A pistol believed to have belonged to bushranger Dan Kelly sold at auction last night for $122,000, as a Spencer Carbine owned by US General George Custer also comes up for sale.
Kelly was killed with his brother, Ned, during the famous 1880 shootout with police at Glenrowan, and the muzzle-loading pistol is probably the one police found on one of the gang’s packhorses.
While there’s no proof of its provenance, collectors accept that it is Dan Kelly’s pistol, partly because it is engraved “1876 Dan Kelly” and because it has been in the same family since 1900.
An unnamed phone bidder won the auction for the East India Company firearm, which is still in good condition.
Bidding for Custer’s Model 1865 Spencer Carbine is starting at $25,000 in a US-based online auction.
The firearm has a pretty good provenance, and is believed to have been used extensively by Custer during the Indian Wars in the 1860s as well as on hunting expeditions.
Its stock features a well-worn engraving: “G Custer 7 Cav USA”. The auction house says it appears the carbine saw plenty of use after the engraving was made, indicating is was likely done by Custer.
The Spencer was used widely by the army and cavalry at the time, and was the first magazine-fed rifle ever introduced to a military force. It held seven rounds in the butt, which could be reloaded by inserting a Blakeslee Cartridge Box, giving it an unheard-of rate of fire of 20 rounds a minute – although at that rate, the amount of smoke from the blackpowder was like a smoke screen.
Custer’s carbine shows its age but its action is described as tight and the bore good.
The price is expected to rise well above the initial $25,000.