The May 2019 Premier Firearms Auction shaped up to be a successful event. The Millikin Dragoon served as flagship and was flanked by powerful military vehicles, lifelong collections and pristine condition pieces.
While 2018 was a record year for absentee bids with 118,000 received, already in 2019 over 55,000 have been received after just two major auctions. There was record web traffic for this auction with 3.6 million catalog visits as well as record numbers of bidders, winners, and watchers using our RIAC Live software. Winning bidders could be found in all 50 states as well as 17 countries.
The realized total for the auction reached $20 million.
Day 1 started with Lot number 8 that offered the Millikin Dragoon. In and out of the world’s finest collections for the last century, the bidding began at $900,000! After a back-and-forth battle for the right to own this artisan Colt, the bidding gradually slowed until only one remained. The Millikin Dragoon sold for $1,667,500 to an elated bidder. Other exceptional results on Day 1 included an Armstrong & Co. British Gatling gun that cranked out a $218,000 realized price, a Dance & Bros. Confederate revolver that bested its high estimate to find $195,000, and a stunning, cased Ames Manufacturing Co. Civil War presentation sword that also topped its high estimate and sailed to a $126,500 sale price.
The activities were off with a shot when a near-mint Colt Baby Paterson, offered in the eighth lot of the day, found an impressive $644,000 realized price. Around mid-day, massive military vehicles were started outside, the door were flung open wide, and the auction hall was filled with the powerful rumbling of tanks before these impressive items crossed the auction podium. The effect must have worked – the M47 Patton main battle tank rumbled to $322,000, the M16 half-track went for a $97,750 realized price, and a 1957 Chevrolet Model 1503 military staff car cruised to a $46,000 pay day.
German military items also gave enviable performances on Saturday. A presentation 1902 Luger carbine, given from inventor Georg Luger to machine gun inventor Hiram Maxim, became the subject of a bidding slugfest. With a low estimate of $35,000 the gold inlaid pistol astounded everyone in the auction hall as the bids climbed ever higher. When it was finished, the prized piece had exceeded its low estimate more than 12-fold with a $425,500 realized price and found a new collection to call home. Additionally, a factory engraved and chromed Walther PP, bearing Germanic pagan runes and an “HH” monogram attributed to vile SS Chief Heinrich Himmler, far surpassed its $250,000 high estimate before settling upon a $356,500 sale price. To list all the remarkable prices achieved on Saturday would require a small book! It was an incredible day at auction.
Leading the way on Sunday was a Winchester Model 1886 with 1 of 1,000-like engraving and platinum barrel bands that could not be had for less than $172,500. A Colt Walker, with its “B Company” markings, found $115,000, a Singer M1911A1 pistol found $74,750 (in addition to one that sold on Day 2 for $115,000), and a Winchester 1866 “flatside” carbine sold for $92,000. However, the surprise of the day came in lot 3737 with a superb condition, 1941-dated police Luger with two matching magazines, all bearing the serial number 3y. Initially given an estimate of $8,500 – $14,000 it quickly left those figures. After intense bidding the Luger settled at $63,250 – more than seven times its low estimate.
*All photos courtesy of Rock Island Auction Company
Rock Island Auction Company
7819 42nd Street West
Rock Island, Illinois 61201, USA