Rock Island Auction Company's 2015 December Premiere Firearms Auction was a success. The auction consisted of items tied to well-known names from history, top condition guns, rarities and prototypes, 7 exceptional collections, and over 3,000 collector firearms. Led by the $2.3 million dollar sale of a 15th century Egyptian shirt of chain and plate, the auction achieved a realized total of nearly $15 million and pushed the annual sales of the auction house to over $51 million dollars. That figure is an industry record that bodes well for firearms collectors and the hobby as a whole.
Day One of the sale started strong with a host of Winchesters such as the deluxe Winchester 1873 in lot 8 with vivid casehardening that sold for $86,250. Other popular genres enjoyed success as well. Lot 281 contained a stately cased and engraved John Rigby side lever, double barrel rifle went for $27,500. A Kentucky rifle from the illustrious Piedmont Collection provided a highlight when the Jacob Dickert Lancaster Flintlock rifle with its distinct rattlesnake-shaped patchbox in lot 129 rang the bell at $25,000.
Day two remained strong. Lot 1014, an Ulrich engraved and gold inlaid deluxe Winchester 1894 rifle from the legendary Mac McCroskey Collection, sold for $207,000. It was followed by an excellent condition, deluxe, factory engraved, gold and nickel plated Winchester Model 1873 in lot 1018 that went for $140,000.
A finely carved powder horn with engravings themed around the French-Indian War in lot 1132 brought $22,500. The contents of lot 1262, a 15th century shirt of chain and mail identified to military powerhouse and architectural patron Qaitbay, Sultan of Egypt was the highlight of the auction. Cheers erupted when the bidding struck the $2 million mark, but the second prospective buyer could not make the required $2.1 million dollar bid.
The Royal Hunt Collection of Imperial German hunting trophies and its crown jewel of a massive red stag European mount from King Frederick William III on a carved base (lot 1329) sold for $69,000. Other offerings included a Red Stag full cap mount marked to Count Von Schlitz in lot 1331 won for $48,875, and lot 1326 which held two Red Stag full cap mounts sold for $31,625.
Lot 3083 was a cased presentation sword that was surrendered after a pivotal naval battle in the War of 1812, and formerly displayed at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum. It went for $74,750. The next lot, number 3084, was a cased, brass Dolland spyglass once belonging to George Washington was won for $40,250. A section of the Royal Hunt Collection (lot 3419’s ), a gorgeous Red Stag cap mount marked to the Baron Von Esebeck sold for $57,500.
It may seem like all other sales in this auction were eclipsed by the incredible amount fetched by the Egyptian armor, but collectors should be extremely pleased with the results of this sale. Numerous genres experienced very positive returns, such as: Winchesters, Colts, German military arms, Colt snake guns, antiques, Lugers, and U.S. military arms. It was a wonderful auction that helped make an absolutely sensational year. It’s years like this that reflect very positively on firearms collecting in terms of participation and gun values.