Historic pistol sells for $800,000

Posted Oct. 08, 2008, at 11:35 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:18 a.m.
John McBride of Libby,Mont., waves his cowboy hat and yells in delight after the gavel came down and the $800,000 anonymous bid for his .44- caliber Colt Walker pistol was accepted during a firearm auction at Julia's Auction in Fairfield, Maine  on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008. The pistol was made for U.S. marshals in the 1840s and belonged to the University of Maine graduate's great-great-uncle.   &quotWe did better than we expected," McBride said with a big smile.
AP PHOTO BY DAVID LEAMING/MORNING SENTINEL
John McBride of Libby,Mont., waves his cowboy hat and yells in delight after the gavel came down and the $800,000 anonymous bid for his .44- caliber Colt Walker pistol was accepted during a firearm auction at Julia's Auction in Fairfield, Maine on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008. The pistol was made for U.S. marshals in the 1840s and belonged to the University of Maine graduate's great-great-uncle. "We did better than we expected," McBride said with a big smile.
This circa 1840s  .44-caliber Colt Walker pistol sold for $800,000 at Julia's Auction in Fairfield, Maine on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008, during a firearms auction. Owner John McBride of Libby, Mont.,  waved his cowboy hat and yelled in delight after an anonymous bidder bought the pistol.  The pistol was made for U.S. marshals and belonged to the University of Maine graduate's great-great-uncle.   &quotWe did better than we expected," McBride said with a big smile.
AP PHOTO BY DAVID LEAMING/MORNING SENTINEL
This circa 1840s .44-caliber Colt Walker pistol sold for $800,000 at Julia's Auction in Fairfield, Maine on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2008, during a firearms auction. Owner John McBride of Libby, Mont., waved his cowboy hat and yelled in delight after an anonymous bidder bought the pistol. The pistol was made for U.S. marshals and belonged to the University of Maine graduate's great-great-uncle. "We did better than we expected," McBride said with a big smile.

FAIRFIELD, Maine — An anonymous bidder paid a record $800,000 for a historic .44-caliber revolver, and Maine auctioneer James Julia said that despite the price, it was a bargain.

The Colt Walker pistol made for U.S. marshals in the 1840s belonged to University of Maine graduate John McBride’s great-great-uncle. McBride, of Libby, Mont., returned to Maine for Tuesday’s auction. He waved his cowboy hat and cheered “Yee-ha” when bidding ended for the gun he said he’s never fired.

The 80-year-old McBride, who will get most of the money from the sale, said it was a tough decision to let go of a piece of family history.

“It was in a box until 1941, then we moved to Worcester, Mass., and had it on display on the wall,” McBride said. He said his family will use some of the proceeds to buy land in Montana.

“It was a painful decision. The family would rather have land than pistols. I can understand that. I don’t necessarily agree with it,” McBride said.

The handgun known as “The Marshal’s Gun” was the most powerful handgun in the world for more than a century until the .44-caliber Magnum appeared in 1954, Julia said.

McBride’s piece fetched a record price because it was in great condition, said Julia, who was also the auctioneer for the previous record for a Colt bid, $480,000.

Bidding for the Colt Walker sold Tuesday started at $300,000, and quickly jumped to $700,000 and ended up at $800,000, a price Julia declared to be “an absolute bargain.”

Wes Dillon, sales coordinator for Julia’s firearms division, said the gun was a “pristine original.”

“What we are seeing here is a unique opportunity in the gun-collecting world,” Dillon said.

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