Every time Rock Island Auction Company publishes a catalog of a Premier Auction, the first thing this author does is sort the list of lots in descending order of estimated high price and without an exception, the lot with the highest estimated price is always something amazing and incredible – either an extremely rare specimen or a one-of-a-kind masterpiece or a gun of high historical significance. Oftentimes, like in the case of today’s Wheelgun Wednesday subject, all these price-forming attributes are combined in that lot. The upcoming May 2022 Rock Island Premier Firearms Auction will offer the serial numbers 1 and 2 Remington New Model Army revolvers that have been meticulously engraved by Louis Nimschke and presented to then Commander of the Union Armies General Ulysses S. Grant, the future 18th president of the United States of America.
Historical American Firearms @ TFB:
- Alexander Hamilton’s Pistols to be Auctioned at RIAC
- The Complete History of the Colt Single Action Army in One Man’s Collection
- Theodore Roosevelt’s Colt Single Action Army Sold at Rock Island Auction
- President Hayes’ Unexpected Arms Collection
This pair of Remington New Model Army revolvers was presented to Ulysses S. Grant by Otis Nelson Cutler and William C. Wagley, Mexican-American War veterans and businessmen involved in cotton trading during the civil war, likely as a gratitude for the capture of Vicksburg that gave the Union full control over Mississippi river and made trading along the river safer. The backstrap inscription on the revolvers reads: “FROM YOUR FRIENDS / O.N. CUTLER. W.C. WAGLEY”. The cost of this deluxe set was around $400. For comparison, the price of a regular Remington New Army Model revolver was $12 at the time.
The ivory grips of these revolvers are carved with raised relief eagle, flags, and Columbian shield motifs and the bust of General Ulysses S. Grant. Grant’s major general rank on the grip carvings along with the fact that the Remington New Model Army revolvers were introduced in 1863 suggests that these revolvers were likely gifted to Ulysses Grant at the end of 1863 or the beginning of 1864. It is unknown if these were actually the very first two Remington New Model Army revolvers produced or if these were just custom-ordered serial numbers.
These Remington New Army Model revolvers are .44 caliber percussion wheelguns with 8″ octagonal barrels. They are embellished with Nimschke’s scroll engravings and floral motifs, silver plating and high polish blueing. They were presented in a rosewood case along with a powder flask, oiler, bullet mold, tool, cleaning rod, key and cap tin. The revolvers are exceptionally well preserved retaining over 90% of blueing.
This pair of revolvers remained in the Grant family for decades but then changed multiple hands and after over 150 years of being in personal collections was first displayed to the public at the Las Vegas Antique Arms Show in January 2018. The detailed provenance story can be found in the lot description.
President Ulysses S. Grant’s Remington New Model Army revolvers are Lot #106 in the May 2022 Rock Island Premier Firearms Auction catalog and will be auctioned on May 13. The estimated price range that this pair of revolvers is expected to be sold at is $1,000,000 – $3,000,000. To this author, the significance of these guns makes them much more valuable than the estimated high price. Like Theodore Roosevelt’s Colt Single Action Army revolver auctioned at December 2020 Rock Island Premier Auction or Alexander Hamilton’s flintlock pistols sold at May 2021 Rock Island Premier Auction, this pair of Ulysses Grant’s wheelguns is a true treasure of American history and artifacts like these probably belong to a museum.
Pictures by Rock Island Auction Company, www.rockislandauction.com