Congressman Alfred Ely helped recruit soldiers to the 13th New York Volunteers to fight in the Civil War. Concerned about their preparedness, heRead more
January 14, 2021
By Mike Burns
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The February 3-6 Sporting & Collector Sale at Rock Island Auction Company is promising to be a spectacular event kicking off an even more exciting year of amazing, rare, and museum-worthy firearms. Besides the sheer number of lots available during the event, the first S&C Auction of 2021 also boasts the inclusion of items from over 200 manufacturers. That’s right… 200!
Essentially Willy Wonka’s factory but with firearms, this massive sale includes more firearms from the world’s top gun makers than one could imagine. With so many options, items, and guns featured in the sale, it is understandable to be a bit overwhelmed. To alleviate this issue, here is a short list that can introduce some of the highlights from a few of these manufacturers. Over 900 Winchester, 800+ Colts, hundreds of Smith & Wessons, and over 200 Springfield Armory firearms are all present during this auction. With thousands of lots, hundreds of manufacturers, and four days, this list is merely a drop in the ocean.
The Preview Hall opens for exhibition on February 2 where an opportunity to explore the guns and items offered during the auction up-close and first-hand will be available. Can’t make it? Here's how you can still participate at the auction: absentee bid now on our website, bid live online using RIAC Live, bid by telephone by selecting lots from the online catalog and we call you, or of course come in person (we follow complete COVID-19 protocols). You can always order one of the comprehensive catalogs composed by Rock Island Auction Company as well for a complete list of the items available.
Winchesters are always a prominent find on the item listings at Rock Island Auction Company, but this auction has almost 1,000 items from the brand in this sale alone. Out of the close to 5,000 items that will be sold throughout the event, Winchesters will make up almost 20% of the total lots. Some of these weapons are icons of decades long past, but remain in impeccable condition.
For example, lot 2012 is a John Ulrich engraved Winchester Model 1866 rifle manufactured in 1870 and features beautiful and elaborate engravings of detailed scrollwork, intricate geometric patterns, and gorgeous animal depictions including an eagle and wolf. Despite its age, the rifle still retains all its original components and parts including an interesting combination globe and blade front sight. A high-grade deluxe walnut stock provides a sturdy base for the rifle that is capped with a shimmering gold-plated buttplate also engraved by John Ulrich. It has an estimated price of $16,000-$25,000 and can be found during the February Sorting & collector Auction.
An attractive Winchester 1866 saddle ring carbine will be sold early during the February Sporting & Collector Auction. Lot 17 features alluring period professional engravings that captivate the viewer when confronted with the dazzling receiver and buttplate of the gun. A closer examination of the beautiful artwork found on the receiver reveals an eagle posed with its wings extended out on the left side and an elk’s head on the right that are both enclosed in wreaths of elaborate scroll and floral engravings.
While the more prominent features of the gun are certainly hard to ignore, it is the small, refined details of the rifle—like the cross-hatched panels and double line borders—that retain the attention of the viewer indefinitely. Estimated at $10,000-$15,000, this gorgeous Winchester 1866 saddle ring carbine is sure to make its new owner satisfied when it sells on day one of the February Sporting & Collector 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. The Winchester 1885 falling block rifle was the combination of the ingenious engineering brilliance of John Browning and the vast resourcefulness of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company after the success of the widely popular 1866, 1873, and 1876 models. Almost 140,000 single shot rifles were sold from 1885 until 1920. The 1885 was among their most popular single shot rifles ever produced, especially for hunters, because it possessed one of the strongest actions known at the time.
While it eventually went out of production in 1918, Winchester reintroduced the famed rifle in 2005 that included upgrades, more modern technology that enables them to fire smokeless cartridges, and stronger steel. One of John Browning’s greatest designs, these modern rifles expand on the rifle’s uncanny functionality to welcome it into the 21stcentury. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to add a collector’s set of these limited series long arms found at Rock Island Auction Company’s February Sporting & Collector Auction. The set of sixteen rifles are absolutely beautiful and estimated at $12,000-$14,000.
Besides these rifles listed, there are so many other Winchester firearms that dominate the item listings in this auction. A Winchester Model 1866 lever action musket that was manufactured in 1870 is estimated at $2,000-$3,500, a special order Winchester Model 1876 chambered in .50-95 Express is estimated at $5,000-$7,000, and astounding U.S. Model 97 slide action trench shotgun manufactured in 1942 is estimated at $3,000-$5,500.
Plenty of other Winchester lever action carbines and rifles will be readily available during the auction including other Model 1866 saddle ring carbines, 1876 lever actions, and of course the gun the won the west, the Winchester 1873 lever action. Place your bids today!
Would it truly be a Sporting & Collector Auction without racks and racks of Colt firearms? This auction would certainly be shorter without the inclusion of these iconic, historic, and downright beautiful pieces of weaponry. For many of the Colts that populate the catalog listing, they could be considered more art than weapon as they feature such beautiful engravings, designs, and finishes that it’s almost not worth firing them… almost.
For example, take the Colt revolvers featured in the Sporting & Collector Auction and their place as pieces of historical significance and incredible beauty. An attractive Single Action Army revolver chambered in .44-40 and covered with gorgeous floral scroll engravings that envelope nearly its surface and fitted with lustrous pearl grips is estimated at $12,000-$18,000. A rare “Pinched Frame” style Colt Single Action Army revolver is estimated at $16,000-$22,500 that includes the reputed rear sight channel located on the top strap of the gun that appears to resemble a point or a "pinch" about a half an inch in front of the hammer. A pair of Colt Bisley Flattop Target revolvers manufactured in 1899 estimated at $16,000-$27,500 are beautiful and exceedingly rare as they are two out of only 196 produced chambered in .455 Eley. In excellent condition, it is not often that a pair of Colts with such rarity can be found at an auction like this and at an excellent price.
Besides the wide assortment of handguns available during the February 3-6 Sporting & Collector Auction, there is also an impressive amount of Colt rifles and long guns that will be debuting along the hundreds of other manufacturers present. The Colt-Burgess lever action rifle was designed in the mid-19th century by Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company as a direct response to Winchesters highly successful line of repeating lever action rifles. After its initial failure as a serious competitor, the two firms allegedly signed a “gentleman’s agreement” in which Colt would only produce handguns and Winchester would only produce long guns. This particular lever action rifle, featuring an elusive and highly desirable octagon barrel (one of only around 3,800), is estimated at $2,750-$4,000.
Lot 4036 is a Colt Model 1855 percussion revolving carbine produced sometime between 1856 and 1864. While these designs would not be as successful as other rifles produced by the company, t he revolving mechanism found in this particular long gun drastically increased the weapon’s rate of fire. Estimated at $4,000-$6,000, this Colt revolving rifle is slick and certainly alluring with its dark wood stock that matches the equally intimating dark metal. Speaking of a force not to be reckoned with, a Curio & Relic Colt AR-15 SP1 semi-automatic rifle estimated at $2,000-$3,000 that was manufactured in 1968 that comes with two additional magazines will also be available during the auction as well. Large and in charge, don’t miss this excellent opportunity to own one of these ground-breaking rifles.
Along with these impressive Colt firearms, there are also some alluring Government Model Colt handguns for sale during the February Sporting & Collector Auction including over 50 different Colt 1911 pistols. A scarce U.S.M.C Colt Model 1911 semi-automatic pistol is estimated at $4,000-$5,500 that is known to be a part of a 300 piece set delivered in 1912 to the United States Marine Corp Depot Quartermaster in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, making it especially unique. A beautiful World War II British proofed U.S. Colt Model 1911A1 semi-automatic pistol is estimated at $2,500-$3,500, while a similar, but gold plated and stunningly engraved 1911A1 is estimated at $1,200-$1,800. Explore the digital catalog available now to browse the hundreds of other Colt rifles, revolvers, and pistols that were not covered here; there is always something for everyone!
So far, icons in the lever action rifle market as well as the handgun market have been explored; but what happens when the mechanical power of a lever action meets the compatibility and concealment found in a handgun? Perhaps the answer to this is more art than weapon as seen in some of the gorgeous Smith & Wesson firearms that decorate the February Sporting & Collector Auction at Rock Island Auction Company.
One of the most beautiful lever action pistols found in this auction is lot 2014: a factory engraved Smith & Wesson No. 1 lever action pistol. Only around 1,200 No. 1 pistols were manufactured by Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson in Norwich, Connecticut, in 1854 and 1855, making these pistols extremely desirable to collectors not only because of their rarity but also because of their historical significance in proximity to two of the greatest gunmakers ever to collaborate. Featuring beautiful factory scroll engravings on the frame, this excellent example from the Dr. Gerald Klaz collection is a stunning reminder of the beauty that exists behind an object’s utility and is estimated at $7,500-$9,500.
A similar No. 1 lever action pistol will be the first item to sell during the auction and retains the same beautiful engravings found on the frame and rear sight as the previous example, but in a much darker color. While the last lever action held a rose gold type aesthetic, this pistol is the “night version.” A dark grey and black tone exhibited through dark rosewood grips that contrasts lighter walnut grip found previously. Estimated at $7,500-$9,500, this gorgeous revolver is ready to find a new collection to call home this February at the Sporting & Collector at Rock Island Auction Company.
With Colt’s patent on the revolver set to expire in 1856, many firms became immensely interested in developing their own version of the weapon—Smith & Wesson being among them. Shortly after leaving the Volcanic Arms Company, Daniel B. Wesson reconnected with Horace Smith and the two formed the Smith & Wesson Revolver Company that would later be become the shortened Smith & Wesson.
While some of their revolver designs would be widely popular during the 20th century, many of the earlier designs that went in and out of fashion only ran for limited production runs of a few hundred. This rarity can be very desirable to collectors, like this Smith & Wesson Model 320 revolving rifle that was manufactured in the late-19thcentury. Estimated at $6,500-$9,000, it is one of only 239 ever produced that feature a 16-inch barrel. A similar Smith & Wesson Model 320 revolving rifle possessing an 18-inch barrel and a beautiful checkered foregrip is estimated at $6,500-$8,000. All these rare and interesting variants on the revolver can be found with dozens of others during the February S&C Auction.
The S&W Registered Magnum revolver was the first hand revolver to use the .357 Magnum cartridge—then the world’s most powerful round. A gorgeous Smith & Wesson Registered Magnum double action revolver is estimated at $3,500-$5,000. With a dark and alluring walnut grip, this revolver is one of only 5,500 ever made. Interestingly enough, factory documentation reveals it was the former property of Sheriff W.F. Campbell of Daytona Beach Florida during the late 1930s. A similar Smith & Wesson .357 Non-Registered Magnum double action revolver also belonging to a Sheriff during the mid-20thcentury is estimated at $3,500-$5,000.
There are quite literally thousands of firearms that will be available during the February Sporting & Collector Auction, and with over 200 manufacturers, there are bound to be some interesting departures from what one might come to expect at an auction like this.
Firearms made by IBM, Steyr, and Westinghouse (the company that would eventually become the CBS Corporation) all occupy spaces in the lengthy digital catalog. Besides these fairly unfamiliar names, various other hidden treasures have tucked themselves away in the annals of the digital catalog, go explore them to uncover what they have to offer.
IBM was not always synonymous with quantum computers, chess-playing artificial intelligences, and Jeopardy competitions. There was a time during World War II when the company was tasked with stepping outside of their normal product manufacturing to aid in the war effort.
Much like the Singer Company (known for sewing machines), the Underwood Typewriter Company, and General Motors, IBM contributed by producing M1 carbines throughout the war. In total, roughly 346,500 M1 carbines were produced by IBM and a few can be found during Rock Island Auction Company’s February Sporting & Collector Auction.
For example, this U.S. IBM M1 semi-automatic carbine estimated at $1,700-$2,500 comes with a green canvas sling and soft case, oiler, M1 Carbine reloading dies, eight double magazine pouches, and fourteen extra magazines. A similar M1 carbine stripped of its accessories can be found with a Winchester M1 carbine in a paired lot estimated at $1,400-$2,000 that presents an interesting contrast between the two designs.
IBM-produced rifles offer an alternate perspective on the war effort of World War II that is not often explored in movies or textbooks, but at Rock Island Auction Company, these items are deeply respected. Explore some of the other beautiful IBM manufactured M1 carbines in the Feb S&C catalog, including this gorgeous U.S. IBM M1 semi-automatic carbine that comes with a certificate of authenticity and is estimated at $1,800-$2,250.
Other examples of firearms produced by companies unrecognizable in the current market found in the February S&C Auction. For example, the Westinghouse Electric Company might not ring any bells when conjuring the names of broadcast media companies.
However, the American manufacturing company was responsible for developing major electrical infrastructures throughout the United States during the late-19th century and would eventually become the CBS Corporation in the 1990s. The company’s founder, George Westinghouse, was a contemporary rival of Thomas Edison and the later General Electric Company.
However, the company also invested in firearms technology during the early-20th century at the New England Westinghouse Company where the firm was tasked with developing approximately 1.8 million Mosin-Nagant rifles for Czar Nicholas II of Russia during the First World War.
The Romanov family was executed almost a year later, but demand for the rifles continued and the order was completed in full. Offered during the February Sporting & Collector Auction is a rare chance to own several of these interesting weapons produced by the New England Westinghouse Company. Lot 2580 is a collection of four Imperial Russian Mosin-Nagant military bolt action rifles that includes a Westinghouse Imperial Russian contract 1891 rifle that is dated 1915 and estimated at $1,400-$2,000.
There are ample collections of other interesting manufacturers found in this auction, but the February Sporting & Collector event also features some unusual departures from some more iconic manufacturers during their early days of operations before becoming legends.
Originally founded in 1864, the Steyr Arms firearms manufacturer has been responsible for producing some of the most recognizable and quality firearms of the 20thcentury. For a brief period of time, the company manufactured automobiles and bicycles following the aftermath of World War I and later became famous for the development of the Steyr AUG, an innovative bullpup rifle designed during the 1960s.
While the AUG and many other sidearms developed by the company are easily recognizable, such as the Steyr Scout, early designs conceived during the early 20th century are certainly an interesting departure from what one has come to expect from the manufacturer.
Lot 6436 is a prototype Roth-Steyr Model 1907 semi-automatic pistol that seems to resemble more of a stud gun than a pistol. The unusual, large knob at the rear is the first thing that immediately grabs the attention of spectators. Coupled with its combination clip guide rear sights, the pistol is certainly unusual, but one would have to be nuts to consider it ugly. It is estimated at $950-$1,600. Many of these other early Steyr firearms can be found during the S&C Auction this February.
It is not an understatement to say that this auction is absolutely massive. With thousands of lots available from hundreds of manufacturers, this exciting auction will be one for the books and a fantastic way to kick off the 2021.
Besides the multiple manufacturers that were listed here, there are hundreds of others including Ruger, Remington, Parker Brothers, and Walther. The Preview Hall opens for exhibition February 2nd for collectors to hold and feel these guns. The February Sporting and Collector Auction begins Wednesday February 3, 2021, at 9:00 am C.T. so be sure to mark those calendars and place bids as soon as possible. Visit the digital catalog to find a perfect new addition to your collection.
Congressman Alfred Ely helped recruit soldiers to the 13th New York Volunteers to fight in the Civil War. Concerned about their preparedness, heRead more
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