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December 4, 2023

It's No Lone Star in This Auction. It's a Galaxy.

By Kurt Allemeier

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As the song goes, “everything’s better in Texas,” and Rock Island Auction Company is leaning into that notion this week as operations in our Bedford facility get into full swing, and – most importantly – we host our first Premier Auction this Friday through Sunday.

And what an auction it will be. Everything is bigger in Texas, too, and this will be the biggest firearms auction the Lone Star State has ever seen. We get to proudly show off our new facility that has been in the works for nearly two years, and share our Texas-sized hospitality.

Be among the first to visit our spacious new preview hall on Dec. 7 to explore and examine over 2,250 historic and high conditioned items from matchlocks to machine guns that will be available in the Dec. 8-10 Premier Auction. Let’s take a look at just a smidgeon of what will be on offer.

Phenomenal Firearms

What better way to launch an auction in Texas than by offering the historic Colt Single Action Army of the man who caused so much trouble along the border that the U.S. briefly invaded Mexico ahead of World War 1? Pancho Villa’s gold-plated and engraved sixgun would truly be the star of any auction but his SAA is an immense offering for the biggest firearms auction in Texas history.

This Premier Auction has a galaxy of stars awaiting. Offerings drip with Texas history like the Colt Model 1847 Walker revolver of Company C of Jack Coffee Hays’ First Regiment of the Texas Mounted Volunteers, the cased Colt No. 5 Holster Model “Texas Paterson” revolver, the Winchester Model 1886 rifle commissioned as a factory exhibition piece shipped to Texas entrepreneur J.W. Flanagan, and the Fort Worth Rodeo presentation Colt Single Action Army of bronc busting champion Burel Mulkey at the 1937 Fort Worth Rodeo. The auction also offers several guns owned by Texas Rangers and lawmen like Frank Hamer and Jess Sweeten, and even Lone Star desperado Brack Cornett.

Amazing and historic guns, from the immense Winchester Model 1873 One of One Thousand of Montana lawman Thomas Stuart, to the Luger Carbine presented to Hugo Borchardt from Georg Luger, to the near high art of a pair of Gastinne Renette flintlock dueling pistols to the movie magic of a Shiloh Sharps Model 1874 used in “Quigley Down Under” continue to underscore the depth of the condition, history, and collectability on display in this auction.

Matchless Collections

The historic and high conditioned definitely meet in this inaugural Premier auction. The epic scope of the Civil War and the American West can be found in items from the Greg Lampe Collection, including guns offered in friendship from Theodore Roosevelt and his family to a long-time friend.

Flintlocks from the Norman R. Blank Collection share the majesty of gun making from the Renaissance and Romance periods, with firearms that straddle the line between weapons and artwork, some from the gunmakers of kings and emperors.

Dr. Robert D. Beeman explored the fascinating and under-appreciated genre of air guns. His collection includes an 18th century Girardoni near identical to what was carried on the Lewis and Clark expedition as it explored the Louisiana Purchase.

George S. Lewis Jr. found amazing Colts and Derringers, with several on offer from his collection including a cased exhibition engraved and inscribed Colt New Line, and a pre-Civil War Colt Model 1851 “Navy-Navy” that is one of the finest known.

Smith & Wesson guns were Dave Ballantyne’s primary interest and offerings from his collection include amazing wheelguns, especially Registered Magnum revolvers. Only a handful of guns from the Mac McCroskie Collection are in the auction, but they are preeminent lever actions, from Thomas Stuart’s One of One Thousand to a factory engraved Henry Rifle, and a Volcanic Repeating Arms Company Navy lever action pistol.

Another amazing collection with pieces at auction is the Joe Marlin Hilliard Collection with exceptional Winchester rifles and a World War 2 bring-back Walther Model PPK, while the Norm Vegely Collection provides numerous opportunities for cased Colt revolvers.

Several guns from actor Tom Selleck are available in this auction, ranging from Oscar winner Gary Cooper’s Griffin & Howe to stellar Marlin and Winchester rifles to fascinating pistols attributed to the FBI and Theodore Roosevelt. A set of Colt pistols commemorating Selleck’s Magnum, P.I., show are also available from his collection.

Historic Arms

There are guns of European nobility, and pair of dueling pistols given to Jerome Bonaparte, youngest brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, by his young bride, are available. American Civil War arms include the cased Colt Model 1861 Navy presented to pro-Union minister W.G. Brownlow, and the Colt 1851 Navy of Capt. A.L. Hough presented by the Union Rifles of Terre Haute, Ind. Wild West history is also represented by the Evans Repeater presentation rifle inscribed to Buffalo Bill Cody and a Winchester Model 1876 round-barreled One of One Thousand, a truly rare gun.

Outdoors and firearms writers are also represented by the Griffin & Howe Springfield Model 1903 rifle of Townsend Whelen, and several guns from handgunning legend Elmer Keith.

One thing the auction won’t run out of is beautiful, high conditioned guns. A Winchester Model 1876 with stunning casehardened colors, and nearly all of its bluing is available, as is a recently discovered factory engraved and inlaid Winchester Deluxe Model 1895, cool revolvers, guns of Hollywood legends, a cased double digit serial numbered Borchardt with accessories, and amazing sporting arms like an engraved J. Purdey & Sons shotgun and a trio of Tomasoni-engraved Fabbri shotguns, and breath-taking high-conditioned and engraved Marlin rifles like the finest known Deluxe Model 1889.

Class III Cornucopia

One of the crown jewels of machine gun collecting, a Fabrique Nationale U.S. M240B, one of 11 believed to be transferable, leads the deepest lineup of automatic firepower RIAC has ever offered. German World War 2 guns like the Krieghoff FG42, MKb 42(H) and more, like the MP40 and MG34, are available. American weapons like a Knight’s Armament Stoner 63A, an M60, a Marlin-Rockwell M1918 BAR and numerous Thompson submachine guns are among the full auto offerings. Even a Street Sweeper is part of the auction’s roster of Class III arms.

In additional offerings of heavy firepower, four Gatling guns are available in the auction as well as a single-barrel Gardner Gun with serial number 1, and a number of volley guns like a Nordenfelt 10-barrel gun will also be up for sale.

Classic Cowboy Guns

Rock Island Auction Company prides itself on the depth of quality when it comes to offering Colt wheelguns and Winchester repeaters. Whether a collector is looking for the Colt double action revolver of Mexican Villista Gen. Rafael Buelna, finely conditioned first generation SAAs, a Model 1878 double action revolver, or percussion Colts like the Model 1849, Model 1851 Navy, Model 1861 Army and an L.D. Nimschke engraved Smith & Wesson .44 double action revolver they can be found crossing the podium this weekend.

The depth and breadth of quality among antique lever guns simply astounds, like a Winchester Model 1866 Saddle Ring Carbine, a Winchester Deluxe “Centennial” Model 1876, and a phenomenal Winchester Model 1886 in .40-82 WCF. Several of the Marlins in the auction should certainly draw a crowd of collectors, like this stunning and finest known factory engraved Marlin Deluxe Model 1889. A U.S. Springfield Model 1875 trapdoor is among an outstanding lineup of fantastic antique rifles.

Come to Bedford!

December is shaping up for a great month that will be remembered here at RIAC for years to come and the Dec. 8-10 Premier Auction is one of the reasons why. The auction catalog is jam-packed with fabulous revolvers and pistols, rifles and shotguns. Come out to Preview Day on Dec. 7 and stay for the auction. We hope to see you in Bedford!

We're a bit excited.

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