Heritage pays homage to American history with next month's Arms & Armor Auction

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Heritage pays homage to American history with next month's Arms & Armor Auction
Historic Smith and Wesson .38 Safety Hammerless Revolver Engraved PFG, Owned by Pat Garrett.

DALLAS, TX.- The United States is, relatively speaking, still a young country. It’s not surprising that only 80 years ago –100 years ago, 150 years ago, 250 years ago – its character was taking shape, just as it is today. And nations are as defined by hard times as they are peacetime, which makes our recent histories involving World War II, the outlaw West, the Civil War, and the Revolutionary War feel so alive to us still. We continue to excavate our nation’s collective psyche through these histories and the Americans who lived, loved, and fought through them.

On Dec. 12, Heritage presents some of the iconic implements of our history in the making in its Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature® Auction.

“We’re so pleased to offer in this auction collectible arms and armor and militaria for every level of collecting,” says David Carde, Heritage’s Consignment Director of Historical Arms and Armor. “It includes a variety of artifacts of historical importance, from a 16th-century Japanese helmet to a grouping of WWII items of Sgt. John J. Weimann, Jr. of the 503rd Parachute Infantry, including his Purple Heart, photo album, diary and effects.”

We’ll move backward through our chronology to land first in the backseat of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow’s stolen, notoriously swiss-cheesed 1934 Ford V8, where this Remington Model 11 semi-automatic shotgun was found following the crime-spree couple’s downfall via a posse of Texas Rangers. (More on that in a moment.) Included with the shotgun is a framed photocopy of the U.S. Department of Justice “Wanted” card for Bonnie and Clyde, detailing descriptions, aliases, relatives and criminal records as issued by Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Like many real-life outlaws of American history, Bonnie & Clyde serve as kind of Rorschach test for history (and psychology) buffs’ keen interest in how we define transgression and romanticize audacity. At some point, the lore around real-life villains horseshoes to make them into modern-day anti-heroes, and they reside in our consciousness as fully as the good guys who brought them down. Which brings us to the Texas Ranger who, along with his posse, ended Bonnie & Clyde: Frank Hamer. His presence in this auction has resonance. Not only is the above shotgun certified by Hamer’s son, Frank A. Hamer, Jr., but Hamer’s own gun is here (also certified by Frank Jr.). The lawman’s engraved Colt single-action Army revolver that he used during his time as a captain with the Texas Rangers is accompanied in this sale by two pairs of his spurs.

Moving back a generation, we take a waltz through the storied American West with another lawman: Sheriff Pat Garrett. The man who killed Billy the Kid is represented here with his engraved Smith & Wesson .38 hammerless revolver. Also included in the sale are the gun’s holster and two notarized letters, one from his son Jarvis P. Garrett and the other from Emory Cantey who sold the gun to Nelson A. Faerber.

In an earlier letter, Garrett’s son writes: “I hereby certify that a certain Smith and Wesson pistol now owned by Emory Cantey of Fort Worth, Texas was the personal property of my Father Patrick Floyd Garrett. The gun has … my Father’s initials, P.F.G. engraved on the triggerguard. My Father carried this gun in a hip pocket holster before, during and after he was appointed Collector of Customs at El Paso by President Teddy Roosevelt on December 20, 1901.”

Lawmen are key, but just as there’s no light without darkness, there’s no old Wild West without its outlaws. Belle Starr is associated with the notorious James-Younger gang (of Jesse James fame). The convicted horse thief Starr carried the Winchester Model 1886 Saddle Ring carbine (a true cowboy lever-action) featured in this event. The right side of the buttstock is marked with “BELLE STARR” copper cutouts and the left side is marked with the copper shapes of a bell and a star. This lot comes with two auction tags from previous sales describing the gun’s history and extensive research material.

Speaking of the Civil War era and sticking close to Starr’s time: Heritage offers pieces of that crucial American history with officers’ frock coats, a Confederate field officer’s sword, enlisted mens’ shell jackets, and an entire archive from Lt. James Monroe McLarty of the 15th North Carolina Infantry. It includes McLarty’s inscribed Colt 1849 pocket Navy Model single action revolver, his Appomattox parole pass, his writing desk with ink wells and pen, powder flasks, pocket knife, and more.

That war was a harrowing and defining moment in US history, as was the Revolutionary War. Two of the most extraordinary pieces of militaria in this auction date back to that seminal event. A 3-LB cannon attributed to the Siege of Yorktown, with its considerable iron heft, has a 43-inch black-painted barrel with a 2 3/8-inch bore, and is mounted on its old Naval carriage with a 25-inch wheel base. This one is in good condition, and in excellent shape is another Revolutionary War treasure: an exceedingly rare British iron carronade swivel gun. This one came off of one of the vessels in the fleet at the Battle of Charleston; it boasts a large English crown on top of its 23-inch barrel and is mounted on a large wood base measuring 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide.

And to swing back around to an event closer to our own era: America’s role in World War II kicked off in 1941. It was one of our nation’s finest moments, and followed World War I by only a couple of decades. Brigadier General E.F. (Pete) Straub served in both World Wars; he was a 34-year veteran with the United States Army, and president of the Ft. Walton Beach chapter of the Military Order of the World Wars. Two of his firearms are in this event: his Colt Ace Model commercial semi-automatic pistol, and his Colt Government Model semi-automatic. Both lots are certified by a notarized letter dated October 20, 1980 stating the pistol's association to with this great defender of liberty, and signed by the general's wife, Mrs. E.F. Thelma Straub.
These and other remarkable pieces of American and world history can be found at HA.com/6261.

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