Historic Libby Pistol Sells for $920,000 in Maine

By Beacon Staff

FAIRFIELD, Maine – An anonymous bidder paid a record $920,000 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, who lives in 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 $920,000 price includes a $120,000 buyer’s fee charged by the auctioneer.

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 Magnum appeared in the mid-1950s, 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.