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August 28, 2023

August Premier Auction Realizes $21 Million

By Kurt Allemeier

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The opportunity to pluck fantastic firearms from elite gun collections was too good to pass up at Rock Island Auction Company as its August Premier Auction realized $21 million.

The auction, from Aug. 25-27 was filled with high conditioned, historical, and beautifully embellished firearms, led by pieces from The Greg Lampe Collection that ticked all of those boxes. The Parsons’ Armies, a beautiful cased pair of Colt Army 1860 percussion revolvers were the top item in the auction, gaveling for $528,750.

Bidding in the three-day auction was as hot as the late Midwest weather as collectors sought out military arms, fine sporting arms, historic cowboy guns, and amazing rarities. The auction opened with a Preview Day Thursday that allowed auction-goers to view up close these beautiful and historical firearms.

The auction boasted not just fantastic selections from Lampe, but the Colt New Line and derringer pistols of The George S. Lewis Jr. Collection, spectacular diversity of The Tom Selleck Collection, brilliant Smith & Wesson offerings out of The Dave Ballantyne Collection, the historic arms of The Joe Marlin Hilliard Collection, and the comprehensive air guns of The Dr. Robert D. Beeman Collection.

Preview Day

The Preview Hall was ready and waiting Thursday morning for old friends and new faces to come in and peruse the vast collection of historic and ornate firearms that would be up for auction. Despite record-high heat, by early afternoon the hall was buzzing as visitors shouldered long guns and examined pistols and revolvers. The day was a portent of what was to come over the next three days of electrifying auctioneering.

Preview Day is a great opportunity to pick up and handle historic firearms, marvel in their high condition, and talk to knowledgable RIAC employees and other collectors about guns. Click on the photo to see the catalog for Rock Island Auction's upcoming Sporting & Collector Auction, oct. 4-6.

Day One Results

The auction opened with every seat filled in the auction hall. The Parsons’ Armies crossed the podium with much fanfare, selling at auction for the first time ever and realizing a price certainly befitting this crown jewel of fine arms collecting. A factory engraved Colt Service Model Ace pistol, in high condition and beautiful, rocketed to the second spot of the day, achieving $223,250 and easily surpassing its high estimate.

This Colt Service Model Ace pistol soared to $223,250 on the first day of RIAC's August Premier Auction.

Before the Parsons’ Armies went up for auction, long guns made a mighty noise as an antique Winchester Deluxe Model 1892 takedown rifle with a pistol grip and hand checkering and a first year production Winchester Model 1894 rifle both returned $82,250, and a factory engraved Winchester Deluxe Model 1890 drew $38,188, all going over their high estimates.

Colts always find an audience and it was no different at this auction as a Camp Perry shipped and engraved Single Action Army went over its high estimate for $88,125. An L.D. Nimschke engraved Model 1877 Lightning brought $21,150, slipping over its high estimate, and an engraved gold and nickel-plated .44 rimfire Colt SAA gleaned $58,750, exceeding its high estimate.

Not quite a Colt, but a rare World War 2 Singer Model 1911A1 more than doubled its high estimate, crossing the podium for $94,000, while an exceptionally rare World War 1 Cameron-Yaggi Model 1903 Springfield trench rifle went over its high estimate to match the Singer’s $94,000. A North Korean Type 58 AK hammered for $88,125. Among other military arms, a U.S. Navy Winchester-Lee rifle from the U.S.S. Maine reached $32,313 getting over its high estimate, and a British BSA 1914 Lewis gun went over its high estimate for $17,625.

A cased pair of Durs Egg flintlock pistols with a stock and shotgun barrel earned $70,500, topping its high estimate. The Registered Magnum of Ed McGivern went fast and fancy for $38,188, going past its high estimate.

Among antique arms, a Civil War U.S. Contract Remington New Model Army revolver from the Lampe Collection more than doubled its high, drawing $76,375, while a “UNITED STATES” and “US” marked Revolutionary War Charleville 1774 musket achieved $26,438, tripling its estimate. A very scarce Remington Zig-Zag derringer with the only known factory box more than doubled its high estimate. This pocket gun out of the Lampe Collection returned $32,313.

A Parker Brothers .410 bore GHE Grade double barrel shotgun landed at $41,125. Other sporting arms hit over their target, including a Holland & Holland 28 Gauge Badminton detachable sidelock shotgun for $23,500 and a retailer engraved Westley Richards 500 N.E. double rifle summoning $22,325.

This Smith & Wesson Model 53 with its Bicentennial theme was given to Elvis Presley late in 1976, just months before his death.

Day Two Results

The engraved Smith & Wesson Model 53 of Elvis Presley roared to $199,750, doubling its high estimate, while a Colt cased early production factory engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy percussion revolver with an extremely rare gold plated grip straps and deluxe burl walnut grip led the day, returning $352,500. The gun was attractive not just for its features but for appearing in several notable publications as well.

Elvis’ Smith & Wesson caught the eye of the media and that interest translated to spirited bidding on the auction’s second day. The Model 53 is highly embellished with a bicentennial theme that included an eagle and Betsy Ross flag, a minuteman, and the liberty bell, all in gold relief inlays, making it a spectacular exhibition piece from the King of Rock and Roll.

Very few Lot 5 revolvers remain in cavalry configuration and even fewer remain in the high condition of the example featured Saturday so it was no wonder it was highly coveted, going for $293,750. The gun had received a gold seal from Single Action Army authority and author John Kopec making it even more valuable. Other Colt Single Action Armies that performed well included the historically significant first official SAA Artillery Model that powered to $99,875, more than doubling its high estimate, and a rare and documented .38-40 WCF flattop Target Model with "Extra Long" target grips that soared past its high estimate to $82,250.

That was just the start of an amazing parade of fine firearms. An exceptional Winchester Deluxe Model 1886 Lever Action .50 Express rifle with rare special order, documented, half octagon, extra heavy 11 lbs. barrel and a specific stock configuration brought $164,500 nearly doubling its high estimate.  A gold, panel scene engraved Winchester 1866 rifle landed at $152,750 at the gavel. A cased, exhibition engraved, Baucheron of Paris Takedown air gun flew to $64,625, and a pair of Staudenmayer sawhandle flintlock dueling pistols obtained $44,063, shooting past its high estimate.

The Smith & Wesson Registered Magnum of FBI Agent and later CIA Agent Birch O'Neal, who had ties to the John F. Kennedy assassination investigation realized $52,875.

Historic arms had nice returns, too. A LeMat grapeshot revolver attributed to Confederate Gen. Lucius Jeremiah Gartrell hammered for $64,625, going over its high estimate. The well-documented and scarce 3 1/2 inch barrel Smith & Wesson .357 Registered Magnum of FBI Agent and later CIA Agent Birch O'Neal with ties to the John F. Kennedy assassination investigation realized $52,875, more than doubling its high estimate.

Sporting arms enjoyed a nice day, with an Angelo Bee engraved Browning Diana Grade Superposed 4 barrel set took in $35,250, well past its high estimate, and a Winchester Model 21 Grand American Style shotgun three barrel set bettered its high estimate for $32,213.

A pre-World War 2 Japanese Pedersen experimental rifle and a Class III Chinese M22 both collected $70,500  and  shooting past their high estimates.

The Peabody-Martini rifle and Leadville, Colo. presentation badge of Harvey "Arapahoe Harve" Faucett were interesting pieces out of the Greg Lampe Collection.

Day 3 Results

One of only two known Winchester Deluxe Model 1866 Flat Side Transition lever action rifles pictured in R.L. Wilson’s “Winchester: An American Legend,” earned $117,500, to top the auction’s final day.

The presentation badge of Leadville, Colo., Marshal Harvey S. “Arapahoe Harve” Faucett returned $49,938, besting its high estimate, while his Peabody-Martini “Kill Deer” rifle also brought in $49,938. Both are from the Greg Lampe Collection.

The John Ulrich engraved Winchester 1866 of T.A. Mellon, of the Gilded Age Pittsburgh family, achieved $94,000, and an extraordinarily fine cased pair of engraved, silver mounted, and gold banded Henry Deringer percussion pocket pistols featured in a number of books, turned the page for $55,813, and a Colt Model 1877 Thunderer thumped its high estimate, returning $41,125.

The Winchester 1866 of T.A. Mellon was engraved by John Ulrich and realized $94,000 in the recently completed August Premier Auction.

Among military arms, a historic Civil War U.S. martially inspected Berdan Sharpshooter double set trigger Sharps New Model 1859 rifle out-distanced its high estimate for $47,000. A factory engraved gold plated World War 2 Walther PP with holster and an AMA AK74SU "Krinkov" each earned $38,188, besting their high estimate. A rare German Luftwaffe Merkel over/under shotgun collected flew past its high estimate to $26,438.

Hunters locked onto sporting arms on the auction’s final day as a master engraved, gold inlaid Heym Ruger No. 1 rifle returned $29,375, more than double its high estimate, while a John Rigby & Co. Howdah double barrel pistol in .577 cartridge doubled its high estimate for $23,500.

This highly sought-after German Luftwaffe Merkel Over/Under returned $26,438 in RIAC's recently completed August Premier Auction.

Final Auction Results

Thanks you again to all our consigners and bidders who made RIAC’s August Premier Auction an event to remember as the company prepares to move its Premier Auctions to Texas. In this auction Rock Island Auction Company realized $21 million, a great note on which to bid farewell to our Premier Auctions in Illinois and soon to say hello from Bedford, Texas!

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