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Friday, December 27, 2013

Selections from the February 2014 Regional Sale

If you recall last week's article, we talked about some early Winchester and Henry rifles that would be appearing in our 2014 February Regional Firearms Auction.  It's great news for collectors for that quality of firearm to be appearing in a Regional sale!  However, Henry and Winchester aren't the only two manufacturers that will have some rather upscale offerings in the upcoming auction.  Feast your eyes on these beauties that are sure to attract the attention of attendees of both our Premiere and Regional Auctions.

Lot 1095: Scarce Smith & Wesson Model 320 Revolving Rifle with Stock and Case
Only 977 of these rare Smith & Wessons were manufactured!  Now take away those that have been lost to time, neglect, and use and one finds a rare S&W indeed.  This particular example is made even rarer by having an 18" barrel.  Only 514 of the 977 came in this configuration.  It also still has its stock and case!

Estimated at $4,000 - $7,000

Lot 422: Engraved Pre-World War II Walther Commercial Model PP .22 Semi-Automatic Pistol
Nearly every surface on this Walther PP pistol is adorned with engraved edelweiss flowers.  If this wasn't enough of a unique touch on a PP, it also features the monogram "EB" on the right side of the frame where the letters form the shape of a butterfly (or "schmetterling" if you're feeling especially Germanic).

Estimated at $5,000 - $9,500

Lot 100: Engraved Gold and Silver Plated Colt Model 1860 Army Percussion Revolver with Ornate Cast Grip
Manufactured in 1862, this Colt Model 1860 Army revolver is elaborately adorned in nearly every way imaginable: two tone plating of silver and gold, ornate floral and feather engraving, and a lavish cast grip featuring patriotic scenes and decor.  It's going to take a few more pictures to adequately show off the craftsmanship of this Colt.

Estimated at $7,500 - $15,000

Lot 103: Rare Collier Patent Percussion Revolver
The Collier patent pistol, whether it uses a percussion or flintlock firing mechanism, holds a very special place in American history.  Patented in the United States in June of 1818, this design is largely recognized to have influenced Samuel Colt on his 1830-31 voyage to England and India as a sailor on the S.S. Corvo.  A fascinating piece for early Americana collectors and an essential for Colt collectors, these desirable handguns are far and few between.  To give an idea of its rarity, Rock Island Auction Company sells anywhere from 20,000 - 22,000 firearms a year and this is only the fourth Collier revolver we've had the pleasure to sell.

Estimated at $3,500 - $5,500

Lot 1105: Scarce Smith & Wesson Model 320 Revolving Rifle
These revolving rifles were only manufactured between 1879 to 1887 and, as mentioned earlier, only 977 were manufactured including all variants.  These firearms come to us from the esteemed collection of Dr. Don Anderson.  He was an enthusiast of all 19th century American firearms, but his passion and expertise was with this model.  Coming from a such a notable collection, one can be assured that these guns are excellent examples in as fine a condition as he could get them.  Also, being the objects behind such a strong passion they have undoubtedly been kept with the utmost care.

Estimated at $5,000 - $7,000

As with almost every article, we can only include a choice few items on any given topic.  With over 2,700 lots in the February 2014 Regional Auction, and most of those being multi-item lots, we could show you one item each day for over 17 years.  Thankfully for everyone involved, we'll be selling all of them in a fast-paced three days February 21st, 22nd, & 23rd, 2014.  Don't forget that the Thursday before each auction, Feb 20th for this auction, is our Preview Day.  You have a full day to look at, pick up, touch, inspect, draw, or shoulder any gun in the auction!  Many folks call it, "the Museum You Can Touch," and we wholeheartedly agree.  Whether you can come for one day or all four, we'd love to have you out to our facility and show you what a RIAC auction is.  If you want a rare gun, an ornate arm, an everyday plinker, an opportunity for investment, or a new family hunting piece to cherish, Rock Island Auction Company will have you covered this February.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Early Winchester Rifles in Our Regional Auction

Our December Premiere Auction has just finished and while we'd love to bask in its results for a little while there are way too many fantastic items in our 2014 February Regional Sale to allow that!  If you've been watching or participating in our auctions, you know that we traditionally have had 3 Premiere Firearms Auctions and 2 Regional Firearms Auctions every year.  Recently, we've also added our Online Only Auctions.  The Premiere Auctions are our crème de la crème.  It is comprised of the rarest, most valuable, artistic, historic, and high condition firearms.  The items in these auctions are sought after by experienced collectors and savvy investors around the globe.  Regional Auctions are more designed for the beginning collector.  Unquestionably, there are some excellent collectables in our Regional sales, but the selection largely remains usable weapons, beginner collector arms, and the fantastic selection of bladed weapons, military artifacts, and firearms accessories that people have come to expect from Rock Island Auction Company.

When looking through the items to appear in this February's Regional Firearms Auction, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of higher end guns appearing in the sale.  It's a testimony to the ever rising number of quality firearms that are entrusted to RIAC and we couldn't be more thrilled!  The high end firearms spanned several different genres, but in today's article we'll focus on the early lever actions, namely Winchester and Henry rifles.  It was especially pleasing to find so many nice lever actions because we know that they, along with Colts, are what a lot of gun aficionados love to see and collect more than any other genre.  Take a look at some of these great collector firearms!

Lot 2: Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action Saddle Ring Carbine
Manufactured in 1869 and subsequently rechambered to 44 CF.  The contrast between that dark wood and the patina covered brass is striking.  For the price, this is a realistic and easy way to get a good looking, early model Winchester.  In fact, it's the first rifle under the Winchester name.

Estimated at $4,500 - $7,000

Lot 1: New Haven Arms Henry Lever Action Rifle
This particular rifle was manufactured in 1865 and has a pair of sling loop/swivel on the left hand side.  The brass buttplate on this rifle is of an earlier pattern with its rounded heel.  The honey colors in both the receiver and the wood were clearly made for each other.  It would make a handsome addition to any collection.

Estimated at $10,000 - $20,000

Lot 6: Engraved Winchester Second Model 1873 Saddle Ring Carbine
Engraved guns are an instant attractant to collectors and this gun should prove no exception.  The supremely dark wood with a receiver that seems to define the color "gun metal gray" gives a rather ominously dark countenance to the rifle.  Some nice scroll work engraving adorns the receiver as well as some punch dot sections, and a scene involving a buck.  This particular rifle was manufactured in 1875.

Estimated at $1,700 - $3,000

Lot 3000: New Haven Arms Henry Lever Action Rifle
Manufactured in 1863.  Every collector in their right mind would give up quite a bit to own a Henry rifle with a high percentage of original finish.  However, there is something to be said about rifles like this that maintain earthier colors throughout.  The colors of the steel, brass, and oil finished walnut, are so complementary you could design a room in your house around them.

Estimated at $12,000 - $18,000

Lot 4: New Haven Arms Henry Lever Action Rifle
Manufactured in 1864. Even Henry rifles with some replacement parts still command premiums.  The example below has had its cleaning rod trapdoor replaced as well as its stock, but collectors and investors still can't wait to get their hands on that original brass receiver, octagon barrel, and integral 15-shot magazine.  This is a piece of American history and a few replacement parts don't even come close to diminishing the significance of this firearm.

Estimated at $8,000 - $15,000

Lot 5; Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle with Special Order 26 Inch Barrel
Manufactured in 1892 with a special order 26" barrel, this 1873 Winchester is an American classic and looks the part.  For this price, especially for a special order, it can be your American classic.  As more and more Winchesters get socked away in private collections, the special order guns become rarer and rarer, let alone those with multiple or unusual special order features.  Trying to take this gun home is an easy decision to make.

Estimated at $2,000 - $3,000

Lot 1000: New Haven Arms Henry Lever Action Rifle with Samuel Hoggson Attributed Factory Engraved Brass Frame
You may have seen the condition of this gun and been surprised when you spotted the estimate underneath the last photo.  However, it should come as little surprise since original Henry rifles are supremely collectable in and of themselves.  Plus, true factory engraved Henry rifles are among the most rarest and highly sought after firearms thanks to their broad appeal, limited production, and place in American history.  This particular rifle features the special order engraving with scroll work, flowers, punch dots, and a scene of a resting lion.  Combine a classic American arm with a rare feature attributed to a notable Master Engraver (Samuel Hoggson) and you've got yourself a rifle with strong demand from collectors everywhere.

Estimated at $15,000 - $25,000

As these guns illustrate, classic, early Winchester and Henry rifles can be added to a collection with relatively little financial commitment and great ease.  In ever better news to collectors, special order features are also available at varying price points.  This February's Regional Auction should be garnering the attention of collectors everywhere who have sought attractive prices on guns that typically command the attention of top collectors.

To pre-order your catalog for $35 (that prices includes shipping), please visit  When they are printed, you will receive a RIAC Regional catalog in the mail contianing over 2,700 lots including around 6,500 items.  That's a lot of guns, accessories, bladed weapons, and military artifacts to view!  Plus, when you find items you like, you can head right over to our website to view full color, high resolution photos as well as place your sealed bids.  Remember, in the event of a tie between two sealed bids, the first bid placed wins!  It's a huge advantage to have those bids in early.  So go get that catalog ordered and maybe you'll get to take home a Winchester or two!

Friday, November 29, 2013

An Abundance of Engraving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  Or rather Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving by the time you read this.  Hopefully, you have the day off and are enjoying some nice family time, squeezing in some hunting, or just plain trying to digest all the goodies you devoured yesterday while simultaneously eyeing up the small mountain of leftovers in the fridge.  Of course, some of us have to work today and that's OK too.  After the glut of unemployment the last few years, I think we can all be thankful for work.

To honor the abundance we all enjoy, I thought it best to cover the abundance of engraved firearms in our December 2013 Premiere Firearms Auction.  In Colts alone, there over are 50 factory engraved firearms!  Finely engraved guns should hold a special place in any collector's heart.  An engraved firearm can blur the lines between gun and art; complimenting each component while still making something greater than each alone.  Many of the pieces in this auction will catch the eyes of collectors involved with other genres, such as coins, cars, and sculpture, and paintings.  There's just something universal about the aesthetics and craftsmanship of firearms when worked upon by a master.  Take a look at some of these fascinating, elegant, and masterfully completed works.

Lot 1257: Extraordinary Documented Marston, Superposed Three Barrel Retractable Knife Blade Derringer Exhibition Quality Engraved and Signed by L. D. Nimschke

With a large cat featured in the engraving in front of the barrel selector
This side, in addition to showing the blade in its extended position, features a mythical beast
in the engraving that appears to be a cross between a dragon and an eagle.

Lot 1258: Extremely Rare Nimschke Panel Scene Engraved Frank Wesson Small Frame Superposed Deringer with Pearl Grips and Sliding Dagger

Brass and ivory always looks so regal together.  Only 6 are of this derringer are known to be engraved and
this may be only only example featuring both engraving and the dagger. 

We love the tiny woodland scene engraved near the base of the barrels.

Long Arms
Lot 1007: Extraordinary "Highly Finished Arms" Benchmark Example of a Factory Gold Inlaid No. 2 Engraved Winchester Model 1894 Deluxe Fancy Sporting Takedown Lever Action Rifle Originally in the Mac McCroskie Collection

A true masterpiece.

Lot 1166: Extremely Rare Deluxe Presentation Factory Engraved and Inscribed Colt Lightning Slide Action Rifle with Factory Letter

This engraved Colt Lightning enjoyed quite a bit of attention at the
34th Annual All Colt Convention held by the Colt Collectors Association

Lot 81: Factory Engraved Gold Washed Deluxe Marlin Model 1897 Lever Action Rifle

Lot 1016: Magnificent Deluxe Factory Engraved, New Haven Arms Henry Lever Action Rifle with Silver Plated Frame

Beautiful coloring on the silver that appears to highlight the game scene

Lot 3012: Rare Deluxe Gold Plated Factory Engraved Henry Lever Action Rifle

Lot 3031: Desirable and Rare Samuel J. Hoggson Factory Engraved New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle


Lot 1697: Attractive and Desirable Engraved Gold Inlaid Winchester Field Grade Model 21 20 Gauge Double Barrel Shotgun with Case and Factory Letter

Simply a stunning firearm.

Lot 1669: Exceptional Engraved and Gold Inlaid Pre-64 Winchester Model 70 Featherweight Bolt Action Rifle in 358 Winchester with Box

Lot 1700: Exhibition Quality Angelo Bee Master Engraved Gold Inlaid 16 Gauge Winchester Model 12 Slide Action Take Down Shotgun

All the hues used in this engraving make it particularly striking.

Lot 3004: Extremely Rare Special Order Factory Engraved Silver-Plated Take-Down Winchester Model 1892 Fancy Sporting Rifle with 1934 Factory Letter


Lot 1206: Exceptional Documented Early Production Helfricht Factory Engraved Colt New Service Revolver with Ivory Grips

The bold, confident engraving of Helfricht truly sets him apart as a Master.

Lot 3184: Exceptional Pair of First Generation Ed Bohlin Engraved and Embellished Colt Single Action Revolvers with Deluxe Silver Grips
This revolver is doing double duty for engraving, featuring it on its barrel, frame, and even its silver grips!

Lot 1174: Beautiful Factory Engraved Pre-World War II Colt Single Action Army Revolver with Carved Ivory Steer Head Grips

Vivid and colorful case hardening!

Smith & Wesson

Lot 99: Factory Documented Spectacular and Extremely Rare Gustave Young Factory Engraved Smith & Wesson Model 320 "Buntline Special" Revolving Rifle with Shoulder Stock and Case
This gun has received a lot of publicity from us and rightly so.

Lot 106: Rare and Excellent Factory Documented 1893 Chicago World's Fair Exposition Engraved Two-Tone Smith & Wesson 38 Safety Hammerless Third Model Double Action Revolver with Pearl Grips and Factory Letter
When a product was exhibited at a World's Fair, it was put forth by its company as its best.


Lot 3298: Master Engraved Remington Model 700 Bolt Action Rifle in .375 H&H Magnum with Sling

Lot 1251: Exceptional Factory Engraved Remington Rider Magazine Pistol with Pearl Grips

Well, we hope you've enjoyed looking at these engraved beauties as much as we have.  These are but a taste of the full Thanksgiving feat of engraved firearms that will be available at the December 2013 Premiere Firearms Auction, to be held December 6th, 7th, & 8th.  To search out YOUR favorite gun, please check our search page!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody, from all of us here at Rock Island Auction Company.