May 18, 2021 Early Arms & Militaria
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/18/2021
This fine c. 1775 fowler is illustrated and discussed on page 88 & 89 of "For Liberty I Live" by Al Benting. Phinehas Sawyer lived between 1746-1820 and was a gunsmith. Sawyer and John Daby, who was a blacksmith, were both militia ensigns from Harvard, Massachusetts. Both were in Captain Isaac Gate's 4th Company of Colonel Asa Whitcomb's 5th Provincial Regiment, which marched on the Lexington Alarm to Cambridge on May 4, 1775. On March 7, 1775 the town meeting in Harvard voted for the purchase of twelve muskets fitted with bayonets for the Minute Company of Harvard. There is no record of who was awarded the contract for these guns which were illegal in 1775. However, the author suggests that perhaps Phinehas Sawyer was awarded this secret contract and possibly assisted by blacksmith John Daby. Sawyer was known as a man who could "Make anything accept a hornets nest" so he was probably more useful as a gunsmith than a soldier. No military record for Sawyer beyond 1775 has been found. The tapered barrel has a faceted section at the breech of about 10 1/2". There is a tapered relief flat extending for the first 47" of the barrel. The barrel is probably French and has engraved floral designs with a gilt wash on the top three flats extending 7" from the breech. There is a deep groove on the breech and barrel tang, and a half moon brass front sight mounted on top towards the muzzle. The flat lockplate has beveled edges and a molding at the recessed tail. There is a rococo shell engraved at the tail and the center is engraved "PHINEHAS SAWYER". The pan is unbridled and the fowler has a rearward curled trigger. The slightly convex silver wrist escutcheon is engraved with floral and foliate scrolls. The trigger guard is of the style of a British fusil trigger guard, varying slightly in its style and construction. The brass buttplate is finely engraved with military motifs, shells, and scroll work. The sideplate is of the typical Phinehas Sawyer design, and is professionally engraved with scrolls, cupids, and a hunting scene. The sheet brass ramrod ferrules have rings at both ends. The cherry stock is of excellent early New England form with a Roman Nose buttstock with relief scalloping around the comb and wrist. There are relief panels terminating in teardrops at the back around both the lock cavity and the sideplate. There is an ornate well executed shell carved in relief around the elongated tombstone shaped barrel tang. The fowler is complete with its original wooden ramrod. CONDITION: Barrel retains an even pleasing brown patina, with generous traces of gilt on engraved designs towards the breech. There is some corrosion near the breech and around the touch hole. Lock retains a matching patina and functions properly. The lock is in its original flintlock configuration, but the cock is a professional replacement and has been engraved to match. The brass furniture shows some wear and scattered marks from use, retaining a mostly dark mustard patina. Sideplate has one break repaired using a pin at the tail and has some minor chipping surrounding it. The silver wrist escutcheon retains a mostly dark pewter patina. The stock retains much of its original finish and patina showing scattered marks from use, minor age cracks, and a small piece of wood replaced above the front lock tang. There is also a professionally replaced 9" section at the muzzle on the right side. This is an extraordinary example by one of the most desirable makers and it displays the most attractive and early New England form. Arms such as this one were used by farmers and citizens as they responded to the Lexington Alarm or met on the Battlefield at Bunker Hill, prior to organization when state or Continental muskets were issues. DMG
Barrel Length
52 - 1/8"
.70 Smoothbore
Drop at Comb
Drop at Heel
FFL Status
Length of Pull
Phineas Sawyer
New England Fowler
Serial Number
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $10,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium:
Estimate: $20,000 - $40,000
Number Bids: 5
Auction closed on Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
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