ROCK ISLAND, Ill. – Big crowds and intense bidding battles made for an action-filled weekend at Rock Island Auction Company’s latest sale. From the time the doors opened on their Preview Day until the final hammer fell, the activity never stopped during the year’s first Premiere Firearms Auction for the world’s number one firearms auction house.
“Typically our Regional events bring more people from the surrounding area to the facility, hence their name,” said Executive Director of Operations Laurence Thomson. “This particular sale not only enjoyed the high off-site participation we’re accustomed to for these sales, but also drew a record crowd of live participants for a Premiere Sale. It made for a very exciting event!” All of the activity translated into another excellent sale for Rock Island Auction Company, realizing a total of $14.7 million.
The mood in the RIAC facility was electric and the imminent sale of numerous items well known to the collector community kept the energy high all weekend long. Perhaps it was the bustling facility or the anticipation, but the result was more than a dozen fierce bidding battles that broke out throughout the 3-day event.
Some items were expected to be contested, such as many of the highly desirable Winchester Model 1890 rifles. One deluxe, casehardened, and factory engraved example of the beloved boys’ rifle in lot 82 realized an impressive $80,500 and yet another deluxe, casehardened specimen of near mint condition in lot 79 commanded a staggering $46,000. Other items were quite surprising in the stir they created, such as the bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln in lot 355 which sold for $12,650, the German SS stahlhelm in lot 3564 that achieved $17,250, nearly every single set of armor from the final installment of the Ashby Collection, or the WWII Winchester Model 1897 Trench Gun with ties to the Manhattan Project in lot 3645 which could not be had for less than $10,925.
The battles resulted in some astonishing totals and several rounds of applause from the audience, but the real action accompanied the items that everyone came to see. The star of the show from lot 1147, a magnificent cased and silver banded Colt No. 5 Texas Paterson with shell carved ivory grips and accessories, lived up to its lofty expectations and brought $805,000. Its counterpart, the iconic Colt Civilian Walker in lot 3116, had collectors shouting bids before the auctioneer could even finish describing this remarkable item! It also earned an attractive price, ringing the bell at $546,250.
The “Holland Triplets,” three consecutively serial numbered Holland & Holland Royal double barreled Express Rifles found in lot 304, stayed together as a set and sold to a very discerning collector for $ 310,500. The elaborately ornate exhibition quality Le Page double barrel percussion shotgun in lot 1392 was a show favorite for many collectors who had the chance to see it at gun shows across the country. It was once given as an international gift between presidents, but at auction it drew a princely sum of $253,000. Two of the biggest names in early American firearms were combined in lot 1009 when a Henry rifle owned by Samuel Colt crossed the auction block. Gun collectors’ shared love of history and high condition was on full display as the one-of-a-kind rifle found a new home for $184,000.
Speaking of high condition, collectors took strong notice of the fabulous and documented special order 1885 Winchester with gold inlays, panel scenes, and relief carved stock performed by Master Engraver J. Ulrich. This impressive and prestigious piece, featured in several prominent books on the subject of Winchester engraving, would achieve $149,500 on the final day of the auction.
This sale may have also given strength to the position that 1911 pistols are an up and coming hot genre in the firearms collecting and investing fields. The selection of these iconic sidearms could not have been better; not only was every wartime manufacturer of the M1911/A1 represented, but there were many modern manufacturers as well.
Any auction would be pleased to offer one of the “Holy Grail” of 1911 collectors, the Singer, but RIAC had two of the coveted handguns in lots 1620 and 3602 that sold for $40,250 and $25,875 respectively. There was also one of the scare M1911 pistols made by North American Arms that blew past its estimate on its way to sell for $34,500. Even predecessors of the 1911 performed past their estimates! A scarce, three digit serial number, Colt Model 1900 Sight Safety in lot 3589 was taken home for $37,375 and a gorgeous U.S. Army contract Colt Model 1902 pistol with its documents and accessories more than doubled its high estimate to bring $34,500.
Other guns that decimated their estimate prices came from several different genres such as the Civil War Sharps Model 1859 Berdan’s Sharpshooter rifle, estimated to bring between $9,500 - $13,000, that knocked down a realized price of $31,625. Colts were also no exception, like the nickel plated, pearl gripped, factory documented and engraved Single Action Army in lot 3173 which was estimated for $18,000 - $27,500, but sold for $37,375 or the superb condition, nickel plated Colt Banker’s Special 22 double action that was predicted to bring between $2,250-$3,500, but one lucky collector finally won for $12,650.
For more information, visit www.rockislandauction.com.