Why yes, that IS an Artemus Wheeler revolving flintlock rifle
For decades, Mark Aziz haunted gun and trade shows from coast to coast amassing a collection the likes few have seen. And now it is up for auction.
Aziz, an Army Air Corps veteran with a love of firearms, was the publisher of Gun Room Press, as well as a voracious collector and arms historian his whole life. The revered member of the American Society of Arms Collectors died in 2015 at age 93, taking with him a wealth of gun lore but leaving behind his personal firearm collection. Cowans had some 300 of his prized pieces at what they describe as an “unparalleled” offering this week.
Among the Aziz collection were a number of interesting Patent House models.
An authority on early revolving firearms, among the Aziz guns available, are no less than four rare Paterson revolving rifles, Billinghurst pattern guns, a really nice H.S. North revolving shotgun with a six-shell cylinder and a 23.5-inch “octagon to hexadecagon to round barrel” as well as the only Artemus Wheeler revolving flintlock rifle in circulation.
You do know the work of Capt. Wheeler, yes?
In 1818 he was granted a patent on a “gun, to discharge seven or more times,” of which he sold four examples to the U.S. Navy in Jan. 1821 for the then-high price of $100 each.
In the end, the Navy wasn’t interested in the gun, which the Smithsonian notes as “the first revolving cylinder firearm patented in the United States and the first to be tried by the Services,” but the design went on to be used by others and these early repeaters are rarely encountered. So rare in fact that three of those four early Wheeler guns are in the Smithsonian’s own collection or that of the Virginia Military Institute.
The only gun in private hands belonged to Aziz, and it sold Wednesday for $117,000.
More in my column at Guns.com