About 2,400 antique firearms from the private collection of J.M. Davis – part of the largest privately held firearms collection in the world, one spanning multiple conflicts and generations – will be offered in a big three-day auction, July 26-28, 2019, by Holabird Western Americana Collections, at the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum in Claremore.
In addition to antique firearms, the auction will also feature swords, knives, Native Americana and other eclectic collectibles and rarities. The money raised will go to provide ongoing funding for the preservation, conservation and upkeep of the J.M. Davis Collection, presently housed at the museum that bears his name in Claremore. The museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
The firearms to be auctioned have not seen the light of day for 50 years. They were ensconced in the museum at its inception, in 1969, and have resided there ever since. The public can view the firearms at previews planned for Wednesday and Thursday, July 24-25 at the museum, located at 330 North J.M. Davis Boulevard (historic Route 66) in Claremore, Oklahoma.
For those unable to attend the sale in person, online bidding will be facilitated by iCollector.com, LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com, AuctionMobility.com and Auctionzip.com. Telephone and absentee bids will also be accepted. For details on how to bid, visit fhwac.com. All lots in the auction, including firearms, will be sold to the highest bidder, without reserves.
One of the highlights of the sale is a Stevens .22 caliber long rifle engraved, “From Buffalo Bill to Night-Hawk & Broncho Bill.” Accompanying the 1880s era tip-up, heavy-barrel, black powder rifle is a published historical photo of Buffalo Bill Cody himself, pictured with the rifle in the auction and Dr. D. Frank Powell, a.k.a. “Night-Hawk.” Dr. Powell, along with two other brothers and Cody, were business partners in an entertainment syndicate worth about $9 million.
Other firearms expected to attract keen bidder interest include an 1879 John Browning high-wall, single-shot rifle with serial #127 made in Browning’s gun shop in Ogden, Utah. The gun is still “in the white” (cared for since its manufacture). As well as an A G. Wallis 10-gauge flintlock musket, made during the American Colonial period and of French fowler design. Overall 52 inches long; one of at least six others from the era; a World War II M1 carbine, circa 1942-1945, made by an unknown manufacturer and in excellent condition, with initials “JHL” carved into the stock. One of over 85 from the era; and a Gounne V Gronzabol AYA Matador side by side, double-barrel shotgun in .410 gauge, with the break at the top. Made in Spain and in nearly new shape, with nice checking.
Not to mention an early American, Revolutionary War era musket with the original flint lock and influenced by the British “Brown Bess” design (later reshaped for hunting rather than military use); a 1798 Federal Period U.S. contract musket that could very well have seen action in the War of 1812. Based on the French Charleville design and built by American craftsmen; a circa 1830s Sam Hawken Kentucky rifle, one of at least 101 rifles being offered from America’s First Gold Rush and fur trade eras. The half-stock rifle is signed “S. Hawken”; and a Springfield Model 1903 30-06 battle rifle, likely used during World War I and maybe even World War II. It’s marked with, “U.S. Springfield Armory Model 1903 – 217406.”
Additional highlights include a Parkers-Snow & Co. (Meriden, CT) musket, dated 1864 on the lock just above the trigger and built under contract for Civil War use. One of over 100 Civil War era rifles; an Allen & Wheelock Civil War rifle, one of fewer than 2,000 made and chambered as a rare .42 Ethan Allen (later called the .42 Forehand & Wadsworth). Barrel is 25.4” long; a rare, high grade and beautiful Luete German Drilling 16-gauge, double-barrel shotgun over 8.5 mm rifle. The backlot plate and receiver both engraved with gold filigree inlay; and a Krag Jorgeson, 1898 30-40 caliber bolt-action battle rifle from the Spanish-American War (one of more than 60 rifles from the era). The weapon is in near-original condition.
Also offered in the sale will be hundreds of swords (all of them antique) and a significant amount of Americana, to include Native Americana, especially stone objects and historic Midwestern pottery. Also, up for bid will be thousands of pinbacks and ribbons, dating from the 1890s to around 1940 in a range of subject matter, including very rare baseball examples from the 1920s.
The Native American stoneware is particularly exceptional and features items ranging from arrowheads to tomahawks. There are fewer than a dozen Native American pots in the sale, but all are desirable. Half are ancient and from the Midwestern United States; the other half were dug up in Panama, during the excavation of the Canal, and some have museum labels from the 1920s.
The swords date from the Medieval period to around World War II and there are both private and military examples. Many of the 19th century swords came out of one city in Germany – Solinger – where there were, at one time, as many as 20 or more sword manufacturers, plying their trade.
For the firearms, there will be a seven-day “pay and pick-up” rule in force, whereby winning bidders will be required to pay for and pick up their firearm(s) within a week of the sale. Half the guns in the sale are “FFL” and will require compliance with all Federal and state firearms laws.
J.M. Davis’s love of firearms began in 1894, at age seven, when his father gave him a small, .410-gauge shotgun, this sparking his passion for collecting. By 1929 he had 99 guns and began to display them in the Mason Hotel in downtown Claremore, which he and his wife Addie had purchased in 1917. In 1965, the J.M. Davis Foundation was set up to manage his vast collection.
Over the course of several decades, Davis’s collection swelled to 20,000 firearms and other collectibles. Today the bulk of the collection is displayed to the public at the 40,000-square-foot J. M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum, operated by the State of Oklahoma. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 10 AM to 5 PM CT. Admission is by donation.
Holabird Western Americana Collections is based in Reno, Nevada. The firm is always seeking quality Americana and coin consignments, bottles, advertising and other fine collections for future auctions. To consign a single piece or an entire collection, contact Fred Holabird at (775) 851-1859, (844) 492-2766 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Holabird Western Americana Collections and the July 26-28 auction of the J.M. Davis antique firearms collection, visit fhwac.com. Updates are posted frequently.