Morphy Auctions will host a 1,267-lot auction of extraordinarily rare sporting and collector firearms on April 24-25, 2019 at the company’s flagship gallery in southeastern Pennsylvania. Many of the entries are historically important, such as a superb Russian M11 Purdey-type shotgun presented in 1959 to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev; or come with provenance from prestigious collections, among them the single-shot and target rifle estate collection of Francis “Brownie” Brown (1931-2018).
The Khrushchev M11 Model is a 12-bore shotgun with Purdey-type action and is inscribed to mark the commencement in 1959 of the 21st session of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. Khrushchev is an iconic figure of 20th century history who was known for his hardline politics during the Cold War Era and Cuban Missile Crisis. Engraved to the highest of standards, the shotgun is regarded as the most important 20th century Russian gun in existence. Its estimate is $150,000-225,000.
An exceedingly rare and highly select pair of 1924 Westley Richards .410-gauge SXS Best Droplock miniature “Hummingbird” guns are so named for their multicolored gold inlay with lavishly engraved images of hummingbirds. The plaque inside the original fitted case is engraved “23 Conduit St. London Gun Makers By Appointment to HM The King.” A most exceptional offering, the lot is estimated at $110,000-160,000.
Another highlight with a UK connection is the factory-documented special-order Winchester Model 1876 .50 caliber Express short rifle made for the British Commonwealth trade, with 1860 and 1866 patents. Factory-engraved by John Ulrich, whose name is microscopically stamped on the gun, it features masterfully executed flourishes and foliate scrollwork. This very rifle is shown on page 243 of The Winchester Book by George Madis. It is accompanied by a factory letter and will cross the auction block with a $90,000-110,000 estimate.
One of the most historically significant American guns in the sale is the Springfield Trumpeteer .45-.55 caliber trapdoor carbine that was forensically confirmed as a match to one of only 10 cartridges found on the Custer Battlefield (1876 Battle of Little Big Horn). The soldier who carried the gun that fired cartridge known as specimen “707” was identified by the Custer Battlefield Firearms Identification Project as John Martin. This corresponds with the name “J. MArTIN,” which is crudely carved on the left side of the forestock, and the “H” – presumably for “Company H” – carved on the left side of the buttstock. A highly important firearm, it carries a $90,000-140,000 estimate.
Ranking right at the top, alongside the Custer Battlefield gun, is an extremely rare Winchester Model 1866 gilded rifle. A .44 Henry caliber example with factory deluxe 4X wood stock, it is magnificently engraved with the image of an Indian hunting buffalo on horseback, with his bow and arrow drawn. “The beauty and important subject of the engraving on this rife make it a true Winchester collector’s prize,” said Tony Wilcox, Morphy Auctions’ Firearms Division expert. “On top of that, it was formerly in the collection of Robert M. Lee, which only adds to its outstanding provenance.” Estimate $75,000-150,000
An exceptional and exceedingly rare modern gun, a Boss & Co. Best 28-gauge side by side sporting shotgun was delivered to Abercrombie and Fitch in 1968. “Guns of this type are highly coveted by collectors and investors, and it will likely be many, many years before another of this quality comes along for sale,” Wilcox observed. The presale estimate is $90,000-130,000.
Celebrity provenance accompanies another high-interest 20th century entry: a pair of authenticated EMF .45 caliber single-action revolvers, complete with full holster rig, used by Powers Boothe in his role as Arizona gang leader “Curly Bill” Brocius in the 1993 film Tombstone. Estimate: $25,000-35,000.
A very unusual opportunity for Colt collectors comes in the form of 10 consecutively serial-numbered, unfired Colt custom gun shop single-action army revolvers with a timeframe that spans 1988 through 1995. It is the only known collection of its type and would have taken great perseverance to amass,” Wilcox noted. It comes in a custom glass-front case emblazoned “Consecutive Colt Peacemakers” and is estimated at $60,000-90,000.
The featured Francis “Brownie” Brown collection was started in 1967 when Brownie bought the J.F. Bartlett single shot collection. He later bought Bartlett’s target rifle collection. “All this was accomplished at a time when collectors did not have access to gun auctions like the ones we produce,” said Morphy Auctions president, Dan Morphy. “Fifty years ago, collectors had to travel and network intensively to acquire guns like the ones in the Brown collection. Throughout his collecting journey, Brownie became a mentor to other gun collectors and even shared his collection on ESPN’s ‘American Shooter.’ He was an icon in his collecting field, and we know that his guns will be the focus of many bidders at our auction.”
There will plenty of exceptional choices for collectors of military firearms, including machine guns, whose supply has become quite limited to private collectors. An example that has prompted dozens of enquiries is the 1944 German-manufactured Gustloff MG-42 machine gun with Nazi proofs on the receiver and various other places. Accompanied by a sizable array of accessories, it is expected to command a top bid of $35,000-50,000.
The April 24-25, 2019 Extraordinary, Sporting, and Collector Firearms Auction will be held at Morphy’s gallery on 2000 North Reading Road inDenver, Pennsylvania, starting at 9 AM ET each day. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the internet through Morphy Live.