Rock Island Auction Company’s February 16 – 18 Sporting & Collector Firearms Auction realized $7.4 million, a fantastic showing for the year’s first major gun auction event, and yet another sign of the continuing strength of the fine firearms market as a whole.
February’s auction kicked off in high gear with Tuesday’s Preview Day, (the first preview day) where an energized crowd was able to examine the thousands of rifles, revolvers, shotguns, swords, and rare collectible militaria up for bid over the following three days. A clear sense of optimism was evident from the start, a new year filled with bountiful opportunities for arms enthusiasts of every collecting aspiration.
In terms of quality, variety, and sheer number of guns offered, February’s auction delivered and surpassed all expectations, presenting affordable guns from top firearms collections in abundance. Faces both familiar and new attended the event, a tremendous turnout of seasoned veterans and enthusiastic newcomers eager to inspect, shoulder, and examine the five thousand plus items up for bid, and that passion for fine firearms collecting carried into the three-day auction that followed.
Auction Day One
With such an enthusiastic in-person crowd, an impressive pool of phone bidders, and the company’s in-house online bidding platform, Rock Island Live, hosting hundreds of eager participants, the February Sporting & Collector Auction was set to be one of the most competitive sales ever. And with nearly 20,000 sealed bids cast in the lead-up to the event, the pace was as fast as it was thrilling.
A collection of desirable vintage lever action rifles kicked off Wednesday’s bidding, with a Winchester Model 1866 Saddle ring carbine going for $6,325, a Winchester Deluxe Model 1894 serial no. 62 rifle landing $10,925, and a magnificent factory engraved New Haven Arms Company Henry rifle achieving $28,750.
Sporting Guns were another auction favorite, and the wide-ranging selection offered something for everyone. A pair of lots with two Mauser Model 98 bolt action sporters shot past their estimates and netted $7,475 and $8,050 respectively. A Belgian Browning 28 Gauge Pigeon Grade superposed shotgun set and an engraved and silver inlaid Winchester Model 63 rifle each hauled in $9,200, and a John Wilkes Boxlock .470 Nitro Express ejector double rifle found a new home with a spectacular $10,350.
Rock Island Auction Company has become the premier place to obtain antique Colt revolvers, and Wednesday’s lineup delivered in spades. A Colt SAA black powder frame revolver brought in $5,750. An engraved Colt Frontier Six Shooter garnered $7,475, and a cased pair of engraved Colt Single Action Army revolvers hammered for a worthy $9,200.
Quality, abundance, and ample variety are found at every Rock Island Auction Company Sporting & Collector Auction, and Wednesday showcased a fantastic assortment of firearms from every era, including a Soviet 1936 Prototype Mosin-Nagant bolt action rifle selling for $5,750, a Winchester marked Model 1911 pattern prototype style pistol finding $9,200, and a Wise Lite Arms Romanian PKM semi automatic rifle closed the day on a high note as it crossed the podium with an explosive $12,650 price realized.
Auction Day Two
Winchester rifles came blazing out the gates on Thursday, with a Winchester Semi-Deluxe extra lightweight M1894 takedown rifle more than tripling its high with $8,050, and a pair of Trapper carbines blowing away their estimates and landing $7,475 and $8,050. One of Thursday’s biggest stars, a New Haven Arms Co. Henry rifle, the historic predecessor to the Winchester ’66, rallied for an outstanding $17,250.
Revolvers continued to capture the crowd, with unique models like a Robert Adams Beaumont-Adams DA percussion hitting $3,450, a Hendricks engraved Colt Bisley Model SAA netting $7,475, and a Civil War-era Butterfield Army Model percussion revolver made a name for itself and earned an enviable $9,775.
U.S. Military arms are always a favorite with gun collectors, and February’s auction had an arsenal on hand. A U.S. Winchester Model 1897 slide action shotgun with bayonet pulled off $6,325, a Johnson Automatics Model 1941 rifle earned $6,900, a U.S. Navy Contract Colt Model 1911 hammered at $10,350, and a serial 30 Colt Super .38 pistol gifted by famous Colt Employee John H. “Fitz” Fitzgerald to Major Sam McKone created a huge buzz as it reached a phenomenal $20,700.
The competition on Thursday was fierce, where desirable lots like this engraved Mauser C96 pistol saw a spirited battle between the phones and the floor and Rock Island Live, a thrilling example of how exciting Rock Island Auction events can be to attend in person or watch online.
Auction Day Three
Day three started fast and stayed strong throughout, with the crowd more energized than ever. Old West guns and Rock Island Auction Company go hand-in-hand, and Friday saw ample opportunity for any collector hoping to round up some authentic frontier-era firearms.
A long barrel Deringer percussion pocket pistol sold for $5,725. An engraved Colt First Generation SAA revolver brought $6,325. A U.S. Colt Second Model Dragoon, the scarcest model in the series, came in strong with $6,900, and the auction hall was just getting warmed up.
The quality continued with an engraved Colt Model 1849 Pocket percussion revolver hauling in $8,625, a cased set of two factory engraved Colt percussion revolvers achieved $9,775, and a Winchester Flatside First Model 1866 carbine saw itself at the center of another bidding war, but once the smoke cleared, the gorgeous ’66 landed a stunning $23,000.
Historic nineteenth-century arms from across the pond also made their mark Friday, with a London Agency Colt black powder frame SAA hitting $6,325 and a Colt 1855 percussion saddle ring ‘British Carbine’ raking in $9,200.
Jumping ahead a few decades, historic Colt automatic pistols were next to cross the podium, and their full range of history was featured Friday. A Colt Model 1900 ‘Sight Safety achieved $7,475. A U.S. Navy Contract serial number 727 Colt Model 1911 more than doubled its estimate and rallied for $8,625. A two-digit serial number C17 Colt Government Model saw an even stronger showing and went to a lucky bidder for $12,650.
European rifles were another Friday favorite, including a Winter War Era Soviet Tula Arsenal SVT-38 rifle that netted $5,175, a Swedish Carl Gustaf Model 1896 bolt action sniper rifle took in $5,463 and Mauser rifles finished strong, with lots 4715 and 4716 pulling in $10,925 and $14,950.
A John Wayne Presentation Commemorative closed out the auction in style.
In the final hour of the auction, a gorgeous John Wayne Presentation Commemorative Colt SAA revolver brought the Old West theme storming back as it shot past its estimate before riding off into the sunset with a stunning $16,100.
New Year, New Guns
Three days. Thousands of guns. Rock Island Auction Company. From vintage to modern, from high condition models to used guns ready to be fielded for the next generation, February’s sale delivered an impressive $7.4 million total and started the year strong, setting the pace for an exciting lineup of gun auctions in the weeks and months ahead.
February’s Sporting & Collector Firearms Auction offered something for everyone. The response was tremendous across the board, and we’re grateful to be part of such a thriving and dedicated community. To our guests and consigners, we can’t thank you enough for making February’s event such a smashing success.
An Arms & Accessories Day Auction is set for March 2, with similar events being added to our frequently updated auction calendar. Meanwhile, Rock Island Auction Company’s first Premier Firearms Auction of the year is set for May 1 – 15, a phenomenal selection featuring some of the most intriguing lineups of world-class firearms offered to the collecting public. Mark your calendars, make your plans, and come buy and sell with the best.