Please Note: The correct spelling is Hawken not Hawkens.
ICONIC AND HISTORIC SILVER MOUNTED HAWKEN RIFLE OF GEORGE W. ATCHISON, ST. LOUIS, MO, 1836.
NSN. Cal. 52. This is no doubt the finest and most elaborate of all Hawkens rifles. This gun has never left the family descent of E.R. Butterworth who obtained the gun on his travels west in the 1870’s until now. This gun had previously been on public display at the Cody Firearms Museum for the past 20 years. This gun is orig and complete in every regard. This earliest form of Hawkens pre-dates their famous plains rifles. This gun was made during the “Mountain Man” era where few Hawkens products are known and none as elaborate or as fine as this example which measures 53-1/2″ overall with 37″ full oct bbl with 3 gold bands at breech and muzzle, browned finish, inset silver engraved maker’s mark “J & S HAWKENS”, dovetailed German silver front sight, full buckhorn rear sight on 3″ spring extension. Silver inlaid plaque on paneled cheekpiece engraved “G W ATCHISON / ST LOUIS / 1836”. The gun is totally silver mounted, including ramrod pipes, thimble, nosecap, forend wear plate, trigger guard, escutcheons for each key, buttplate, buttplate extensions, 4-pc patchbox, presentation plaque on paneled cheekpiece, plus 10 more decorative silver insets. In addition to silver mountings, there are an additional 6 mother-of-pearl scrimshawed insets and a horn oval inset between trigger guard and pierced silver buttplate extension which contains push button to open lid. Most silver is engraved with floral and geometric scrolls as is steel breech tang, hammer and “Golcher” lock and set trigger. Lock is attached via face by sgl screw into the steel breech tang. All screws are also engraved. Wood ramrod has iron threaded end for worm and silver plated brass tip.
George W. Atchison first came West from Vermont in 1830 as a private in the US Army fighting along the rivers during the Black Hawk War (1831-1832). It is interesting to note that private steamers were used by the Army during the war. Atchison established himself as a well known steamboat captain and boat builder on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers not long after his army service. He first secured a clerkship on the steamship “Winnebago” when it came up from St. Louis to Armstrong in the Fall of 1832; the next summer he commanded The Winnebago himself and ran her in the St. Louis and Galena trade. In 1834, he commanded the steamer “Iowa” and later “Dubuque”, both in the upper river trade. The next year found him on the Lower Mississippi commanding “The Belle of Missouri” which he built in the winter of 1834-35. This ship sunk on its first trip by collision with another steamer. According to his obituary from a Davenport, IA newspaper Quad-City Times. This was “the beginning of enough bad luck to discourage a saint.”. In 1835, he built the steamer “George Collier”, she was too big to pass through the locks at Louisville, KY. In 1838, he built the steamer “Governor Dodge”, she sunk at Island 21 that Fall. The then built the steamer “Corsican” which sunk above Baton Rouge, LA”. Atchison went on to build other boats including the double engine “Amaranth” for the New Orleans trade. On May 1, 1843, he loaded almost 500 tons of cargo on the ship made to carry 200 tons; he did make it to New Orleans. No wonder so many of his ships litter the Mississippi and Missouri River basins. Atchison obviously made a very good living as he was able to buy the most magnificent Jacob & Samuel Hawken rifle of its day. Atchison did retire in 1853 selling his last ships and retired to a fine farm in Missouri. Read the various newspaper clippings on line; it’s amazing how many ships he built and sunk and the massive amounts of cargo he transported.
It is interesting to note that a fluted anchor is among the engraved designs found in the finial of the patchbox, no doubt representing Atchison’s maritime history. PROVENANCE: George W. Atchison, 1836; E.R. Butterworth about 1870; Butterworth family descents. CONDITION: Very good to fine overall. Gun is complete and orig. Half of one ear of rear sight is broken and there is a contemporary to time of use repaired wood chip just forward of lock which is backed internally with well patinaed piece of cloth. Remainder of stock is well fit with one crack opposite lock. Checkered wrist is worn. Areas of dark orig varnish are found mostly in protected areas. Bbl is overall plum/brown with minor cosmetic blemishes. Iron lockplate, hammer and breech have traces of case colors, overall a dark silver/grey. Silver mounts have light patina. Reinforced iron tip at top of silver buttplate has dark iron patina. All insets are complete and intact though one mother-of-pearl “leaf” forward of presentation plaque is cracked. Engraving on silver mostly crisp with some wear on forearm wear plate. Mechanically functional with crisp 7-groove rifled bore. 52461-1 JS (80,000-100,000) – Lot 1339| Click here to view provenance
Auction: Firearms - October 2017
Please Note: All prices include the hammer price plus the buyer’s premium, which is paid by the buyer as part of the purchase price. The prices noted here after the auction are considered unofficial and do not become official until after the 46th day.