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The tough economy had no bearing on the December Premiere Auction as sales reached nearly $8 million.
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The tough economy had no bearing on the December Premiere Auction as sales reached nearly $8 million. The buyers confirming the belief that gun collections are “tangible assets” that seem to be a solid investment in this unstable economy. While the stock market can vary by 6 to 10% in a single day, collectable firearms are proving to maintain value. This is a trend RIAC has seen all year, the very successful December sale put them over $31 million in sales this year. This sale featured more than 2,700 lots of quality firearms, edged weapons, military artifacts and more. 

This Auction featured the first installment of the Will Hoffeld Estate and Firearms Collection. Mr. Hoffeld’s collection is a study in the manufacturing of firearms and more particularly – Colts. At the request of Mr. Hoffeld’s family this sale will benefit the NRA Foundation. Also a strong supporter of the NRA, RIAC announced a matching pledge to benefit the NRA foundation. NRA memberships were also offered during the auction for only $10 with RIAC covering the balance.

RIAC once again showed that they actually sell what they offer, over 95% of this auction was unreserved. Bidders came to this auction to buy resulting in a sell through rate of over 97%. This is an amazing rate of sell through given the prevalence of resources at today’s modern auction.

As technology improves so does Rock Island Auction Company. This auction could be viewed live online showing immediate results for firearms enthusiasts who could not attend.

The December auction proved strong for all genres of firearms and every level of collecting. The top seller of this auction was a rare Colt Texas Paterson revolver with seven German silver bands and ivory grips, one of the eight Patersons offered at no reserve, it sold for $103,500. Bids through phone, fax and email as well as live bids from the floor also drove up prices on several other lots. Lot # 3516 a rare Hotchkiss revolving naval cannon with carriage mount and accessories brought $92,000 ($50,000 – 75,000). Lot 140, a cased pair of consecutively serial numbered Winchester built Model 21 three barrel set shotguns brought a within estimate price of $80,500.

RIAC offered over 300 Winchesters in the December sale. The high seller an exceptional Winchester factory presentation 1866 lever action rifle with an Ulrich pattern engraving with nickel finish sold for $23,000. Bidder interest pushed an engraved Winchester model 1873 lever action rifle with patriotic motif above the estimate to $13,800.

Once again Rock Island had a fine selection of sporting arms including rifles, shotguns & pistols. Sporting enthusiasts bid a total of over $819,000 on shotguns and over $405,000 on sporting rifles and pistols. A set of three Browning Renaissance semi-automatic pistols in wood case sold for $7,475 while the top seller for sporting rifles was a master engraved B. Ludwig Merkel model K2 Vintagers series single shot stalking rifle with scope ($12,650). An exceptional quality engraved and gold inlaid Hoffman Arms English proofed side by side box lock shotgun with ejectors brought an above estimate price of $23,000 ($12,000 - $18,000). Bidders also pushed a L. Ernst Engraved Gold Inlaid Belgium Browning P2Q Grade Water Fowl Edition Superposed Shotgun with Box to twice the high estimate ($8,000 - $10,000) selling for $20,700.

A truly antique and collectable auction!Over 2000 items classified as antique or curio and relic!A price of $97,750 was brought by an important and historic double cased set of presentation inscribed Civil War Colt Model 1851 navy revolvers with ivory grips (lot 3074). Over 80 Brevetes were offered at this sale including a magnificent exhibition quality N. Gilon Liege engraved Brevete Colt Walker model revolver which sold for $34,500 (lot 1368). Scarce Cased Smith & Wesson Model 320 Revolving Rifle with Stock sold above estimate ($11,000 – 18,000) for $25,875.

This auction’s rich history was seen in both the Civil War and WWII firearms and items. An exceptionally fine and rare Confederate Rigdon, Ansley & Co., percussion revolver sold for $31,625. Of the nearly 100 swords offered at this auction lot # 3068, a model 1860 Cavalry Officer's Saber with post Civil War militia presentation inscription, stood out bringing a price of $6,325. Bidding interest could also bee seen in WWII firearms, an exceptional WWII J.P. Sauer Luftwaffe M30 Survival Drilling realizing a price of $31,625.

The surprise of the auction came when the tintypes and photo albums came up for sale, interest from the floor, phone and sealed bids pushed most of these lots above the high estimate. A large grouping of military portraits brought a soaring price of $6,900 (lot 3041) while a Civil War photograph album sold for $4,025.

Other items of keen interest were the canes from the Will Hoffeld Estate. An exceptionally fine carved bone cane with ivory top (lot 197) and a spectacular rare Remington arms dogs head rifle cane (lot 240) brought $14,950 and $10,350 respectively.

In its entirety the December premiere auction was a success, with a high sale through rate and sales reaching nearly $8 million. The sale offered something for every level of collecting with 95% unreserved world market value was reached by interested buyers, not the auction house reserve. The result is satisfied buyer and sellers alike, a valuable goal for any auction house.

The next Premiere auction will feature two important collections. The second part of the Will Hoffeld Estate and the final installment of the Frank & Karen Seller’s collection. Both collectors focused on the unusual, rare and one of a kind items that together offer a fantastic old time collection that is rarely seen today. The Spring Premiere Auction will be held late April. For more information please call Letisha Murray or Judy Voss at 800-238-8022, or visit


Lot 3074

Double Cased Set of Presentation Inscribed Civil War Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolvers with Ivory Grips -A) Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver, estimated at $100,000-$125,000, sold for $97,750.

Lot 3248

Rare Colt Texas Paterson Revolver with Seven Silver Bands and Ivory Grip estimated at $125,000-$225,000 sold for a bargain at $103,500.

Lot 3516

Rare Hotchkiss “auto-cannon” sold for $92,000

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