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Gatling Guns Hits the Mark at Fontaine’s Civil War, Firearms and Militaria Auction

by WorthPoint Staff (10/06/09).

The top lot of the Civil War, Firearms and Militaria Auction held by Fontaine’s Auction Gallery was this spectacular Colt Model 1883 .45 caliber Gatling gun, which realized $172,500.

The top lot of the Civil War, Firearms and Militaria Auction held by Fontaine’s Auction Gallery was this spectacular Colt Model 1883 .45 caliber Gatling gun, which realized $172,500.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. – A Colt Model 1883 .45 caliber Gatling gun—the 19th-century precursor to the modern-day machine gun—scored a bull’s eye when it soared to $172,500 at a Civil War, Firearms and Militaria Auction held by Fontaine’s Auction Gallery.

The Gatling gun is in fully operational condition, featuring10 rotating .45 caliber barrels encased in a bronze jacket. It came out of the lifetime collection of the late George J. Bisacca, whose mainly Civil War collection had previously been housed in the Eastover Resort complex in Lenox, as part of a museum open to the public. The Gatling gun was fired in showings at Eastover.

The auction was held on Aug. 15-16 at Fontaine’s gallery located at 1485 West Housatonic Street in Pittsfield.

Actually, two Gatling guns were sold at the auction, the other one a Colt Model 1874, which brought $69,000. They easily took top lot honors in a sale that grossed $1.1 million and saw over 800 items change hands. The auction also featured vintage rifles, muskets, revolvers and guns, cannons, swords, drums, frocks, coats, uniforms, a Confederate belt with buckle, tintypes, cartes de visites and more.

“Obviously, any time you top the $1 million mark, it is a cause for celebration,” said John Fontaine, owner of Fontaine’s Auction Gallery.

A standing-room-only crowd packed the Fontaine’s showroom, while online bidders (about 300 registered) participated through Proxibid, Artfact and Fontaine’s own Internet bidding platform, developed especially for them. In addition, approximately 200 people submitted bids by phone, while another 150 or so people submitted left bids. In all there were about 800 participating bidders for the two days.

Following are additional highlights from the sale (all prices quoted include a 15 percent buyer’s premium):

A 3-inch ordinance rifle cannon on a carriage mount, circa 1861, brought $28,750.

A 3-inch ordinance rifle cannon on a carriage mount, circa 1861, brought $28,750.

• Ten lots topped the $10,000 mark, in addition to the two Gatling guns. These included a 3-inch 1861 ordinance rifle cannon carriage mount ($28,750); a Confederate Fayetteville 1864 muzzle-loader armory rifle ($23,000); a 12-pound cannon on iron carriage mount, dated 1837 ($19,550); a Hotchkiss mountain rifle with 2-inch bore cannon ($19,550); and a Model 1861 ordinance rifle-cannon ($17,250).

Ohio Civil War drum with a photo of drummer Corporal H.L. Smith ($7,475).

Ohio Civil War drum with a photo of drummer Corporal H.L. Smith ($7,475).

• A Revolutionary War-era British sea service musket breezed to $4,600; an engraved Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 revolver fetched $4,313; a painting by Horace Smith rose to $4,313; the Civil War collection of Henry. B. Walker of the 121st Volunteer Infantry N.Y. regiment went for $4,025; a Hudson Bay Fowler muzzle loader hit $4,025; and an engraved Colt 1860 Army revolver made $4,025.

• Other lots that soared above the $10,000 mark included an artillery limber with heavy metal ammunition chest ($14,950); a Coehorn mortar round ($14,375); an artillery cannon, carriage only ($12,650); a Mann experimental breech loading cannon ($11,550); and a British 12-pound cannon, circa 1812 ($10,925). Also, an Ohio Civil War drum with a photo of drummer Corp. H. L. Smith hit $7,475.

Civil War-era U.S. New York regiment militia frock coat, made circa 1860 ($7,475).

Civil War-era U.S. New York regiment militia frock coat, made circa 1860 ($7,475).

• A Civil War-era U.S. New York regiment militia frock coat (circa 1860) garnered $7,475; a U.S. Civil War uniform worn by Capt. John Berry realized $6,325; a 16th-century European double-handled Landsknecht commanded $6,325; a burst artillery (tube only, circa 1840) hammered for $6,900; a Mann prototype smoothbore cannon realized $5,750; and a Frankford arsenal 1859 star gauge brought $5,750.

• A very rare field forge box changed hands for $3,738; a Model 1851 Colt Navy revolver, U.S. Martially marked, rang out at $3,450; a lot comprising an Adams revolver, a Confederate sword and a letter coasted to $3,450; an Ames Model 1832 artillery short sword with scabbard frog and belt earned $3,450; and a Civil War ammunition box mounted on a wood-framed caisson hammered for $3,450.

• A Watertown Model 1861 U.S. percussion rifle-musket crossed the block at $3,393; a W. Parker half-stock percussion target rifle sold for $3,163; a Model 1817 flintlock .58 caliber rifle by W. Starr & Son garnered $3,163; a Model 1841 U.S. Harper’s Ferry percussion rifle made $3,163; a Confederate marked tower musket and scabbard hit $3,163; and a flintlock chief’s grade trade gun fetched $3,163.

For more information, visit Fontaine’s Auction Gallery Web site, call at (413) 448-8922 or e- to info@fontaineauction.com.

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