The September Premiere Auctions seem to be getting more popular every year. Maybe it’s the hospitable Illinois weather this time of year or maybe the Annual Bar-B-Que that follows our Preview Day with its live music, cold drinks, and lip smackin’ smoky ribs from local favorite Jim’s Ribs. All those things undoubtedly enhanced the event, but w the real attraction of the 2015 September Premiere Firearms Auction was the selection of the 2,800+ collector firearms. Gun enthusiasts flew in from across the country and drove for hours to attend the event at the world’s #1 firearm auction company, and they were not disappointed. High condition guns were abundant in nearly every conceivable collectable genre, as were historic pieces, significant prototypes, early variations, and high art masterpieces. Five world class collections led the way and paved the way to success as the three-day event drew a realized total of over $13.6 million.
Day one saw a packed auction hall, two camera crews, and an incessantly buzzing phone bank made sure that the action simmered all day long. Lot 48 held an antique Winchester Deluxe 1873 with a high estimate of $3,500, but could not be had for less than the winning bid of $10,350. Just before lunchtime lot 303 came up for bid – a historic Cole Agee engraved and gold plated Colt Single Action Army documented as being Roy Rogers’ holster gun. Love for the “King of the Cowboys” still runs strong as the fancy little revolver more than doubled its high estimate by selling for $57,500. High end shotguns also saw a lot of activity that day. Browning Citori shotguns were consistently selling high, but a true overachiever was the engraved A.H. Fox XE Grade double barrel 20-gauge shotgun in lot 427. With its mutton case, this classic fowling piece shot down its high estimate of $4,500 and brought $17,250.
Day two action began when the G.S. Cooke Collection of 1885 Winchesters.. It contained a Revolutionary War used Brown Bess flintlock musket with a virtual library of accompanying research as well as an authentic period diary. it found a new steward in a firearms collector who paid $126,500. Later, a harmonica rifle made by J. M. Browning, father of the prolific John Moses Browning sold for $138,000. The highest achieved price of the auction took place during lot 1621 when a Krieghoff manufactured German FG-42 paratrooper rifle brought $322,000.
Lot 1657 held a historic Walther PP handgun that had been deeply factory engraved and gold washed to serve as a Heinrich Himmler presentation pistol. The gun had been captured in Germany by a U.S. serviceman, whose family had owned it ever since. The gold washed Walther was sold for a realized price of $287,500.
Day two also saw President John F. Kennedy’s National Match M1 Garand in lot 1807 trounce its high estimate with a final price of $149,500.
Colts turned out to be the surprise of the third ay as 1911 and Woodsman pistols consistently surpassed their high estimates and the red hot “snake guns” continued to enjoy their popularity and increased values. Lot 3492 brought a rare and documented Mauser Prototype Luger pistol to the sale. This pre-production test Luger easily passed its estimate of $5,000 – $10,000 and achieved $23,000. A scarce Japanese Hamada Type 2 pistol prototype, serial number 33, and an impressive host of blueprints and design documents from the collection of the inventor, Bunji Hamada, brought $31,625. German military pieces would continue to be a strong performer on this day, and in the auction as a whole. Exemplary prices on Day 3 included a cased Model 1893 Borchardt that was won for $37,375; and a DWM Model 1934 Turkish Contract Luger that went for $48,875.