Historic pieces, including Kennedy’s M1 Garand and a Heinrich Himmler presentation Walther PP highlighted Rock Island Auction Company’s September 2015 gun auction.
The September Premiere Auction at Rock Island Auction Company featured a dizzying array of over 2,800 collector firearms. Gun enthusiasts flew in from across the country and drove for hours to attend the event. High condition guns were abundant in nearly every conceivable collectable genre, as were historic pieces, significant prototypes, early variations and high art masterpieces. Five world-class collections paved the way to over $13.6 million dollars in sales for the three day event.
President John F. Kennedy’s National Match M1 Garand trounced its high estimate by riding a wave of international publicity to a final price of $149,500. This is a world record price for an M1 Garand that broke the previous record that RIAC had set less than 5 months earlier for the shop model M1 Garand bearing serial number “7.”
An exceptionally rare and historic Heinrich Himmler presentation Walther PP handgun, with deep factory engraving and gold wash was auctioned. The gun had been captured in Germany by a U.S. serviceman, whose family had owned it ever since. Since they had held on to it since its discovery in Germany, this gun had never been seen before by collectors and was as “fresh” as it gets, though a near identical, consecutively serial numbered version does reside in the West Point Academy Museum. The final price on that Walther: $287,500.
Bids for firearms left their highest estimates in the dust. For example, an antique Winchester Deluxe 1873 with a high estimate of $3,500 launched into a final bid of $10,350.
A historic Cole Agee engraved and gold plated Colt Single Action Army documented as being Roy Rogers’—“King of the Cowboys”—holster gun more than doubled its high estimate by selling for $57,500.
High end shotguns also saw a lot of activity. Browning Citori shotguns were consistently selling high, but a true overachiever was the engraved A.H. Fox XE Grade double barrel 20-gauge shotgun. With its mutton case, this classic fowling piece shot down its high estimate of $4,500, bringing in $17,250.
A Revolutionary War era Brown Bess flintlock musket turned heads. With its virtual library of accompanying research as well as an authentic period diary, this piece had every right to be behind museum glass, but instead it found a new owner who paid $126,500 for the privilege of its company, well exceeding the $85,000 high estimate.
A unique harmonica rifle made by J. M. Browning, father of the prolific John Moses Browning, was offered to the public and inspired a spirited bidding battle. The bids marched upwards past its $100,000 high estimate, before finally selling for $138,000.
The highest achieved price of the auction took place when a Krieghoff-manufactured German FG-42 paratrooper rifle proved that last year’s high sale price of an FG-42 for $299,000 was no random spike. This fully automatic beauty surpassed that number and settled in at a comfortable $322,000.
A rare and documented Mauser Prototype Luger pistol easily passed its estimate of $5,000 – $10,000 and achieved $23,000 by a savvy collector. Another prototype, a scarce Japanese Hamada Type 2 pistol prototype, serial number 33, which featured an impressive host of blueprints and design documents from the collection of the inventor, Bunji Hamada was auctioned. A Japanese military enthusiast who recognized the significance of the lot willingly surpassed the $16,000 high estimate and won this incredible assortment for $31,625. German military pieces, such as a cased Model 1893 Borchardt, was won for $37,375, despite having a high estimate of $25,000. And a DWM Model 1934 Turkish Contract Luger nearly doubled its $25,000 high estimate by earning a final price of $48,875.
Old favorites showcased their staying power and some renewed interest showed up in some unexpected places.