A trove of military treasures from the Civil War through World War II, as well as memorabilia from elite private collections, are among the prizes up for grabs in Heritage Auctions
' Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Auction Dec 6.
"This is an exceptional opportunity for collectors to add rare and historically important pieces from fresh-to-market collections like the Calvin Packard collection and the Bill Bentham collection," Heritage Auctions Historical Arms & Armor Consignment Director David Carde said. "This auction includes rare U.S. Cavalry and militaria treasures, making it a great opportunity to own a piece of U.S. history, from the Civil War through World War II."
Collectors who prize historically significant correspondence will find plenty of options in the collection of Calvin Packard, a teacher-turned-Civil War memorabilia dealer in Ohio who has spent more than half a century assembling an exceptional collection, from which 108 lots are included in this auction.
Bentham was a longtime collector from California. Auction highlights from his collection include, but are not limited to:
· An Ainsworth Inspected U.S. Colt Cavalry Single Action Army Revolver (estimate: $7,000-9,000)
· A Cavalry Hardee Hat with "Jeff Davis" Emblem (estimate: $5,000-7,000)
· A U.S. Colt Model 1851 Percussion Revolver (estimate: $3,000-5,000)
Also featured in the auction is a Confederate States of America: 10th Texas Regiment "Wilson Guards" Battle of Arkansas Post First National "Trophy" Flag (estimate: $25,000-35,000), which celebrates Company D, one of six companies in the 10th Regiment Texas Infantry. The regiment's first colonel was its organizer, Allison Nelson, and the unit was given the designation "Wilson Guards." The regiment fought at several battles, including Arkansas Post, where it was captured and subsequently exchanged. The flag likely was made by a group of Texas women and presented to the company at the time of their muster. It became a "war trophy" following the Battle of Arkansas Post when it fell into the hands of the 57th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. It comes to auction directly from a family member, who brought it in to Heritage Auctions' Coachella Valley Historical Museum Appraisal Fair.
The sale includes seven lots from the Battle of Little Big Horn, including:
A Uniform, Kepi and Assorted Artifacts Identified to Henry W. Mechlin, Medal of Honor [MOH] Winner at Little Bighorn (estimate: $15,000+) was worn by Mechlin when, as a sergeant in Company H, 7th Regiment, U.S. Cavalry, he and three others provided cover for 11 soldiers who made "a run" for water to replenish the command's supply. Mechlin and the other marksmen were so successful that each was awarded the Medal of Honor. Mechlin's daughter, Minnie Grace Mechlin, died in 2006 at the age of 99 at the time, the last surviving child of any of the combatants from the Battle of Little Bighorn. She inherited all of her father's personal belongings, including his Congressional Medal of Honor which she donated to the Little Bighorn Battlefield Monument Museum. She sold the balance of his artifacts in 2000. They have since passed through to our present consignor.
An M1872 Campaign Hat Identified to Medal of Honor [MOH] Winner Henry W. Mechlin for Actions at Little Bighorn (estimate: $10,000) is just the third known example from a design that did not hold up well to the elements and rough handling, and was met with a tepid reception by soldiers, which factors in to their great rarity; Heritage Auctions can verify just two other such hats reaching the auction block. An anecdote relates how one trooper wore his hat out in a single day. The Inspector-General of the Army groused: "Ridiculous in design [and] faulty in manufacture ... better suited to a wet nurse than a soldier in the ranks ... I state this without fear of contradiction."
Among other highlights in the sale is a Cased and Engraved Smith & Wesson Double Action Revolver Presented to James R. Turnbull (estimate: $5,000-10,000) is offered along with a letter from the consignor, The Sara Little Turnbull Center for Design Institute detailing the history on how this firearm was obtained and the relation of this revolver as being gifted to James R. Turnbull, her husband. The institute letter states: "According to our records, this gun was one of only 3 made. One was a gift by Daniel Wesson II to a Smith [of Smith & Wesson], one gifted to then United States President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and the other to James R. Turnbull. Daniel Wesson II and Mr. Turnbull were good friends ......... The custom gun design and case, and the inscribed signatures of Daniel B. Wesson II, and the owner, James R. Turnbull, all point to a handgun that is out of the ordinary."
A Historic and Important Colt-Berdan Conversion of Colt 1861 Special Musket (estimate: $5,000-6,000) is, according to The Book of Colt Firearms by R.L. Wilson, "the model shipped to foreign countries, resulting in an ultimate Russian contract at the height of the 1866 gun depression. Only specimen known to the authors of this extremely important factory produced model."
The sale includes more than 40 medals, including:
A United States Colored Troops Medal also known as the "Butler Medal", silver, 40mm (estimate: $25,000+), which was created by General Benjamin F. Butler, a controversial figure named in the occupied South as "Beast Butler." Regardless of his reputation, his leadership of African-American soldiers in the Civil War was exemplary, and according to his autobiography, he ordered a medal struck of like size, weight, quality, fabrication and intrinsic value with those which Queen Victoria gave with her own hand to her distinguished private soldiers of the Crimea." It is believed that 197 Silver and 11 Bronze medals were struck at the Philadelphia Mint from dies cut by Anthony C. Paquet. Some bore the names of their recipients, but not all and the present example bears no name. This exceptionally historic medal is eagerly sought by Militaria, Civil War and Black History collectors, many of whom have spent a lifetime in fruitless pursuit of a specimen.
A 2nd Type Gold Lifesaving Medal 50mm by Paquet Awarded to George Lee (estimate: $6,000+) is one of 27 gold lifesaving medals issued to the shore-based lifeboat men who attempted to save the crew of the "Ellen Southward" after a two-year delay during which U.S. law first had to be changed to allow the newly instituted medals to be awarded to non-U.S. citizens. Debate about lifeboat designs continued for many years until a self-righting design was eventually adopted.
A 5th Ohio Silver and Gold Badge of Grafton M. Thrasher (estimate: $5,000+) is a star- shaped silver identification badge measuring 1-7/8 inches across with a large stylized "5" in the center encircled with gold band reading "J.T. Stallcup to G.M. Thrasher Co. C 5th O.V.I.". On the front and back star points it lists all the battles he was in, which includes Antietam, Gettysburg, Pt. Republic, Cedar Mountain, Winchester, Dumfries, Chancellorsville and Lookout Mountain. During the Civil War, the 5th Ohio Infantry participated in 28 battles and sustained a loss of more than 500 men killed, wounded and prisoners.
The auction includes more than 40 Curiosa canes, many with weapons built in, including:
· A Scarce Remington Dog's Head Rifle Cane (estimate: $4,000-6,000), which was advertised by the manufacturer as "Just the thing for taxidermists [and]...protection against dogs and highway men"
· An Extremely Rare 4-Barrel Pepperbox Pistol Cane with Horn Handle by Brigg London (estimate: $2,000-3,000)
· A Rare 19th Century Life Preserver Walking Stick (estimate: $1,500-2,000)
Other top lots include, but are not limited to:
· An Imperial Japanese Navy Type 96-1 Transmitter and Receiver Set (estimate: $20,000+)
· Chasseur de Vincennes Dress and Undress Jacket Identified to Otis Skinner Gould Co. F 18th Regiment Massachusetts Infantry (estimate: $20,000+)
· A Forage Cap Identified to Soldier in the 179th Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry (estimate: $16,000+)
· An Inscribed Civil War Desk with Colt Model 1851 Navy Single Action Revolver I.D.'d to a Confederate Officer (estimate: $13,000+)
· Battle of Antietam: "Charge of the Texas Brigade" Oil on Board by Don Troiani (estimate: $12,000-15,000)
· A Medal of Honor [MOH] Winner Nelson A. Miles: Personally-Owned Dress Helmet (estimate: $8,000-12,000)