Gun Digest

December Gun Auction Sets World Records and Realizes $10M

The Finest Condition U.S. Model 1903 Springfield Model 1913 Warner & Swasey Sniper Rifle. Price realized: $46,000.

Fresh off the heals of the television debut of Discovery Channel’s Ready Aim Sold, Rock Island Auction Company’s December Premiere Firearms Auction realized a stunning $10 Million dollars in sales. The seven digit figure is more impressive considering the pre-auction estimate was $8.2 Million! The success of the December sale puts Rock Island Auction at 31 million dollars in sales for 2011 and almost tied the previous record which they also hold from 2010 which stands at 32 million. Over the course of three days hundreds of bidders from coast to coast made their way to Rock Island, IL to preview and bid. Phone bidders called in from across the globe, and over 13,000 bids were placed before the first drop of the hammer.

The Finest B Company Marked U.S. Walker Model 1847 Colt Revolver Known. Price realized: $345,000.

Colts took four of the top five lots of the auction commanding nearly one million dollars. The top lots include: The finest ‘B’ Company marked U.S. Walker Model 1847 Colt Revolver known ($345,000). The most anticipated firearm of the sale was the Gold Inlaid Factory Presentation, to standing President Theodore Roosevelt's Colt 1902 ideal stocked semi-automatic pistol ($207,000), factory engraved documented Colt 1871-72 Open Top Revolver from the 1876 Centennial celebration in New York City ($184,000), and an Ainsworth Inspected, Company K, 4th Cavalry Marked, Colt Single Action Cavalry Revolver ($115,000).

Winchester Firearms were also in high demand. A John Ulrich engraved gold plated Winchester Model 1873 short rifle brought an impressive $74,750. Another John Ulrich signed masterpiece from the Winchester display at the Paris Exposition of 1889, a gold and nickel plated, factory engraved Winchester Model 1873 Carbine sold for $57,500. Lever action rifles and pistols which predate Winchester also had a strong showing. Of the 10 Henry Rifles in the sale, a martially inspected first contract rifle took top honors at $46,000. And a Large Frame Smith & Wesson Lever Action Magazine pistol realized $48,000!

Fine New Haven Arms Co., Henry Lever Action Rifle. Price Realized: $43,125.

The December auction marked the final chance to own a piece from renowned Putnam Green Collection of rare, high condition, and historical U.S. and German Military items. An extraordinarily rare Walther, prototype “Armee-Pistole” with original walnut shoulder stock/holster sold for $74,750. A 1902 DWM Luger Carbine Rig with matching shoulder stock, ammunition, and “VL&A” Chicago marked leather case went well above its pre-auction estimate selling for $51,750.

U.S. Military arms continue to surge in value. The finest conditioned U.S. Model 1903 Springfield 1913 Warner & Swasey sniper rifle saw some of the most heated bidding of the entire auction and set a new World Record at $46,000. A martially inspected Colt Super 38 pistol reached a record price of $31,625. Civil War arms from both the North and South made up a large section of the sale. A rare Greene breech loading carbine realized $25,875 and an original advertising flyer for a Henry Rifle brought $6,325 well over the pre-auction estimate of $800-1,000.

Other notable sales from the auction include a London agency pair of Theur derringers with ivory grips for $69,000, a Colt 1921/28 Thompson submachine gun for $48,875, and a historic Sharps John Brown model 1853 carbine for $34,500.

For more information on selling at auction or consigning with Rock Island Auction Company call 800-238-8022 or visit

Recommended Resources for Gun Collectors:

2012 Standard Catalog of Firearms, 22nd Edition

Standard Catalog of Military Firearms 6th Edition

Gun Digest 2012, 66th Edition

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