Ned Kelly gun fetches $72,000 at auction

13 November 2007

A gun recovered from the former home of Ned Kelly's sister has sold at a Melbourne auction for more than $72,000.

The .32 calibre revolver was bought by an anonymous private collector for $72,870 after it was discovered two years ago in the wall of a house at Forbes, in central NSW.

The gun is believed to have been stolen from a police constable during a scuffle at the Kellys' Glenrowan homestead in 1878, two years before the infamous bushranger's capture and execution.

The revolver, made by A Henckell & Co, Solingen, was uncovered during the redevelopment of a house at Forbes where Kate Kelly lived the last 10 years of her life, until 1898.

It has the initials "KK" inscribed on one side of the wooden stock and the insignia of the Royal Constabulary - which hunted the Kelly Gang - on the crown.

The gun was tipped to fetch $100,000 when it went under the hammer, but fell short after opening at $45,000.

"It was very hard to anticipate what it was going to sell for," auctioneer Paul Sumner of Mossgreen Auctions told AAP.

"There's no value for something like this, it's simply what it gets on the day."

Mr Sumner said 10 bidders were vying for the unique piece of Australian history, which was sold by a private owner and friend of the person who discovered it.

Whether the gun ever actually belonged to Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick, who claimed to have lost it during a struggle with the Kelly family, remains a mystery.

What is clear is that ownership passed to Kate.

"Anything from that era connected to the Kelly Gang is obviously very important. This piece has still got a lot more research to go into it," Mr Sumner said.

An examination by experts from the University of NSW has placed the revolver in the period 1870 to 1880 and verified that the KK signature was made prior to 1900.

The revolver is the same as those issued by the Royal Irish Constabulary, which provided officers to Victoria Police in the late 1800s and whose members hunted the Kelly gang in the period 1878-1880.

This article can be found in Age Online - Tuesday, 13 November 2007.

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