Friday, May 29, 2020

A Couple of Coffin - Handled Bowie Knives by John Miller

These are forged from 1084 steel with walnut handles and silver wraps, pins and escutcheons. They are somewhat tedious to make.  There is a total of 84 parts in these knives, all of which are individually fabricated.  They are close copies of the Carrigan knife made in the 1830s by James Black of Washington, Arkansas.

Copy and photos supplied by John Miller.

Eagle on Gourd by Art and Jan Riser

Photos by Jan Riser.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Santa Fe Trail Horn #3 by Kevin Hart

The horn measures 15 inches in length around the bottom edge. From the engrailing to the tip is 5 1/4 inches including a 2 1/2 inch turned horn tip. The stopper is from horn as well. The butt plug is Claro Walnut. The horn shows the route from Arrow Rock, MO to Santa Fe, NM with the major rivers and areas of interest along the trail, and the owner's name and maker's cartouche.

Copy and photos supplied by Kevin Hart.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020


These pistols are of great importance in American history due to the provenance associated with them. They came directly from a descendant of Colonel James Chambers and are accompanied by a notarized document signed by Suzanna Misner. The document outlines the descent of the pistols through the family. According to the notarized statement, they were handed down through her late husband's family. They descended from Colonel Benjamin Chambers, founder of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania to his son (listed in will, copy included) Benjamin Chambers, Jr. They then passed through the family (complete list included in provenance) to the last owner's mother-in-law, Luct Chambers Foust Benchoff, who passed them to her late husband John Krebs Benchoff. The pistols were made circa 1775 and are marked on the right sides of the boxlock actions “T. Ketland” for well-known English gunsmith Thomas Ketland. The left sides are inscribed “London”. The breeches are both stamped with private British view and proofmarks. Both have threaded cannon barrels and scalloped boxlock actions engraved with scrolls. Both pistols were converted to the more popular percussion ignition system during the period of 1830-1850. Both have walnut “Queen Anne” style grips with solid silver grotesque mask buttcaps. Both grips are profusely inlaid with silver wire designs. Colonel James Chambers was the Captain of a company raised in 1775 of riflemen in Cumberland County (now Franklin County), Pennsylvania. They were attached to William Thompson’s Battalion of Riflemen. In 1775, the company of infantry under his command marched to Boston where the Royal Army was besieged. He was also with the army in the Jersey Campaign as well as at Brandywine and Germantown. James Chambers was the Colonel of the 1st Pennsylvania Brigade organized in July of 1775. The brigade also participated in the New York Campaign, Defense of Philadelphia, Trenton, Princeton, and Monmouth. James Chambers also went by the name of Benjamin, which was his middle name. The provenance and quality of the provenance is the most important part of these pistols. According to the 1887 publication of “History of Franklin County, Pennsylvania”, after the Battle of Long Island, Pennsylvania troops were assigned to the task of covering the movement. “While assisting in this delicate and perilous maneuver, Capt. Chambers had the great good fortune to arrest the attention of Gen. Washington, win his commendation, and receive from him a handsome pair of silver-mounted pistols which have always been treasured as a precious heirloom in the family, having recently been bequeathed to Benjamin Chambers Bryan, a great-grandson of the original done.” In a more descriptive account elsewhere (, “In recognition of the Chambers family’s service and support during the Revolution, Washington gifted the family with a pair of silver-inlaid pistols”. The pistols did not leave the family descendants until 2010. In conclusion, they are an extremely important pair of pistols and are one of only a few pistols with proven George Washington association. There is a great deal of associated documentation including family provenance, copies of Chambers’ military records, and written excerpts from historical publications regarding Chambers and the pistols. Complete with a binder of provenance showing family descent of the pistols, information on the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment, copies of wills, photos of grave markers, and information on Chambers' Revolutionary War service. The notorized document from the family is included. Also included is an original leather hardcover first edition 1887 printing of "History of Franklin County, Pennsylvania", where these pistols are discussed. 

CONDITION: The pistols have been cleaned bright and have some losses to the wire inlay in the grips. One action is tight, while the spring in the other, which was probably used more, is weak. The included book is loose with the binding detached and some scuffing. They are one of the best-documented pairs of pistols with a Washington association and have excellent provenance.

Minimum Bid: $25,000.00

Current Bid: $50,000.00

Estimate: $50,000 - $100,000

Number Bids: 12

Copy and photos from Morphy Auctions here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

2020 CLA Live Auction: PIPE TOMAHAWK By Simeon England, Mike Miller, and Kyle Willyard

Length 21 1/2" Head 5 1/2" tall.
The name tomahawk is a combination of tribal and English words. Algonnquin and Renapepeoples called their lightweight axes "tamahak," "tamahakan" European Americans pronounced these words as "tomahawk." They liked the size and weight of the original tool, but made their own adaptation by replacing the stone heads with iron heads having steel blades. Tribes who had never seen a tool with a wooden handle and metal head called it a tomahawk, adopting the European American's term.
In the early 1700s, Native Americans or European Americans adapted the original tomahawk into a new form known as the pipe tomahawk. The original tomahawk is an Indian tool with a wooden handle and a metal blade. What differentiates a regular tomahawk from a pipe tomahawk is its head, which consists of a cutting edge on one side and a pipe bowl on the other. Pipe tomahawks could be used for smoking and chopping when necessary, but they usually were more symbolic than practical.
Pipe tomahawks also are a mix of Old World and New World products. The majority of these tools were made in North America. Their handles are of native woods and their axe blades were metal. Blades were usually iron with a steel cutting edge or, if not intended for cutting, they were made of brass. Some of the heads and handles were decorated with silver, pewter, lead, brass, and copper inlays.
European Americans traded pipe tomahawks with native peoples during the fur trade era, from about 1650 to 1870. European Americans also presented pipe tomahawks as gifts in diplomatic agreements and treaty signings with tribes. Joseph Brandt was painted with one in his 1776portrait by George Romney; Tecumseh had one presented to him by Colonel Proctor. Lewis and Clark took 50 pipe tomahawks with them on their 1803-1806 expedition to trade or present as gifts.
When three noted CLA blade artisans get together on a project, it is certain something special will result. This year Simeon England, Mike Miller and Kyle Willyard have produced an outstanding pipe tomahawk. Historically correct in its features and embellishment, this is a significant display of exceptional work of these three talented artists.
As you can see from the photos, this pipe tomahawk is created with the correct architecture and materials. The knife inlay on the right side of the blade on the hand forged head is historically correct, appearing on an original pipe tomahawk attributed to John Small of  Vincennes. Sterling silver has been used for the haft cap, mouthpiece and inlay and the engraving is ‘top drawer’. The haft is a fancy piece of curly maple and features a flange for a wrist strap. Look closely at the attention to detail, including the engraved silver mouthpiece and the carved wood clean-out plug.

The CLF Live Fund Raising Auction has a history of offering fine presentation pipe tomahawks, but they do not come up every year. This is one of that select group and this year is your chance to own one.


This horn was on display in Fort Pitt's exhibit "From Maps to Mermaids: Carved Powder Horns in Early America" between July 1 and December 31, 2018. This is one of only three known Fort Pitt horns by the noted artist known as the "Pointed Tree Carver". Walter stated "this professionally engraved horn depicts that indomitable English stronghold, Fort Pitt, here labeled 'PITSBOURG' in a banner, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers where they form the great Ohio, which is also depicted and labelled "OHIO / RIVER". Also shown is the British Great Seal, and a hunter shooting at a grazing buck. Undated, but of the 1760's. The horn has a short extended lobe with one hole for a carrying strap and a modest vase shaped spout. It is also fitted with a flat, wooden plug. Overall, this curved horn measures 14 -1/2 " overall. For another similar example, see plate 83 of John DuMont's book "American Engraved Powder Horns". 

CONDITION: Horn retains a dark undisturbed patina. The back side shows heavy carry wear and is worn smooth. Some chipping to relief rings below spout. Pressure fitted plug is loose and shows some chipping. A very rare French and Indian War Pennsylvania horn with a nice untouched surface.

Minimum Bid: $7,500.00

Current Bid: $7,500.00

Estimate: $15,000 - $25,000

Number Bids: 1

Copy and photos from Morphy Auctions here.