Rock Island Auction Company’s 2016 February Regional gun auction was the largest event in the company’s history, with more than 9,000 firearms and over 4,400 lots.
When you make a change to a winning formula, sometimes there can be an air of uncertainty, but those concerns were dashed as the auction grew nearer and we continued to receive a record number of bids.
By the end of the auction, RIA posted record participation — nearly 22,000 sealed bids — to accompany the record number of items. Those sealed bids represent only those received through the RIAC website. The figure doesn’t include live bids, telephone bidders, plus the sealed and live bids on third party sites such as Invaluable and Proxibid. When the dust finally settled, a new record sales level was reached, realizing a total of $7.3 million dollars.
The gun auction kicked off on Thursday as bids were flying in from all corners of the room, and the items’ estimates fell like dominos. Winchesters were whisked away, Colts were captured, and Smith & Wessons were scooped up en masse. Even by midday the excitement had not abated, with jump bids being hollered out in the auction, even for lots containing machine gun parts that typically do not enjoy such raucous enthusiasm. Many of the Class III items listed in this sale as “unserviceable” outperformed their estimates in dramatic fashion. Notable sellers included a Steyr Schwartzlose Model 07/12 mounted on its tripod, that demolished a humble $5,000 estimate to sell for $14,950. Likewise, a DEWAT German MP3008 submachine gun, one of the “last ditch” weapons of the Third Reich, left its $4,000 estimate in the dust before stopping at $12,650.
Civil War items were hotly contested; guns embellished in every way imaginable brought premium prices, and rare Henry and Winchester rifles continued to be offered so frequently that President Kevin Hogan began reminding those in attendance, “Don’t be fooled by the availability of these guns at this auction. We might get 1-2 of these a year, and right now we’re making something rare appear very available.”
Colt revolvers were strong contenders. A Model 1871-1872 Open Top with an eagle carved grip brought $5,750, while the tried and true, antique Single Action Army matched with a stunning tooled holster rig bested its $1,800 estimate with a $4,025 sale price. European military arms were also an extremely hot ticket. Sniper rifles and standard long arms from numerous nations drew dozens of bids, never more clearly than two SVT-38 and SVT-40 semi-automatic Soviet rifles. This remarkable pair drew 70 bids before the auction even started and drove the winning bid up to $4,600.
Strong performing Winchsters and pre-Winchesters kept bidders guessing. One of those surprises was a framed UMC “bullet board” that surpassed its $2,500 estimate en route to its $6,900 payday. A Sharps Model 1869 sporting rifle knocked down its $1,800 estimate, and was brought to a new home for $6,900, while an attractive engraved and gold inlaid Smith & Wesson Russian Model outshone its $1,700 estimate to bang the gavel at $5,750.
The final day brought out the die hards. It had been a long weekend already, but dedicated collectors had stuck around for a chance at the fantastic variety available on the final day at auction. Their perseverance was well rewarded several times, as two Civil War revolvers that whooped a $1,000 estimate realized an overachieving $5,750. A scarce miniature flintlock pistol made by miniature master Stanley Blashak, estimated at $850, dropped jaws when it settled at $5,175. German handguns also got in on the act when two scarce semi-autos bested a $1,200 estimate and rang the bell at $4,025.
All in all, it was a record-setting weekend on many different levels: number of sealed bids, number of lots, and a new record realized total for Rock Island’s Regional Auctions. Winchester and Henry lever actions abounded and provided collectors with unheard of opportunities, but thankfully never at the expense of other genres.
Source: Rock Island Auction Company
2016 Standard Catalog of Firearms
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