RIAC Again Sets New Industry Records – $75.5 Million in 2018

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The momentum had been building all year. From the civilian Colt Walker that brought $1.8 million this April, to the powerful military vehicles and the masterpiece Winchester Model 1886 that found $1.18 million in September, collectors were picking up speed all year and it finally came down to three exciting days in December. The 2018 December Premiere Auction at Rock Island Auction Company did not disappoint.  In fact, had RIAC not sold over $20 million in collectible firearms the preceding September Premiere, the December Premiere would have been the highest in its history with a realized total of $18.3 million. Having two back-to-back powerhouse auctions of course contributed to yet another record breaking year for the auction house by the Mississippi, reaching an annual realized total of $75.5 million – a new record for RIAC and the highest annual result ever achieved for a firearms auction house.

Winchesters on bullet board


Despite being a year-end event, the beginning of each day started with a bang. Case in point? Within the first 45 minutes on Friday RIAC had sold a gorgeous Baby Paterson in lot 17 for $472,500, an extraordinary semi-Deluxe Winchester 1886 in lot 39 for $138,000, as well as the high dollar item of the entire auction: a supremely rare Winchester Model 1873 “One of One Hundred” rifle in lot 35. Documented as the last of the eight that were ever produced it brought about a suspense-filled round of bidding that soared past its $375,000 high estimate en route to $805,000. While Winchesters of all types – lever actions, Model 1890s, and modern lever actions – performed extremely well, other genres were not without their high performers, such as the rare Civil War Mont Storm patent carbine in lot 187 that more than quadrupled its $7,500 high estimate by bringing $34,500.


cased Baby Paterson revolver


Day 2 would start no less enthusiastically! Just five lots into the auction, in lot 2005, a stunning high art Winchester 1886, engraved, carved, inlaid, and signed by John Ulrich, got the blood pumping early by achieving $586,500. Only three lots later in lot 2008, an extremely rare Briggs patent Henry rifle crossed the block to the tune of $195,000. It wasn’t until halfway through the day that the beautiful and extremely ornate Government Model in lot 2461 was offered. Smothered in master engraving by William Gough this engraved and gold inlaid work of art was serial number C5, a first day production, and was presented by Colt Agent Albert Foster Jr. to his attorney, James Bowen. The significance of an early model, the aesthetics, and the presentation were not lost on dedicated collectors who drove the final price to $241,500.


presentation Colt government model, first day production


The final day of the year’s final auction would not go quietly into the night. Early action saw the finest known Savage Model 1899 Monarch Grade rifle, an exhibition of the gunmaker’s art in lot 3127, best its $375,000 high estimate for a well-deserved $540,500. In lot 3600 was an item that emphasized rarity over artistry – a North American Arms Model 1911 pistol. With less than 100 ever produced, collectors clamored past the $95,000 high estimate and the pistol found a new caretaker for $218,500. Even the spectacular collection of air rifles performed admirably, with one Austrian made Girandoni-system rifle easily surpassing its $8,000 high estimate and, after a competitive bidding battle, was added to a new collection for $28,750.


Finest known Monarch Grade Savage Model 1899


2018 was one remarkable auction after another and it all led to another record breaking year. Just as the momentum carried throughout this year, RIAC has no plans to slow down in 2019.  The upcoming February Regional Auction (Feb 14-17) is another four day even that will offer nearly 10,000 guns, while the 2019 May Premiere is filling up nicely and will see more of the military vehicles that made such a splash in 2018 – even including a MiG 21 fighter jet! Not to mention that in 2019 RIAC will be hosting 11 different auctions; filling the months not already hosting a Premiere or Regional auction with one of their popular Online Only Auctions. Ever growing, the January 3, 2019 event is the largest Online Only Auction to date with over 1,000 lots. With this many auctions and this much momentum, RIAC’s recently set records may be short-lived.


Scarce and Desirable Girandoni System Repeating Sporting Air Rifle,




Rock Island Auction
7819 42nd Street West
Rock Island, Illinois 61201 USA