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    Description

    Inscribed and Given by Lincoln as President

    An Extraordinary Burnside Carbine Presented to Kentucky Senator John J. Crittenden, with Family Provenance.
    An engraved oval silver plaque is set into the right side of the stock, reading "Presented to the Honorable J. J. Crittenden by A. Lincoln, President of the United States as a testimony of affection and regard for his long and patriotic service for which a grateful people bear testimony. Feb. 1, 1862." This is one of just two firearms known to have been presented by Lincoln, the other being a pair of cased Colt revolvers now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
    Crittenden was an important political ally and personal friend of Lincoln and visited him at the White House during his presidency. He had served in the Kentucky House of Representatives, twice as Speaker of the House, and the U. S. Senate. One of the Whig Party's most prominent figures during the 1840s and 1850s, he supported in 1860 the Constitutional Union ticket of Bell and Everett following the fracture of the Whigs. Following that election he was known as a voice of moderation who introduced the "Crittenden Compromise" which would have restored the Missouri Compromise which had for years successfully, if tenuously, held the union together.
    But the seeds of war were already firmly planted, and Crittenden found himself a leading figure in a key border state with strong pro and anti-succession elements. There he was instrumental in the fight to keep Kentucky in the Union, which was key to the eventual success of the Unions campaign against the Confederacy in the West. Crittenden's own family reflected the division in his state, with one son being a Federal officer and the other a Confederate in the War. Although the precise circumstances of Lincoln's selection of a Burnside carbine for presentation to Crittenden has been lost, it seems likely that he made this choice in recognition of his friends militant support for the Union.
    Treasured by the Crittenden family, who by tradition used it for hunting, it was passed down by direct line until it came into the custody of yet another John J. Crittenden, whose will in 1972 identified it as a "hunting gun" given to the first John Jordan Crittenden by Abraham Lincoln. It was willed to Jordan Crittenden and was subsequently placed on extended loan to the Kentucky Military History Museum of the Commonwealth of Kentucky Historical society of Frankfort, Ky.
    In 1991 the Crittendens made a decision to sell the gun, and enlisted the help of the museum's curator. however, there was a change of heart and instead J.J. Crittenden, transferred ownership of the gun to his sister Jane Crittenden Harris to keep in the family. Harris was already in possession of the other items belonging to Senator Crittenden, including his wooden trunk inscribed with his name and a dress sword which had been presented to his son Thomas in the aftermath of the Civil War.
    In 1992 Mrs. Harris decided to sell the gun after all, and enlisted the help of a leading Civil War dealer, who negotiated a private sale to a New York gallery for $135,000. At the same time she also sold the trunk and sword, which have remained with the gun and are included in this lot. It was subsequently purchased by a renowned collector, the late Kevin Hoffman and remained with him for over two decades.
    The term "museum piece" is often over-employed by enthusiastic collectors and dealers, but it certainly applies to this evocative and unique artifact from Abraham Lincoln's presidency. It has terrific provenance, and would be an ultimate acquisition for any collector, institution, or someone who simply loves the history of our 16th president and this tumultuous period in our nations past.
    the weapon itself is a .54 caliber Burnside carbine, named after its creator. Union General Ambrose E. Burnside. while five different variations would ultimately be produced, this is an early example of the second series, serial number 593.
    Condition: Metal surfaces are uniformly brown patina, untouched with scattered light pitting. The bore is very good, and the stock is in nice condition with expected handling wear and scratches. The gun bears the appropriate inspector's cartouche. the silver plaque inset into the stock and secured by four original silver pins, shows expected minor blemishes from handling and has been polished. The trunk, beautifully dovetailed measuring 37" x 23" x 20" may have been refinished at some point, and is in fine shape but for one separation in the lid. The sword, 36.5" is in beautiful condition with the scabbard inscribed " Col. Thomas L. Crittenden 92 Reg. Inf. Retired May 19,1881 Russellville, Ky."
    Together with the trunk they contribute to the obvious integrity of the group.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2019
    2nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 996

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