Bidding Wars Galore!

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Spring is a magical time of year when everything becomes more active. Animals begin stirring & migrating, trees sprout their buds, school athletes fill the fields, and the days grow steadily longer. It turns out that the bidders at Rock Island Auction Company’s April Premiere Firearms Auction also grew more restless with the increased levels of sunshine! The competition was as spirited as ever as bidding wars seemed to break out hourly. At the end of three exciting days filled with beautiful firearms, collectors had won over $11.6 million of items to place in their collections.

“This is perhaps the most well-balanced sale of every major collecting genre I can recall to date,” said Director of Auction Services Kevin Hogan. “There was a true collaboration of consignments that ranged from one gun family heirlooms to massive collections put together over decades.” Perhaps it was this strong selection in such a wide variety of genres that resulted in the frequent bidder battles that punctuated the weekend and added a great deal of entertainment for all in attendance, including the RIAC employees.

The well-rounded nature of the auction also meant that no one knew which item would be the next to spark the next barrage of bids. Such action began early and often, starting with the 20th lot of the entire auction! Lot 20 was a rare Winchester Model 70 with a Mannlicher stock that blew past its $900 low estimate on the way to realize $3,750. Lot 336, a one-of-a-kind, Nettleton inspected, Colt Cavalry Model Single Action Army with marks for the U.S. Interior Department also smashed its $14,000 estimate by selling for $31,625. The day was spotted with such overachievers, but as the auction began to finish for the day, the action grew even hotter. Lot 817 carried a World War II Soviet Tula SVT-40 sniper rifle that, despite its $1,300 estimate, would not be had for less than $3,750. Not long after, two Randall knives in lot 903 sliced their $1,200 estimate and achieved $3,500. Whether it was Winchesters, bronzes, knives, military weapons, or the High Standard revolvers found in lots 925 & 926, high bids came from all angles and no one knew where they would come from next.

Day 2 was an absolutely monster day at auction by any standard and nearly as mixed as Day 1. High prices were achieved by Colts, U.S. Military arms, shotguns and revolvers. The biggest battle of the day took place over lot 1934, a first-year production Colt Python serial #170. Bids climbed outside of the typical range for a Python as two phone bidders squared off. With each increased bid, the auction hall grew louder and louder with chatter and incredulous laughter, before erupting in cheers as the coveted snake gun reached its final price of $17,250! Speaking of Colts, the beautiful little Paterson in lot 1093, currently the earliest known factory engraved Colt, packed more than a pint-sized punch when it sold for $414,000! The M1 Garand bearing serial number 7 in lot 1631 also caused quite a stir in the auction hall. Estimated at $30,000 – $50,000, two determined bidders drove the price skyward, much to the delight of those in attendance, before reaching a pinnacle of $97,750! In the interest of brevity let us also report that sporting shotguns, like the Parker Brothers model in lot 1760 and the Winchesters in lot 1778 were very well received as a whole, as were Colt Lightning and Thunderer revolvers and the ample selection of Browning Olympian Grade sporting rifles. A historic saddle presented to Teddy Roosevelt in lot 1295 found a new home when one lucky collector surpasses the low estimate by over 250% and paid $51,750 for the privilege of adding it to what is certainly an outstanding collection. The day would end with a bang, when the phone bank began to noisily buzz and more Colt Pythons began to cross the block. Almost every single phone bidder had their cards poised and ready, waiting for the collector on the other end of the phone to instruct them. The excitement in the air was palpable as bids were shouted left and right. Angelo Bee engraved versions in lots 1932 & 1931 were snatched up for $8,050 and $7,475 respectively. A 1958 production Python in lot 1936 also achieved $7,475 and over two dozen achieved more than $3,000. It was a great way to end the auction day! Everyone left energized and anxious to see what Day 3 would hold.

The final day of the 2015 April Premiere Auction had a lot to live up to after the first two days. Thankfully, it had the right guns to do it and the weekend ended in spectacular fashion. Early in the day, a Colt Bisley Flattop Target Model in lot 3197, chambered in the scarce .32 Colt, raised some pulses when the bids for its ownership more than doubled its low estimate before selling at $51,750. As with the previous days, clashes occurred throughout the afternoon, spurred by high numbers of sealed bids. For example, lot 3280 with its two Smith & Wesson revolvers, had 33 bids before the auction even took place! The Cartridge Counter Luger in lot 3345 met its high expectations and rang the bell at $74,750, and the extremely rare Pedersen Model GY self-loading rifle in lot 3485 was had for the same figure. The GY was one of several U.S. military arms that enjoyed a strong performance. Lot 3475’s M1 Garand with an experimental Collimator optic surpassed its $11,000 estimate and found $28,750, and a rare USAF experimental High Standard Trench Shotgun in lot 3476 smashed its $2,500 estimate to cross the block for $8,050. However, the most impressive of these was the rare Springfield Armory experimental M1 Garand chambered in 22-06 Duplex. Estimated between $6,500 – $9,500, lot 3492 received applause upon reaching its final sale price of $31,625.

A high amount of pre-auction participation, stunning and rare firearms, four World Class Collections, and a multitude of bidding wars turned in yet another outstanding, action-packed, and successful auction for Rock Island Auction Company. “Thank you to our loyal customers, our passionate consignors, and thank you to our wonderful employees,” said Hogan. “As we have been saying for years, we provide a service to our consignors and an experience to our buyers.” This auction was certainly proof of that.