Published: October 15, 2013
ROCK ISLAND, ILL. — Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC) offered historic firearms that achieved similarly historic prices on the auction block at its September 13–15 firearms sale, grossing $13.1 million in sales.
Over the course of the auction, almost 1,000 bidders from around the world came to inspect, bid and, with any luck, purchase one of the more than 2,700 pieces in the sale. Those live bidders experienced some steady competition from all 50 states and more than 25 countries, as more than 13,000 absentee bids were placed via sealed bids, telephone and the Internet.
The two most anticipated pieces in the sale were both from the Mac McCroskie Winchester collection and they did not disappoint, as they were the highest grossing lots of the weekend. An iron frame Henry rifle realized a world record price for a standard Nineteenth Century American-made rifle at $603,750. A documented Conrad F. Ulrich Masterpiece gold-plated factory exhibition-quality relief engraved and signed Winchester Model 1866 lever-action rifle achieved $437,000. In fact, Winchesters accounted for the top three lots of the sale as a rare factory engraved Winchester Model 1876 .50 Express Deluxe short rifle commanded $230,000.
Winchesters were just the beginning of the banner weekend for American-made Nineteenth Century firearms. Colt firearms, the iconic companion pieces to Winchester rifles, also achieved some incredible prices. A documented A Company No. 182 Walker revolver, Samuel Colt’s first commercially successful revolver, as well as his first military contract revolver, brought an impressive $155,250. A documented, cased, British proofed Colt Model 1860 Army revolver with rare matching canteen shoulder stock went out the door at $80,500. A rare case for a Number 5 Texas Paterson brought $80,500, while a No. 2 Paterson with extra cylinder achieved $46,000. A factory “A” engraved Wilbur A. Glahn first-generation Colt single-action Army revolver with ivory grips sold for $40,250.
One of the most intense bidding battles of the weekend occurred late in the afternoon on Saturday when a rare factory-engraved Colt Officers Model double-action target revolver with gold initial inlaid mother-of-pearl grips crossed the block. The revolver carried a presale estimate $8,5/14,000 and quickly exceeded the high estimate as hands shot up all around the auction hall. As the auctioneer asked for $20,000 the field narrowed and near $27,500 it was down to two. “It was a classic bidding war,” said auctioneer and RIAC’s executive director of client services Jessica Tanghe, who was calling the sale. “At least once during an auction we have an item that far exceeds expectations and as an auctioneer it is extremely exciting.” The lot achieved $37,375.
Other impressive Nineteenth Century American firearms results included a documented Gustave Young’s 1893 Chicago World’s Fair Exposition engraved and gold inlaid Smith & Wesson 44 double-action Frontier model revolver with Nevada gold mining lawmen history which brought $155,250; a Volcanic lever-action Navy Pistol from the Winchester Arms collection/Cody Firearms Museum selling for $40,250; and a US contract New Haven Arms Co. Henry rifle that took $80,500.
Notable sales of US military arms included a rare World War II Singer tool room/prototype M1911A1 semi-automatic pistol with documentation, which sold to an ecstatic floor bidder for $43,125; a historic rare cased presentation from the prime minister of Israel to US General Walter Bedell Smith IMI double-action military revolver, which brought $18,400; and an original early 1913 production US-marked Colt Model 1911 semi-automatic pistol with factory letter that achieved $13,800.
Twentieth Century German military items included a World War II Walther factory relief engraved cased presentation model PPK pistol with documentation and association to Hermann Goring, $37,375; inscribed historic Hitler presentation to Goring sterling silver platter with gem decoration, $54,625; and rare imperial German DWM Model 1906 first issue Navy Luger, $31,625.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For more information, 800-238-8022 or www.rockislandauction.com.
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