It takes a lot to capture the interest of the top firearms collectors in the world. They’ve been around the hobby for years and have seen a lot, so when something grabs their eye, you know it has to be special. Taking place May 2-4, RIAC’s Premiere Firearms Auction has the piqued the curiosity of collectors seeking nothing but the best in not just one, but several popular and historic categories.
The Winchester collections in this auction are staggering in both their condition and breadth. One of the rapidly rising stars of the entire auction is a stunning, near new Henry rifle that was once in the possession of the Museum of Connecticut History in Hartford, CT and before that held a place in the Colt’s Patent Firearms Mfg. Co Museum founded by the legendary Samuel Colt. Colt intended to form a collection that showed the evolution of repeating arms and many of the museum’s initial pieces were personally acquired by him. According to the numerous documents by then Colt Firearms Historical Consultant R.L. Wilson, “there can be no question but that he examined #205… personally.” This fantastic Henry from the Samuel Colt Collection in lot 1009 is a monumental beginning to a category overflowing with premium collector firearms.
Starting with early Henry & Volcanics, this sale will feature 14 guns from the New Haven Arms Co, including examples with Civil War history, factory engraving, rare barrel lengths, and even a supremely collectable iron frame Henry with Confederate provenance in lot 1090. The celebration of Winchester continues with an evolution of Model 1866 rifles, including the First “Flatside” Model, Second, Third, & Fourth models. The 1866 models are also handsomely represented with models that exhibit nickel plating, musket configurations, and even TWO consecutive pairs. One pair is a pair of nickel plated, C.F. Ulrich Master Engraved rifles that came together from two separate consignors (lots 1015 & 1016), and the other pair is an immaculate, near new pair of 1866 muskets in lots 3014 & 3015 that look like they did when they left the factory floor over 140 years ago.
There will also be a wonderfully high condition selection of Winchester Model 90 slide action rifles and three gold inlaid masterpiece Winchesters that will absolutely drop your jaw in lots 221, 1273, & 3006. With their elaborately carved stocks, master engraving, gold inlaid panel scenes, and gold wire work performed by such artisans as J. Ulrich and Angelo Stokes, these rifles represent some of the finest Winchester craftsmanship known.
Colts also abound in this colossal sale and no less than three of them threaten to steal the show. Two are formerly from the collection of Al Cali and are well known to collectors around the world. The first is lot 1147, a profoundly rare and equally magnificent cased No. 5 Texas Paterson with 6 silver bands, 9-inch barrel, attached loading lever, and shell carved ivory grips. This extremely rare, beautiful, historically significant, and sought after Colt is simply stunning to behold with its miraculous condition, stately mahogany case, and full accompaniment of accessories. It is one of the most important, impressive, and significant revolvers ever to be offered for public sale.
The second is a Colt Walker Civilian Model with a thumbprint emblazoned on the left side of its frame in lot 3116, known better as “The Thumbprint Walker.” It is yet another gun with almost celebrity-like status and sure to draw anxious collectors as it shows itself once more before perhaps hiding in another collection for decades to come. Civilian Walkers are unquestionably the most difficult of all Colt firearms to obtain, with generations of collectors having missed the opportunity.
Another star of the auction bearing the Colt name is an exceptional Ehler’s Fifth Model Paterson Belt Model revolver with its factory case and accessories in lot 1151. With over 500 Colts in this sale, it’s a near certainty that your favorites will be well represented. This sale will have Army & Navy revolvers, Pockets, DAs, SAA of every generation, special finishes, carved grips, Tiffany grips, Master engravings, inscribings, factory inlays, revolving rifles and shotguns, Dragoons, Aces, AR-15s, snake guns, Lightnings and Thunderers, cloverleafs, derringers, a factory gold plated and panel scene engraved deluxe Lightning rifle, and a 1897 Gatling gun with Spanish American War history. There are even Colts with historic provenance to military officers, the notorious outlaw Clyde Barrow in lot 1206, and President Theodore Roosevelt’s Presidential Secretary William Loeb Jr. in lot 1205. This is an auction that will have Colt collectors and investors marveling over both its selection and the quality.
Buyers interested in high grade sporting arms will also be dazzled by the high condition, rare configuration, and extremely desirable shotguns and rifles. This is without a doubt the most significant array of high grade sporting arms Rock Island Auction Company has ever offered.
The crown jewels are easily lots 301, 302, & 303 known as the “Holland Triplets” – three consecutively numbered, deluxe, cased Holland & Holland double rifles in .375 H&H Magnum, 300 H&H Magnum, & 7mm Magnum – each featuring delicate English scroll engraving, gold inlays, and coming with their own spare set of side locks that are also all hand engraved and numbered to match the originals.
Two shotguns from John Dickson & Sons that are demanding some early attention are the outstanding, engraved, and extremely rare, John Dickson & Son three barrel side by side hammerless 16 gauge shotgun with its own custom case and accessories from the Rothschild Family Collection in lot 1427, and the second is the extraordinary, engraved, gold inlaid, double Damascus barrel flintlock shotgun appearing in lot 1386. Each one exudes the utmost quality in their construction and matches it with their beauty and excellent condition.
Also highlighting the show are an incredible Perrin’s & Son 8 bore double rifle in lot 1380 and a stunning cased and engraved Wesley Richards double rifle in the powerful 500/465 caliber with vivid case hardening and bright gold inlays in lot 337.
With the superb selection of renowned gunsmiths represented such as Holland & Holland, Purdey, Browning, Dickson & Son, Le Page, Charles Lancaster, Perrin’s & Son, Barella, Perazzi, Parker Bros, Krieghoff, J.P. Sauer, and many more, this sale will have the manufacturers, aesthetics, gauges, calibers, and investment quality arms to satisfy any taste.
Those who seek antiques will find more than they bargained for with our wide variety of highly detailed pieces from America and abroad. Rising to the top of this genre are two elaborately detailed shotguns from Parisian gunsmith Le Page. The first, lot 1392, rests its exquisite relief carved double barrels on an wondrously ornamented and embellished ebony stock. Also the gunsmith to dukes, kings, emperors, barons, and generals, Le Page made this gun to be a gift from fourth French President M.Paul Jules Grevy to Don Manuel Gonzalez, President of Mexico. The gun is decorated with carved steel hammers shaped like a pouncing dog, percussion cap holders shaped like foxes, a trigger guard shaped like a pheasant eating grapes, and a rabbit at the end of the trigger guard extension. You can look at this gun multiple times and still not see every detail in this pain-stakingly ornate and technique-laden percussion shotgun.
While the previous firearm was an exercise in engraving and carving, lot 1395 seeks to provide the same experience with inlaid materials. Utilizing both gold and pearl, the artisan who created this beautiful shotgun uses delicate floral pattern inlays as well as deep engraving to build this beautiful long arm. To compliment this marvelously inlaid gun is lot 3386, a European Wheelock sporting gun with extensive graceful bone and pearl inlays. There are also fabulous exhibition quality, cased dueling pistol sets from makers such as Barella and Egg, flintlock pistols with silver furniture, wonderful bladed weapons, and another impressive assortment of armor from the William Ashby Collection.
Lastly, whether you seek foreign or domestic military arms, this auction will include some very exciting prospects. The selection of U.S. military arms spans almost our entire history, but has a wonderful focus on early American military arms by featuring an astonishing grouping of Civil War arms from both the North and South, Sharps, Henrys, and a comprehensive offering of Colt Cavalry single actions with various desirable inspector cartouches.
Later U.S. military highlights include a Springfield M1903 rod bayonet, serial no. 91 (lot 1606), several Johnson M1941 rifles, two Thompson sub-machine guns, two scarce Vikers-Armstrongs Pedersen self-loading rifles in lots 1643 & 3608, and a phenomenal selection of 1911 pistols. These 1911s include several high condition first year production models, presentation models, and every manufacturer of the M1911/A1 including TWO supremely rare and sought after pistols from Singer found in lots 1620 & 3602!
Foreign military arms are in no shortage at Rock Island Auction Company thanks in part to the Von Norden Collection. The first installment of this studious collection focusses on German assault rifles, especially the MP41 through MP43, as well as world class sniper rifles, Lugers, and PP/PPK pistols. Other European military highlights include an MP44 in lot 1576, an MG-42 with mount and numerous accessories waiting in lot 1573, a cased Heinrich Himmler presentation PP in Lot 3505, a rare Walther factory engraved, cased Model 9 with original ivory grips, silver SA emblem, and gold borders presented to Dr. Otto Hellmuth appearing in lot 3506, and even a reproduction of the Volkswagen Type 166 “Scwimmwagen” amphibious military vehicle in 1533.
For more information on these or any of the 2,600+ lots in this sale, please visit www.rockislandauction.com or call 1-800-238-8022.