Top 10: Antique handguns
10. #3 Colt Paterson Belt Model Percussion Revolver - $517,500
This extraordinary, cased, engraved Colt Paterson sold for $517,500 ($17,500 more than its high estimate) at James D. Julia’s in March, 2009. The Colt Paterson was the first repeat-fire weapon to employ a revolving cylinder; its multiple chambers aligned to a single, stationary barrel. This #3 belt model came from the prestigious Joseph A. Murphy collection and is thought to be circa 1860.
9. “the first factory engraved colt ever made” - $701,500
Also from the Murphy collection, this elaborately engraved “1876 Centennial Exhibition Colt” is the earliest known factory-engraved, single action firearm. Ornate floral pattern work embellishes the ergonomic revolver, while above the trigger a miniature bear stretches out across a rock.
8. A Sears & Roebuck Colt Single Action Army Revolver - $747,500
Like only a handful of other firearms, this Sears & Roebuck “cowboy” Colt has achieved legendary status since it was discovered in recent years: billed as “the world’s most famous engraved and gold inlaid Colt Single Action Army revolver; it sold at James D. Julia’s in March, 2009, for the princely sum of $747,500 – just within its $800,000 high estimate.
7. Serial #1 Colt Single Action Army Revolver
Selling at a Greg Martin auction in 2009; this Colt #1 was discovered in 1925, and is revered among firearm collectors as the first example of the “Peace Maker” model – a slightly Panglossian name, perhaps, as the gun was adopted by the U.S. military as the standard service revolver until 1892.
6. Sam Wilson’s 1847 Colt Whitney-ville Walker Revolver - $920,000
This pistol is one of only 1,100 produced. Its cumbersome proportions and hefty weight prompted Samuel Colt to remark: “It would take a Texan to shoot it.” It was thought to be the world’s most powerful handgun until the mid 1950s, when the .44 Magnum arrived on the market. It sold for $920,000 at James D. Julia’s in 2008.
5. Colt Texas Paterson Revolver - $977,500
This Colt Texas Paterson revolver sold along with its accessories box for the (then) record price of $977,500 at a Texas auction in 2011. The very rare, ivory-gripped Texas (Holster Model #5) was part of the Al Cali collection of firearms until its sale, and is believed to be the finest known surviving example of Samuel Colt’s first revolver.
4. A Rare Gold-Inlaid Colt Model 1849 Pocket Revolver - $1.1 million
This extremely rare and highly important gold-inlaid Colt model 1849 sold for $1.1 million at a Sotheby’s New York sale in January, 2011. It is embellished with engravings of five animals (a bear, a pheasant, a dog, a leopard and a fox) across its frame and barrels lugs, exposed screws have been engraved with starbursts and it features a deluxe varnished wooden grip.
3. A cased pair of Nicholas-Noel Boutet Flintlock Pistols - $1.7 million
This pair of Flintlock pistols were designed in France by firearms innovator Nicholas-Noel Boutet sometime between 1761 and 1833. They were sold by Christie’s New York in 2004 after emerging from a private American collection. Boutet was charged with creating richly decorated arms for presentation to military heroes and foreign heads of state and these pistols are evidence of his artistic flair in the delicate Rococo style of the period.
2. General Simon Bolivar’s Flintlock Pistols - $1.8 million
This pair of flintlock pistols were also designed by French arms artiste Nicholas-Noel Boutet and once belonged to “the liberator of South Africa”, General Simon Bolivar. Bolivar was killed by enemy artillery fire during the final days of the WWII Battle of Okinawa, making him the highest ranking U.S. military officer to have been killed by enemy fire during WWII.
1. General George Washington’s Flintlock Pistols - $2 million
A pair of elegant flintlock pistols, once owned by General George Washington, boasting historical connections to the Marquis de Lafayette and President Andrew Jackson, were sold at Christie’s New York in January, 2002, for the phenomenal sum of $1,986,000. General George Washington’s flintlock pistols are thought to be the most valuable handguns in the world.
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