Huge Collector Firearms Auction Yields Huge Results – $7.3 Million
As you may have heard us mention once or twice, the 2016 February Regional Firearms Auction was the largest event to date in Rock Island Auction Company’s history. With 9,000+ firearms and over 4,400 lots, we had to add an entire extra day of auction! When you make a change to a winning formula, sometimes there can be an air of uncertainty, but those concerns were dashed as the auction grew nearer and we continued to receive a record number of bids. By the end of the auction, we had a new record for participation – nearly 22,000 sealed bids – to accompany the record number of items. Those sealed bids are ONLY those received through the RIAC website. It doesn’t even include the participation we saw via live bids, telephone bidders, plus the sealed and live bids on third party sites such as Invaluable and Proxibid. When the dust finally settled from this lengthy and firearm-packed weekend, we had yet another new record on our hands: a realized total of $7.3 million dollars. The weekend’s strong participation helped break our previous record on Day 3, meaning everything sold on the final day of auction was icing on top of an already impressive cake.
Day 1 took place on Thursday for this collector firearms auction and despite not being part of the weekend, it took off with a bang! The bids were flying in from all corners of the room and the items’ estimates were the immediate casualties. Winchesters were whisked away, Colts were captured, and Smith & Wessons were scooped up en masse. Even by midday the excitement had not abated, with jump bids being hollered out in the auction, even for lots containing machine gun parts that typically do not enjoy such raucous enthusiasm. Speaking of machine guns, many of the Class III items listed in this sale as “unserviceable” outperformed their estimates in dramatic fashion! Lot 547 housed a Steyr Schwartzlose Model 07/12 mounted on its tripod, that demolished a humble $5,000 estimate to sell for $14,950. Likewise, lot 546 was a DEWAT German MP3008 submachine gun, one of the “last ditch” weapons of the Third Reich, that retreated from its $4,000 estimate before achieving $12,650.
Day 2 also saw incredible bids in both their quantity and size. Civil War items were hotly contested, guns embellished in every way imaginable brought premium prices, and rare collector firearms like Henry and Winchester rifles continued to be offered so frequently that President Kevin Hogan began reminding those in attendance, “Don’t be fooled by the availability of these guns at this auction. We might get 1-2 of these a year, and right now we’re making something rare appear very available.” Colt revolvers were strong contenders on the day with lot 2290’s Model 1871-1872 Open Top with an eagle carved grip that made quick work of its $1,500 estimate by bringing $5,750, while the tried and true, antique Single Action Army in lot 2607 teamed up with a stunning tooled holster rig to best its $1,800 estimate with a $4,025 sale price. European military arms were also an extremely hot ticket! Sniper rifles and standard long arms from numerous nations drew dozens of bids, never more clearly than in lot 2640, which contained SVT-38 and SVT-40 semi-automatic Soviet rifles. This remarkable pair drew 70 bids before the firearms auction even started and drove the winning bid up to $4,600.
Day 3 was led by, you guessed it, a high number of strong performing Winchsters and pre-Winchesters, but there were more than enough surprises to keep bidders guessing. One of those surprises was a framed UMC “bullet board” in lot 4007 that surpassed its $2,500 estimate en route to its $6,900 payday. Lot 4117’s Sharps Model 1869 sporting rifle knocked down its $1,800 estimate, and was brought to a new home for $6,900, while an attractive engraved and gold inlaid Smith & Wesson Russian Model in lot 4595 outshone its $1,700 estimate to bang the gavel at $5,750.
Day 4. This was a day for the firearms collector die hards. It had been a long weekend already, but dedicated firearms collectors had stuck around for a chance at the fantastic variety available on the final day at auction. Their perseverance was well-rewarded several times, as seen in lot 6134 with its two antique Civil war revolvers that whooped a $1,000 estimate to realize an overachieving $5,750. Lot 6822 was arguably the smallest of all lots with its scarce miniature flintlock pistol made by miniature master Stanley Blashak. Estimated at $850, its winning price was far from diminutive at $5,175. German handguns also got in on the act, like in lot 6287 when two scarce semi-autos bested a $1,200 estimate to ring the bell at $4,025.
All in all, it was a record setting weekend on many different levels: number of sealed bids, number of lots, and a new record realized total for our Regional Firearms Auctions. Winchester and Henry lever actions abounded and provided collectors with unheard of opportunities, but thankfully never at the expense of other genres. Every single one had its surprises, its popular, and even a bargain or two. It all resulted in a smashing $7.3 million start to 2016, and we couldn’t be more pleased. It’s a strong point on which to build and to continue showing the firearms collecting community what hard work and belief in proper presentation can do.