With major UK auctions still just around the corner, Jonathan Downs shifts his attention to our friends in the good ol’ US of A, and previews another major World Auction from Rock Island, with some fascinating guns for sale.

Rock Island Sporting & Collector firearms auction Moline Illinois, 8-10 October 9AM US/3PM UK

Although Rock Island had its big seasonal Premiere sale in early September, they just didn’t think it was enough. To follow this huge three-day event, and confound the opinion that in the new Covid World auctions have taken a bad hit, they’re holding another one a month afterwards, in October.  

In true Rock Island style, ‘if it ain’t broke let’s just make it bigger’, we can look forward to some 6,700 firearms spread over 3,500 lots, and all available to internet bidders as well as those attending. The catalogue is heaving with American firearms as usual, dozens of Winchesters alone, ranging in price from $900-$25,000.

There’s something for every budget, making historic American arms available to any novice or specialist collector: such as a Winchester Model 1873 Lever Action Rifle, estimated at only $900-$1400, or Lot 45, comprising two antique Winchester M1885 Single-Shot High Wall Rifles, for only $1200-$2000. 


The offerings then rise to this, Lot 24, a Rare Early Production Winchester ‘Flatside’ First Model 1866 Lever Action Carbine, estimated at $15,000 to $25,000. This particular piece was manufactured in 1866, the first year of production.

If this is the first time you’ve ever got hold of a Winchester First Model, (understandable) look on the left side of the lower tang to check it’s stamped with the serial number/assembly number, as this one is, number ‘987’.

Sharps, Henrys, Martin rimfires, Savage lever-actions, they’re all here, including the big names, like Lot 4830, a massive big-game .404 W. J. Jeffery Mauser Bolt-Action Rifle with Scope, estimated $2000-$3000. 

Other lots include some significant high-flyers, such as Lot 15, an Early Production Engraved New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever-Action Rifle. This hefty .44 cal piece is asking $27,500-$42,500, deep in US Civil War territory, its serial number dating to 1863, a real slice of history.

And it wouldn’t be a Rock Island auction without the most historic Colt ever made: Lot 2367, the Colt Walker D-Company Percussion Revolver, complete with documentation and case—estimated at $20,000-$30,000. 

Strangest is Lot 18, a Volcanic Repeating Arms Company Pistol-Carbine, looking oddly like a combat shotgun in profile, this old-world ‘Dirty Harry’ handgun, with its characteristic Volcanic grip and trigger, comes with an attachable stock, and is estimated at $14,000- $22,500.

Sporting gun

Sporting shotguns include Remingtons, Winchesters, Parkers and Lot 4808, a Perazzi Mirage over-and-under shotgun four-barrel set, complete with case: estimated at $2000-$3250—and Lot 298, a rare Colt Model 1855 Revolving 10-Gauge Percussion Shotgun, estimated at $2000-$3000. A huge factory-engraved 8-Bore Parker Bros Grade 2 Underlifter double hammergun is being offered for $2500-$4000. 

Rare early production Winchester ‘Flatside’ first model 1866 lever action carbine, est. $15,000-$25,000

There are a few British gunmakers on offer: Lot 2147, a very rare Holland & Holland 4-Bore, innocently named the ‘Climax Safety Hammerless’ model, Rotary Underlever single-barrel Wildfowling gun with Factory Letter and Case – all for $4000-$6500 (GBP: £3004-£4882).

Lot 2148, a fine and rare engraved J. Purdey & Sons 12-Bore double-barrel sidelever hammergun is estimated at $3500-$5500 (GBP: £2630-£4131). The older hammerguns are not going to be fought over by bidders as much as a Purdey SLE of course, and the estimates reflect that.

Unlike any Dickson I’ve ever seen, Lot 2145 is a 10-Bore Rotary Underlever Double Hammer Rifle by John Dickson & Son, estimated at $8,000-$13,000. Westley-Richards, Watson, Bland, Rock Island has them all.

Uncle Sam

Military arms are another big favourite for Rock Island collectors and there are few finer than the Singer Colt M1911A1 45-cal semi-automatic. This, in my opinion, ranks with the Luger P08, Walther PP, and C1896 Mauser automatic for sheer design power: elegant yet businesslike and quite perfect in balance and handling.

This one is not in mint condition, but has been refinished ‘PRF’ as Rock Island says: ’Good: in working condition, wear on working surfaces, finish 40%-79%…’ Even with these comments, this Singer still demands an estimate of $25,000-$40,000. 

Rare cased D Company Walker Colt percussion revolver, est. $20,000-$30,000

And it will reach that, if not surpass it. Reason: this is one of only 500 Model 1911A1 pistols made by the Singer Manufacturing Company. Anyone who grew up in the States, like me, will know the name Singer primarily for their sewing-machines, which gives a clue to the level of quality manufacture: while they filled the homes of the hardworking American Mom of the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s with the famous ‘Singer Sewing-Machine’, they also made precision arms for the US military, including bombsights and gyroscopes. 

As Rock island puts it: ‘While Singer’s output passed muster and was accepted for issue by the Army, chiefly for issue to the Air Corps, increases in output from other 1911A1 contractors made it unnecessary to split Singer’s attention.’

Hence, they are rather rare. This one survived WW2 and was overhauled just afterwards at the Rock Island Arsenal, and has earned its price tag: high-end estimate, $40,000.

Herr trigger

And, speaking of Lugers, here is a taste of what’s on offer: Lot 739 is a cased pair of engraved and Gold Inlaid Luger Semi-Automatic DWM Model 1914 Artillery Pistols, estimated at $9,000-$14,000.

There are a number of military longarms such as Garands and Mausers, and Lot 3047, a Barrett Model 82A1 Semi-Automatic Rifle with Scope and Case. More at home with the Navy Seals or the SAS, this tactical brute features the Barrett Factory BORS System, and Accessories, estimated at $11,000-$16,000.

So, if you did miss the September Premiere Sale, have no fear, Rock Island has plenty to offer this month, too—and all from the safety of your own bunker. 

Visit www.rockislandauction.com for more information and upcoming sales. 


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