Rock Island Auction Company

Premier Firearms Auction #68

Friday September 9th, 2016

What a remarkable time to be a firearms collector! World-class and esteemed assemblages such as the Robert “The Bear” Bretherton Collection and the Robert M. Lee Collection are true rarities – a collection of their condition and dedication might come to auction once or twice a decade. Not only has Rock Island Auction Company been given the honor to bring both men’s lifetime passions to the collecting public in the 2016 September Premiere Auction, but they are available at the same time. If this sale were demarcated on a map, it would be a large red “X.” If it were a constellation, it would be the brightest in its expanse of the Milky Way. Like both of those, this sale will also have a way of drawing people to it, both the curious and the savvy, and those who seek it will be rewarded.

Those two collections feast on the lion’s share of attention, but they are far from the only noteworthy groupings in this sale. In addition to the second appearance of the Bretherton Collection and the first presentation of the Robert M. Lee Collection, Rock Island Auction Company is also pleased to present portions of the Ray Saign Collection, another sampling of the exquisite Piedmont Collection of flintlocks and antiques, the Thor Edgeberg Collection, the John H. Bill collection, the Elven Hamilton Collection, and another appearance of items from the expansive Putnam Green/Sycamore Collection of outstanding military artifacts.


If you’ve seen our Preview Booklet, then you already know some of the top Winchesters of this auction defy description. The twice signed, Conrad Ulrich masterpiece known simply as “The Three Graces,” the solid German silver framed, highly ornate, Winchester 1866 that once belonged to American exhibition shooter Ira Paine that has not been seen by the public in 128 years, or even the exceptional and well-documented Winchester 1873 Exhibition grade short rifle, clad in a two-tone finish as a gift from Buffalo Bill himself - those are only THREE examples of the over 350 Winchesters in this auction! There’s even a 1 of 1,000 and a rare Winchester-Wetmore-Wells “Centennial 1876” single action revolver available for the deepest of Winchester collections.


With over 500 pieces from the timeless manufacturer to choose from, the legendary name of Samuel Colt isn’t fading anytime soon. These classic firearms are led in this auction by a U.S. inspected and 1887 dated Colt Model 1883 Gatling gun with an original field carriage and two Accles drum magazines. Other top “pony guns” in the sale are a wonderful mix of high condition early automatics, flawless wheelguns with their boxes and accessories, and even a fully-automatic gun or two! From rare guns like a Model 1907 Army test trials pistol, to those mired in history like the Single Action Army owned by the true “King of the Cowboys” Buck Taylor, our September sale is sure to please Colt collectors regardless of their area of emphasis.

Foreign Military

The second installment of the Bretherton Collection ensures once again that the selection of rare, superb condition, and prototype military arms will reach new heights for the academic collectors in this popular genre. Within it is a pistol that has already attracted the attention of news outlets such as CNN and Herman Goering’s personal Walther PPK pistol. It is gold plated, awash in engraving, and on its grips, bears his golden monogram on one side and the Goering family crest on the other. In a historic flourish, it is also accompanied by Goering’s matching ring and cufflinks, all of which also bear his crest.

The new John H. Bill Collection only adds to the incredible variety of these arms! If your interests reside in high art presentation guns, or in high condition early models, this sale will have it. Stunning early Czech rifles or rare Mauser sporting rifles? We have that too. There’s even some fully-automatic fun to be had. Please browse the remarkable selection in our September Premiere Auction.

U.S. Military
An outstanding array of U.S. military arms stretching all the way back to the Civil War era grace our upcoming sale. Gorgeous and unusual muzzleloaders sit alongside their eventual replacements, a grouping of exceptional Civil War carbines. Lavish presentation swords and pistols presented to men for their prowess in combat are in fine company with other high condition revolvers from the most prolific manufacturers of the day. Arms from the Great War and World War 2 are also in abundance, including numerous prototype semi-automatic rifles (a supremely rare Pedersen Model GY among them), and an assortment of Colt semi-auto pistols that remain in near new condition. You have to see them to believe it!
These four categories are only the beginning. There are still dozens of remarkable arms that we’re simply unable to cover in this short section. For example, we were not able to touch on the extensive selection of high end sporting arms, the incredible selection of prototypes and cutaways from manufactures in addition to those already mentioned, the nearly three dozen Class III arms, the virtual museum-full of high art and masterfully created antiques and single shot arms, or the knife gifted to Teddy Roosevelt on his first day out of office.



If you haven’t already, please browse our 16-page Preview Booklet. It is filled to bursting with excellent photography documenting these once-in-a-lifetime guns. Once you have an idea of where to start, please search our online catalog for your favorite collectibles. Each item is accompanied by a full description and its own set of high resolution, full color images. Raising a world-class collection of your own has never been easier. We invite you to attend and bid in our 2016 September Premiere Auction. Who knows? The next great collection we help build, might be your own.

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Rock Island Auction Company is the global leader in firearms auctions, currently holding multiple records for our top-selling lots.

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