Austrian Shotgun, ca. 1865

Value (2004) | $3,000 Auction$4,000 Auction

It was thrown in my jeep in about March of 1945 in Germany. We were on our way towards Berlin, uh, after the Bulge, and we were being shelled by artillery to our left, and I was a battery commander. I pulled my battery into a little farming village and we got down behind the little stone... hedge fences, and I when I came back to the jeep, this was in it inside a leather case.

Why do you think somebody threw it in the back of your jeep?

Well, by March and April the war was winding down and the word, I think, was getting ahead of us that anything of military value, you shouldn't have in your possession, and somebody came out and threw it in there. I'm assuming it's made in Germany. I have taken it to a number of shows. I can never get much information about it. Uh, one or two people will tell me that the firing pins came into being about 1875 and, uh, other than that I don't know much.

Well, the way we can tell what it is is this is the maker's signature here. It says, "Heinrich Buchol in M hlis," and M hlis is in Austria. So it's an Austrian shotgun, and it's a double-barreled, breech loading, needle-fire shotgun. These are the needle-fires here It's of exceptional quality, and here, you can see these deers inlaid in gold and all this elaborate scroll engraving. And here on the breech of the barrel you can see inlaid gold scrollwork, and you can barely see of the dirt and grime on it, but there's actually, also, silver inlay there. The needle-fire breech-loader... This is how you operate it, and opens up the barrels from the breech so that you can load the gun, and it cocks the needle so that when you pull the triggers, it'll fire. It's a very elaborate firearm for the period It's probably mid-19th century-- anywhere maybe in and around the 1860s, 1870s. Um, the needle-fire shotgun was a transitional breech-loading system, and as such, it was very elaborate and complicated and expensive. So most of the needle-fire shotguns that you do see have this very elaborate decoration because they were the highest quality sporting guns of the time. You can even also see down by your hand the elaborate carving on the stock. It was obviously made for a very wealthy man to go hunting with. Have you ever had it appraised?

No, I've never been able to find anybody that really knew much about it.

Well, I would figure at auction, this would probably fetch around $3,000 to $4,000.

Oh, good.

And actually, if it was in a little bit better condition-- it's a little bit worn, it's seen some use-- it could have been worth as much as $8,000.


Appraisal Details

Bonhams, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
Appraised value (2004)
$3,000 Auction$4,000 Auction
St Paul, MN (June 26, 2004)

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