Regional Sale Article: Winchester Levers
Our annual summer regional sale is quickly approaching here at Rock Island Auction. The past couple of months have been an exciting and busy time for us. From the end of March until mid July we will have finished and mailed out two catalogs, conducted two auctions, moved over 10,000 guns, assorted inventory, and all of our offices from the old building in Moline to our new 85,000 square foot facility in Rock Island. For those of you who were unable to attend our May premier sale, we hope you will be pleasantly surprised with the new facility. You will find a larger, separate preview hall, dedicated and designed to provide ideal conditions for inspecting guns, with plenty of natural light. We also now have our own separate auction hall with a six foot projection TV screen and a permanent phone bank. Looking back to some of the first auctions we held in the garage of the original “old building” it’s amazing to see how far we have come. All thanks to you our loyal customers.
We here at Rock Island Auction are extremely lucky to have the privilege of working with and in my case describing historical and important artifacts. Skimming through the pages of our catalogs or taking a stroll through the preview hall you will find we have a tremendously diverse offering of antique firearms, modern firearms, edged weapons, shooting supplies, military items of every variety, and occasionally a motorcycle or car. This regional sale is no different. You, the collector will be happy to see such a wide and diverse range of items.
In particular I think it’s important to discuss our large and varied grouping of Winchester lever actions. Our Winchester lever action genre has 200 plus pieces ranging from a Henry lever action carbine to several 1887 and 1901 lever action shotguns. While I am a diehard Smith & Wesson collector it is hard not to have a soft spot for the iconic Winchester 1873 “the gun that won the west” or the large looped Winchester 1894 immortalized by John Wayne as he swung it around his wrist. It would be foolish of me if I did not discuss a few of the marquee piece we are glad to offer in this sale which also just so happen to be Winchester lever actions.
We can start with the first lot of the auction, lot #1; this First Model 1873 Deluxe will be the highest profile piece we have ever offered in a regional sale. This gun and the story that can be told about it could be written about in a small book. It is of course pictured in a book, not to mention one of, if not, the most definitive book on Winchester 1 of 1000, “Winchester: The Golden Age of American Gunmaking and the Winchester 1 of 1000.” This rifle a First Model Winchester 1873 deluxe engraved in the exact specifications of a 1 of 1000 came from a fantastic collection of high-end Winchester’s and Colts. It is pictured and mentioned in the above book by a renowned firearms expert R.L. Wilson and it spent all of its life, some 50 plus years amongst some of the rarest and most desirable firearms we at Rock Island Auction have ever offered. It is so good it passed the inspection of firearms experts, collectors, and for a couple of weeks us at RIA. We even featured it in one of our preliminary premier auction ads. However, with the help of our in house expert Richard Ellis, and a fellow collector we were able to determine that this rifle is a wonderful, genuine First Model 1873 deluxe which has had the barrel upgrade to the professional quality of 1 of 1000 and made to match an already existing and known rifle. We are proud to offer this piece as that, an excellent deluxe First Model 1873 copy of a 1 of 1000. And for many of us who can not afford to spend $150,000 for the real thing, this might be your only chance to hang one on the wall. We hope it will find a new and happy home for another 50 years.
As you carry on scanning over the catalog you will continue to find many pages of Winchester lever actions. I think you would be hard pressed not to find nearly every model of Winchester lever actions long arm represented. In the pre 1900 models only we have: 40 Model 1873s, 6 Model 1876, 18 Model 1886, 17 Model 1892, 28 Model 1894, 9 Model 1895. And last but not least, 7 Model 1866. Flip to page 143 and you will find the beginning of day two, lot 2000. This is one of the seven model 1866 lever action rifles featured in the auction. It is engraved in style, quality, and standards of Louis D. Nimschke and is so stamped on the lower tang “L.D.N.” This stamping has been reported on other various pieces executed by Nimschke, a few on Smith & Wesson’s if I am not mistaken. The rifle has been professionally refurbished and lightly cleaned as demonstrated by the icon in photograph. It is however unclear if the engraving was done by the hand of the master himself, his shop, or custom. Similarly to lot #1 we hope that this rifle finds a happy home where it can be appreciated for many years to come.
Just as with day one of the sale, the pages of Winchester lever actions continue throughout the day. As do pages of antique revolvers and longarms, civil war carbines, U.S. and German military, Kentucky rifles, hunting and sporting rifles, military gear, ammunition, and many other genres and fields of collecting. We hope you find at least one item if not many that catch your eye. And lastly we hope and encourage all of you to try and make it to the sale to see the new facility and visit with some old friends.