Cowan’s Auctions will offer items from the renowned property of N. Flayderman & Co. with select additions during a special sale on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Featuring a choice array of historic firearms, militaria, Civil War broadsides and imprints, Folk Art soldier carved pipes and canes, and 18th-20th Century manuscript archives, the auction will be held at Cowan’s Cincinnati showroom.
The late E. Norman Flayderman (1928-2013) remains legendary as an antique arms dealer and prolific author. Following the footsteps of his father and grandfather, who were antiques dealers, he founded N. Flayderman & Co. in 1952. The third-generation dealer ran a brick-and-mortar shop for 10 years before changing his business model to focus solely on catalog sales, producing 119 issues between 1954 and 1998.
Understanding the importance of information, Flayderman wrote a number of books, including the highly acclaimed Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms…and Their Values, considered the bible of American arms collecting. Other titles focused on scrimshaw and Bowie knives.
“He was such a versatile dealer,” said Jack Lewis, Cowan’s director of Historic Firearms and Early Militaria. “I don’t think enough can be said about him. He was iconic. There were several great people who came from that era and he was certainly at the top of the list.”
Civil War firearms include a Colt Model 1860 Army percussion revolver, having an inspector’s cartouche and in exceptional condition, is estimated at $10,000 to $15,000. “It’s fabulous,” Lewis said of the .44-caliber handgun. “It’s one of the best marshal-marked 1860 Armys to hit the auction block in a while. It’s close to mint condition.”
Edged weapons include a coffin-handle Bowie knife made by W.S. Butcher, pictured in Flayderman’s The Bowie Knife: Unsheathing an American Legend, in ivory and German silver, and having “Arkansas Toothpick” etched in a central panel surrounded by a floral scroll banner, with scabbard, is estimated at $6,000 to $9,000.
A mix of militaria and American History should draw a strong response from bidders. Included is an extensive archive of Captain George E. Albee, a Medal of Honor recipient. Estimated at $10,000 to $15,000, the grouping features an unpublished Indian Wars journal from 1869, detailing battles against the Comanche. There are also more than 480 letters, photographs, newspaper articles, invitations and documents.
A strong selection of broadsides related to the Civil War include one from the Charleston Mercury, issued on Dec. 20, 1860, and announcing South Carolina’s secession from the Union, estimated at $5,000 to $10,000; “Men of Color, To Arms! To Arms! Now or Never,” printed in Philadelphia, exceptionally rare, $5,000 to $10,000; and “Come and Join Us, Brothers,” published by the Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments, Philadelphia, picturing 18 uniformed African-American troops, a drummer boy and a white officer in a camp setting, expected to sell for $4,000 to $6,000.
The Civil War also yielded some of the best folk art in the auction. Three carved wooden pipes with identical motifs were likely created by the same hand at Camp Sumter, the notorious military prison at Andersonville, Ga. One pipe lettered with the name of Henry Wirz, the prison’s commandant, is estimated at $8,000 to $10,000; one for Albert A. Walker, dated 1864 and highlighted with German silver mounts, $3,000 to $5,000; and one for J. Vandegrift, Philadelphia, $3,000 to $5,000.
Among the photography-related lots, a 19th-century bound book with 295 photos and criminal records of inmates at Darlinghurst Gaol, an Australian prison in New South Wales, the convicted felons including Australian bushranger Frank Gardiner (also spelled Gardner), should bring $8,000 to $10,000.