Firearms Auctions In Fairfield, Maine, Gross More Than $18.3 Million Combined

January 12, 2018

Every fall, two separate firearms auction companies, James D. Julia Inc. and Poulin Auctions, conduct firearms auctions back-to-back in Fairfield, Maine. This year, the Julia fall auction generated more than $15.1 million in sales and, combined with approximately $3.2 million produced at the Poulin auction, pushed the entire gross to more than $18.3 million. At least nine world auction records were achieved, and approximately 390 lots realized $10,000 or more, 136 lots hitting $25,000 or more, and nearly 40 lots over $50,000.
For nearly two decades now, Julia’s has been among the world’s leading auction houses for rare and valuable sporting arms. This sale, held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 and 2, featured over 500 lots of sporting arms, which generated nearly $5 million. Stars of the sale included several of the A.H. Fox shotguns from the Dana J. Tauber estate, considered among the finest collection of A.H. Fox shotguns to ever come to auction. An exceptionally rare (one of three), fine 20 bore Fox FE with special gold inlays, estimated at $150,000-$225,000, realized $166,750, making it the top shotgun of the sale. Parkers and Winchesters did well, and a Parker A-1 Special from the Bouwkamp collection brought an astounding $142,600 against an estimate of $75,000-$125,000.
Numerous fine Winchester Model 21s were sold, the most important of which was a custom 20 gauge finished with five inlaid gold stars for the first chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff and one of just nine five-star generals in the U.S. armed forces, Omar Bradley. Estimated at $100,000-$200,000, it sold for $115,000.
Not to be outdone by their American counterparts, fine sporting guns from England and Europe also performed well. A Holland & Holland Royal hammerless ejector gun referred to as the “Swan Gun,” with sculptured decorations with multi-gold inlays, was estimated at $70,000-$110,000 and sold for $120,750. A pair of original condition, lightweight, 16 gauge Golden Age Boss sidelock ejector guns came on the block with an estimate of $35,000-$55,000 and realized $155,250. A Golden Age H&H Royal hammerless double rifle .30 caliber super was estimated at $35,000-$60,000 and sold for $50,600, and a superb Purdey hammer pigeon shotgun with exquisite relief engraving was of Royal descent, one time belonging to King Alphonso of Spain, sold for $57,500.
Julia’s is also known for selling rare and valuable Confederate and Civil War arms, and this auction featured three well-known collections. A rare Confederate scoped second quality Whitworth sharp shooter’s rifle from the estate collection of Morris Racker, estimated at $40,000-$60,000, sold for $161,000, setting a new auction record for this model. One of the true rarities, and among the most coveted revolvers in Confederate collecting, is the brass framed percussion revolver made in Portsmouth, Va., by Thomas W. Cofer. This auction included Cofer revolver serial number 11, which is considered the finest example known. Estimated at $100,000-$150,000, it sold for $103,500. Also from the Racker collection was a rare inscribed and cased early 1st model LeMat grapeshot revolver that belonged to Confederate surgeon Thomas B. Memminger, son of Confederate Secretary of Treasury Christopher G. Memminger, that sold for $57,500 against an estimate of $25,000-$35,000. A rare Colt Walker percussion revolver from the Robert Roughton collection brought $71,875. The Fred Donaldson estate featured a fine 1st model Griswold revolver that belonged to Confederate Capt. John Morton that brought $23,000. A fine Civil War Cyrus Alger 1853-dated bronze 12 pounder Mountain Howitzer was estimated at $45,000-$60,000 and brought $69,000. After all was said and done, more than 170 rare Civil War arms and related items were sold in this auction, generating a total of nearly $2 million.
This auction also featured the largest offering of Virginia Manufactory firearms to come to auction in many years, a total of 15 arms. The top performer was a rare 1809 dated 1st model pistol from the 3rd Virginia Regiment from the collection of Robert Roughton. It is very difficult to find examples of this gun in original flint, especially with the desirable Virginia Regiment markings such as this one. This nearly all-original gun sold for $46,000, nearly four times the high end of its $8,000-$12,000 estimate.
Since 2008, James D. Julia Inc. has sold more Class 3 firearms than all other North American auction houses combined, both in the number of units and in dollar value. This auction generated strong results, with 102 lots sold bringing in excess of $2.3 million and six new auction world records. Leading the way for the Class 3 results was a Chinese Type 56 (AK-47), which came with a signed and notarized history from the U.S. Airforce pilot who acquired this gun during his combat tour in Vietnam and subsequently registered it during the Amnesty of 1968. A stellar specimen for its kind, it was estimated at $70,000-$100,000 and went for $86,250. A rare and desirable Cadillac Gage Stoner Model 63 LMG brought an auction world record price of $74,750 against an estimate of $50,000-$80,000. Another record came from an iconic and original German WWII MG-42 with tripod, which shattered its estimate of $35,000-$40,000, selling for $74,750. Another rare Class 3 record breaker was a Model 1919 Colt Monitor automatic machine rifle estimated at $50,000-$75,000 that sold for $71,785. A historic Savage U.S. Model 1917 Lewis machine gun that featured a U.S. Navy anchor proof on the receiver and bolt soared past its estimate of $15,000-$25,000 to bring a record price of $57,500. A Japanese Type 92 heavy machine gun on tripod with numerous accessories sold for a record $40,250 against an estimate of $18,000-$28,000. Rounding out the Class 3 offerings were a number of iconic Thompson sub machine guns, aka “Tommy Guns.” The best of these was an early Colt Model 1921 Thompson, serial number 935, originally purchased by the Santa Maria, Calif., Police Department with one private owner since. When Thompsons with serial numbers under 1000 surface for sale, it is noteworthy. Estimated at $45,000-$60,000, this high condition example brought $51,750.
The Warren Buxton collection is a great example of an old iconic collection. Buxton was a passionate collector and scholar and amassed what is among the finest, most comprehensive collections of Walther arms. He was also the author of three books on Walther pistols. This auction represented the second session for this collection, and among the notable items was an experimental Walther PP with a unique mechanism and semi-shrouded/solid hammer, distinctly different from production versions of this gun. It sold for $31,625, against an estimate of $20,000-$30,000. A Walther Armee-Pistole in original condition with two matching magazines, one of just 50 such firearms made for testing prior to the military’s acceptance of the P38, a late production, all matching specimen, was estimated at $27,500-$35,000 and sold for $28,750.
Dozens of edged weapons were sold in this auction, including a rare inscribed Scagel utility knife with ultra-rare ivory scales and original sheath from the Douglass H. Sandrock collection. The blade on this Scagel knife is marked on the right side in period script and sold for $23,000 against an estimate of $20,000-$30,000. Also from the Sandrock collection was a mint condition Scagel camp knife that was also estimated at $20,000-$30,000 and sold for $20,700. A quite rare “War of 1812” U.S. regulation naval boarding ax sailed through its $7,000-$9,000 estimate and went for $20,125.
The majority of the high-value items were sold in the first session known as the “Extraordinary Session.” The last two days of the auction featured what Julia’s refers to as the “Sporting and Collector Session,” which consisted of moderately priced collectible firearms. There was particularly strong participation on both of those days, with moderately valued guns achieving, on average, 28 percent over low estimate.
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