Rare, historic powder horns, swords and pistols featured at Bonhams Skinner

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Rare, historic powder horns, swords and pistols featured at Bonhams Skinner
Rare Flintlock Key Pistol. Estimate: $1,000-2,000.

MARLBOROUGH, MASS.- Bonhams Skinner announced two upcoming sales from the Historic Arms & Militaria department, taking place this September. Featuring nearly 170 lots of early military arms and military objects from three principal collections, the carefully curated Early Militaria Collections live sale will take place September 28. Accompanying the live sale is a timed online auction of Militaria and Sporting Arms, taking place September 19-29.

Among the collections, items from the William Rose Colonial and Revolutionary War Arms Collection and the Robert Byrne Collection feature many standout examples, including more than fifty 17th- and 18th-century swords and military pistols. This is Bonhams Skinner’s third sale of its landmark series of auctions dedicated to the private collection of colonial and revolutionary arms enthusiast William Rose. Highlights from the Rose Collection in this sale include a rare pair of 1760s New England cavalry pistols, with graceful cherry stocks and constructed using British-made parts (est. $3,000-$5,000). A rare c. 1690-1700 French Dragoon pistol (est. $2,000-$3,000) represents the era of military pistols made in France before arms were made to a standard prescribed pattern. Many pistols of this type were sent to America to arm militia forces once they became obsolete in Europe, attesting to its importance to early American military history. Important swords from the Rose Collection include a rare c. 1700 British sword with a hilt in the form of a monster’s head that was favored by naval forces (est. $2,000-$4,000) and a scarce English-made broad sword that saw use by Scottish Regiments in the British army during the American Revolution (est. $1,500-$2,500).

Amid the Robert Byrne Collection, highlights include over fifty Fine Eagle Pommel Swords. The swords in the Byrne collection are characterized by their distinctive eagle’s head decorated hilts and beautifully blued and gilded blades that were extremely popular with American military officers through the first half of the 19th century. The Byrne collection includes numerous rare and beautifully preserved examples including a sword presented to Major J.J. Earle, 9th Regiment of New York State Artillery in 1823 (est. $4,000-$6,000), and an exceptionally well-preserved artillery officer’s saber and scabbard, elaborately sculpted and gilded with deeply blued and brightly gilded decoration on the blade (est. $3,000-$5,000). Another important sword in the Byrne collection is an extremely rare Presentation Grade Ames Model 1841 Naval Officer’s Sword and Scabbard. In addition to the sword’s extreme rarity, it has also been described as the finest example known of its kind to survive (est. $8,000-$10,000).

The Early Militaria Collection sale also includes a number of unusual firearms such as a c. 1800 Rare Flintlock Key Pistol that incorporates a flintlock pistol into the body of a large door or strong box key (est. $1,000-$2,000) and a c. 1820 Rare Naval Flintlock Pistol Dirk that mounts a flintlock pistol mechanism alongside the blade of a dirk (est. $1,000-$2,000).

The sale is rounded out by several 18th-century carved powder horns, including an elaborately decorated horn made in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts for militiaman Stephen Hastings dated November 14, 1754 (est. $10,000-$20,000) along with an Important Provincial Ranger Siege of Louisbourg Powder Horn belonging to American Ranger Abijah Smith (est. $5,000-$7,000). Dated July 26, 1758, the Smith powder horn celebrates the British army’s capture of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. Accompanying the British army during the assault were approximately 550 Provincial Rangers from New England, including Abijah Smith. (Specially trained soldiers skilled in irregular fighting tactics, Rangers fought as light infantry troops and led raiding parties and scouts into enemy territory.) Powder horns connected to the 1758 siege of Louisbourg are extremely rare and horns associated with Rangers from any campaigns are exceedingly scarce.

The online Militaria and Sporting Arms auction is composed of over 300 lots of historic muskets, pistols, swords and related military items spanning the 17th century through the World War II era and a fine selection of collectible 20th-century military and sporting arms. Historic arms include 18th-century hunting and military swords, swords, pistols, and longarms from the first half of the 19-century, a broad selection of Civil War-era-edged weapons and firearms, and World War I trench art. Twentieth-century military arms include World War I and II German and American pistols and rifles, and sporting and target rifles and pistols by makers including Winchester, Remington, Savage, Perazzi, Anschutz, Colt, Smith & Wesson, High Standard, Walther, Hammerli and Pardini.

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