Firearms auction fires collectors' enthusiasm

4 October 2003
Machinery & Furniture Auctions

Tomorrow, starting at 10am, Australian Antique Arms Auctions Pty Ltd will hold its 21st auction at Eley Park Community Centre, 87 Eley Road, Blackburn South.The event is a 10-year milestone which has seen the company grow from small beginnings to an enterprise that offers for sale between 600-1000 lots of fine antique guns, weapons, militaria and other memorabilia to Australian and overseas collectors at every auction.

"We are now one of the leading arms and armour auction houses in the world linked internationally through the internet to many collectors in other countries," director Gordon Morgan said.

Since the company's first auction in May 1993, sales of antique arms have grown steadily and with it a dramatic increase in the collector base.

"Interest in good quality antique arms, militaria and memorabilia has grown enormously and our auctions are now truly international," Mr Morgan said.

"As a result, overseas collectors are able to view our website at www.antiquearms.com.au and offer postal bids over the internet."

This has certainly been the case since world share markets became so volatile after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and investors turned to alternative forms of investment such as art and other collectables.

This auction is no exception and several top pieces among the almost 700 lots are on offer to the discerning collector.

Perhaps one of the most famous is an ornate double-barrel shotgun once owned by Field Marshall Hermann Goering, commander of the German air force in World War II.

The gun is a historically important sporting piece from the Nazi era as it was presented to Goering by Franz Seldte, founder of the Steinhelm League for returned German servicemen after World War I, and carries a gold inlaid inscription to that effect on both barrels.

Seldte was a close friend of Goering from those times, a regular visitor to his home and accompanied the field marshall on many sporting hunts. The gun also carries German-style foliate engraving with game scenes of stag, rabbit, doe and partridge.

Two 1851 navy revolver Colts, each valued around $30,000, are offered for sale in this auction.

While both cased pistols bear the address Sam Colt New York City, one is a very rare first-model square-back Colt and the other a second-model factory-engraved piece. A third cased 1851 navy percussion revolver, of similar value with the late London address Col. Colt London marked on the barrel, is also historically significant and the chance of a lifetime for an advanced Colt collector to obtain an extremely rare piece.

Another feature of the auction is a cased pair of Thomas Elsworth Mortimer percussion target duelling pistols valued around $15,000. The barrels are marked T.E. Mortimer Edinburgh late St James St London, and date from the early 1800s and are in magnificent condition.

A cased Samuel and Charles Smith percussion double rifle, valued round $22,000, is an opportunity rarely offered for the advanced collector.

An extremely fine example of the gunmaker's art, the barrels are marked Sam & C. Smith Princes St Leicester Sqr London and retain all the original strong case hardening and almost all the original brown and fine Damascus pattern.

Among the remaining antique arms is a fine Birmingham-made pigeon gun with two sets of barrels carrying the inscription Wm Cashmore maker Birmingham highest awards Adelaide, Melbourne & Tasmania.

A Dutch 1790 Kulenburg flintlock musket with Napoleonic markings in excellent condition also should attract plenty of interest.

Among the swords on offer is a British 1803 Patt blue and gilt infantry officer's sword valued at about $2200.

Viewing is today from noon-5pm and tomorrow from 8am. For information contact Roland Martyn on 0428 543 377 or Gordon Morgan on 0408 313 212.

This article can be found in the Age - Business - Saturday, 4 October 2003.

© Copyright 2005 The Antique and Historical Arms Collectors Guild of Victoria. All rights reserved.