Rock Island

Moline, Illinois, USA – 13 -15 April 2018

When the Rock Island Auction company hold a sale, they do it big. This last premiere firearms auction was apparently the largest grossing sale in their company’s history: not surprising – it totalled $17.7 million. They established seven new world records, even beating the million-dollar Colt Walker, which we covered way back in the early 2000’s, which was the highest price at auction for a single firearm. They often host a number of collections – one, or perhaps even three or four; well, this sale boasted seventeen – all named collectors, many offering mint-condition pieces fresh to the market. ‘Feeding frenzy’ doesn’t really cover it.

I’ve just mentioned the Colt Walker of yesteryear – for those who are unfamiliar: the Colt Walker is highly prized among collectors: despite Samuel Colt’s dissatisfaction with the rough-and-ready state of his own product, rushed out to the hard-pressed Texas Rangers at the last minute, the company under one Capt. Walker proved so deadly with these massive .45 cal weapons that they were considered superior to the breech-loading long arms available at the time. subsequently the revolver became known as the ‘Colt Walker’ or ‘Walker Colt’. Lot 60 at the RIAC sale was the only known civilian colt Walker left in the world, known as the ‘Danish Sea Captain’ Walker, the flagship of the auction. It sold for $1.84 million, making it a new world record.

The Danish Sea Captain sold for $1.84m

A similar buzz awaited lot 1017, the finest known deluxe Winchester ‘76, which went for a staggering $747,500. the Allen Cors collection provided a fine Singer M1911A1 pistol; as I’ve mentioned in the past, the M1911 is possibly the most favoured of Colt autos, with a more balanced profile, having lost that long-nosed edwardian ‘droop ‘of the earlier models, and singer made stunning examples. Lot 1755 sold for $172,500, evidence of a rising market for singer pistols and US military arms as a whole.

Singer M1911A1 Colt semi-auto pistol sold for $172,500

Another lot of note from the Cors collection was lot 1633. A rare prototype, the FN 49 later grew to become the Nato FN-FAL, and and my own hefty burden in the Canadian Armed Forces, the FNC1A1 – a semi-auto 7.62mm gas-operated beast with extraordinarily high muzzle-velocity. to quote Q when selling the PPk to 007, ‘with a delivery like a brick through a plate-glass window’ it was estimated at just $30,000, but sold for more than double that at $74,750.

Finest deluxe Winchester ’76 sold for $747,500

Antique firearms continued to do well over the three days, with lot 3012, the earliest recorded factory-engraved Winchester 1873, which surpassed its $140,000 high estimate to hammer down for $195,500. at a similar price was lot 7, a lever-action henry rifle, one of just 800 ordered for the DC cavalry, which also sold for $195,000 – another record. An elegant savage navy percussion pistol, not dissimilar to the curved profile of the Volcanic, sold very well for $48,875.

George Ulrich-engraved Winchester Model 42 sold at $86,250



But Colt pistols were proving very popular in general, such as lot 3256, a stunning, factory-engraved colt super 38, which doubled its high estimate and sold for $149,500. Saturday night specials also did well: while other colt police positives were going for $1500-$5000, lot 3252, a factory- engraved and signed Colt Police Positive Special .38 with 4” barrel, steamed ahead of them all and went for a record $25,875.

Savage Navy Percussion .38 pistol sold for $48,875

You can always check out their regional auctions via their online bidding system as well, as online buyers accounted for 10 per cent of sales in April – that means $1.7 million came through the internet, making this a truly global enterprise.

Record Breakers 

World Record Price for single firearm at auction: $1.84m (£1.36m)

World Record Price for a Colt Walker: $1.4m (£1.36m)

World Record Price for a Winchester Model 1876: $747,000 (£554,166)

World Record Price for a Colt Super 38: $149,500 (£110,815)

World Record Price for a Military Henry Rifle: $195,000 (£144,912)

World Record Price for a Savage Navy Pistol: $48,875 (£36,208)

World Record Price for an FN Rifle: $74,750 (£55,410)

World Record Price for a Colt Police Positive: $25,875 (£19,180)

World Record Price for a Winchester Model 42: $86,250 (£63,934)

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