A sword soars - General Burnside's sword leads Bonhams June sale of Arms and Armour

Antique Arms & Armour
11 Jun 2012
San Francisco

San Francisco—The Antique Arms and Armour auction at Bonhams, June 11, brought a successful $813,318, and was led by the $271,000 purchase of a sword presented to Civil War Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, which sold highly within its estimated pre-sale price range of $200,000-300,000.

The historic figural hilt presentation sword was given to Major General Ambrose E. Burnside by the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) at the New York Metropolitan Fair, April 22, 1864, and is one of a well-known group of swords given to prominent Union soldiers and sailors by the USSC.

The sword descended through the family of Burnside's aide-de-camp, Captain Robert Hales Ives Goddard. Captain Goddard, of a prominent Rhode Island family, became General Burnside's aide in 1862. His complete staff officer uniform grouping, also offered in the sale, brought $22,230.

Additional uniform items which sold well in the sale included a US Model 1858 forage cap and uniform coat of Corporal Alfred F. Carpenter, from an important private New York collection, which brought $11,700 - far exceeding its pre-sale estimate of $3,000-5,000. Carpenter served in the 44th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, a 'nine month' regiment who entered camp on August 29, 1862. They were engaged in the battles of Kinston, Whitehall and Goldsboro, all in December of 1862.

Fine cased continental pistols also sold well within the auction. A fine cased pair of gold encrusted French percussion pistols by Devisme, dated 1852, brought $32,760 and an extraordinary cased exhibition grade pair of Liegoise percussion pistols, from the mid-19th century, brought $26,910.

Other percussion pistol sales of note included a fine cased pair of German percussion target pistols, from the late 19th/early 20th century, which brought $8,775; an unusual cased German breechloading underhammer percussion pistol by Valentin Christian Schilling Suhl, from the third quarter of the 19th century, which sold for $8,190; and a fine cased pair of French large bore percussion salon pistols by LePage-Moutier, from the mid-19th century, which took in $8,190.

Lots with edged weapons of note in the sale included a historic Civil War grouping of swords and medals belonging to Captain John Heatley Jeffrey, of the 12th and 56th Massachusetts regiments, which brought $8,190 and an early Scottish basket-hilted broadsword, with a 17th century blade and hilt 18th century hilt, which brought $7,605

Press Contacts:
Joalien Johnson: (415) 503-3348, joalien.johnson@bonhams.com


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

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