Julia’s Historic Firearms Auction Produces an Extraordinary $18 Million in Sales

Fairfield, Maine, March 12-13, 2012. James D. Julia’s had touted their Spring firearms auction for a matter of months as being comprised of three historic collections. The auction results were equally historic. The much anticipated auction had one of the strongest responses Julia’s ever experienced for a firearms auction. But as they say, “The proof is in the pudding,” and the proof was simply extraordinary. At nearly $18 million the sale generated by far the highest grossing firearms auction ever held in history. The low estimate of everything sold was just a little over $10 million. Thus the sale results were almost $8 million over low estimate! Also of note was another firearms auction, held by Jim Julia’s sister and brother-in-law who operate the Poulin Auction Company, which grossed over $2 million the three days preceding the Julia auction. Thus the five day gun auction event generated approximately $20 million in all! This record far exceeds the former world record of $12.7 million set by the Julia firm in March 2008. The statistics are equally as impressive. Over 185 lots generated $25,000 or more; 65 lots generated $50,000 or more; 18 lots generated $100,000 or more, eight of those generated $200,000 or more.

The sale began with Class III items which always generate strong interest. Some lots had as many as 20 to 30 telephones with numerous absentee bids. A Colt 1919 B.A.R. Commercial 30-06 automatic rifle, estimated at $20,000-$30,000, was top lot at $43,700.

20th Century arms included a historic Sauer double rifle presented to Hermann Goering by the City of Suhl, Germany, in 1934. This lavishly engraved gun, estimated at $100,000-$200,000, went out at $115,000. An extraordinary rare Colt engraved service model Ace pistol in pristine condition carried a presale estimate of $40,000-$50,000 and blew through the top of that estimate at $103,500.

The next session included an outstanding array of high-grade sporting shotguns and rifles. An ultra-rare 20 ga. Parker Grade 3 hammer/lifter shotgun, estimated at $3,000-$5,000, seemed like it was never going to stop, but finally went out at $32,200. An exceptionally fine L.C. Smith 20 ga. Monogram Grade, estimated at $50,000-$60,000, went out at $51,750. An exquisite Purdey Best over-under single trigger game gun in 20 ga. was estimated at $55,000-$75,000 and sold just under $60,000. One of the top items of the day, however, was a huge J. Dickson Four Bore Hammer shotgun made for the eccentric Charles Gordon. Gordon, during his lifetime commissioned many of the leading English firearms firms of the day to produce copies of their earlier guns. Most of these exquisite guns created for him were never used and are in extraordinary condition. This was one of only two four bores ever made and carried a presale estimate of $40,000-$60,000. It sailed far beyond the high estimate at $86,250. A brace of John Dixon percussion pistols made also for Gordon, in the original pigskin lined case was estimated at $15,000-$20,000 and went out at $24,000. The highest selling lot of the sporting arms was an Alfred Lancaster .450 double rifle made for the Maharaja of Bulrampore. The gun, originally made in 1871, at that time was fitted with a complete butt stock and fore stock made from rhinoceros horn. Because of the size of the stock, it was probably a white rhino as they are one of the few rhinoceroses that produced horns big enough to accomplish this remarkable feat. Because of the value of the rhino stock alone, the gun was estimated at $50,000-$75,000. But it soared to almost twice the high estimate at $138,000. Sporting rifles included the J. Rigby .470 nitro sidelock ejector rising bite double rifle estimated at $50,000-$80,000, which sold at $67,850.

Immediately following the sale of the sporting arms was Dr. Lucie’s historic collection of Bill Scagel knives. Bill Scagel (1875-1963) made exquisite handmade knives up until his death. His utilitarian knives were truly works of art and the vast society of bladesmiths today trace their beginnings back to Bill Scagel. He was indeed the genesis of today’s high art knives. Dr. Lucie was Scagel’s personal physician and later became an ardent collector of Scagel knives. He is considered to be the reigning authority today on Bill Scagel and his works, and recently completed the definitive book on Bill Scagel and his life. Lucie’s collection was extraordinary not only for the number of objects but also their rarity and exceptional condition. Leading up to the sale there was tremendous interest. The highest priced lot was a massive, extremely rare Scagel made VL&A Bowie knife with its original sheath in outstanding condition. It carried a presale estimate of $18,000-$28,000 and sold for $45,425. The second highest grossing lot in the collection was a rare Scagel made D-Guard Fighter. One of only six ever made, this one was made for a marine in 1942 during WWII. The knife and its original scabbard estimated at $18,000-$26,000, finally sold for $41,400. One of the most important Scagel item in the collection was Scagel’s personal sheathed knife carried and used by him on a daily basis. Inscribed on the blade was his name, “W. Scagel”. It carried presale estimate of $20,000-$28,000 and finally sold for $40,250. Scagel didn’t just make knives – he also made other blades including axes. A special ax was described by Dr. Lucie as an extremely rare 2-handed ax which is the only one known by the author to exist. In excellent condition, it carried a presale estimate of $17,500-$25,000 and finally sold for $29,900. Dr. Lucie was unquestionably very passionate about his collection and his descriptions reflected his great passion. In many cases a knife carried a personal story about Bill Scagel and/or how Dr. Lucie came to own the knife. One such knife was one referred to as the “Damn Democrat” knife. Scagel, always the crusty, independent, extremely conservative individual would never be beholden to anyone. After receiving a favor from the local Ward Chairman of the Democrat party, the next day he made a small string cutter knife and went to the ward chairman’s home, handed it to him with the comment, “Thanks for the favor the other night.” A week or so later a friend inquired of Bill about the strange knife he made for the ward chairman of the Democrat party. Scagel responded, “Oh, you mean that damn Democrat knife.” When his friend inquired why the handle of the knife had an ivory slab on one side and a striated mother-of-pearl handle on the other side, he quickly responded, “Those damn Democrats are two-faced, so I made him a two-faced knife!” The diminutive knife measuring about 3 5/8” long, carried a presale estimate of $3,500-$5,000 and went out at $11,500.

The final historic collection of the first day was the estate of the late Robert Howard. Howard was unquestionably one of the foremost firearms collectors of the twentieth century. His extraordinary diverse taste in firearms resulted in an extremely comprehensive collection which began with early flintlocks and ran all the way to arms of World War II. Condition, rarity and quality were all hallmarks of his collection, and there was a tremendous response. Most anybody who has been in the firearms world for any length of time knew who Bob Howard was and esteemed the things in his collection. Their esteem was reflected in bids. A rare factory engraved Winchester Model 86 Deluxe, estimated at $30,000-$50,000 sold for $63,250. Mr. Howard loved good Colts and his collection reflected that. An engraved black powder SAA with Texas history, and in very fine condition was estimated at $25,000-$35,000, but it blew through the roof and tripled the high estimate at $97,750. His rare black powder frame nickel sheriff’s model had a presale estimate of $15,000-$30,000 and went out at $57,500. An extremely rare factory engraved boxed Colt, Model 1877 D.A. was a stunner, and so was its final price. Estimated at $4,000-$7,000, it did over 5 times the high estimate at $39,100. An exceptional cased Model 1861 Navy percussion revolver estimated at $20,000-$30,000 also performed very well at just under $60,000. A very rare Smith and Wesson No. 3 Third Model Russian single action revolver was estimated at $25,000-$40,000, but performed nearly 3 times its high estimate selling to a collector of Smith & Wesson at just over $112,000.

Items related to the Old West have tremendous interest. So while the price on one lot was very high, it was not as shocking as some of the other results. A complete Buffalo hunter’s outfit including a cased Sharps rifle, caliber 50-70 was estimated at $25,000-$40,000 and went out at just over $86,000. One focal point of the Howard Collection was his infatuation with unusual derringers. There were many great rarities in this collection some of which produced dramatic results. A rare Remington-rider magazine pistol in superb condition estimated at $4,000-$7,000 sold at just under $21,000. A spectacular cased engraved and gold-plated American Standard Tip-up revolver was estimated at $4,000-$7,000. It saw incredible competition and ended up over 3 times the high estimate at $23,000. A boxed pair of engraved No. 1 Moore all metal Derringers in the original cardboard box were also estimated at $4,000-$7,000, and also went out at a remarkable $23,000. The biggest money Derringer of the day was the rare Reid large frame knuckle duster in 41 rim fire. Estimated at $6,000-$12,000, it sold for just under $36,000.

Tuesday morning’s auction began with another historic session. Touted as perhaps one of the finest Winchester collections to ever come to auction was the collection of the late Wes Adams. The condition, quality and rarity of these guns were astounding. Julia decided to divide the Winchester collection into three equal parts and this was the first of three auctions to take place to dispose of the Winchester collection. The results on Tuesday were phenomenal. Many of the finest collectors and Winchester aficionados had been attracted and the results were tremendous testament to the Wes Adams and his collection. An extraordinary, one of a kind, relief engraved, gold and nickel Winchester Model 1866 carried a presale estimate of $200,000-$300,000, and went out at $293,250. A rare early Model 73 22 caliber, estimated at $20,000-$32,000 sold for approximately 5 times high estimate at $155,250. Things continued this way throughout the Wes Adams sale. A rare factory engraved exhibition Model 94, estimated at $40,000-$60,000 saw tremendous competition and ended up at $207,000. An exceptional John Ulrich engraved gold inlaid Model 94, estimated at $50,000-$80,000 went out at $253,000 after the dust cleared. Wes Adams had been known as a man of great passion, enthusiasm and determination when it came to Winchesters. He had a hard time taking no for an answer, sometimes going back to the collector on multiple occasions, each time raising the price until he finally got what he wanted. It appeared that many of the bidders here decided to follow his lead. A rare deluxe Model 1887 Damascus shotgun estimated at $25,000-$40,000 topped out at just over $63,000. One lot was an extraordinary original crate of unissued Winchester Model 94 saddle ring carbines. As the story went, some years ago a few cases of these guns were found in a warehouse. They had originally been destined for a militia unit but never used. All but two of the cases were broken and sold individually – this being one of the only two kept intact. It carried a presale estimate of $50,000-$100,000, and after a heated bidding battle it sold for $218,500.

The Winchesters were not the only thing that Wes collected. For a period of time he had an infatuation with Marlins, but his modus operandi was the same. If it was great – do whatever it took to get it. As a result he had some spectacular examples. One such spectacular acquisition was a rare deluxe engraved Model 93 with platinum and gold inlay. Estimated at $20,000-$60,000, it went out at $120,750. Another stand out in this collection was a rare, engraved special order takedown 1895 with a presale estimate of $16,000-$28,000. It topped out at about 4 times high estimate for $92,000.

Wes also had for a period of time an infatuation for Colts and again, his tastes were focused on condition, condition, condition. Some of the finest single action cavalry Colts known were in his collection. His Ainsworth inspected SAA, possibly the finest known to exist, was estimated at $125,000-$175,000. It went out at a little over $200,000. A rare and extraordinary case hardened sheriff’s model considered to possibly be one of the finest of its type known was estimated at $125,000-$175,000 and went out for a hearty $282,000. A fine Cuno Helfricht engraved Colt SAA estimated at $20,000-$45,000 generated $112,000.

The Adams Collection of Winchesters was not the only good Winchesters in this sale. Immediately after the Adams Collection, items from other estates and collections were sold including an extraordinary half nickel Henry that was consigned by the descendants of the original owner. The owner had been a piano player in Dodge City during its wild days and had been given the Henry by a grateful saloon owner. It carried a presale estimate of $75,000-$125,000 and went out at $126,000. A rare famous Nimschke engraved Model 66 saddle ring carbine estimated at $85,000-$145,000 sold for $161,000. From the Dr. Ed Lewis collection came an extraordinary rare Winchester Model 73, One of One Hundred, considered to be one of the finest ones known to exist. This one carried a presale estimate of $150,000-$200,000 and went out at $316,250. Many firearm firms produced special arms to be displayed at the Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Those few that have survived are exceedingly collectable and much sought after. One of those centennial arms, produced by Sharps was a Sharps Model 1875, long range single shot. It was estimated at $150,000-$250,000 and sold for $201,000. A pair of extraordinary cased Tryon gold inlaid Philadelphia percussion derringers with casing similar to a pair of famous Dragoon revolvers that were once owned by James Janeway-Van Sickle and very likely originally belonged to him was estimated at $65,000-$125,000, and sold for $86,250.

Julia’s set and broke the world record twice in the past year for Kentucky rifles and so understandably this sale had a number of fine examples. One was a George Schreyer relief carved flintlock with rattlesnake patch box, estimated at $32,500-$42,500. The barrel and the fore stock had been stretched at one time, but this rare gun by an important maker from the Golden Age still realized $69,000.

A great selection of rare Civil War items was offered in this sale; many pieces were from a single collector. An extraordinary rare Thomas Griswold & Co. New Orleans confederate military rifle with engraved lock and hammer was estimated at $75,000-$125,000 and realized $92,000. A rare confederate Fayetteville High-Hump rifle estimated at $15,000-$25,000 brought just over $35,000. One extraordinary item was a recently discovered rare early production LeMat revolver in superb condition. It had been discovered by a cleaning company that was cleaning debris from an old house. The gun offered here with an estimate of $60,000-$90,000, went out at $69,000. A rare Leech & Rigdon Novelty Works confederate revolver, considered one of only a couple known, and this one possibly being the finest was estimated at $40,000-$60,000 and brought just under $100,000. A good confederate Dance revolver estimated at $40,000-$60,000 went out at $48,300. A dramatic and beautiful small Civil War flag with battle honors (including Gettysburg) for the 8th New Jersey Infantry carried a presale estimate of $20,000-$30,000 and realized just under $35,000.

A group of Indian objects offered were originally assembled by Lydia Parry-Teasdale, whose father at one time owned the largest carriage factory in the world. The family located in Indiana eventually also made the Parry automobile. Her collection at one time was on display at the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. An extraordinary rare carved wooden feast bowl, probably Sioux 18th century and having an ornamental quill-work fringe around the edge was estimated at $50,000-$85,000 and went out at just under $52,000. Another great rarity was an extraordinary Springfield Officer’s model rifle with marksman’s type stock. The gun was the only one ever made and had been ordered by General John Gibbon of Civil War and Indian War fame. General Gibbon was one of the many military officers that pursued Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce Indians on their attempted retreat to Canada. Gibbon intercepted Chief Joseph and attacked his entire village, but the brilliant Chief Joseph and his braves rallied and overcame Gibbon, captured his Gatling gun and greatly humiliated him and his entire command. The gun, estimated at $50,000-$100,000 went out at $57,000.

The sale proceeds realized by the Julia firm at nearly $18 million is not only by far the highest grossing firearms auction ever conducted in history, but was attained with only fewer than 1100 lots, having an incredible average of about $16,500 per lot. A truly astounding sale. It must be remembered there are more extraordinary things to come from the fabulous Wes Adams Collection this fall.

They say a rising tide raises all ships and certainly the results of the sale saw tremendous enthusiasm, excitement and highly competitive bidding. Some of this enthusiasm spilled over into other areas. At every sale Julia’s sells a large lot of past auction catalogs. The entire proceeds (including the 15% buyer’s premium) are donated to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Usually the lot of a dozen catalogs will bring anywhere from $10-$100. At this sale, a similar lot was offered and after briefly asking for $100 opening bid, Martin Lane, of Lane Historical Americana in New York City, shouted out “$1,500”! The auctioneer asked if anyone would advance it to $1,600 and Lane jovially offered to raise his own bid to $1,600. Lane is one of the world’s foremost Colt dealers. Next, a renowned Winchester dealer, Leroy Mertz sitting nearby decided to compete with Lane and raise it to $1,700. The bidding battle eventually ended up with Lane winning at $2,500—or should we say – St. Jude’s Hospital winning! It was a very generous gesture on both of these gentlemen’s parts, and Julia and the entire crowd gave Lane an ovation for his generosity.

For more details check out www.jamesdjulia.com online. James D. Julia can be contacted by email at firearms@jamesdjulia.com or by telephone at 207-453-7125 and are located at 203 Skowhegan Rd., Fairfield, ME 04937. Auctioneer: James D. Julia Lic#: ME: AR83 NH: 2511.

Extraordinary, One of a Kind, Relief Engraved, Gold & Nickel Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action Rifle (Wes Adams Estate Collection)
Estimate $200,000-300,000. SOLD: $300,900

Extraordinarily Rare Original Crate of Ten Unissued Winchester Model 94 Saddle Ring Carbines (Wes Adams Estate Collection)
Estimate $50,000-100,000. SOLD: $218,500

Fine Ainsworth Inspected Colt Cavalry SAA Revolver, Possibly the Finest Extant (Wes Adams Estate Collection)
Estimate $125,000-175,000. SOLD: $201,250

Rare & Extraordinarily High Condition Colt Sheriff’s Model SAA Revolver Believed to be the Finest Example Extant (Wes Adams Estate Collection)
Estimate $125,000-175,000. SOLD: $281,750

Extraordinarily Rare Winchester Model 1873 “1 of 100” Lever Action Rifle (Dr. Edmund E. Lewis Collection)
Estimate $150,000-200,000. SOLD: $316,250

Fine and Rare Production LeMat Revolver
Estimate $60,000-90,000. SOLD: $69,000

One of a Kind Sharps Model 1875 Centennial Exhibition Long Range Single Shot Rifle
Estimate $150,000-250,000. SOLD: $201,250

Rare Leech & Rigdon Novelty Works Confederate Revolver
Estimate $40,000-60,000. SOLD: $97,750

Extremely Rare & Important Ceremonial Burl Carved Feast Bowl, Probably Sioux (Ex-Lydia Perry Teasdale Collection)
Estimate $50,000-85,000. SOLD: $51,750

Huge J. Dickson Four Bore Hammer Shotgun Made for Charles Gordon, with Original Case, Leather Outer Cover and Accessories
Estimate $40,000-60,000. SOLD: $86,250

Rhino Horn Stocked Alfred Lancaster .450 Double Rifle Made for the Maharaja of Bulrampore with Spare Stocks and Case
Estimate $50,000-75,000. SOLD: $138,000

J. Rigby .470 Nitro Sidelock Ejector Rising Bite Double Rifle with Case and Accessories Estimate $50,000-80,000. SOLD: $67,850

Scagel’s Personal Knife, An Extremely Rare and Important Scagel Knife (Dr. Jim Lucie Collection)
Estimate $20,000-28,000. SOLD: $41,300

Massive Extremely Rare Scagel Made VL&A Bowie Knife
Estimate $18,000-28,000. SOLD: $45,425

The “Damn Democrat” Knife (Dr. Jim Lucie Collection)
Estimate $3,500-5,000. SOLD: $11,500

Engraved Black Powder Colt Single Action Army Revolver with Texas History (Robert Howard Estate Collection)
Estimate $25,000-35,000. SOLD: $97,750

Scarce Cased Colt London Model 1860 Percussion Revolver (Robert Howard Estate Collection) Estimate $30,000-40,000. SOLD: $57,500

Extremely Rare Genuine Buffalo Hunter’s Rifle Complete with Carrying Case & Hunter’s Equipment (Robert Howard Estate Collection)
Estimate $25,000-40,000. SOLD: $86,250

Rare Reid Large Frame Knuckle Duster (Robert Howard Estate Collection)
Estimate $6,000-12,000. SOLD: $35,650

Julia’s state-of-the-art auction facility is large and comfortable, replete with a large, interesting collection of sporting decorations. The firearms are laid out and presented in a convenient and professional manner with many items displayed under glass.

The response was one of the greatest the Firearms Division has experienced in many years, both from live and absentee bidders. Here James Julia, assisted by Dudley Browne, fields bids.

Extremely Rare Deluxe Engraved Marlin Model 1893 Takedown Lever Action Rifle with Platinum & Gold.
Estimate $20,000-60,000. SOLD: $120,750