Featured: Superlative early American longarms, Class 3 rarities including only fully civilian-transferable Fabrique Nationale M249 Minimi, 1888 Lancaster shotgun built for Annie Oakley
DENVER, Aug. 23, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — No matter how extensive a collector’s historical gun display may be, there’s always room for one more high-quality firearm if it’s on par with those being offered at Morphy’s, September 5-7. During the 3-day event, more than 1,440 lots of firearms and militaria will be auctioned, including 182 antique rifles, 188 modern rifles, 70 antique and modern shotguns, more than 400 antique and modern handguns, and dozens of coveted NFA arms. Additionally, there are 63 swords, six cannons, a variety of firearms accessories and militaria, including flags, uniforms, medals and field gear.
The collector market for Class 3 weapons – a special group that includes machine guns – has skyrocketed as the supply of these strictly controlled firearms has dwindled. Morphy’s will offer several very rare and desirable Class 3 guns, each requiring BATF approval prior to transfer. The top entry is an extraordinary Fabrique Nationale M249 Minimi (Squad Automatic Weapon) light machine gun confirmed to be the one and only fully transferable specimen of its type listed in the National Firearms Act Registry. It has never been fired except during factory testing. Remarkably, it retains its original box and will convey with an original BATF-signed letter documenting the gun as being legally transferable to approved individuals.
“Those who are knowledgeable about NFA weapons are well aware of this iconic gun, which is known as ‘Number 37.’ Now they will have the unique, possibly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bid on it. We expect very strong competition on auction day,” said Dan Morphy, president of Morphy Auctions. Pre-sale estimate: $600,000–$1,200,000. Another noteworthy lot is a Colt U.S. Model 1904 Maxim machine gun in Springfield .30-06 caliber. Estimate: $85,000–$100,000
In cataloging each of their firearms sales, Morphy’s team of experts goes the extra mile to provide thorough, authoritative descriptions and as much background as possible about each lot. If a firearm is linked to a historical figure, every effort is made to explain the connection between the gun and its famous owner. Such is the case with the catalog description pertaining to a rare and important Charles Lancaster (London) shotgun built for Annie Oakley in 1888.
The 12-bore double-barreled hammerless model with 28-inch barrels was gifted to Oakley by Charles Lancaster himself, who reportedly had observed the petite sharpshooter at a gun club in England, struggling with a shotgun that appeared too heavy for her. On that occasion, Lancaster offered Oakley advice on wingshooting and, at a later date, presented her with four shotguns: two 20-bores and two 12-bores. The 12-bore in Morphy’s sale, Serial No. 05970, is accompanied by a 2012 letter from Charles Lancaster Gunmakers Ltd, documenting its history and signed by the company’s director, Ronald Wharton. Auction estimate: $200,000–$400,000
There are many desirable 19th-century American guns, starting with an extremely fine and original circa-1935 John Armstrong signed percussion Kentucky rifle. It is one of only four known Armstrong rifles made in percussion as opposed to flintlock. Estimate: $50,000–$100,000.
A documented .36 percussion-caliber Navy revolver produced for Confederate use by J.H. Dance & Bros. (Texas), Serial No. 48, is of the type known to have been used by the 35th (Brown’s) Texas Cavalry and Sutton’s Cavalry (Graham Rangers). Estimate: $40,000–$80,000
SOURCE Morphy Auctions