Gun from Australia's Kelly gang to be sold

A gun belonging to the brother of notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly and used in the gang's infamous last stand against police is to go under the hammer on Wednesday, an auctioneer said.

The East India Company cavalry pistol which belonged to Kelly's younger brother Dan and has his name and the year 1876 engraved on the walnut stock will be sold by Melbourne's Leski Auctions.

Auctioneer Charles Leski expects the vintage muzzle-load single-shot percussion pistol, which uses powder and a lead ball instead of a cartridge, to fetch up to Aus$125,000 (US$130,000).

Dan Kelly had the pistol with him during the 1880 siege of the Glenrowan Inn, when his outlaw brother and their gang made one last stand against police.

Everyone but Ned Kelly -- wearing his iconic home-made plate metal armour and helmet -- was killed in the showdown. Kelly was later hanged at Melbourne Gaol, famous for uttering the final phrase "such is life".

"The Kelly Gang -- Ned, Dan, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne -- has loomed large in Australia's consciousness for more than 130 years," Leski said.

"Their story has strongly divided opinion between those who believe they were cold-blooded killers and those who consider them to be folk heroes and symbols of Irish-Australian resistance against the Anglo-Australian ruling class."

Leski said the gun had disappeared for 20 years after the siege and was said to have been found on the banks of the Murrimbidgee river by a local who sold it to a Queensland gunsmith named H.P. Hansen.

It had been in the Hansen family since 1900 and was being sold by a descendant, he added.

"Dan Kelly's gun is remarkable not only because of its rarity and link to one of the most significant events in Australia's history, but because it has remained with the one family since its acquisition in 1900," said Leski.

The Kelly gang exploits have been the subject of numerous films and television series.

Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger played the lead role in the 1970 movie "Ned Kelly", while Heath Ledger starred as the bandit in a 2003 remake.

Kelly has also been the inspiration for many books, most notably Peter Carey's novel "True History of the Kelly Gang", which won the 2001 Booker Prize.

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