Record Participation Brings $7.3 Million in June Regional
By Joel Kolander
In Rock Island Auction Company’s recent trend of hosting mammoth-sized, 4-day Regional Auctions, their June 2018 event did not disappoint. Beginning on the first day of summer, the sale offered nearly 10,000 firearms to those who wanted to begin the season with a bang. The event was a record-setter for RIAC with over 23,000 sealed bids placed, leading to an entertaining weekend packed full of unexpected bidding wars, new additions to collections, and even a bargain or two. The results of the weekend were a realized total of $7.3 million.
Day 1 was Thursday and all the collectors present made it feel like the weekend had started early. Quick in their enthusiasm, one of the highest sale prices of the auction was achieved in lot 10, when an attractive New Haven Arms Henry rifle was sold for $16,100. Not half an hour later a New Haven Arms Volcanic pistol in lot 82 with a handsome mustard patina found a new home and more than doubled its low estimate for $9,775. Around mid-day began a weekend long theme of heavy bidding for Colt semi-auto pistols, in particular Super 38 pistols. One such example was in lot 779, which blew the doors off its estimate and brought $8,050. The M1941 Johnson rifle with its bayonet, shown below, quickly ascended past its estimate before landing on a $6,325 realized price.
Friday showed a general strength around U.S. military arms, but the tops spots were a mixed bag of collecting genres. Similar to the day before, the action started right out of the gate when a very rare Winchester Model 1873 First Model saddle ring carbine crossed the block in lot 2004. Still bearing its original raised thumb print dust cover as well as some beautiful finish and case hardening, this classic had no trouble reaching $12,650. The top seller of the day was a pair of military rifles in lot 2473 that surprised everyone in the room by realizing $17,250. Manhatten Firearms are often overshadowed by their Colt contemporaries, but on this day a French-cased, engraved pair of their revolvers, flaunting antique ivory grips carved in a patriotic motif, captured one of the top spots with a final price of $7,475.
There must be a flock of early birds at RIAC, because for the third day in a row one of the highest selling items occurred almost right away. Lot 4001 featured a factory engraved Volcanic No. 1 pistol with a case that wasted no time in finding a new home for $11,500. Other notable prices included a Smith & Wesson Model 320 revolving rifle in lot 4309 that rang the bell at $9,200, an extremely desirable Springfield M1903A1 sniper rifle with its USMC Unertl scope in lot 4567 knocked down $8,050, and in lot 4518 a beautifully refinished Death’s Head marked German G98/K98 conversion rifle from the Spandau arsenal far outpaced its estimate and brought $6,900. The surprise of the day was the rare bird in lot 4300, an unusual Becker System semi-automatic, revolving shotgun in 16 gauge. Clearly intrigued, the audience had no trouble eclipsing the $1,200 low estimate en route to $6,325.
You can have two guesses as to how Sunday’s auction began at RIAC, but you’ll only need one. Right off the bat, in lot 6000, the first of the day, a stunning and rare factory engraved Winchester Model 1887 deluxe shotgun claimed the top spot of the final day by powdering its $5,500 low estimate with a $12,650 realized price. It was also no surprise when the attractive Colt Single Action Army in lot 6167 outperformed its estimate. Engraved, nickel finished, chambered in .44 Henry rimfire, and with raised carved Mexican eagle grips this bright little Colt easily drew its $9,200 price tag.
Looking back at the auction’s top sellers, variety was clearly the name of the game. Covering a wide selection of not only genres, but also manufacturers, collectors let their bids be heard both in person and via the record number of sealed bids received before the auction began. The in-house online bidding platform RIAC Live also continues to be a success bringing nearly an additional 250 live bidders into the auction hall via the internet. This combination of participation and variety proves to be the perfect aperitif to the upcoming 2018 September Premiere Firearms auction; a sale already generating quite a bit of excitement in its own right for the same qualities as well as some absolute once-in-a-lifetime collecting opportunities. It promises to be the firearms auction of the year and the June Regional set the stage perfectly.