Kate Kelly gun

14 November 2007

A gun believed to have belonged to the sister of bushranger Ned Kelly; Kate, went under the hammer in Melbourne last night, fetching $72,870.

The gun was sold to an anonymous private collector in Melbourne.

ABC News reports the revolver was found about two years ago in the wall of Kate Kelly's family home at Forbes, near Kilmore, north of Melbourne. The gun is inscribed with the initials KK and bears the insignia of the Royal Constabulary that some say can be associated to police who hunted the Kelly Gang in the 1880's.

Spokesperson from Mossgreen Auctions Rebecca Windsor says the gun's history was thoroughly checked before being put up for auction; "A well known researcher historian who's verified the authenticity the best that he can and also there's been infra-red testing at the University of New South Wales."

"So there's been a lot done to really ensure the provenance of the gun."

However Beechworth based Ned Kelly historian Ian Jones is not completely convinced the gun belonged to Kate Kelly. He says it's almost impossible to say if it was or wasn't; "put it this way if I had $72, 870 to spare I don't quite know if I would invest it in this."

Jones says the insignia of the Royal Constabulary is puzzling. "They say the Royal Constabulary; do they mean the Royal Irish Constabulary? You see that is no normal Victoria Police marking."

"Kelly firearms are a problem; you can come up with almost any firearm of the period and say it had links to the Kelly gang. Somebody says 'Ned Kelly gave this to my great grandfather' How do you prove that's not true? You see this is the problem; unless you can come up with an absolutely cast iron pedigree for a weapon they are very, very hard to pin down."

"I would love to see this chain of evidence. You see more than thirty years ago a rifle emerged which has turned out to be unarguably Ned Kelly's favourite rifle Betty. You can't produce a piece of paper that says that is Betty but what you have is a very powerful chain of evidence linking back to the rifle being Betty...that is what Kelly firearms are like, it's almost impossible even with Ned Kelly's revolver which is held by the National Trust and Ned Kelly's Colt revolving rifle which is privately owned; they are rarities because you have got two weapons which were recovered at Glenrowan, one of them actually taken from Ned Kelly's hand. But then you have got other weapons that have disappeared including Ned Kelly's Webley which a policeman had immediately after Glenrowan."

"It's a matter of what you are prepared to believe, I suppose that is what it comes down to if you want to pay that amount of money for a revolver you believed belonged to Kate Kelly no-one can argue with you.".

This article can be found in ABC Goulburn Murray Online - Wednesday, 14 November 2007.

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