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Rock Island June wrapup: Bids in surprising places

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Lot 4879, a a Colt 1851 Navy attributed to being used in “The Outlaw Josie Wales,” skyrocketed in a bidding battle between two internet bidders and a phone bidder and sold for $17,250.

When one plays the markets, they expect certain behaviors from certain stocks. “Blue chip” stocks are generally massive companies that experience slow, steady growth, while “Small Cap” stocks are generally up-and-comers that, if they experience growth, can enjoy rapid and monumental upswing. During the 2015 June Regional Firearms Auction at Rock Island Auction Company, there were plenty of both. It made for an auction filled with old favorites and hot bidding, resulting in a final sales figure of $4.5 million for the world’s largest firearms auction house.

The first day of auction started with those “slow and steady” favorites of gun collectors everywhere. A deluxe, factory engraved Marlin Model 1893 lever action began the auction, followed quickly by a host of classic Winchester lever guns, all of which received respectable prices. Lot 29, a Civil War era U.S. Martially inspected Henry rifle brought $20,700 and the very next lot contained a deluxe, engraved Winchester 1866 saddle ring carbine that for for $10,925. However, it would be the lots later on that would bring the most surprise from the crowds present. Lot 680 contained two customized versions of legendary military rifles, the M1903 and the Mauser Model 98. Estimated at a humble $1,100, the two rifles had more than a few collectors checking their catalogs as the bidding approached its final price of $5,462. A lot containing four Krag-Jörgensen bolt action rifles contained one “Stomperud” model, as featured by Forgotten Weapons, which brought $4,025.


A Civil War era U.S. Martially inspected Henry rifle sold for $20,700.

Despite the ubiquitous nature of the AK-47 and its variants, they were definitely some of the “Small Cap” guns of the weekend. Examples abounded like lot 620, a lot of five semi-automatic rifles in AK and SKS styles, that saw a surprising $3,450 selling. Bladed weapons from Europe also proved to be one of the weekend’s surprises. Lot 396 was one such lot that not only more than tripled its $800 estimate, but also generated its own bidding war between three live, online bidders before selling for $2,587. Smith & Wesson double action revolvers continued to show the strong market demand of beefy wheel guns like those in lot 1029, which were estimated at $900, but reached an impressive $3,450.

Day 2 was another day of strong blue chip performances and surprising upstarts. Representing the “big boys” would be lots like 2287, an Antique Colt SAA with a nickel finish and beautiful antique ivory grips that easily beat its $1,400 estimate to bring $4,887, and lot 2259, one of the rare Smith & Wesson Model 320 revolving rifles with the super rare 16” barrel, that reached a $16,100 final figure. German rifles enjoyed a strong performance throughout the auction, evident in lots like 2595, containing three Nazi German Model 98 bolt actions that brought $4,312. Surprises were again present in the European edged weapons. A large grouping of knives and bayonets in lot 2835 started low, quickly passed its estimate of $900, and proceeded to increase steadily in an online bidding battle that drove the realized price to $3,450.


A Smith & Wesson Model 320 revolving rifle with rare 16” barrel sold for $16,100.

The final day of auction continued the trend, but with high bids coming for a myriad of genres and popular weapons. Perhaps most surprising was a Pietta reproduction of a Colt 1851 Navy attributed to being used in “The Outlaw Josie Wales” with related framed documents in lot 4878. Estimated between $2,500 - $5,000, the revolver skyrocketed in a bidding battle between two internet bidders and a phone bidder and couldn’t be had for less than $17,250. Other surprises included the 1943 Mosin Nagant PU (sniper rifle) in lot 4343 that sold for $2,300, and the continued high values of edged weapons. A grouping of 17 European style daggers was the true sleeper of the auction when it reached a surprising $6,325. Previous days saw AK and SKS-style rifles go for excellent prices. One lot of five rifles fetched $4,312 and had activity from 26 bidders before the auction even began.


A 1943 Mosin Nagant PU (sniper rifle) sold for $2,300.

The consistent performance of old favorites kept collectors and investors alike in a great mood, while the unexpected surprises made for an exciting three-day event.

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