October 1, 2020
By Mike Burns
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Rock Island Auction Company is no stranger to the rare, the historic, and the downright extraordinary and our October Sporting & Collector Auction is certainly no exception. With thousands of lots available, this magnificent event brings an overwhelming selection to the table.
That being said, here is a quick list of “All-Star” items, ranked from highest to lowest estimate prices, in the October 8th-10thSporting & Collector Auction. These items are beautiful, unique, and encapsulate hundreds of years of engineering, development, and innovation. Without further ado, here are the “All-Stars!”
A Walker revolver is the ultimate centerpiece to any advanced Colt collection as it is among the most difficult to obtain of all Colt firearms. This revolver is one of 1,000 military contract Walker revolvers manufactured by Samuel Colt at Eli Whitney's factory in Whitneyville, Connecticut. First issued to the U.S. Mounted Rifles in 1847, Walker revolvers saw action in the Mexican War and in subsequent campaigns against the Indian tribes in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. As a result of this extensive frontier service, the survival rate of Colt Walker revolvers is extremely low and only about 100 examples have been identified in collections. The Walker revolver established Colt as a viable firm and set the stage for subsequent revolver designs that would cement the company as an industry leader. The Colt Walker revolver, probably more than any other Colt firearm, symbolizes the early frontier as it was used frequently throughout the settlement of the American West. Military contract Walker revolvers were serial-numbered sequentially with Company A-E with between 120 and 220 revolvers marked for each company and this particular model, No. 73, is one of an estimated 220 revolvers manufactured with "D COMPANY" markings, further adding to its value. To own one is to own a small, but important, piece of history.
Winchester rifles were crucial in the settlement of the American frontier. The Model 1892, despite coming in near the end of the 19thcentury, is no exception. It remains one of the six lever action rifles that established the Winchester company and embedded it in American history. A rare configuration of Winchester rifle is the “trapper carbine.” Given a much shorter barrel than their rifle and standard carbine counterparts, trapper carbines were working guns. Often seeing use on a trap line as their name would indicate, the convenience and practicality of their shorter barrels was likely appreciated in a wide number of occupations. Trapper carbines were often tools and treated as such, combined with lower production numbers, it results in fewer examples surviving today making them desirable pieces for collectors today.
This example, however, is in a league of its own as it is one of only TWO known Model 1892 trappers that feature factory engraving. The other is sequentially serial numbered to this one, but its location is unknown. That means, not only could you get a rare version of an already desirable Winchester – you could possibly own the only one in existence.
By the end of the 19th century, the Buffalo population on the American frontier had been reduced to near extinction marking an effective end to the Wild West. As a result, many people began reexamining the different uses of revolvers outside of combat, such as target shooting and sport. The Colt Bisley Flattop was designed for this increased demand in target shooters. The included factory letter lists this specific Colt revolver as a Bisley Flattop target revolver in .44 caliber, 7 1/2" barrel, blue finish, and rubber grips, as well as shipment to Colt's San Francisco Agency in on October 25, 1897, in a two gun shipment. Only 78 were reportedly produced in .44-40 caliber, making this particular model featured in the October Sporting & Collector Auction incredibly rare. It's status as an antique to collectors is the icing on the cake.
Sometimes, an item passes through the doors of Rock Island Auction Company that is not only an incredible sliver of history, but also a beautiful piece of technology. Shotgun pistols were originally used by the British Empire for hunting dangerous game in India and Africa but quickly evolved into an effective method of self-defense and were even used on the battle field. Howdah pistols are named after the “howdah,” a large seat for riding on the backs of elephants, typically decorated with a canopy and frequently used for hunting in India. These large-caliber handguns were used throughout the 19th century and were favored due to their high velocity and faster reload times. This cased Howdah style pistol features blued barrel, elaborate borders, and light scroll engraving throughout. A truly magnificent piece hailing from the legendary Malcolm King Collection.
One of most recognizable handguns of all time, the Colt M1911 served as the standard sidearm for the United States Armed Forces for almost 80 years. Throughout World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, this pistol defined a period of monumental changes in culture and war. Originally developed by John Moses Browning, the short recoil, slim design, and effectiveness of this pistol warranted its further usage and development well into the 21st century. Featured in the October Sporting & Collector Auction is an amazing Marine Corps Colt M1911 semi-automatic pistol manufactured in 1913, predating World War I. Only a limited amount were manufactured for the Marine Corps and an even smaller amount still exist today. This pistol would fill many a hole for the 1911 or U.S. military collector.
Dozens of high-quality firearms from the world’s top manufacturers including Colt, Winchester, as well as many, many more rare firearms flood the item listings of the October 8th-10th Sporting & Collector Auction. Boasting an impressive amount of revolvers along with rare pieces of history, this auction features firearms embellished so intricately they should require magnifying glasses to accompany them to truly appreciate their beauty. Despite only listing five out thousands of items found in this auction could be considered an “All-Star.” Don’t believe us? Mark your calendars and see for yourself just how impressive this auction will be. Join us October 7th for preview day to discover the excitement first-hand.
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