Brigham Young's gun up for auction

Voices from the gun show: High capacity magazines
Voices from the gun show: High capacity magazines

Brigham Young's pistol is expected to fetch over half a million dollars in an antique gun auction that also includes a rifle related to Geronimo.

The Colt revolver was manufactured in 1854 for Young, who succeeded Joseph Smith as leader of the Mormons. Young led the Mormons to Utah, where they established Salt Lake City.

The gun, with its "flawlessly executed scroll work" and "wolf head motif" has an estimated price of $550,000 to $850,000, according to Rock Island Auction Company, which is putting more than 3,000 guns up to bid from April 29 to May 1.

The auction house in Rock Island, Illinois, says the gun comes with a "deluxe rosewood case lined in red wine velvet," a silver powder flask, a bullet mold and other tools. It is the gun that Young "personally cleaned, loaded and kept at the ready" for use against "nefarious persons."

rock island auction company
Brigham Young's pistol is expected to get at least $550,000 at auction.

The Geronimo rifle, a Winchester lever action from 1886, is also expected to bring in at least half a million dollars. Rock Island set a pre-auction estimate of $500,000 to $700,000.

Rock Island says the rifle was presented as a reward to Capt. Henry Ware Lawton for accepting the surrender of the legendary Apache warrior Geronimo in 1886. Lawton, who won a Medal of Honor in the Civil War, fought a running battle more than 20 years later with the last Apache warriors in Southwest canyon country before negotiating their surrender.

According to Rock Island, the rifle was given to Lawton by Lt. George Albe, who served with him in the Civil War before going to work for Winchester Repeating Arms. Albe also gave Lawton a pocket watch for "his gallant service in the capture of Apache Indian Chief Geronimo and his band," according to its inscription, which is included in the same auction lot as the rifle.

He also gave him a sword, which is being auctioned in a separate lot.

Geronimo had been fighting for the Apache ever since Mexican soldiers slaughtered his wife, children and mother. His war continued when the Americans tried to force him onto a reservation. After his eventual surrender, he and his fellow Apache were so miserable as prisoners of war that Geronimo appealed directly to President Theodore Roosevelt to "take the ropes from our hands."

rock island auction company rifle
The soldier who negotiated the surrender of Geronimo was rewarded this rifle, which is hitting the auction block.

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The auction features many rifles and pistols from the 1800s as well as Bowie knives and swords. Some of the more exotic weapons are combination knife-pistols, Japanese swords and an antique cannon from Southeast Asia.

The auction also features a Thompson submachine gun from the early 1920s with a price range of $30,000 to $45,000. It's full auto, and therefore subject to the National Firearms Act. So getting approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to buy it is a lengthy and involved process.

None of the Rock Island guns are new, but not all of them are so old.

One of the guns is a .357 Magnum Colt Python revolver from 1975, with an estimated price of $1,800 to $2,500. The Python has a certain panache with collectors because it's no longer in production. Fans of "The Walking Dead" will recognize it as the preferred weapon of Rick Grimes.

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