October 12, 2021
By Joe Engesser
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Rock Island Auction Company’s October Sporting & Collector Firearms Auction realized over $8 million in total, a phenomenal sum achieved by an event that was added to the auction calendar in order to meet the surging interest in firearms collecting. In a year of groundbreaking firsts for Rock Island Auction Company, both the booming gun market and a record number of new bidders prompted the need for a third Sporting & Collector auction, and that enthusiasm was reflected in the Preview Day turnout as well.
On Tuesday, our guests were greeted to a preview hall filled with over 7,000 vintage guns and pieces of militaria from around the world. Preview Days are always an exciting experience, a free look at some of the finest firearms publicly available, and our enthusiastic crowd was thrilled to examine the sheer volume and quality firsthand. Elite collections were featured in abundance, including over 400 classic military arms from the phenomenal George Moller Collection.
October’s auction covered every genre and price point imaginable, from antique muzzleloaders, Old West wheel guns, military arms of all eras, and so much more. Between the thousands of sealed bids, a lively in-person crowd, and the persistent enthusiasm from the hundreds who joined the event via the phones and online consoles, the three-day Sporting & Collector Auction was a remarkable success from start to finish.
Crisp fall weather is the perfect time to savor the outdoors and kick back with some great food and friends, and that’s exactly what October’s Sporting & Collector Firearms Auction served up here at Rock Island Auction Company. With over 1,100 lots passing the podium on day one alone, there was no shortage of classic firearms waiting to be appreciated by new owners.
The sheer selection on hand was evident from the start, with a Henry rifle blazing in at $16,100, a Colt Lightning following up with $10,350, and a rare Bullard Schuetzen rifle more than doubling its high for an impressive $6,900.
The expansive range of arms and eras covered was illustrated by numerous antiques and rare pieces of militaria making an early splash, including a European crossbow and a brass suit of Maximillian plate armor that both tripled their estimates and garnered $4,025 and $20,700 respectively.
Colts mounted a comeback later in the morning, with the Colt Model 1855 percussion revolving saddle ring carbine rallying for $7,475, the Colt's Patent Model 1839 Paterson carbine going for $14,950, and a Civil War Era Colt 1851 Navy revolver with shoulder stock shattering its estimate ten times over for a whopping $17,250.
Early 20th century military arms came firing back, with a fine condition U.S. Army Colt Model 1911 pistol earning $4,600, a DWM Model 1902 Luger carbine taking in $9,200, and a U.S. Air Service style Springfield Armory 1903 rifle more than quadrupling its high estimate for $9,200, one of many pieces from the storied George Moller Collection that would have a spectacular showing over the next three days.
Day two opened with a bit of fog and drizzle, but the momentum inside kept on rolling as an even greater abundance of firearms than day one’s ample offerings went up for bid, and our guests were more eager than ever to get started.
The interest in antiques stayed hot throughout the day, most receiving numerous bids between the phones, the computers, and the floor. A Manton over/under flintlock pistols and a grouping of Civil War ammunition, bullet molds, and tools both more than tripled their highs and took home $9,775. A 19th century gambler's set with an engraved Hopkins & Allen Ranger revolver pulled in $10,350, one of many rare and fascinating items featured on Thursday, and one that set the mood for the Old West theme to shortly follow.
Rock Island Auction Company frequently plays host to guns owned by historical giants and icons of popular culture. As Hollywood’s most famous Western star, and one of most recognized faces in American history, John Wayne needs no introduction here. Wayne was the quintessential American cowboy, the face of the genre for millions of Western fans across the world, and it goes without saying that no cowboy is complete without his six-shooter.
As a gun owned and customized specifically for Hollywood’s most famous Western star, and fired on-screen during the role that won him an Oscar, John Wayne’s ‘True Grit’ revolver checks all the right boxes for those interested in owning a piece of history, Hollywood, and legendary Americana. Like Zorro’s rapier and Bond's PPK, the Duke’s six-shooter is an inseparable part of his larger-than-life persona, and on a fall afternoon at Rock Island Auction Company, a lucky crowd witnessed the iconic gun go up for bid.
RIAC CEO Pat Hogan shared memories of watching John Wayne films and how the actor’s work ethic and dedication to his craft had served as a personal inspiration. RIAC President Kevin Hogan agreed, and thrilled an already hyped-up audience with his own Rooster Cogburn impression as the bidding kicked off.
Bids flooded in from all directions – the computers, the phones, and dozens of sealed bids from across the globe. The world’s #1 auction house gave the world’s greatest silver screen smokewagon the attention it deserved, and when the dust finally settled, the legendary revolver awed the crowd as it achieved a phenomenal $517,500, a worthy sum for such an incredible gun.
The energy continued and the big guns made their mark throughout the rest of the perfect autumn afternoon, with a Soviet Tokarev SVT-40 semi-automatic rifle netting $4,313, a grouping of rifle grenade launching equipment more than tripping their high for an explosive $10,925, and a BSA Model 1914 Lewis Gun DEWAT storming ahead for $17,250.
To some, October is a time for football and hayrides and pumpkin spice coffee. This week, however, was all about vintage firearms crossing the podium, and the third and final day of Rock Island Auction Company’s Sporting & Collector Auction offered some of the most unique guns yet.
Military firearms are booming right now with collectors, especially historic military pieces, and George Moller’s collection continued to deliver throughout the day. A LePage Moutier Retailer marked percussion pistol-carbine went for $8,050, a lot that included three European military long guns sold for $10,925, and a scarce and unusual Springfield Armory Model 1873 line throwing gun wowed the crowd as it reeled in $9,200, more than five times its high estimate.
George Moller's broad spanning collection included scarce ammunition and numerous vintage accessories as well, with lots offering such rarities as 19th-century ammunition pouches taking home $6,900, and a pair of Colt Model 1855 rifle bullet molds garnering $4,888.
It wouldn’t be a Rock Island Auction Company Sporting & Collector sale without a healthy showing of Winchesters, and Friday did not disappoint. A U.S. Winchester Model 97 slide action trench shotgun landed $7,475, a scoped Winchester Model 52E bolt action single shot target rifle blew past its high and netted $5,463, and an M2-2 flamethrower flambéd its estimate, realizing a sizzling $19,550
The October Sporting & Collector Firearms auction offered something for everyone at a time when interest in firearms is booming and first-time gun ownership is at an all-time high, a sentiment reflected by the rich diversity of guests who joined us over the three day event. From the lively crowd of seasoned collectors to the thousands of sealed bids received to the hundreds of firearm fans who participated live over the phones and via online bidding, excitement for this auction was off the charts, and we can’t thank everyone enough for making this event such a staggering success. The world of arms collecting is a thriving and dedicated community, and we’re eternally grateful for your support!
Our final Premier Firearms Auction of the year is coming up on December 2-4, just in time to add to your festive Holiday calendar. Rock Island Auction Company's May and September Premier Firearms Auctions were both record-breaking spectaculars, and December’s lineup promises to be just as dazzling, with numerous world-class gun collections up for bid, including the third and final chapter of the George Moller Collection. We’ve saved the best for last, so check out the online mailer and keep an eye out for the online catalog in the days ahead.
The next Sporting & Collector auction is set for February 2022, plus there's an Arms & Ammunition auction coming up on October 20th, an exciting format where one can place sealed bids or bid live online or over the phone. These auctions have surged in popularity and are being frequently added to our auction calendar. And don’t forget to try our new auction catalogs that can be customized from our website and printed or viewed on an eReader, making the auction experience even easier no matter how you choose to bid. Thank you again, and we'll see you in December!
As always, if there are any questions regarding consignment, registration, or future auctions, please contact Rock Island Auction Company today. Our auction schedule is updated frequently on our website, so be sure to go through the listing and start making your plans to visit. All our events adhere to the latest COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions.
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