The finely engraved rifle of legendary western author Zane Grey and the capture gun of Confederate President Jefferson Davis led Rock Island Auction Company’s recently completed three-day Premier Auction to a total of $22 million realized.
The auction with spirited in-person, phone, and online bidding on May 19-21 featured more than 100 Class III items along with an astounding lineup of historic and simply beautiful guns, from the always popular Winchester, Colt, and Smith & Wesson to lesser known gun makers like Moore’s Patent Firearms, William Tranter, and Hopkins & Allen.
The auction’s Preview Day pulled in a considerable crowd to examine lots, take in the history and experience the beauty of well-conditioned fine arms. Plenty of new faces were in the standing room only crowd that opened the auction’s first day and enjoyed strong attendance through all three days.
Likened to a work of art, Grey’s historic Winchester Model 1895 was engraved by master artisan John Ulrich. The takedown rifle got the bidding off to a fine start by obtaining a price of $440,625 within the auction’s first hour. The Beaumont-Adams of Davis achieved $470,000 on the auction’s second day.
Auction Results, Day One
Colt Single Action Army revolvers always perform well at Rock Island Auction, but on Day One they took a backseat to some other outstanding and highly conditioned Colt handguns from the Greg Lampe Collection. A pair of cased Colt 1861 Navy revolvers realized $258,500, soaring over its high estimate of $225,000, while an engraved and gold plated Colt 1877 Lightning owned by a 19th century Hartford, Conn., police officer returned $176,250 roaring past its high estimate of $140,000. A gorgeous, 3-digit, cased, fluted cylinder Colt Model 1860 crossed the podium for $199,750. A Texas shipped and factory engraved Colt Frontier Six-Shooter Single Action Army revolver did horn in on the day’s bidding action to attain $70,500, easily surpassing its $50,000 high estimate.
Class III items proved to be strong performers on the auction’s opening day. A Kreighoff FG42 shattered its high estimate, crossing the podium for $411,250. The extremely rare FG42 developed for German paratroopers during World War 2 had a high estimate of $325,000. A Fleming HK 21 and a Fleming/Heckler & Koch MP5A3 each returned $58,750, easily outpacing their high estimates, while a U.S. Hydra-Matic M16A1 jetted past its high estimate to collect $44,063.
A rare Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 short rifle demanded attention shortly after Grey’s Winchester. This factory engraved piece realized $111,625, more than outpacing its high estimate of $85,000. A LeMat grapeshot revolver, a gun popular with Confederate officers during the Civil War, earned $52,875 on the auction’s first day while LeMat accessories — a holster and belt rig each outperformed their estimates. An interesting lot, a cased collection of contemporary engraved chasing hammers, sold for $38,188. From the Tom Selleck Collection, a Factory “B” engraved Colt First Series Woodsman pistol drew $35,250, out-distancing its high estimate.
Auction Results, Day Two
A deluxe presentation Colt Model 1849 Pocket revolver with an extra barrel and a U.S. Army Colt Model 1851 Navy revolver were the second day’s top performing Colts, gaveling at $293,750 each. A Colt Single Action Army that is documented as one of the first etched panel Colt black powder frontier six shooter realized $176,250. This trio of Colts are from the Greg Lampe Collection. A Colt Single Action Army engraved and inlaid by master engraver Alvin White as part of a 1985 fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art crossed the podium for $105,750.
Along with the spirited bidding for Davis’s revolver on Day Two, two lots with Civil War connections both performed well. A gold inlaid deluxe Winchester 1895 presented to General Nelson Miles brought in $105,760. Miles fought for the Union in the Civil War, served in the Indian Wars capturing Chief Joseph and Geronimo, and was part of the U.S. invasion force of Puerto Rico in the Spanish-American War.
Lever guns also saw nice prices on the second day as a special order Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 rifle brought $88,125, and an inscribed U.S. second contract 3rd Veteran Volunteers Henry Rifle jumped over its high estimate to achieve $76,375.
In a stacked lineup of fine sporting arms, a pair of shotguns stood out on Day Two. A Holland & Holland .410 bore sidelock shotgun known as “The Royal” strolled to $94,000, while a Fabbri sidelock over/under shotgun engraved by Ferruccio Iora drew $41,125 at auction.
A historic engraved and gold plated presentation Mauser Luger given to Franz von Papen by Joachim von Ribbentrop was won for $164,500. Ribbentrop was the German foreign minister in the lead up to and during World War Two, while van Papen served in ambassador positions at the same time. A World War Two U.S. Singer Model 1911A1 pistol landed over its high estimate at $88,125.
Among Class III items, a Colt 1918 BAR earned $105,750, while a Ramo M2HB brought in $94,000, and a Colt 1921/1928 Thompson submachine gun returned $88,125 as all three shot over their high estimates.
Several air guns from the Dr. Robert D. Beeman Collection were on offer in this Premier Auction and a Girardoni Repeating Air Rifle by Klanitter of Herzberg hammered for $26,438, while a Girardoni Repeating Air Rifle by J.B. Missillieur of Vienna brought $22,325, both topping their high estimates.
Auction Results, Day Three
Day Three dug into some classics, with a factory exhibition engraved Winchester Model 1866 rifle soaring past its high estimate to $199,750 early on the last day, while a cased pair of Colt Model 1849 Pocket revolvers overshot their high estimate for $117,500. A “C.L. Dragoons” marked Colt 3rd Model Dragoon revolver nearly doubled its high estimate to collect $49,938, while a factory engraved Marlin Deluxe Model 1893 takedown rifle drew $38,188, overtopping its high estimate. Another Civil War era gun, a Lee Fire Arms Co. saddle ring carbine, returned $35,250 to beat its high estimate.
This factory exhibition engraved Winchester Model 1866 was likely displayed at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876. It realized $199,750 in Rock Island Auction Company’s recently completed May Premier Auction.
A quality lineup of Class III items on the auction’s third day also performed well. A Steyr AUG/SA went for $35,250, passing its high estimate, as did a Hard Times FN 308 that returned $32,313. A Group Industries HR4332 also did well among the Class III field $19,975.
Older pieces also performed well as a Samuel Hawken signed full-stock percussion rifle outperformed its high estimate for $141,000 while an early engraved Remington & Sons over/under Derringer easily doubled its high estimate at $29,375.
Sporting arms found nice prices on the auction’s last day. A Boss & Co. 20 gauge best quality sidelock over/under shotgun returned $82,250 to top its high estimate, while an S.J. Kelly engraved J. Purdey & Sons 20 bore sidelock shotgun pulled in $64,625 on the day.
Terrific Auction Results
With weapons of immense history and beautifully conditioned guns on offer like Jefferson Davis’s surrender Beaumont-Adams revolver and Zane Grey’s Winchester rifle, Rock Island Auction Company’s first Premier Auction of 2023 hit some tremendous highs resulting in total sales for the weekend at $22 million, marking a great start to the year that includes a second Premier Auction on Aug. 25-27 and RIAC’s first Premier Auction at its Bedford, Texas facility planned for Dec. 8-10.
Through thousands of sealed bids, exuberant in-person bidding, as well as live online and phone bidding, we can count the great success on our many clients and consignors. The Premier auction results hearten and inspire our employees to rise even higher, so thank you to everyone and we look forward to more great auctions and the opening of our Texas facility later this year.
Rock Island Auction Company