Rock Island Auction Company

February 8, 2021

The Largest S&C Auction Ever Realizes $11.1 Million!

By Mike Burns

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With the conclusion of the first Sporting & Collector Auction of the year, Rock Island Auction Company is proudly proclaiming that 2021 is our year. Over the massive 4-day event, over 8,700 firearms were sold that realized an impressive $11,143,413 in total, making it the most successful Sporting & Collector Auction ever held! Despite the uncertainty that the past year has brought, the future is looking brighter than ever thanks to our valued and loyal customers who made their way to our Auction Hall, in person and online, once again to make it such an amazing event.

The February Sporting & Collector Auction at Rock Island Auction was the biggest, most successful S&C Auction held by the company ever! It realized over $11 million!

Those who were lucky enough to view our Preview Hall when it was open for exhibition must have been elated at the sight of the thousands of guns, militaria, and accessories that lined the room. Rack after rack was filled with stunning, historic, and amazing firearms from around the world. Even more impressive, the 4,800+ lots that sold during the week came from over 200 different manufacturers. While some were familiar faces and industry leaders such as Colt, Winchester, and Smith & Wesson, there were also some rather unfamiliar names that found their way into the gigantic items listing such as IBM and Westinghouse.

It was an amazing several days and Rock Island Auction Company would like to extend a very heart-felt thank you to everyone who was able to make it to this amazing event and regrets to all those who could not. However, there is still much to look forward to and this year is only just getting started. The first of many exciting Premier Auctions of 2021 will be from May 14-16 and features an astonishing collection of rare and extraordinary firearms from across history. Want to learn more? Order a catalog for rich pictures, in-depth descriptions, and behind-the-scenes details of the amazing items that will be sold in the Spring. We cannot wait to see you there.

Handguns Sold:

Rock Island Auction Company always takes pride in the enormous number of handguns that are sold during Sporting & Collector Auctions, but this event was something for the books. Over 2,000 handguns were sold during the February S&C Auction, each one carrying unique histories and astonishing finishes, engravings, and features. Here are only a few of the many that were sold this past week at Rock Island Auction, but we encourage you to explore the prices realized listing for a full picture of everything that was sold.

Lot 2505: Consecutively Numbered Pair of Colt Bisley Target Revolvers sold for $16,100.

Manufactured in 1899, only 976 of these Colt Bisley Flattop Target Revolvers were manufactured and only 196 were chambered for the .455 Eley cartridge. With their distinctive humpback grip and wide hammer, this consecutive pair featured a stunning blue finish, pristine polished hammer sides, and checkered hard rubber grips with the Rampant Colt in an oval at the top. It's no wonder these revolvers sold for $16,100.

Lot 2207: Civil War Confederate Griswold & Gunnison Percussion Revolver sold for $18,400.

An extremely desirable Griswold & Gunnison Confederate revolver led the way among an impressive collection of Civil War and Antebellum Era artifacts in an amazing representation of the era. The Civil War is a fascinating topic to discuss through the lens of firearms because of contrast in weapons utilized by the different armies. Would the war have changed if the South had access to the same industrial capabilities as the North? This excellent example of the Southern efforts to match the Colt Model 1851 Navy resulted in approximately 3,700 Griswold & Gunnison percussion revolvers. They are easily identifiable and the most produced of all Confederate side arms. With such history and strong ties to Southern battlefields, this astonishing revolver blew past its high estimate and sold for $18,400.

Lot 4365: New York Engraved Colt Black Powder Frame Single Action Army sold for $10,925.

The Colt Single Action Army revolver is not only one of the most iconic revolvers of all time, but it is also one of the greatest pieces of American history because of its significant relationship with the United States Military and the American frontier during the 19th century. A favorite of General George S. Patton, the Single Action Army revolver was immensely popular (even well into the 20th century) because of its power, accuracy, and exemplary handling. All original, good condition, U.S. Cavalry and Artillery Single Action Army revolvers produced between 1873 and 1891 are among the most valuable Colt items to collectors, often selling for over $10,000. Manufactured 1883, this gorgeous Single Action Army revolver is chambered in .44-40 and is covered with gorgeous floral scroll engravings that extend across nearly all of its surface. Fitted with lustrous pearl grips, this beautiful revolver sold for $10,925 during the February S&C Auction.

Joel from Rock Island Auction Company explores some of the fascinating Colt pistols sold during the auction. 

Plenty of other stunning and amazing handguns sold during the February Sporting & Collector Auction including nearly 300 Single Action Army revolvers, dozens of 1911 pistols, and hundreds of other historic and beautiful revolvers. A scarce, early production and beautifully factory engraved Smith & Wesson No. 1 lever action pistol sold for $11,500, a desirable Volcanic Repeating Arms lever action Navy pistol sold for $11,500, and a well-executed copy of a Colt No. 1 Pocket Ehlers Model "Baby" Paterson percussion revolver sold for $10,350. There are always amazing items that find their ways into the auctions at RIAC, so keep an eye on the digital catalog for the upcoming May Premier Auction for more astonishing pieces of history.

Long Guns:

Signature long guns and rifles are always a delight to see sell at Rock Island Auction Company. In this auction, thousands of rifles, shotguns, and other long guns were sold, many of them being historic weaponry dating back over 100 years. Harkening back to a time of saloon shootouts, wagon trails, and cowboys, many of the iconic lever action rifles found during the February S&C Auction were generation-defining tools for those who faced the turbulent conditions of the American Frontier and the horrors of the Civil War.

Lot 16: U.S. Civil War New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle sold for $23,000 (top) and Lot 4012: First Model Henry Lever Action Rifle sold for $34,000 (bottom).

For example, an exquisite and highly desirable, martially inspected Henry rifle manufactured in 1863 by the New Haven Arms Company sold during the February Sporting & Collector Auction for $23,000, fueled in part by its gorgeous walnut stock and 4-piece wooden cleaning rod. This wasn't the only Henry rifle sold during the auction, however. Headlining the auction was an early production first model Henry lever action rifle with a three digit serial number that sold for $34,000. Henry rifles are already a desirable item for many collectors, but a three digit serial number is even more alluring for many enthusiasts. Certainly beautiful, it is guaranteed that this gorgeous piece of firearms technology made one lucky owner very happy.

Lot 2012: John Ulrich Signed Engraved Winchester Model 1866 Rifle sold for $28,750.

Gold is alluring on its own, but engravings created by members of the Ulrich family are works of pure art that create masterpieces out of firearms. The family decorated weapons for some of the most influential figures in the entire world during their careers and their works have become highly sought after by collectors. The master engraved and gold-plated Winchester Model 1866 lever action rifle sold during the February S&C Auction features elaborate patterns, intricate geometric designs, and dazzling wildlife depictions created by John Ulrich and sold for an impressive $28,750. The illustrations carved into the gold-plated receiver are captivating because of their interconnection and relationships with each other and the space around them. Sweeping floral and scroll arrangements seem to drift across the receiver of the gun while even smaller floral and scroll engravings envelope around their edges like vines wrapping around the trunk of a tree. A wolf’s head can be seen emerging from one of these floral and scroll engravings that has its jaws hyperextended to reveal a grotesque tongue that is simple yet menacing.

This episode of Guncovered takes a look at the U.S. Springfield Armory rod bayonet 1903 30-03 rifle that was featured during the 2021 February S&C Auction. 

What’s better than one Winchester? SIXTEEN! Lot 2947 in the February Sporting & Collector Auction is a collector’s set of sixteen Winchester limited series long arms complete with their original boxes that sold for $19,550. These sets are often broken up, so to find a complete one and the chance to own it, was an opportunity not to be passed up.

Lots 4986, 19, and 2552 from top to bottom.

Besides these few examples, hundreds of other long guns and rifles were sold at Rock Island Auction Company. A scarce New Haven Arms Company "Volcanic" lever action carbine sold for $19,550, a factory engraved and gold inlaid A.H. Fox double barrel shotgun sold for $18,400, and a desirable Smith & Wesson Model 320 revolving rifle sold for $10,350. From historic Henry rifles used during the Civil War, to contemporary sniper and hunting rifles, Rock Island Auction Company is the best place to find high-quality firearms for the best prices.


There were over 200 different manufacturers featured during the auction with plenty of interesting, head-turning, and surprising items that littered the Preview Hall. From cannons, a Swivel Breech "Wender" percussion target pistol with an internal striker, and an Australian contract Smith & Wesson Model No. 3 single action revolver to rare and early Winchester hunting rifles, scarce WWII military items, and other firearms from across the world, this auction had much more to offer than what one might find at a typical gun show. But Rock Island Auction Company isn't like any other gun show out there.

Joel from Rock Island Auction Company talks about the history of the PIAT and its role during the 20th century in this video.

There were a total of 3 different lots featuring the iconic anti-tank weapon iconic of World War II, the PIAT. Short for "Projector, Infantry, Anti-Tank," these weapons were developed in response to the British Army's need for an effective anti-tank weapon against the German army. Headlining the grouping was a desirable World War II British PIAT rifle with monopod and dummy rounds that sold for $2,300. Included with the rifle was an adjustable steel monopod and two inert dummy rounds in storage tubes. Two similar PIAT Mark I anti-tank guns were sold during day 3 of the event, each came with an extra firing spring and a clamp-on monopod. Lot 4551 sold for $1,610 and lot 4725 sold for $1,380.

Lot 2232: 2-Pounder Smoothbore Percussion Field Cannon with Accessories sold for $9,200.

A Thomas Bland & Son 4 bore double barrel hammer shotgun sold for $10,350, a cased pair of engraved Wogdon flintlock dueling pistols beautifully engraved with silver and gold sold for $10,350, and a 2-Pounder smoothbore percussion field cannon sold for a whopping $9,200. We encourage you to explore the prices realized sheet for a full scope of the amount of items that were sold in such a short period of time. Each lot carries a story, discover where you get involved by making your arrangements to visit for the upcoming May Premier Auction.

An Amazing Event

There you have it, folks. Four days, thousands of guns, one place: Rock Island Auction Company. Thank you to everyone who was able to make their way to this amazing event and, although it was tough to see everyone under those masks, all COVID-19 protocols and guidelines were followed without a problem. Thank you again to all our participants who were so patient, understanding, and cooperative over the five day event. The bidding lounge was alive with flurries of attendees patiently waiting for that lucky lot to come up and the chance to take home the big prize. It was just a fun week.

Check out the top 15 items from the 2021 February S&C Auction.

This was an amazing event and a great way to start the 2021 year. We are so excited and optimistic about this coming year that it is hard to contain all of it. The next Premier Auction is only a few weeks away on May 14-16 and is filled with artisan, historic, and jaw-dropping firearms from around the world and across the ages. Make your arrangements now because anticipation is growing fast for this event and, considering the previous auction sold Theodore Roosevelt’s Colt Single Action Army revolver for $1.4 Million in 2020, it is promising to be a stellar auction from the world’s leading firearms auction house.

The first 2021 Premier Auction takes place May 14-16 at Rock Island Auction Company.

As always, if there are any questions regarding consignment, registration, or future auctions, please contact Rock Island Auction Company. While we are certainly excited for the next Premier Auction, there are still plenty of Arms & Accessories Day Auctions in between that are stuffed with excellent items from high-quality makers such as Colt, Winchester, and Walther that all dominate the listings. Place your bids today.

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