May 18, 2022 Extraordinary Firearms
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 5/18/2022
Very few presidents are as well regarded as Theodore Roosevelt, with historical Presidential rankings typically placing him around 4th, with praise for his foreign and domestic policy as well as his force of personality. He commanded the respect of many of his contemporaries, and innumerable papers have been written as to how Roosevelt shifted political power away from Congress and towards the Executive Office as a result of his charisma. In addition to his political acumen, Roosevelt was also a fervent conservationist, creating the United States Forest Service, establishing National Parks and Forests, and providing over 11,000 specimens to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum (now the National Museum of Natural History) during his legendary African expedition. This drilling, one of three presented to Roosevelt by fellow veterans of the Spanish American War, is a perfect example of how Roosevelt commanded respect from his contemporaries, and appeals to his conservationist nature by being one of Roosevelt's preferred styles of hunting arm. Roosevelt was presented this exceptional firearm by the United Spanish War Veterans of Pueblo, Colorado, Camp 3 (USVW), in 1913, decorated with an elaborate presentation plaque and carvings of Roosevelt's initials, further personalizing the piece. Another gun with a similarly styled case and elaborate presentation plaque is known, with another thank you letter from Roosevelt, saying "What can I say? For the third time, you have honored me with a beautiful gift of a drilling, knowing my fondness for this type of weapon, the three your Camp presented me are among my favorites", indicating that Camp 3 presented a total of 3 drillings to Roosevelt over a number of years. A USVW letter dated July 9th, 1913, discusses the proposed presentation of the second drilling to Roosevelt on July 4, 1913 but the delay caused by the work on the gun case still being completed by "the people at Frazier"; Frazier being a reference to the famous saddlemaker and leather worker. Another soldier simply referenced as "Bernard" had completed the carving of the Eagle on right side of the stock and the "TR" initials on the cheekpiece, and has shown it at the Camp function, to the satisfaction of other members. The letter notes that the presentation is now to be made in either August or September, but the last step that they had to take was each member was to drive in a pre-set tack into the stock, with contributors driving in pins. Of particular note is the hope in the letter that the presentation of the drilling will encourage Roosevelt to continue hunting in Colorado. This timeline appears to be accurate, as a letter signed by Roosevelt is dated September 7th, 1913, thanking "the fine men and officers of Camp 3 for the gift of a beautiful Stahl drilling...I am in deep appreciation for the many hours of work that must have been invested in the custom presentation case and the artistic carving of the eagle and my initials on the stock...Hopefully, I will return to your beautiful Colorado next fall and use this piece for hunting both beast and fowl." The drilling has 26 - 3/4" barrels marked "C. BARTELS & BUTTNER, HOFBUSCHENMACHER" on right, "WEISBADEN, FRANKFURT A/M & ZELLA ST. BL" on left. Zella St. Blassi is the companion town to Mehlis, the two villages which would merge to form Zella-Mehlis, a famed center for German gunmaking which produced accomplished manufacturers like Walther and Anschutz. Steel stamping for "IA. KRUPP'SCHER STAHL" on both barrels. Lower sides of barrels with "(Crown) / N" nitro proof, and "2,5 gr Sch. P. / 28,3 gr BI" indicating a proof load of 2.5 grams (38.5 grains) of smokeless powder with 1 oz. of shot. Crown S, U, and W proofs for smoothbore choked barrels. Rifle barrel with "(Crown) / G", "(Crown) / U", 2 eagles, "AM 525" and "118,35" 13,04", and "1061" rifled barrel proofs for a 9.3 cartridge (9.3x72 fits appropriately). Forearm lug with "36". Round bodied action with visible "626" on right side of interior, and "(Crown) / U" and eagle proof on left side of action flat. Features include a sling swivel screwed onto a sweated on base, bead front sight on a flat machine matted rib with a dovetailed pop-up rifle sight and a grooved scope mount. Doll's head rib extension. Checkered splinter forend with horn insert at tip, Deely release. Rounded action is engraved on left side with a roaring stag, right side depicting a roe deer, both in the midst of a forest, with a punch dot background and scrolling florals. Rebounding serpentine hammers with filework and light engraving. A clever system for firing the rifle barrel utilizes a block over the rifle firing pin, so that when the hammer drops, it either strikes the block and depresses the rifle striker, or the right barrel striker, but not both; top tang lever articulates block and when pressed to the left, slides the block out over the rifle firing pin, allowing a special cut in the right hammer to depress the block, which then articulates the pin. Back action locks are engraved with game birds on left lock and a rabbit on right, with a punched ground and scrolling florals en suite with the lock. Side opening lever mounted just in front of the trigger guard. Trigger guard engraved with simple florals on a punched ground, and protects double triggers, with front set. Pistol grip stock is checkered at the wrist with a horn grip cap. The left cheekpiece has the intertwined "TR" initials on a stippled ground that the letters reference as being cut by Bernard, and the rear left side of the stock has a Pueblo C3 plaque for the United Spanish War Veterans Camp 3, surrounded by the soldier applied tacks also referenced. Right side of stock with a fierce carved eagle with an inset plaque that reads "PRESENTED TO / President / Theodore Roosevelt / FROM FRIENDS AND VETERANS OF CAMP No. 3, PUEBLO, COLORADO / CAPT. JOHN S. STEWART / SEPT. 4, 1905." with a further Spanish War Veterans plaque at rear, fixed and surrounded by additional soldier applied tacks and pins. Toe line has a cartridge compartment with 4 cavities for rifle rounds, and engraved with florals. Butt terminates in a checkered horn buttplate. Case is a very attractive leather wrapped case, with the case lid having relief carving of "THEODORE ROOSEVELT" with his intertwined initials in the center, which was then covered by leather that was tooled into place. Brass tabs are at all corners, and the gun has a luggage style handle with stacked leather ends. The interior has tack fixed placards, with the left one showing a photo of Roosevelt and has a handwritten caption reading "Col. Theodore Roosevelt '07", while right has a placard showing the American stand of arms with a glued on USVW medal. Central medallion which depicts the central cross of the USVW medal is set over a third plaque with an American seal and reads "PRESIDENT, Col, Theodore Roosevelt / This drilling (RIFLE-SHOTGUN) was / given to Col. Roosevelt by this / Camp Sept. 6th 1913, just prior / TO HIS TRIP TO SOUTH AMERICA / favored by Teddy, Winchester's Colt's and / Drillings. RETURNED TO THIS CAMP 3 by Kindness of / Mrs. Edith K. Roosevelt March 3rd 1919." In subscript across the bottom is also "Camp 3's President's display / drilling #2" and a date of "6/7/19". Clearly, 2 of the presentation drillings were returned by Edith after Teddy's death. The bottom of the case is compartmentalized for the drilling when disassembled and contains a 3-piece cleaning rod and a small button-fastened compartment with mop, wire brush, key, and oiler. Also included is a third letter from the USWV dated January 15th, 1919, a scant 9 days after Roosevelt's death, mourning his loss and informing the membership that the board of officers voted to establish a special display in the archives for Roosevelt (referred to as "our friend Teddy"). They also note that they wished to request the return of the drillings for enshrinement, but wished to wait for the appropriate length of time to pass first. Finally is a letter from Garfield Lodge No. 50, writing to USVW, asking to see their Roosevelt exhibit, dated May 5, 1920, and signed A.D. Pittmans. Roosevelt is known to have owned a number of drillings, including one currently on display in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, and another one was ordered from the Three Barrel Gun Company out of Moundsville for his Africa trip. CONDITION: Overall good, but with evidence of use throughout. Barrels retain the vast majority of their period refresh, with silvering towards muzzle and some brown patina forming along the rib. There is some pitting from use in the field throughout, heaviest on the right barrel flat. Forearm is very good with checkering heavily softened and several marks throughout, 2 chips are present, along the side toward the iron, with an internal crack ahead of the iron. Action is very good, essentially gunmetal throughout, with crisp engraving. Stock is very good with a pair of cracks at wrist, just above the tails of the locks, with left side straight and right side forming a rectangle. Cheekpiece with initials is softened from long time spent in the field but still clearly legible. Eagle carving on right side similarly softened, but still highly attractive. Horn has shrunk over time with some deterioration. Mechanics are fine but gummy, as rifle block does not always retract after firing the rifle barrel. Bores are very good, left barrel has a small ding visible from the interior approximately 10 - 3/8" up from breech. Case is very good, with clear carving, scuffs, and scrapes from use throughout. Interior lining with rubs and a minor tear on right side of the stock compartment. Plaques are excellent, legible, with USVW medal oxidized from age. Special to this gun is the indicators of heavy use and care demonstrated in its preparation. While many companies like Fox, Colt, and Winchester courted the president with elaborate guns, finding one that was so carefully embellished by the hands of his fellow soldiers is exceptional, and it was clearly a field favorite, as the gun has more experience as opposed to other presentation guns. Roosevelt is regarded as one of the finest conservationists and statesmen of all time, and this is an extraordinary opportunity to acquire a gun that he owned. EMW/BAS
Case and shipping box
Barrel Length
26 - 3/4"
Barrel Wall Thickness
(L) .014 (R) .024
16 Gauge x 16 Gauge x 9.3x72R
2 - 3/4"
(L) .042 (R) .027
Drop At Comb
1 - 1/2"
Drop at Heel
2 - 1/2"
FFL Status
Curio & Relic
Internal Bore Diameter
(L) .679 (R) .678
Length of Pull
13 - 7/8"
C. Bartels & Buttner
Serial Number
6 lbs 7 oz
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $20,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $90,000.00
Estimate: $40,000 - $60,000
Number Bids: 10
Auction closed on Wednesday, May 18, 2022.
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