More than 1,000 antique firearms enthusiasts attended Dan Morphy Auctions’ preview prior to the standing-room-only Aug. 14, 2009 sale of the late John Holman’s collection of 220 antique Kentucky rifles and powder horns. The selection of handmade rifles – many of them crafted by German immigrant gunsmiths of the 18th and 19th centuries – broke the half-million-dollar mark in Morphy’s $2.5 million Aug. 13-15 auction event.
“People came from all over to bid on these guns – Connecticut, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey and, of course, Pennsylvania. They filled two overflow parking fields,” said the auction company’s owner, Dan Morphy. “The preview was so busy, we had to hire two extra employees to help out.”
The top-selling rifle, at $20,700 inclusive of 15% buyer’s premium, was a 1785-1790 J.P. Beck (northern Lancaster County, Pa.) rifle with exceptional rococo hand-carving. It previously had won a blue ribbon for “best relief carving” at the Kentucky Rifle Association’s annual show.
“Even though we knew the guns would fly, we weren’t expecting so many of them to go two and three times their estimate,” said Morphy. “There were 30 guns estimated at $1,200-$1,500 that at least doubled their high estimate, with some selling for as much as $7,000.”
Morphy said there wasn’t a weak category in the sale, which also featured fine and decorative art, mechanical music, antique toys and dolls, jewelry and coins. “We had 8,500 left bids, and it wasn’t just for the guns,” Morphy said. “Mechanical banks continue to attract bidders. A Kilgore Turtle bank sold for $64,400. Fresh to the market collections, which are our specialty, are on a winning streak – no doubt about it.”
A full postsale report on this sale will follow soon.
Contact Dan Morphy Auctions at 717-335-3435. Web: www.morphyauctions.com
Image: Award-winning 1785-1790 J.P. Beck (northern Lancaster County, Pa.) rifle featuring exceptional rococo hand-carving, $20,700 at Dan Morphy Auctions, Aug. 14, 2009.