Dillinger Derringer Pistol for Heritage Auction

. July 11, 2009

A Remington .41 caliber Double Derringer, taken from John Dillinger when he was captured in Tucson, AZ on Jan. 25, 1934 will be up for auction as part of Heritage Auction Galleries’ July 25 Militaria and Arms Auction. It is expected to bring between $35,000-$45,000.

This follows close on the heels of the July 1 release of the new John Dillinger movie Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp as the famous bank robber, and just three days after the 75th anniversary of Dillinger’s death, on July 22, when he was gunned down outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago.

derringer“Few figures capture the American imagination like John Dillinger,” said Dennis Lowe, Director of Militaria at Heritage. “He was a brazen criminal to some and a modern-day Robin Hood to others. Depression-era America was enthralled with his exploits and the stories of his graceful moves during robberies and his close calls in eluding police.”

Dillinger, using the alias “Frank Sullivan,” along with gang members Henry Pierpoint, Russel Clark and Charles Makley — and their “molls” including Billie Frechetti — were all arrested over a three day period in Tucson, from Jan. 22-25, through a series of coordinated police raids, without a shot being fired.

“My God, how did you know I was in town?” Dillinger was quoted as saying upon arrest. “I’ll be the laughing stock of the country! How could a hick-town police force ever suspect us?”

In reality — and unbeknownst to Dillinger — a local fireman called to a fire in the hotel where some of the gang members were staying recognized Russel Clark form his “wanted” picture in True Detective Magazine and alerted local police. The arrests were uneventful, and five weeks later Dillinger escaped from jail in Crown Point, IN using a carved wooden pistol. Four months later, on July 22, 1934, he was gunned down by FBI agents in Chicago.

The gun bears serial #L97255 and retains most of the original blue on screws, hammer, and trigger, the balance with the original blue gray matte finish mixing with gray patina. The hammer exhibits the late, circa 1930, detail of being grooved rather than knurled.

This gun was concealed in Dillinger’s sock when he was arrested by Sheriff John Belton, who presented the pistol to Evelyn B. Jenney, an attractive young widow and the Deputy County Probation Officer, as well as Secretary to Superior Court Judge Fred W. Fickett. Mrs. Jenney was the widow of William LeBaron Jenney Jr., who was the grandson of famed Chicago “Sky Scraper” architect William LeBaron Jenney. In 1949 she gave the gun to her son, William LeBaron Jenney III. The consignor of the gun purchased it from Mr. Jenney on March 19, 1959; it has remained in his private collection until now.

“This is simply a remarkable artifact with wonderful provenance from one of the most notorious criminals in American History,” said Lowe. “It’s a chance to own a piece of a legend.”

For more information on the Arms, Militaria and Western Americana auction, to read detailed descriptions of these, and any other lots, and to download full-color, enlargeable images, go online to www.HA.com/6023.

Category: Antiques News

Comments are closed.