"There's a degree of faith
involved, but it's understandable;
there is evidence this could
be Dan Kelly's".

"There's a degree of faith involved, but it's understandable; there is evidence this could be Dan Kelly's". Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

A PRIVATE collector has paid $122,000 for a gun that may or may not have belonged to the Kelly gang.

Bidding at Charles Leski Auctions in Hawthorn started at $75,000 with six bids made, all by phone, up to the successful bid of $100,000. Auctioneer's commission brought the price to $122,000.

The catalogue for the sale described the modified East India Company Cavalry Pistol as Dan Kelly's pistol.

The description says: ''It was reported that a muzzle-load single-shot pistol was found on a Kelly pack-horse at the Glenrowan siege, it is possible that this is the gun.''

But no evidence is given of a link to Dan Kelly; instead the catalogue states that the weapon has remained in the one family, the Hansens, ''since being acquired in 1900''.

Historian Ian Jones, a Kelly gang expert who was present at the auction, said it was a good buy.

''There's a degree of faith involved, but it's understandable; there is evidence this could be Dan Kelly's,'' Mr Jones said.

Clues included the stock being engraved with 1876/DAN KELLY, and the fact, said Jones, that ''a single-shot muzzle-loading pistol, described as quite old-fashioned, was found on a pack horse the Kelly Gang had at Glenrowan [the site of the Kelly gang's siege in 1880]''.

''I've never seen a record of it remaining in police hands,'' Mr Jones said.

He said it was such a ''funny old gun'' it rang true as ''the sort of gun you would expect them to use''.

''There was a lot of interest in it, and compared to some other Kelly items that have popped up in the past, it was much more credible.''