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    Known as "King of the Pistol" and "Master Shot of the World"

    Chevalier Ira A. Paine: His Personal Ornately-Engraved and Gold-Plated Stevens Lord No. 36 Pistol, Serial No. 19, with Two Additional Barrels, Circa Early 1880s. An impressive and absolutely beautiful target pistol, 22 caliber RF, 12" barrel, with two additional barrels. The pistol bears essentially 100% coverage of incredibly-detailed engraving, mostly of a foliate design and clearly done by a master hand (probably John Unrich or his brother Friedrich), on the frame, two of the barrels, trigger guard, back strap, and buttcap. The trigger, finger rest, and front strap bear a checkered design to match the full-checkered iridescent mother of pearl grips. The hammer, in the white, is also engraved with a feather pattern on the sides and is hand-checkered on the spur; all screws are also decoratively engraved. There is a full gold wash on the frame, the included .22 caliber barrel, and the additional .32 caliber barrel, which has been shortened to 11". The other additional barrel, with matching serial number "19", is blue and not engraved; its front sight is missing the rear sight is an apparent replacement. This is the only known example which comes with multiple barrels. Also with this pistol is a custom buckskin holster with a pearl button.

    The markings, "J Stevens & Co. Chicopee Falls, Mass, Pat. Sept. 6, 1864" indicate that this gun was manufactured between 1880, when this model went into production, and 1886, when the company changed their name slightly. The "19" serial number is the lowest of any of the presentation models of which we are aware. Engraved Stevens-Lord No.36 presentation pistols were ordered by Buffalo Bill, one to keep (Serial No. 29) and one for his friend Ben Thompson (Serial No. 32). A similar model pistol, a Stevens-Gould No. 37, was given to Annie Oakley by her husband Frank Butler in the 1890s. None of these other guns have the quality and coverage of engraving that this one has. Almost certainly unique.

    Ira Albert Paine (1837-1889) was born in Hebronville, Massachusetts. He possessed a fine tenor voice and was educated in music, becoming a professional singer. In the off-season, he would retreat to the woods and became quite adept with firearms and shooting. He participated in his yacht club's pigeon shoots and was capturing so many prizes in competitive shooting meets that he decided to take his act public on the stage and in the ring. During the 1870s and 1880s, Paine appeared all over the United States and the world, performing amazing sharpshooting feats in front of kings, nobles, and excited fans. He was equally skilled with a shotgun, rifle, pistol, or revolver. His single shot pistol of choice was the Stevens. Not only a shooter, he invented and patented a feather-filled target ball as well as a new type of gun sight. His career was meteoric but short. He died in 1889 while in Paris on a European tour.

    The gun and barrels alone would be an exciting collection relating to this internationally-famous sharpshooter, but we are offering with them a large archive of personal ephemera and mementos. Together, they would comprise an excellent display worthy of any museum or private collection. Additional material includes the following:
    Handwritten Letters to Family Members: A group of twenty-three handwritten letters, with postmarked envelopes written from various locations across Europe, to either his sister Jennie (six, one without envelope), his parents (two), and his mother (after his father died- fifteen). Interestingly, there are handwritten notes in pencil on most of the letters to his mother notating how much money he had enclosed with each letter.
    Portuguese Order of Christ, Knight Medal: Paine was knighted by the King of Portugal in 1883. This is the beautiful enamel on solid gold medal which he received; he is seen wearing it in many of his photos and engravings.
    Large Studio Portrait and Engravings: A 6.5" x 8.75" image on a gold-bordered 6.75" x 9.75" mount from Nadarz of Paris, circa 1885. This studio portrait shows Paine standing in a shooting pose, holding a Stevens gun just like this one. There is a table next to him on which is a Colt Single Action Army Revolver. Leaning against the table is a Winchester Model 1866 rifle and a European double barrel shotgun. On his left chest is the above medal. Also, seven 9" x 9" sheets with a 3" x 3.75" formal pose image (wearing the Portuguese medal), as used on the cover of his biographical booklet mentioned above.
    Biographical and Instructional Booklet: Chevalier Ira Paine Master Shot of the World (New York: Sam'l Booth & Co. 1887). Two fine copies of a thirty-two page book that gives not only his instructions on "How to Become a Marksman" but also an extensive biographical sketch. A partial transcript is viewable on our website.
    Embossed Playing Card Targets: A group of approximately fifty 4.5" x 3" cards with either one or three red hearts and all bearing his gold oval "Chevalier Ira Paine" cartouche with a Smith & Wesson revolver in the center (the steel die for this is also included). Of the cards, ten are in a separate envelope marked "Shot by Ira Paine" and have various bullet holes shot through. Of note, twenty-three of the target cards are printed "Tous Les Soirs Aux Folies-Bergere" (every evening at the Folies-Bergere). This is where Paine was performing when he took ill and died in 1889. A transcript of his hometown newspaper obituary is available to read on our website.
    Scrapbooks of Clippings and Tour Ephemera: One large album of 10.5" x 12", the other 7.5" x 9.5". Likely hundreds of clippings from all over the world, dating from the 1870s until his death in 1889. The material contained could certainly be the basis for a book about Ira Paine's life. We note a copy of his last will & testament, an autographed photo from one of Hungary's Esterhazy family dated 1885, as well as his Gold Medal certificate target signed by Gastinne Rennett. Hours of interesting reading here. Additionally, a roll of targets (one shot), and Edward VII medal, and a leather gun belt.
    Posters and Lithograph: Two large, decorative 19" x 29" Polish circus posters from 1883 where Paine (and his wife) was one of the headline acts. One is printed partially with a gold ink. Also, a 19" x 23.5" color lithograph with a large oval central image of Paine, based on a photo by J. Wood, inside a decorative geometric border with four of his favorite guns, one in each corner. Lower right pictures a Stevens presentation pistol very much like the one offered here (possibly the same one). At bottom center is an ad for "Paine's Pat. Filled Glass Balls". Lithographed by H. A. Thomas of New York.

    The pistol and engraved .22 caliber barrel are in very fine condition. The barrel retains 60% or more of its original gold wash which is bright in sheltered areas but somewhat worn in the center area. The frame retains nearly 50% of its original gold wash, strong mostly in sheltered areas and on the buttcap. Grips have a crack and a chip on the right but are otherwise sound with only light wear, but a great fiery color. Mechanics are crisp, bore is bright and shiny with some light roughness in front of the chamber. The spare .32 caliber barrel is fine and retains traces of dark gold wash but is mostly a gray metal color. Bright shiny bore. The blued .22 caliber barrel (matching serial number "19") retains about 90% strong original blue that turns dull over the mid-part of the barrel. Bright shiny bore. The holster is fine with some soiling. The additional material is generally fine; many of the clippings are brittle from age. The posters are near fine and shrink-wrapped to foam core. The litho has some damage, with holes and waterstains; it could (and should) be restored by a qualified professional.

    Though not today the "household name" that other longer-lived shooters have remained, Ira A. Paine was a celebrity of the highest magnitude during his shooting career, an "A-lister," if you will. Target-shooting was his third career. As a young man, he was a gas-fitter with a plumbing firm in Providence, Rhode Island, where he became one of the best at his trade in the state. Next, Paine became a professional singer, probably in a minstrel act. He was likely well into his twenties before he found his true calling, the most accurate shot of his era. For many years, he shot in local and regional meets, taking all comers and defeating them soundly. In the 1870s and 1880s, no other man was more praised or respected for their shooting skills than Ira Paine. He impressed kings, emperors, military officers, and other expert shooters who realized just how amazing he was. He was also a showman that could impress and entertain the masses, many of whom only came to see the "feathers fly." As a rare Stevens presentation pistol with the most elaborate engraving and lowest serial number we know of, this gun would certainly be at home in any top-notch weapon collection. With the added historical archive of this sometimes-forgotten international shooting legend, the winning bidder of this collection will hopefully use it to bring the memory of the "Master Shot of the World" to life for this and future generations.

    More Information:

    CHEVALIER IRA PAINE, Master Shot of the World. (Partial transcript)
    The wonderful and talented artist, the unequalled marksman with shot-gun, rifle, pistol and revolver, Chevalier Ira Paine, is not, as has been supposed by the title he bears, a foreign gentleman, but an American, born at Hebronville, Massachusetts. He received a fine musical education, and possessing an excellent tenor voice, at an early age became a professional singer. During the season of the year when he was looking for recreation after a hard season's work, he sought the woods, and being fond of all out-door sports he naturally became interested in fire-arms and shooting. He became a prominent member of a New England yacht club, which held regular pigeon shoots, and, soon after commencing to shoot with the shot-gun, he showed so much skill in handling this arm that he captured about all the valuable prizes which were offered; and as the club felt a pride in their champion's ability, they frequently made matches with the best shots of other clubs, and victory after victory was gained by Chevalier Paine. His reputation as a crack wing shot extended rapidly, and he received many invitations to exhibit his skill as well as to combat with professional shooters; and his almost uninterrupted success and the increasing invitations to exhibit his skill decided him to appear before the public on the stage and in the ring, and for several years Chevalier Paine has appeared in every large city in America, in all the great and prominent cities of Europe, before the nobility arid the masses in the old country, delighting all who have seen him shoot, winning fame and fortune, making warm friends of all sportsmen, entertaining, pleasing and instructing kings and nobles, proving the possibilities of fire-arms when in the hands of experts, occasionally shooting matches with some unknown individual, who has been put forward by parties who believed they could produce a superior to Chevalier Paine- but have yet failed to find one-and each year showing himself to be thorough master of the weapons he handles so gracefully but with such wonderful and unerring accuracy.

    When Chevalier Paine first appeared before the public there were no appliances for in-door shooting, but possessing an unusual amount of mechanical ingenuity, he invented glass balls; feather-filled balls, to give the appearance of a bird when struck with a charge of shot; traps for throwing balls, and many other devices which have been largely adopted by sportsmen throughout the world.

    At first he gave exhibitions with the shot-gun exclusively; but when in the woods, deer shooting, he handled the rifle with such marvelous skill as to fill his hunting companions with awe, and when pistols and revolvers were placed in his hands by friends he performed feats with these arms which were hitherto considered among the impossibilities; and, as these arms are so difficult to shoot accurately, men who had supposed they had acquired considerable skill in pistol shooting when they saw the marksmanship of Chevalier Paine with a Stevens pistol and with revolvers stood dumbfounded and applied to him the appellation, "King of the Pistol." Those who saw his brilliant feats of marksmanship urged him to add these weapons to his exhibition tools, which he decided to do. He handles them all with the greatest skill, and, being ambidextrous, shoots with, either right or left hand in a manner which rouses the audiences before whom he appears to a state of the greatest enthusiasm.

    Of all the shooting exhibitions given before the public, none of the performers attempt the feats performed by Chevalier Paine; some are clever with shotgun, others do shooting at short range at stationary objects with a rifle, but none attempt to handle those most difficult arms, the pistol and revolver, for they know full well that only the most skillful can handle them expertly; and when one is found who can please and excite wonder from an audience, generally composed more or less of sportsmen, with the shot-gun, rifle, pistol and revolver, he is indeed fit to be called the master-shot of the world.

    It is natural for professional artists who have by practice and study acquired sufficient skill to enable them to appear in public, command large salaries and be sought after by enterprising managers, to guard closely and carefully the secrets of their profession, but Chevalier Paine has no such feeling; but he finds it impossible to reply to the numerous letters he is constantly receiving, and, therefore, permits the writer to describe the arms he uses in his exhibitions: The shotgun is a 16-bore Greener gun, the rifle is a Winchester, the pistol is a Stevens, the revolver is a 44-calibre (Russian model) Smith & Wesson.

    It is seldom that professional shooters will shoot among sportsmen in private or at public shooting grounds. Chevalier Paine is an exception to this rule: he has shot before editors of prominent journals, before government officials, expert armorers of Europe and America, military men, noted pistol shots in many parts of the world, and all marvel at his skill, and many do not hesitate to say they did not believe it was among the possibilities to perform the feats he does.


    Evening Bulletin, Providence, Rhode Island (Obituary)
    "The Chevalier Dead in Paris.-Expert Plumber, Vocalist and Crack Pistol Shot of the World."

    Chevalier Ira Abner Paine is dead. He died suddenly in Paris, France, Monday afternoon, where he was filling his third engagement of this season. The facts, regarding the sudden death, of this noted American revolver shot are vague. Late Tuesday night his sister, Miss Jennie N. Paine, who has charge of the old Paine homestead at No, 14. Delaine street, this city, received a cable dispatch from Paris stating that her brother Ira was dangerously ill, and this morning the household was overcome by grief upon the receipt of a dispatch announcing that his illness had ended fatally.

    Of his illness his sister knew nothing, but thought it must have been heart trouble.

    Ira Paine was the son of the late Ira and Elizabeth Paine, and was born in the village of Hebronville, in the south of Attleboro, on Feb. 11, 1837. When a lad he came to this city, where he entered the plumbing establishment of Hartshorn, the gas fitter, and after a thorough schooling in this firm, he made himself one of the best gas fitters in the State. He followed this business until late in the when he marched out as a vocal soloist, and having a fine voice made his mark in this line when yet young. This did not seem to be his calling, however, and in 1860 he began the career which has since made him famous in all the countries on the globe. He made rifle and pistol shooting his profession, and soon became an expert. At home he won scores of medals and trophies. In 1872 he became champion pistol shot of the United States, and in 1866 went to London, England, where he defeated the well-known infantry men of the British army, Captains Patten and Skelly, in matches which he won for himself an unrivalled name. His stay in Europe extended over a period of six years, during which time he shot in every large capital of the Eastern Hemisphere.

    He has appeared in nearly every royal palace from St. Petersburg to Lisbon. He has been endorsed by prominent military authority in Europe, notably Gen. Von Kameke, German Minister of War, who, March 12, 1882, in the presence of the Royal Family and 4000 troops, pronounced him "the most wonderful shot the world has ever seen." Dec. 8, 1882, he was knighted and decorated by the King of Portugal at Lisbon in the presence of the American Minister, Hon. John M. Francis, and Commander Newell and his officers of the American ship-of-war Nipsic, receiving his papers and insignia Jan. 25, 1883. This was the reward of a private exhibition given to His Majesty by special command. At the conclusion of the exhibition the King joined Mr. Paine in pistol-shooting.

    He returned to his native country early In 1886, and for a short time made a tour of the States, doing some remarkable shooting. His final matches were the familiar Paine-Bennett contest at Walnut Hills, near Boston, and Narraganset Park. These matches were unsatisfactory, and ended prematurely, owing to a disagreement between Paine and Bennett as to the sights used. A few months after these matches, Chevalier Paine, accompanied by his wife, sailed lor Europe, where he has been, filling engagements throughout the continent.

    What has especially distinguished Paine is his astonishing rapidity and accuracy with the different national arms, such as loading a Winchester rifle and hitting an eight-inch target 85 times in one minute, done at the Palace, Lisbon; loading and firing the American Hotchkiss rifle (single loader) 32 times in one minute, on board the U.S. ship of war Lancaster, at Cronstadt, May, 1883; loading and hitting an eight-inch target 27 times in one minute with the Mauser gun, in presence of Gen. Von Kameke and German troops; hitting a five-inch target 50 times in succession with a Colt's army revolver at the great London revolver trials, April, 1884, in the presence of representatives of the London press; making targets at the celebrated galleries Renette, Paris, that have never been equaled, Gastine Renette, the Paris expert, declaring that the equal of Mr. Paine had never entered the gallery, although it had been in existence over 80 years; Sept. 28, 1885, winning the great pistol match with Herr Joseph Schulhoff of Vienna, the most noted pistol shot in Europe- this match creating profound interest in military circles, on account of both the reputation of the contestants and the distances which had been agreed upon, viz., 40 yards, 120 yards and 325 yards. Mr. Paine won all three matches with ease, nearly doubling the points of his opponent. The target at 325 yards was 18x36 in., Paine hitting it with a pistol, off-hand shooting, 77 times in 100. Mr. Paine, on leaving Vienna, was fairly loaded with souvenirs. The five judges of the great pistol match, including Baron Restel, Military Commander, Of Vienna, presented him with a magnificent gold medal, inscribed: "The Master Shot of the World; from Vienna Friends."

    In person the Chevalier was a stout man inclined to obesity. He had crisp, curly hair, a short grey moustache, blue eyes, and altogether the look of a genial gentleman. His travels have been so extended throughout Europe and America, that he was a most entertaining conversationalist. He always wears, as a mascot the insignia presented him by the King of Portugal, while he has also received medals of honor from the Czar of Russia, King of Austria, and from friends at Moscow and Vienna, as well as scores of other medals and souvenirs from titled people and members of royal families. He married Miss Anna Marchant while abroad, about six years ago. He is the last and youngest son of the Paine family, his father, mother and brother having died a few years since. He leaves four sisters. Mrs. Perley Verry of Salem, Mass., Mrs. E. M. Slackof Brooklyn, N.Y., Mrs. E. F. Williams of this city, and Miss Jennie N. Paine, with whom the chevalier resided when at home. The remains will be brought to his native place for burial.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2012
    10th Sunday
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