Friday, December 20, 2019

Morphy Auctions: The Susquehanna Collection


These fantastic and historic pistols were featured of the front cover of the July 1972 edition of "The American Rifleman". They're featured in an article on page 42, when at the time they were the property of R.H. Coleman, President of Remington Arms Company Inc. The pistols were originally made for Robert Morgan Roberts in 1775 and were owned by him until his death in 1801. Roberts was a farmer/soldier of Welsh extraction. Existing records indicate he owned a farm in Frederick County, Maryland, not far from the Pennsylvania line. Roberts served in the Maryland militia and participated in several engagements there. According to one family account, he participated in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, Pennsylvania. In 1785, not long after the war, Roberts moved to West Moreland County, Pennsylvania. The pistols were found in Chester County, Pennsylvania in March of 1950 by Johnson N. Boyd of Boyd's Antiques. Both pistols have round smoothbore barrels with swamped muzzles and are of American manufacture. The bottoms are stamped "W". Both have hand made American locks with flat faces and moldings at the tails. The plain brass furniture includes elegant sideplates with beveled edges, both inscribed "ROBERT ROBERTS 1775". Both sideplates have a third screw to retain the sideplate to the stock when removing the lock. The trigger guards both feature acorn finials and the ramrod entry ferruls both feature these designs. The full stirrup pommel caps are both monogramed "RR" on each bottom. Both pistols feature partially figured American black walnut stocks with relief carved shells around the barrel tangs in the English fashion as well as relief panels around the lockplates and sideplates, terminating in tear drops. Both have wooden ramrods with horn tips, one is a replacement. 

CONDITION: Very good overall. Barrels retain a pleasing light brown patina. Locks retain a brown patina, and are both in their original flintlock configuration and have no replaced components. Brass retains a pleasing mellow mustard patina. Inscriptions show light wear from polishing. Stocks show a few scattered marks from use and some light wear to craving. There is no damage or restoration. Some minor chipping around pommel caps and a minor age crack on one side of the forend. The pistols are complete with a copy of the magazine featuring an article about them, as well as a leather bound binder featuring early black and white photographs of the pistols, sales receipts beginning in 1950, original letters from previous owners, descriptions, and other information. It would be difficult to find a better pair of definitively American Revolutionary War Pistols.

Barrel Length: (both) 9 - 1/8"

Caliber/Bore: (both) .69 Smoothbore

FFL Status: Antique

Manufacturer: American

Model: (both) Flintlock Officers Pistols

Paperwork: Binder of Provence

Serial Number: (both) NSN

Minimum Bid: $25,000

Estimate: $50,000 - $100,000


Last quarter of the 18th century. The head measures 5-1/2" overall including the bowl, blade measures 3-1/8" with a crescent 1-15/16" cutting edge of steel, dovetailed into the brass head. The egg-shaped eye features molding and engraved decoration on both sides. The round bowl is decorated with engraved floral vines and punched dots. There is a large stemmed three-petaled flower engraved on both sides of the blade. 

CONDITION: Brass retains a dark mustard patina with some darker areas and scattered marks from use. Bowl is fractured along one side and on bottom. Haft is a probable replacement. A very attractive and desirable 18th century tomahawk.

Minimum Bid: $1,000

Estimate: $2,000 - $4,000


This powder horn is featured on a two page spread on pages 86 and 87 of "Engraved Powder Horns of the French & Indian War and the Revolutionary War Era" by Nathan L. Swayze. Havana map horns are extremely rare and only a handful are known to exist. This professionally engraved powder horn measures 16 - 1/2" overall and has a curved body. It is interesting to note that it is a left handed powder horn. The horn depicts a professionally engraved plan of havana, including "Mooro" (Moro Castle), Shepards Battery, New Store, Regluger, Ponto, North Port, and Fuza. Polychrome red is used in addition to black pigment. Three warships are also shown and labeled as "THE SPAINISH ADMIRAL, RIPPIN and VALLIENT". The horn has a large lobe at the plug end as well as a scalloped edge at the recessed section and two scalloped rings on the two stage spout section, one section is faceted. In the 18th century, Havana was the center of the Spanish trade in North America. During the French & Indian War, England declared war on Spain as they were allies with the French. After a forty day siege on Havana, Moro Castle was taken on July 30th 1762 and Havana was surrendered on August 14th. The main inscription over the city of Havana reads "THE CITY OF HAVANA ILLUMINATED AT THE EMBARKATION/ OF THE BRITISH TROOPS JULY THE 7TH 1763". On the reverse side the original name cartouche was removed during the period and the name "JAMES/ HOBEL" and the date "1767" were applied. It is possible that Hobel was a member of the British army during the occupation of Cuba and Florida according to Swayze. When the horn was photographed for the book, it was in the author's collection. The powder horn is also engraved with flora motifs, flags, forts, and a bird. 

CONDITION: Horn retains a light yellow dry surface and has not been cleaned or lacquered. The polychrome colors are bright and there is some minor chipping around the tip of the spout. On the back of the horn there are some minor cracks around the base, with one sliver professionally replaced and well matched. Flat wooden plug possibly replaced. Another example by this maker is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A very important and attractive French & Indian War powder horn. 

PROVENANCE: Ex. Nathan L. Swayze Collection. Joe Kindig Antiques. William H. Guthman.

Minimum Bid: $15,000

Estimate: $30,000 - $60,000


Manganese decoration, applied handles. 

CONDITION: Larger with repaired rim, smaller with crack.

Item Dimensions: Each: 8 - 1/2" x 9" x 9"

Minimum Bid: $50

Estimate: $100 - $300

Photos and items from Morphy Auctions here. Auction is January 16, 2020.

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