major auction of rare Glass & Lamps, including fine Tiffany lamps, French cameo glass, etc. The Toy, Doll & Antique Advertising Division also has a spectacular sale put together, including a vast array of items. Julia’s is now accepting consignments for these and for the next Firearms Auction which will take place in March of 2013. This sale will include the third and final session of the Wes Adams collection and will feature the extraordinary Dodge Winchester and Dodge Savage rifles, both examples of some of the finest art produced by either one of these firms. Also included will be session two of the Pickup Collection as well as a vast array of Civil War, Confederate and fine high-grade shotguns and sporting rifles, Colts, and much, much more.




The finest of finest Parker A-1 Special 20 ga. with deep sculpted engraving. Estimated at $125,000-175,000. Sold for $166,750




Exquisite true pair of Holland & Holland royal deluxe sidelock ejector 20 bore with superb relief engraving and foliate scrollwork. Estimated at $75,000-100,000. Sold for $109,250




Extremely rare and desirable MG 42/59 7.62 mm machine gun by Rheinmetal in caliber .308 Nato. Sold for $63,250




Extraordinarily rare Freund “Boss” gun Sharps Model 1874 Sporting rifle purported to be one of the finest of its type in the world. Sold for $166,750




Spectacular Confederate Battle Flag in the Army of No. VA design. Perhaps the finest Confederate battle flag ever to come to public auction. Estimated at $75,000-125,000. Sold for $120,750




Extremely rare outstanding cased 1st Model Colt Dragoon percussion revolver identified to C.H. Bowman of the Tampico Rangers “Veteran of Mexican War” believed to be the finest in existence. (Dr. John & Margaret Pickup Collection) Estimated at $125,000-225,000. Sold for $181,125




Exceedingly rare and important factory engraved Colt SAA Sheriff’s Model built for legendary Western lawman Jeff Davis Milton in 1916. Estimated at $150,000-250,000. Sold for $201,125




Magnificent Savage 99 TD Monarch Grade .303 w/Tiger & Buffalo motifs and intricately carved stocks. (Wes Adams Estate Collection) Estimated at $20,000-30,000. Sold for $77,625




Superb early special order deluxe Winchester Model 1886 lever action, engraving includes platinum barrel bands, rare flatpoint checkering and pil finished wood. (Wes Adams Estate Collection) Estimated at $50,000-80,000. Sold for $74,750




Rare special order deluxe Winchester 3rd Model 1876 with vibrant original case colors. (Wes Adams Estate Collection) Estimated at $50,000-90,000. Sold for $69,000




Extra fine 1860 Henry lever action with wonderful rich brass patina and much original blue remaining. (Wes Adams Estate Collection) Estimated at $65,000-90,000. Sold for $109,250




Magnificent Marlin 1893 deluxe TD w/custom #10 style game scene engraved by Conrad Ulrich w/gold & platinum vinework. (Wes Adams Estate Collection) Estimated at $30,000-50,000. Sold for $80,500




Truly exceptional full relief engraved J. Rigby rising bite .350 NE double rifle for H. H. Mohammed Nasrullah Kahn. Estimated at $40,000-60,000. Sold for $80,500




Exquisite 20 gauge James Purdey best sidelock single trigger 20 bore game gun with case. Estimated at $35,000-55,000. Sold for $46,600




Magnificent true pair of Holland & Holland royal deluxe sidelock ejector 12 bore, with special relief engraved huntress encased in bold foliate by Ph. Grifnee. Estimated at $75,000-100,000. Sold for $89,125




Superb Confederate Naval officer’s sword, marked, “Courtney Tennent Charleston, SC.” Estimated at $40,000-50,000. Sold for $56,350




Rare & Unusual superb set of cased Wesley Richards sidelock ejector single trigger game guns, 20 gauge and 12 gauge with extra barrels. Estimated at $45,000-55,000. Sold for $59,800




Rarest of all Civil War statue hilted swords, presentation Schuyler, Hartley & Graham soldier Army statue hilt to “Col. Haskin”, worn by Brig. General Joseph Haskin. (Kevin Hoffman Collection) Estimated at $90,000-110,000. Sold for $109,250