An 1864 J.M. Stevens & Co. presentation rifle engraved “from Buffalo Bill to Night-Hawk & Broncho Bill” scored a bull’s-eye for $18,125, and a pre-1845 S. Hawken Kentucky half-stock walnut rifle rang out for $15,000 in an auction held July 26-28 by Holabird Western Americana Collections, at the J.M. Davis Arms and Historical Museum in Claremore.
About 2,400 antique firearms from the private collection of J.M. Davis – part of the largest privately held firearms collection in the world, one spanning multiple conflicts and generations –were offered in the three-day event. In addition to antique firearms, the sale also featured swords, knives, projectile points, Native Americana, historic Midwestern pottery, pinbacks and ribbons.
The money raised will provide ongoing funding for the preservation, conservation and upkeep of the J.M. Davis Collection, presently housed at the museum that bears Davis’ name in Claremore. The museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Davis first displayed his burgeoning collection at the Claremont Hotel back in 1929. Davis and his wife Addie had purchased the hotel in 1917. In 1965 the J.M. Davis Foundation was set up to manage the collection, which had become huge.
The Buffalo Bill Cody rifle was one of J.M. Davis’s prized possessions. It was on display at the Mason Hotel in Claremore until about 1968-1969. It never made it into the huge public display of more than 20,000 guns at the J.M. Davis Firearms Museum over its 50-year lifespan. As such, it was unknown to most modern antique firearm experts and was truly a fresh-to-the-market rifle.
The S. Hawken rifle had a Kentucky half-stock of walnut with a full engraved lock that appeared original. The barrel flat was marked "S. Hawken" and the brass cap-box oval cheek piece showed the Masonic emblem of Square and Compass. The rifle exhibited beautiful craftsmanship from a master gunsmith, a fine .54-caliber St. Louis gun with lengthy tang, two screws, fully engraved.
Samuel Hawken arrived in St. Louis in 1822, 15 years after his brother Jacob. The pair operated separate businesses until 1845. Jacob Hawken died during a cholera outbreak in 1849. Samuel reverted to stamping rifles, with the marking on the rifle sold. Hawken rifles were favored by fur traders, including Kit Carson, Jim Bridgers and Joseph Meek. Teddy Roosevelt also owned one.
A strong crowd was present for the gun sales, and for those unable to attend in person, online bidding was provided by iCollector.com, LiveAuctioneers.com, Invaluable.com, Auctionzip.com and AuctionMobility.com. Internet bidding was tremendous; as many as 650 live bidders at a time participated with determination. All lots were offered without reserves to the highest bidder.
About Holabird Western Americana Collections
Holabird Western Americana Collections is based in Reno, Nevada. The firm is always seeking quality Americana and coin consignments, bottles, advertising and other fine collections for future auctions. To consign a single piece or an entire collection, you may call Fred Holabird at 775-851-1859 or 844-492-2766; or, you can send an e-mail to him, at email@example.com.
Holabird Western Americana Collections’ next auction will be in September; dates and times to be announced. Watch the website for details. Firearms will not be a component of this auction. To learn more about Holabird Western Americana Collections, LLC please visit www.fhwac.com.