Morphy’s to Auction Kentucky Long Rifle Presented by Marquis de Lafayette to Indian Guide Chief Tunis, May 18

DENVER, Pa., May 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — On May 18, Morphy Auctions will present a 161-lot selection of highly important and historical arms and militaria. Specialty categories include early flintlock muskets, rifles and pistols; antique handguns, powder horns, sabers, medals, maps, portraits of distinguished military figures, and more.

The premier lot of the sale is a Kentucky long rifle presented by the Marquis de Lafayette to his trusted Tuscarora Iroquois Indian guide and friend Chief Tunis, who traveled with him during the American Revolution and led him on expeditions across 24 of the United States.

Of the Europeans who held sympathetic views toward the breakaway colonists during the American Revolution, none was held in higher regard or proactively assisted their cause with greater fervor than Lafayette. “He defiantly ignored the wishes of his family, who disowned him, and of King Louis the Sixteenth, and purchased a ship to travel to America. His military rank of major general was recognized by the Continental Army, and he immediately began an illustrious career in the colonies with the oversight of his closest friend, George Washington,” said Dan Morphy, founder and president of Morphy Auctions.

The wealthy marquis became known not only for his many acts of valor but also for his monetary contributions to the American cause at its darkest hour. In fact, it was due to Lafayette’s lobbying efforts that France sent both economic aid and troops during the war.

Lafayette saw more of the United States than probably most Americans – then or now. Right alongside him during his many expeditions was his faithful guide Chief Tunis. As an expression of gratitude, Lafayette gifted Chief Tunis with the Kentucky rifle to be auctioned by Morphy’s on May 18th. It is profusely engraved, decorated and inscribed: Presented to Chief Tunis by Lafayette at Kingston NY 1824. Its unbroken chain of provenance traces the rifle’s ownership back to Chief Tunis and his common-law wife Ruth Yaple. Former owners also include direct descendants of Chief Tunis, renowned antique arms dealer/collector Glode Requa (1918-2011), and Secretary of the Treasury William E. Simon (see complete provenance and extensive additional information in Morphy’s catalog). Estimate: $200,000$500,000.

A pre-Revolutionary War flintlock Kentucky rifle is attributed to Bucks County, Pa., during the region’s formative years of gunsmithing. It has beautiful, relatively high-relief carving as opposed to the later incised carving usually found with this school of rifles. “Its silhouette shows characteristics of what would eventually become known as the Bucks County School profile,” Morphy explained. “The fleur-de-lis designs on either side of the wrist at the rear of the lock and sideplate moldings are evidence that this rifle was made in upper Bucks County.” Estimate $50,000$150,000.

Another highlight, a well-known and well-documented Revolutionary War flintlock Kentucky rifle, is depicted in Joe Kindig Jr’s Thoughts on the Kentucky Rifle in its Golden Age, George Shumway’s Rifles of Colonial America, and Wood and Whisker’s Gunsmiths of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Relief-carved, this iconic rifle of early Lancaster form is signed John Newcomer (d. 17820, a gunsmith in Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, Pa., in 1771, 1772, 1779 and 1780. Estimate: $50,000$100,000.

Morphy’s May 18, 2021 Early Arms & Militaria Auction will be held at the company’s Denver, Pennsylvania gallery, starting at 10 a.m. EDT. All forms of bidding will be available, including live online through Morphy Live. Questions: call 877-968-8880 or email

Media Contact:
Sarah Stoltzfus

SOURCE Morphy Auctions

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