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August 30, 2022

Han Solo and Colt lead a $23 Million Weekend

By Joe Engesser

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A Star Wars icon took center stage but it was a Colt Single Action Army in immaculate condition that stole the show at Rock Island Auction Company’s recently completed August Premier Auction that pulled in an outstanding $23 million for the weekend.

The only surviving Han Solo blaster in "Star Wars: A New Hope" led an out-of-this-world auction lineup.

The BlasTech DL-44 Heavy Blaster of Han Solo topped the three-day auction, realizing $1,057,500, while an 1891 production Colt Cavalry revolver described as being in "remarkable unissued condition," blew past its high estimate of $225,000 on the auction’s first day, realizing $763,750.

Rounding out the top five sellers of the weekend are the Winchester Model 1873 "One of One Hundred" lever action rifle that hammered for $440,625, the  McClatchie’s Presentation Engraved Colt 1855 Root revolver that gaveled for $323,125, and an outstanding exhibition quality Master Firmo Fracassi bulino game scene engraved Rizzini shotgun that brought $246,750.

A Preview Day to Remember

Collectors, shooters, historians, and investors from across the country arrived Thursday before the auction for a firsthand look at the all-star lineup of legacy arms on display in RIAC’s expansive Preview Hall. Preview Days are always an exciting experience and our enthusiastic crowd was thrilled to examine the quality firsthand.

The turnout was tremendous with many new faces joining a lively crowd of seasoned collectors. Guests were treated to Rock Island Auction Company’s fantastic annual barbeque and a perfect summer evening that set the mood for the three-day spectacular to follow.

Auction Day One

Marquee guns like the McClatchie Root and Winchester One of One Thousand performed well on Friday, but when the dust settled after a spirited bout of bidding, it was the amazingly conditioned 1891 Colt Single Action that won the day.

Joining the 1891 SAA with six-figure sale prices were a Smoothbore Colt Frontier Six Shooter single action revolver that realized $152,750 and a Wilbur A. Glahn engraved silver plated Colt Single Action Army that hammered for $117,500.

Colt SAAs chambered in rare calibers also did well on the auction’s opening day. A Single Action Army chambered in .476 achieved $94,000, while an SAA chambered in .44 Russian/.44 S&W Special brought in $70,500, and a .357 Magnum 1st Generation Colt Single Action Army Revolver took home $58,750, all achieving more than $20,000 over their pre-sale estimates.

August’s event offered the finest collection of Colt Single Action Army revolvers Rock Island Auction Company has ever witnessed.

Everyone loves to have some full auto fun, and the Class III weapons on Day One achieved several superb returns following some rapid-fire bidding, led by a U.S. Winchester 1918 B.A.R. that went over its high estimate to collect $105,750. Other strong performers were a Colt 1921 Thompson that achieved $94,000, and a Colt M16A1 Select Fire rifle reached $55,812.50.

Heavy firepower made its mark on Day One.

The first day saw 19th-century firearms do well. Among long guns, a Sharps New Model 1863 carbine more than doubled its high estimate, drawing $88,125, while a Civil War U.S. Spencer 1860 Army repeating rifle with bayonet returned a price of $64,625. Among pistols that aren’t Colt Single Action Army revolvers, an equisite L.D. Nimschke engraved Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 revolver realized a price of $76,375.

Extraordinary Civil War Era Sharps New Model 1863 percussion Saddle Ring carbine.

A Revolutionary War Verbuggen Style Three Pound Grasshopper Cannon hopped over its high estimate to achieve $44,062.50. While other militaria also out-performed their estimates. A grouping of American Aviator Badges soared over its $7,000 high estimate in spirited bidding, drawing $35,250, and another, smaller grouping of British and American Aviation Artifacts with a high estimate of $2,500 hammered for $9,400. An exceedingly rare Sig Sauer M18 General Officer’s pistol more than doubled its high estimate with a final price of $22,325.

Auction Day Two

Though Han Solo headlined Day Two, Winchester and Colt also saw exceptional showings. Two great relics of the Wild West made an early impression with a Winchester Model 1873 One of One Hundred rifle going for $440,625 and Wild Bill Hickok's Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 Old Army revolver taking in $235,000, but the auction was just warming up.

A Winchester One of One Hundred was one of Saturday's stars.

The archetype BlasTech DL-44 Heavy Blaster wielded by Han Solo against the Empire in “Star Wars: A New Hope,” arrived from a galaxy far, far away before receiving an out-of-this-world reaction at Rock Island Auction Company Saturday. The sole surviving example of the original three blasters used in the original “Star Wars” spurred a surge of worldwide media attention and the bidding was equally intense.

The world’s #1 firearms auction house gave the world’s greatest silver screen Mauser the attention it deserved, and after countless bids flooded in from all corners of the universe and shot the price into hyperspace, Solo’s blaster finally hammered for a worthy $1,057,500.

Rare revolvers continued to impress throughout the day. Two Colts SAAs, a.22 Rimfire Flattop Target revolver and a Wilbur A. Glahn engraved Colt Bisley, shot past their highs and found their mark with $76,375 each. Another incredibly scarce First Gen Colt Single Action Army in .45 ACP rallied for $99,875. And a Gustave Young engraved Smith & Wesson Model No. 1 Second Issue revolver inscribed to Congressman Alfred Ely, one of the most famous Union POWs of the Civil War, garnered $105,750.

Gustave Young master engraved and gold plated Smith & Wesson Model No. 1 second issue revolver inscribed to New York Congressman Alfred Elys.

Sporting arms were also in hot demand Saturday, with classic names like Purdey, Bertuzzi Venere, and the legendary Winchester Model 21 exceeding their high estimates. A Firmo Fracassi engraved 20 Gauge Rizzini sidelock shotgun became the clear standout, a masterpiece in luxury craftsmanship that garnered $246,750 for a lucky new owner.

Day Two’s wide-ranging selection of fine antique firearms offered unique curiosities ranging from a Spanish miquelet blunderbuss pistol to a flintlock grenade launcher. A relief carved 17th-century flintlock pistol spurred an especially spirited bidding war as it rallied to $64,625.

Extraordinarily rare relief carved and inlaid 17th century flintlock pistol with a carved bust pommel attributed to master carver Johann Michael Maucher.

From a Korean War era U.S. M2A1-2 flamethrower to an exceptional early production Borchardt pistol, rare arms from every genre performed well on Saturday. Unique militaria like Bowie knives, WW2 flight jackets, and American Aviation badges continued to turn heads, and machine guns once again asserted their dominance with a Rock Island Armory M60 battling its way to a $76,375 haul.

August's auction featured rare arms from across the eras..

Auction Day Three

A collection of vintage lever action rifles kicked off Sunday’s bidding, with Colt once again coming in hot on their trail. Early highlights included a Civil War Henry rifle that realized $35,350, a Winchester Model 1873 takedown rifle chambered in .22 rimfire netting $38,185, a Colt black powder frame SAA pulling in $49,937, and an engraved pair of consecutive Colt Sheriff's Models tripling its high estimate with a stunning $58,750.

Rare Colts and Winchesters continued their rally Sunday.

Another icon of frontier America, a St. Louis Hawken half-stock percussion rifle more than doubled it's high and landed $52,875. Muzzleloader mania saw bidders dueling over Wogdon pistols, antique sporting arms, and flintlocks of every type. A cased pair of Clark flintlock side by side pistols more than quadrupled its estimate with $38,187, just one of many spectacular examples of Rock Island Auction Company’s passionate and dedicated clientele.

The quality, abundance, and ample variety on display Sunday was exemplified by the world-class collections up for offer, including a fine selection of antiques from the Joe Wanenmacher Collection. Whether someone was in the market for a Lorenzoni style repeating flintlock, a wheellock sporting gun, or a pair of high art horse pistols from a renowned Austrian gunmaker, Sunday afternoon truly featured something for every arms collecting aspiration.

Engraved and wire inlaid smoothbore wheellock sporting gun with carved stock.

Sporting arms held strong throughout the afternoon with an E.J. Churchill 4 bore single barrel hammerless rifle and a Simson & Co. double gun each blasting past their highs for $47,000. Storied names like John Dickson & Son and L.C. Smith delighted the crowd, and three Winchester Model 21 Grand American shotguns found themselves in a fierce bidding war as they rocketed past their high estimates to achieve $41,125, $41,125, and $44,062.50.

The Winchester Model 21 Grand American lived up to its high reputation Sunday.

An Unprecedented Record of Success

Between the thousands of sealed bids, the exuberant in-person audience, and the persistent enthusiasm from the thousands who joined the event via the phones and online consoles, August’s summer spectacular was a remarkable success from start to finish.

A RIAC competitor once remarked that his dream would be reaching $20 million in a single auction. Rock Island Auction Company has surpassed that lofty benchmark during each of its last six Premier Firearms Auctions, an unprecedented streak of success for the number one firearms auction house in the world since 2003.

The booming gun market and Rock Island Auction Company’s ever-expanding audience of firearm enthusiasts have kept the momentum at an all-time high, and August’s event demonstrated the broad and lasting appeal of the fine and historic arms collecting pursuit.

To the guests who traveled to join us here in Rock Island, to the thousands who sent in sealed bids, and to our firearms friends who participated live via phone or through our online platforms, we can’t thank you enough for making this auction such an outstanding success.

Rock Island Auction Company has even more surprises in store this December.

Our final Premier Firearms Auction of 2022 is coming up on December 9-11 and there are only two weeks left to consign items to this marquee event. December’s lineup already promises to be just as stunning, so keep an eye out for the online catalog in the weeks ahead. We also have a four-day blockbuster Sporting & Collector Auction scheduled from October 4-7, and there’s an Arms & Accessories Day Auction coming up on September 14th. Thank you again, and we'll see you in December!

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