"Posterity will owe everlasting thanks to John Brown for lifting up once more to the gaze of a nation grown fat and flabby on the garbage of lust and oppression, a true standard of heroic philanthropy, and each coming generation will pay its installment of the debt. . . . John Brown saw slavery through no mist or cloud, but in a light of infinite brightness, which left no one of its ten thousand horrors concealed." Frederick Douglass

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Saturday, June 02, 2007







Rifle, Pike, and Portrait: Three for the Auction House

As usual, I can only make note of Brown materials that surface during historical auctions. Lord knows that I could never afford such things. But at least I can get pictures and share them with my readers. Maybe you can afford to buy them. Heritage Auction Galleries in Dallas, Texas, has recently announced the sale of a number of extremely valuable and interesting items relating to John Brown the abolitionist.

The first item for sale is a model 1853, .52 caliber Sharps Carbine rifle from the Harper’s Ferry raid. According to Heritage, the Sharps carbine is “of the lot used by abolitionist John Brown and his men as they raided the federal armory at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, an event that helped spark the fire of the United States Civil War.” It has previously been mentioned in the literature of noted firearms historian Norm Flayderman and has an excellent provenance and historical background. “This historical weapon has a 21 1/2" barrel and is stamped 'Sharp's Manufg. Co Hartford, Conn' on the top of the barrel. It has walnut stocks, an even gray patina and bears the serial number 16150. It has an attractive brass buttplate, barrel band and patchbox which is engraved as follows: Used at Harper's Ferry by John Brown's Men. On the tang by the serial number 'Sharps Patent 1848' is stamped. Provenance: The Norm Flayderman Collection; The Tharpe Collection of American Military History." Estimate: $70,000 - $80,000.Lot: 72010, Auction 663.

(Retrieved from: Heritage Auction Galleries [Dallas, Texas], http://americana.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=663&Lot_No=72010&lighten=0&lighten=1#Photo, on May 30, 2007.)

The second item for sale is a pike used at the Harper's Ferry Raid (serial number 846). According to the Heritage Auction Galleries website, this 80-inch pike was one of a shipment of pikes that Brown had made in his native Connecticut. "At 80" long, they are wooden spear-like weapons tipped with a 10" blade." This pike has "a silver commemorative plaque affixed to the pike at 6" down from the blade on the wooden shaft as follows: 'One of John Brown's Pikes Used at Harpers Ferry, Made in Collinsville, Ct., 1857-1859. The metal haft on the pike itself is numbered '846' and is in very good condition as is the wood which is of a very nice grain and completely intact.'" Provenance: Norm Flayderman,The Tharpe Collection of American Military History. Exhibited: The Liberty Heritage Society Museum Estimate: $15,000 - $20,000, Lot: 72011, Auction: 663. (Retrieved from Heritage Auction Galleries [Dallas, Texas]), http://americana.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=663&Lot_No=72011, May 30, 2007.)

Finally, there is an Oil Portrait of John Brown measuring 5 1/2" x 7 1/2," within the oval. This painting was completed after his death in 1859 and is matted with a thick linen mat and framed in a heavy 2" walnut frame with a plaque attached reading "John Brown 1800-1859." The artist is unknown. Despite some slight crackling of the image at the bottom right, this portrait is in excellent condition. Provenance: The Tharpe Collection of American Military History. It was previously exhibited at the Liberty Heritage Society Museum. Estimate: $20,000 - $25,000, Lot: 72012, Auction: 663.

(Retrieved from Heritage Auction Galleries [Dallas Texas], May 30, 2007, from: http://americana.ha.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=663&Lot_No=72012#Photo.

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