Firearms have a unique place in the world of collectibles. Regardless of someone’s political leanings and view about gun laws, they are important – not just for hunting and self-defense personal safety, but also as a part of history.
Talk to someone who mentions having a big gun collection and the image that comes to mind likely includes some array of pistols and rifles, maybe a shotgun or two, and for the real history buffs, perhaps a musket from the Revolutionary War era.
But what about the oddities of the firearms world – those curious-looking guns that spark the imagination and challenge, if not defy, the laws of physics? From multiple barrels to unusual size, not all guns are alike – or even close to alike. People everywhere are fascinated with weird and wonderful firearms – especially those that never became a commercial success. Here’s a list of some of the more unusual items that will be available June 11 in Heritage Auctions’ Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Auction in Dallas:
A J. Jarre of Paris, France Harmonica Pinfire Pistol (est. $2,500-3,500), which was made in the mid-1800s, is an unserialized, 7.65mm-caliber weapon with a round 2-3/4-inch barrel with an octagonal base, has “J.JARRE” marked to the left side of the barrel and “A PARIS” to the right side. Topped with a harmonica-shaped 10-shot bar, it also features a double-action ring-shaped trigger. In addition to the fact that it has more capacity than the standard six-shot revolver, the shot bar slides from one side to the other, affecting the balance of the weapon in the shooter’s hand.
The Protector Palm Pistol by Chicago Fire Arms Co. (est. $2,000-3,000) is a .32 extra-short rimfire caliber with a 1-1/2-inch two-staged barrel and nickel-plated finish. Marked in three different locations with the serial number 8881, the weapon includes hard rubber side panels and a squeeze trigger with a grip pad, and retains approximately 95-97 percent of its finish. Palm pistols had their benefit, but also their drawbacks. On one hand, the compact style allowed them to fit neatly into many pockets, thereby making detection difficult in many situations; on the other hand, the exceptionally short barrel and the unorthodox way in which it fits in the shooter’s hand makes them very difficult to aim.
One of the most eye-catching pieces in the auction is a deadly Unwin & Rodgers / Sheffield Non XLL Knife Pistol (est. $2,000-3,000), an unserialized .30 rimfire caliber weapon with a 3-1/2-inch octagonal barrel with a fixed front sight and rabbit ear rear sight. The iron frame and barrel are plated in silver and has manufacturers’ markings on each side, an engraved hammer, folding trigger and horn grip panels, and includes a hinged cartridge box in the base of the butt and two Unwin & Rogers folding knife blades.
Continuing the Swiss Army knife style of weapon design, a Belgian L. Dolne a Liege Apache Knuckleduster Pepperbox Pinfire Pistol (est. $1,500-2,500) brings to mind images of gang fights from yesteryear with its brass knuckles-style grip. The 5mm-caliber, 1-1/2-inch six-shot pepperbox smoothbore cylinder is housed in a silver-plated frame, which includes a folding trigger.
An Engraved Saint Etienne Gaulois No. 4 Palm Pistol (est. $1,500-2,000) is an 8mm caliber firearm with a 2-1/4-inch barrel with a fixed front bead sight and blued finish with an elaborately floral and engraved frame and barrel, and a squeeze trigger with a smooth bone handle.
A very popular item looks like a combination of two other firearms: this Cased Italian Mateba Model 6 Unica Auto-Revolver Rifle (est. $1,000-1,500) is a .454 Casull caliber with a 21-1/4-inch barrel with a blued finish, a ventilated muzzle and a ventilated rib with fixed front and rear sights. The checkered walnut pistol grip sits directly in front of a rifle-style shoulder stock, complete with a grooved rubber recoil pad. The weapon is contained in a factory plastic case with literature, tools and Picatinny rail.
Written by: Steve Lansdale
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