Browning shotguns, Pennsylvania family's Civil War archive dominate prices realized at Morphy's sale

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Browning shotguns, Pennsylvania family's Civil War archive dominate prices realized at Morphy's sale
Closeup of engraving on frame shows game birds in marshy setting. Morphy Auctions image



DENVER, PA.- An exquisite, high-grade Belgian Browning Superposed 10-gauge over/under shotgun with Germanic styling was the star of Morphy’s $1.44 million auction of antique and vintage firearms held July 24-25. The gun’s heavily engraved frame – with a coin silver finish adorned by four gold repousse game birds in flight – was “a thing of beauty to behold,” said Dave Bushing, head of Morphy Auctions Firearms division. Signed by revered engraver Angelo Bee and accompanied by its original Browning shipping box, the shotgun sold well above estimate at $27,600. All prices quoted in this report are inclusive of 20% buyer’s premium.

Several other boxed over/under Belgian Brownings finished in the top 10, including a Superposed 28-gauge shotgun built in 1967, $13,200; and a 12-gauge model crafted at the Browning Custom Shop in Herstal, $10,800. A 12-gauge “Diana grade” Browning Superposed shotgun with hard leather case was bid to an above-estimate price of $7,200.

One of the finest Winchester Pope custom high-wall single-shot rifle with a 30-inch round barrel chambered for the .22mm long-rifle cartridge displayed desirable factory alterations to its frame, hammer, coil mainspring and fitting scope blocks. These types of alterations, which were the work of Winchester gunsmith H.M. Pope, are listed in an original Winchester archives invoice dated April 2, 1927. Morphy’s example sold at the midpoint of its estimate for $14,200.

The centerpiece of the sale was a family collection of Civil War guns, apparel and battlefield implements that had been passed down over many generations by descendants of brothers George and Charles Roberts of East Goshen Township, Pennsylvania. In 1862, the brothers heeded the call to arms and joined the Union Army. George, then an up-and-coming Chicago lawyer with a degree from Yale, enlisted in the 42nd Illinois Volunteers. He was commissioned to the rank of major and later promoted to brigadier general. Charles, who joined the 124th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, eventually rose to the rank of captain.

Of the Roberts archival items offered in the auction, top highlights included a high-grade Civil War officer’s sword presented to Charles W. Roberts on Feb. 22, 1863 by members of company A, 124th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. Against an estimate of $6,000-$8,000, it sold for $11,400. His brother’s Civil War double-breasted frock coat with the words “Col. [George] Roberts February 11th, 1862” inside its collar was acquired at the auction for $10,800 against expectations of $4,000-$5,000. The coat was followed in the catalog by a Civil War officer’s pork pie slouch that belonged to Col. Roberts while acting as brigadier general of the 42nd Illinois Regiment. It sold for $8,400.

An additional selection of edged weapons offered by Morphy’s included a Tiffany high-grade presentation sword given to Captain George Van Beak (d. 1877) by Company A, 33rd Missouri Volunteers. An exceptionally fine, silver-hilt sword with leather scabbard, it reached its high estimate at $12,000.

After the auction, Morphy’s founder and president, Dan Morphy, remarked that Internet bidding had been very strong throughout the sale – attributable in no small measure to the lure of the Roberts collection. “To firearms and militaria collectors, the Civil War era is still one of the most fascinating periods in history. I doubt that will ever change.”

Morphy said he felt particularly gratified that members of the Roberts family had contacted him after the sale. “They were very pleased, both with the results and the way our team had handled and marketed their important historical heirlooms,” Morphy said.










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