19th-Century Overland Mail Company Shotgun

Value (2006) | $3,000 Auction

GUEST:
This shotgun belonged to my great-great-grandfather George Washington Boyd. He was converted to the Church back in... to the Mormon Church, and his parents died, and Caleb Baldwin adopted he and his brother. Caleb Baldwin was in jail with the prophet Joseph, in Liberty Jail back there. When he was 19 years old, he came across with the Mormon battalion, and then walked from California back to Utah so that he could marry the daughter of Caleb Baldwin.

APPRAISER:
Mm-hmm.

GUEST:
She died a year after they were married, in childbirth, and so he then married the other two daughters of Caleb Baldwin. He then started working for the Overland Mail Company both as a stagecoach guard and as a stationmaster-- that's, of course, the first stagecoach company out West-- and this was his gun as a shotgun guard.

APPRAISER:
That's a really great story. It seems like it has a lot of the local history here.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And the interesting thing is that the gun speaks of the same history. Here is the brand of the Overland Mail Company. The gun, actually, is probably made in Birmingham, England.

GUEST:
Oh, really?

APPRAISER:
Yes. I figure it was probably made somewhere in around the 1840s, and it was probably sent to San Francisco. On the top of the barrel here, on the rim, it's marked A.J. Plate, San Francisco.

GUEST:
Uh-huh.

APPRAISER:
A.J. Plate was a very famous dealer in firearms in San Francisco. He was notorious because he had been sued by the great firearms maker Henry Deringer for trademark infringement and actually won.

GUEST:
I see, huh.

APPRAISER:
So at some point or other, A.J. Plate probably sold this to the Overland Mail Company.

GUEST:
Well, San Francisco was the end of the route for the Overland Mail Company, so...

APPRAISER:
Well, they stamped it with their brand so that essentially, probably, nobody'd steal it.

(chuckling)

APPRAISER:
These guns on the market are very scarce, that actually have stagecoach markings. Most of the ones you'll see are for Wells Fargo.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And many of them are fake. This is actually the first Overland Mail Company coach gun that I've seen.

GUEST:
Wow, that's interesting.

APPRAISER:
They were, a number of these guns that were made in Birmingham, England, exported to the States for sale. So, the gun itself is actually not that rare. And I would figure that at auction, it would probably be only worth about $300. But I think with your family history and such, stamped Overland Mail Company, that the gun would be worth at least $3,000 at auction, if not more.

GUEST:
Okay. All right, thank you very much.

APPRAISER:
You're very welcome.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Bonhams, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Appraised value (2006)
$3,000 Auction
Event
Salt Lake City, UT (June 24, 2006)
Period
19th Century
Form
Rifle
Material
Metal, Wood

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