General Burnside's sword and Purdey and Sons' earliest known pistols lead June Bonhams Arms & Armour sale

Antique Arms & Armour
11 Jun 2012
San Francisco

San Francisco — The Antique Arms and Armour auction at Bonhams, June 11, will feature such highlights as a sword presented to Civil War Major General Ambrose E. Burnside, as well as a cased pair of the earliest known duelling pistols made by the prestigious English gun-maker, James Purdey.

The historic figural hilt presentation sword was given to Major General Ambrose E. Burnside by the United States Sanitary Commission at the New York Metropolitan Fair, April 22, 1864, and is estimated to fetch $200,000-$300,000. It is one of a well-known group of swords given to prominent Union soldiers and sailors by the USSC.

The Burnside sword has descended through the family of his aide-de-camp, Captain Robert Hales Ives Goddard. Scion of a prominent Rhode Island family, Captain Goddard became General Burnside's aide in 1862. His complete staff officer uniform grouping is also being offered in the sale, est. $20,000-$30,000.

The cased percussion conversion duelling pistols by James Purdey are serial number 492 and were built in 1823. They are noted as being the earliest known pair made by Purdey in the well-known book The Early Purdeys by L. Patrick Unsworth. They are expected to bring between $40,000 and $60,000.

Among other highlights are a group of fine cased continental pistols, including an extraordinary cased exhibition grade pair of Liegoise percussion pistols (est. $30,000-$40,000); a fine cased pair of gold encrusted French percussion pistols by Devisme, dated 1852 (est. $25,000-$35,000); and a second-half 19th century fine cased pair of French percussion salon pistols by Henry Rieger/Lefauchaux (est. $20,000-$25,000).

Edged weapons in the sale include early Scottish baskethilted broadswords, European small swords and military swords and a selection of American military swords from the collection of author Leonard Garigliano.

The Antique Arms and Armour illustrated auction catalogue will be available online for review and purchase in the weeks preceding the sale at

Auction Preview: June 8-10, San Francisco
Auction: June 11, San Francisco

Press Contacts:
Joalien Johnson: (415) 503-3348,


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

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