Gun Digest

Eclectic Gun Auction Stirs Up Big Bucks

Historic and Extremely Rare Serial Number "7" Springfield Armory Shop Model M1 Garand Semi-Automatic Rifle that drew top dollar at RIAC's latest gun auction. Photo Rock Island Auction Company.
Springfield Armory Shop Model M1 Garand Semi-Automatic Rifle that drew top dollar at RIAC's latest gun auction. Photo Rock Island Auction Company.

Firearms collectors can still pick up a pretty striking example of an M1 Garand for a fairly affordable price. So, it would take an extremely unique example of the American battle rifle to drive its prices into the stratosphere.

That is exactly what the Rock Island Auction Company had on hand for its latest Premiere Firearms Auction. With a serial number of 7, the M1 that crossed the block at the April 24-26 even was expected to fetch in the neighborhood of $30,000 to $50,000.

Instead, it set the auction on fire leaving the house with one of the heftiest prices of the event — $97,750. The sky-high winning bid was due to two determined collectors, who — to the delight of the audience — drove historic .30-06’s price through the roof.

RIAC staged a lucrative event, reporting the April auction had $11.6 million in overall sales. Part of its success was attributed the sale offering a little bit of everything to every stripe of collector.

“This is perhaps the most well-balanced sale of every major collecting genre I can recall to date,” said RIAC director of auction services Kevin Hogan. “There was a true collaboration of consignments that ranged from one gun family heirlooms to massive collections put together over decades.”

This Colt Pocket Model drew top dollar at the RIAC gun auction, in part due to the fact it is the earliest known engraved Colt. Photo Rock Island Auction Company.

The show stealer of the event was perhaps one of the most diminutive firearms to cross the block. A Colt Pocket Model Paterson Revolver No. 1 (Baby Patterson) was sold for a whooping $414,000. But the revolver — with case and accouterments — had more going for it than just being a unique model.

The Baby Patterson is also the earliest known factory engraved Colt. Frederick Hansen, who is known for adoring a number of important guns to leave the Colt Paterson factory, engraved the pearl-handled pistol.

The pocket Patterson wasn’t the only Colt to turn heads at the auctions. Par usual, the iconic manufacturer’s wares drew top dollar throughout the event.

A Bisley Flattop Target Model chambered in .32 Colt that was purchased for $51,750 — double its expected price. And a first-year production Colt Python initiated one of the fiercest bidding battles of the event. Two phone bidders faced off over the .357 Magnum, driving up the revolver’s final price to $17,250.

As would be expected, a U.S. Model 1902 DWM Luger met its high expectations at the gun auction. The “Cartridge Counter” Luger rang the bell at $74,750; the impressive price was driven in part to the pistol's rarity. Only 50 of the handguns were ever produced.

An incredible pommel plate on this saddle shows why it was one of the most sought after items at the auction. Photo Rock Island Auction Company.

Firearms were the draw of the auction, but there were some other impressive collectables that got bidders reaching for their wallets. Perhaps the most historic was a saddle presented to President Teddy Roosevelt.

The saddle exceeded its expected price by 250 percent, leaving the house off a $51,750 bid, in part due to a unique and significant feature. The tack had a pommel inscribed “Presented/to/LT. COL. T. ROOSEVELT/1st U.S. Vol. Cav./by/the Rough Riders/1898.”

The saddle included documentation it was originally given to Roosevelt by his fellow Rough Riders and then to Lucille Mulhall (know as “The First Cowgirl”) by the president.

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