Rock Island boasts record-breaking year at $32M

No. 1 firearms auction house has successful 2010


Lot 3239 Colt Presentation Buntline Special Single Action Army Revolver.

Rock Island Auction’s Dec. 3, 4 and 5 Premiere sale at their facility in Moline, Ill., proved to be the event of the year realizing sales of $9.7 million. Their total yearly sales broke a world record topping out at $32 million, which is $10 million more than any other firearms auction house.

Once again the auction offered up something for nearly every level of collector. This sale featured more than 2,700 quality lots of outstanding firearms covering many firearm genre’s. The top seller in the auction, a presentation Colt buntline special single action army revolver from the J.A. Hegeman and Stagecoach Museum collection brought applause from the crowd as it realized $368,000. A cased extremely rare Jeffery double barrel rifle in 600 nitro express caliber brought more excitement as it realized $126,500, more than double the high estimate.

Other highlights included a rare original Iron Frame Henry Rifle which brought $120,750, and an outstanding 1939 gold plated Mauser Luger presented to the foreign ambassador or the Reich brought $74,750. 

This sale also contained one of the most complete U.S. Military collections ever offered by RIAC from the first U.S. Martial pistol through WWII. Exceeding its expectations a final bid of $57,500 won a Historic Civil War 7th Illinois Infantry inscribed Henry lever action rifle. An extraordinary, complete all original WWII Winchester “T3″ Carbine with original First Patten M-2 Infrared Sniper Scope and all the accessories brought a staggering $46,000. The rarest of all semi-automatics, Singer Mfg. Model 1911A1 Serial Number 1 took a high bid of $80,500.

An important section of the U.S. firearms genre was the Martial arms. The Martial arms collection in this auction was the finest RIAC has ever offered, and the prices reflected this. A very rare North & Cheney Model 1799 pistol brought $48,875, and a U.S. Navy Elgin Cutlass pistol brought $31,625. Another interesting part of this collection was a massive, documented U.S. Garrison flag flown at the Lincoln-Douglas debate at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., that commanded $17,250.

A complete history of the Colt firearm was represented with over 500 rare and outstanding conditioned firearms. An exceptional Colt Paterson Belt Model Revolver No. 2 (Fifth Model Ehlers) and Extraordinary Serial Number 1 Colt Open Top 44 both brought $80,500 each. A Documented Colt Model 1900 Sight Safety Navy Contract Automatic realized $23,000. A Colt 1855 20 gauge shotgun Serial Number 2 brought $28,750.

The early antique arms in this sale had several notable sales including a fine pair of Lazarino Cominazzo flintlock pistols that sold for $31,625. Other early arms that commanded attention from the bidders were the Kentucky rifles. An exceptional transitional relief carved Kentucky rifle which brought $28,750 and a rare John Armstrong Golden Age Kentucky rifle realized $25,875.

A nice selection of Foreign Military arms including a Japanese “Grandpa Nambu Pistol Rig” with matching magazine and matching combination wooden shoulder stock/holster exceeded its estimate and brought $28,750. An excellent Japanese “Baby Nambu” semi-automatic pistol topped its estimate of $4,750 realizing $7,475. German memorabilia; SS Concentration Camp Officer’s Style Peaked Service Cap more than doubled its high estimate when it brought $13,800 and a Nazi SS Officer’s Brocade Dress Belt and Belt Buckle surpassed its estimate bringing $12,650.

The evolution of the Winchester was well represented in the auction spanning 100 years of production from the volcanic pistol through to the model 70 bolt action rifle. A fine factory engraved Winchester model 1866 lever action rifle brought $43,125 and a rare new haven arms Henry rifle with Japanese markings realized $46,000. A top bid of $43,125 won an extraordinary factory documented Winchester model 1886 deluxe 50 Express Take Down Lever Action Rifle and an exceptional Model 21 Grand American 28 gauge shotgun garnered $31,625.

The shotgun and sporting rifle prices in this auction were absolutely stunning. A massive G Bates 4 bore double barrel shotgun bringing $31,625 and a Manton 8 gauge slug double rifle realizing $28,750 were but a few highlights. Other notable sales in this genre were a Kreighoff Essencia sidelock shotgun bringing $23,000, and an A.H. Fox HE Grade “Super Fox” side by side shotgun bringing $17,250.

RIAC not only broke their own sales record by exceeding $32 million in sales for 2010, but they did it while maintaining a 97 percent sell-through rate for the year. Now for the past three years RIAC has averaged more than $30 million in sales; a feat no other firearms auction house in the world even comes close to.

Rock Island Auction Company is currently seeking consignments. Consign one piece or an entire collection and know that you are consigning with the best. For more information on selling at auction contact Pat Hogan or Judy Voss at 800-238-8022.

Visit www.rockislandauction.com for 2011 upcoming auction schedule.


Lot 1492 Original Iron Frame Henry Rifle.
This fine, totally original example of a very rare Iron frame Henry lever action rifle was manufactured by the New Haven Arms Co. in early 1862. The New Haven Arms Co., manufactured approximately 200 Henry rifles with iron frames during the first three months of production in April-June 1862. Author Wiley Sword identified 85 iron frame Henry rifles in “THE HISTORIC HENRY RIFLE”. This rifle, serial number, 131, is included in that list. The rifle has a blued octagon barrel and integral magazine. The iron receiver, buttplate, hammer and loading lever have a casehardened finish. The walnut stock has a varnished “piano” finish. The rifle has the early pattern receiver with rear sight dovetail. The barrel has an alternate rear sight dovetail and half-moon shaped, nickel-silver, front sight. A folding leaf rear sight with 1000 yard center notch is mounted in the receiver dovetail. The buttplate has the rounded heel found on early production Henry rifles and is fitted with a iron butt trap. The loading lever is the early pattern with no spur and the lower tang lacks the loading lever latch found on later production rifles. The stock and barrel are not fitted the sling swivel and loop which were special order features on early Henry rifles, “HENRY’S PATENT. OCT. 16. 1860/MANUFACT’D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS.CO. NEWHAVEN. CT.” is roll-stamped in two lines on the top barrel flat in of the rear sight dovetail. The serial number, “131”, is located on the top barrel flat behind the sight dovetail and the receiver. The full serial number is also stamped on the left side of the lower receiver tang, in the upper tang inlet of the stock, on the inside of the buttplate heel and on the shanks on the hand-fitted buttplate and tang screws. All of the visible serial numbers match. Sold for $120,750.


Lot 1954 “One Of A Kind” Serial Number “1” Singer Mfg. Model 1911A1 Semi-Automatic Pistol with History.
This is certainly “One Of A Kind” find as it’s probably considered the “Holy Grail” of all Model 1911A1 pistols, Singer Model 1911A1 Serial Number “1” pistol. The Singer Model 1911A1 pistols are the most sought after of any Model 1911A1 pistol or for that matter probably any pistol that was produced and issued during WWII. It is a well known fact that the Singer Manufacturing Co. produced a total of 500 pistols under Educational Order W-ORD-396 in 1940. They exhibit the high polish Dulite blue finish with excellent fit finish and that all of these Singer produced pistols were issued to the US Army Air Corp as a service side arm for air crews. There are very few Singer Manufactured Model 1911A1s still available on the collector market in original condition (like this example!). This specific pistol is accompanied with a copy of the handwritten note from the consignor, who obtained it from the daughter of the original owner. The copy of the handwritten note in part states: “My daddy was a sergeant in the United States Army and was a tail gunner in WWII. He was issued a Singer 45 auto Ser. #01. He was given a choice to purchase it. He did, my mom shot turtles in Oklahoma, until she gave it to me in 1995, we used it until sold in 2010.” The left side of the slide is marked: “S. MFG. CO. / ELIZABETH, N.J., U.S.A.” in two lines just ahead of the slide serrations, and the top of the slide is stamped with a “P” proofmark in front of the rear sight. The right side of the frame is marked “UNITED STATES PROPERTY” over serial number “No S800001″ and “M 1911 A1 U.S. ARMY” directly in front of that. The left side of the frame is stamped with the initials; “JKC” for Col. John K. Clement who was the US Army Inspector of Ordnance in the district that the Singer Manufacturing Company was located, and there is a single “P” proof just directly above the magazine release button. The pistol still retains it’s correct original brown plastic grips made by the Keyes-Fibre Co., that lacks the reinforcing web inside, with no mold number and without the reinforcing rings around the grip screws. It still retains it’s original High Standard barrel that has the single “P” proof on the left side with the “HS” manufacturing mark on the right side. It has the finely checkered arched mainspring housing, with the lanyard ring on the bottom, standard fixed GI sights with the wide spur hammer with borderless checkering. The trigger, safety and slide release are also checkered. It is complete with two original WWII magazines, the single letter markings on the front lip of each base plate are an “L” and “R” which represents the M.S. Little Mfg. Co. Hartford CT. and the Risdon Mfg. Co. Naugatuck Conn. respectively. This pistol is complete with the original as issued BOYT leather shoulder holster (missing all the straps) that is marked on the back side, “U.S. BOYT 43″. The holster has the center section of a large brass plate belt buckle with the “US” emblazoned on the front. Sold for $80,500.

More about Lot 3239 Colt Presentation Buntline Special Single Action Army Revolver. (pictured at top)
This is an extraordinary example of a Colt Single Action Army Revolver with carbine 16 inch length barrel and attachable shoulder stock (‘Buntline Special’) that was manufactured between 1876 and 1884. In “A STUDY OF THE COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY REVOLVER”, authors Graham, Kopec and Moore state that Colt factory ledgers list eighteen revolvers with ten, twelve and sixteen inch carbine length barrels in the special Buntline serial number range of 28,800-28830. Four of these revolvers have barrel lengths that are not listed in the ledgers. This revolver is accompanied by a notarized letter from Osborne Klavestad from the Stagecoach Museum in Shakopee, Minnesota identifying this revolver by serial number as being one of only two Buntline 16 inch revolvers that were set aside to be presented to Colt employees and never appeared on the common market. The other Buntline is on display at the Hartford Library. The letter goes on stating that the gun was found hidden behind some books in an estate in Hartford. Mr. Klavestad says in the letter, “The Colt Buntline is probably the finest specimen in existence today, being mint, original, unfired and complete with stock.” The letter also mentioned that the stocks were cast in England by order of Colt for “perfection and quality”. There are also copies of the original Colt stat sheet on this revolver listing it as 45 caliber with a 16 1/8 inch barrel, among other specs and that it was manufactured in 1871, (an error of the cataloguer for Hegeman) and there are copies of original drawings of the revolver. A copy of a Colt letter dated June 15, 1978 also accompanies the revolver identifying serial number 28813 as a “true Buntline/Carbine with 16″ barrel originally numbered for production in October 1876 for presentation not sold.” It mentions that two 16″ Buntlines were made and the second one is in the Colt Museum. It further states that the revolver was given to Colt’s head librarian in 1895 (today they are called bookkeepers). There is a letter of correspondence from R.L. Wilson dated June 29, 1980 explaining that through contacts at the Colt factory, Hegeman was able to obtain the revolver. There is also an original Kimball Arms company catalog featuring the Hegeman Colt collection. The revolver was presented to the Colt employee in 1895, was part of the J.R. Hegeman collection and then went on to the Stagecoach Museum in Minnesota in 1928. It should be noted that when Mr. Klavestad purchased the revolver for the museum from the Hegeman collection, he paid $85.00 for it. This revolver has the distinctive Buntline Special 16-inch barrel with dovetail-mounted, nickel-silver rifle front sight and special flat-top frame with gas port centered above the cylinder-barrel gap. The frame has a milled-out top strap groove that is fitted with a folding adjustable rear sight. The sight has an adjustable sighting bar with v-notched sight on the top that can be used as a close-range sight when the leaf sight is folded. The frame has a special hammer screw that serves as a lug for the hooks on the attachable shoulder stock. The revolver has an oval ejector rod head and bordered knurling on the hammer. The brass, nickel-plated, attachable stock has two hooks to engage the hammer screw, a hook on the bottom to engage the revolver butt and a threaded stock screw with knurled knob to tighten the stock. The revolver barrel, ejector housing, cylinder, trigger guard and backstrap have a commercial blue finish. The frame, loading gate and hammer have a color casehardened finish. The sight bar, trigger and screws are niter blue. The one-piece walnut grip has a varnish finish. The top of the barrel is roll-stamped with the legend: “COLT’S PT.F.A. MFG. Co. HARTFORD.CT. U.S.A.” in one line. The left side of the frame is correctly roll-stamped with the Colt two-date/two-line patent markings followed by the encircled Rampant Colt trademark. The caliber designation, “45 CAL” is stamped on the left shoulder of the trigger guard. The loading gate is stamped with the assembly number “27”. The serial number “28813” is stamped on the bottom of the frame, trigger guard and backstrap. All of the visible serial numbers match. A “H” Colt inspection mark is stamped in the frame well above the firing pin hole. A small “I” is stamped on the rear face of the cylinder. There are no markings on the attachable stock. Sold for $368,000.


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