Wars have woven a continual thread throughout recorded history, and as nations have risen or fallen in defeat, their historical artifacts have been lost or severely depleted. A desire to own and preserve relics that played a role in critical conflicts is why so many history buffs worldwide collect weaponry and militaria. A preferred source for collectors of superior-quality antique objects of war is Morphy Auctions, whose next Edged Weapons, Armor and Militaria sale is slated for Tuesday, Dec. 10.
Morphy's To Host High-Powered 763-Lot Auction Of Edged Weapons, Armor, And Militaria On Dec. 10
Army Of Tennessee Confederate Battle Flag, One Of Only Two Known Examples In Private Hands, Expected To Bring $40,000-$60,000
Fine swords and sabers with distinguished provenance will be in plentiful supply. A very rare U.S. Model 1840 officers sword was originally issued to a member of the small, elite Corps of Engineers, which drew top graduates from West Point. They played a key role in the countrys security, building forts and undertaking public projects, as well as mapping the countrys westward expansion. There were only 39 engineer officers at the time of this swords production, so it was a scarce item from day one, said Dan Morphy, president of Morphy Auctions. Its 31.75-inch blade is etched N.P. Ames/Cutler/Springfield and U.S. Corps of Engineers, along with trophy arms and a U.S. flag. Formerly in the collection of George M. Rapport, it comes to auction with a $15,000-$20,000 estimate.
Similar in objective but a separate organization from the Engineers Corps, the respected Topographical Engineers claimed among their alumni the Civil War generals Robert E. Lee and George B. McClellan. An Ames Topographical Civil War saber, whose pattern was a modification of the 1833 Dragoon Officers saber, is etched on its blade with the Topographical Engineers name, several American symbols, and acorn and oak-leaf scrolls. It will be offered at Morphys with a $15,000-$25,000 estimate.
A beautiful production down to every last detail, an extraordinary Philadelphia silver-hilt sword is lavishly adorned with a bird-head pommel with a stylized relief four-pointed star, C-scrolls and graduating bellflowers. The knuckle bow is deeply engraved with relief Rococo ornamentation, including military motifs and flags. The sword is depicted in the book American Silver-Hilted, Revolutionary and Early Federal Swords and comes from the personal collection of its author, Daniel D. Hartzler. Complete with its elaborately decorated repousse scabbard, its estimate is $8,000-$15,000.
Ames U.S. Model 1840 cavalry officers saber is a type that was used in the Mexican War and early Indian Wars on the plains but also was preferred by some Civil War cavalry officers for its heavier blade and construction. Profusely etched with military, floral, U.S. and other motifs, including the image of an American Indian with a raised tomahawk, an example of this versatile edged weapon is entered in Morphys sale with a $10,000-$20,000 estimate.
Among the many remarkable pieces of headgear, perhaps none is more of a curiosity than the Maximilian-type closed helmet in the style of 1540. Its design incorporates a finely fluted one-piece skull and forged and pierced visor. Possibly of the period and similar to helmets seen in museums through the U.S. and Europe, it is estimated at $5,000-$8,000.
Grandly embellished, a Prussian artillery generals helmet known as a kugelhelm has a black leather body with gold-tone fittings and a dominant spread-winged eagle with sword and Prussian Garde star at its front. The helmets design is notable for the distinctive knob-form finial at its crest. It will be estimated at $6,500-$9,000.
Two important Confederate flags are expected to land in the top ten. One of them, an 1862 Army of Tennessee Confederate Battle Flag, was discovered some years ago in Bristol, Va. Seven flags of its type are thought to exist from the original 132 that were produced. Of those seven, five are held in institutional collections. Only two remain in private hands, the example in Morphys sale being one of them. Experts believe it could command $40,000-$60,000.
The second banner of special note is a Washington Light Artillery presentation Confederate battle flag whose provenance states that it was made by the ladies of Augusta (Ga.) in the second year of the Civil War for presentation to Lt. John Henry Neibling by his unit. Georgia post-Civil-War banners are extremely rare, and only a couple of survivors are known to exist. Significant and very well provenanced, the flag will be offered with a $30,000-$50,000 estimate.
The highlight of the armor section is a 19th-century Scottish three-pounder bronze naval cannon on its original exhibition carriage. Cast by Miller and Pearce, Glasgow, it measures 51.5 inches long and was previously displayed at the entrance to Dr. Jack Strassmans residence in Altoona, Pa. Strassmans distinguished firearms collection was auctioned at Christies East in May 1986. The cannon will cross the auction block at Morphys with a $6,000-$12,000 estimate.
Morphys Edged Weapons, Armor and Militaria Auction will start at 9 a.m. Eastern Time at the companys gallery in Denver, Pa. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the internet through Morphy Live.
For questions, call 877-968-8880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.