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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Dallas Safari Club 2014 Convention

I was told I wouldn't believe it.  I was told that I would see sights that would drop my jaw.  I was told of nightly culinary delights.  I was told my feet would hurt a lot.  All of these things would come to pass.

For those that are unfamiliar with the Dallas Safari Club, it is an organization formed in 1972 that attracts thousands of international hunters, conservationists, and wildlife enthusiasts.  They have tasked themselves to raise money to help conserve wildlife, protect wilderness, educate and promote hunting to youngsters, and to help protect the rights of hunters.  It's a pretty massive challenge, but DSC has proven more than up to the task by absolutely ballooning membership and event attendance in recent years and by putting on a massive and extremely impressive event.

Thursday, January 9
Technically the event started the previous day, but most vendors would wait until Thursday to set up their extravagant and themed booths.  Rock Island Auction Company would arrive and set up our booth on Thursday as well and even though most of the other exhibitors were still composing and constructing their booths, it didn't take long to see that this was going to be very impressive.

RIAC crew just starting to set up the booth.
The view walking into the convention as they were still setting up.
They had clearly done a LOT of work already... had many of the other vendors

Here some of the RIAC crew puts the finishing touches on one of the TWO
Gatling guns we brought with us to the show.

Here we carefully place just some of the Colts we brought.

With one exception, all the guns we brought to Dallas will appear in our May 2014 Premiere Firearms Auction.

Friday, January 10
Friday was the first day that attendance of the show was close to what we had expected.  It took a while for attendees to make their way back to our 20' x 50' booth, but soon the trickle of convention goers turned into a deluge.  The fact that it took any time at all is a testament to the treasure trove of eye candy, curiosities, jewelry, taxidermy, and displays that were all vying for just a few precious moments of their time.  The RIAC booth was stuffed for much of the day and this wasn't even one of the "busy days."  People who appreciate some of the finer things in life, definitely showed that same appreciation for our antique arms, Gatling guns, sporting long arms, Colts, and a trio of consecutively numbered Holland & Holland rifles.

Plenty of accessorized ATVs were present!

All variations of decor and furniture were available.

One booth was selling ring-necked pheasant pelts and I couldn't
resist the photo opportunity.
Purses, furs and shoes provided for lots of shopping.

To say that taxidermy was abundant would be an understatement.

Friday also provided RIAC with the opportunity to again sponsor the Ladies' Luncheon which took place that morning.  It's a much anticipated event within the convention weekend filled with a live auction, a silent auction, giveaways, delicious food, and lots of new friends.  Rock Island Auction Company not only sponsored the event, but also donated a Gaulois Number 2 Palm Pistol with its fitted purse to be raffled at the event.

Friday night's banquet was sponsored in part by Rock Island Auction Company.  Not only did we get our large custom sign hung in the front of the room, but a 60 second commercial on the projection screens hung all over the banquet hall.  These were two amazing ways that RIAC ensures that not only that people know about our consignor's items, but that collectors from around the world know where to come to buy and sell collector firearms.

Saturday, January 11
Saturday was definitely the first day that finally brought the excited crowds we had anticipated.  Here are just some of the pictures from what seemed like an endless stadium filled to the brim with these vendors.

Don't worry everyone!  THESE ARE NOT REAL STUFF BALD EAGLES.  This gentleman
takes molds of actual bald eagles beaks and feet, but uses various other birds' feathers
for the rest of the mount.  These samples involved goose, turkey, and chicken feathers

A stunning and graphic mount!

Had never seen a mount like this before.  VERY impressive!

Tons of raffles were available for pretty amazing items

This bronze was HUGE!  A 6 foot tall man would have to look slightly up to meet this Indian's eyes.

Customer leather belts, cases, briefcases, holsters, etc.

Custom boots!

Lots of fur outerwear....

...and lots of material pieces for English tweed hunting suits.

High quality, hand crafted knives were at several booths with their makers.

Antler and natural wood decor

Many, many jewelry booths

Art galleries were numerous and impressive

Several major manufacturers were there and were also sponsors.

Stands and blinds of every shape and size.

Did I mention they had amazing taxidermy?

Even though Rock Island Auction Company is not a safari outfitter, hunting guide service, nor a taxidermist, show goers were constantly in our booth.  The trio of consecutively numbered Holland & Holland rifles received loads of much deserved attention in the custom display cases that RIAC made especially for the event as did the 2 Colt Gatling guns, one of which will be for sale in our May Premiere Firearms Auction.  Our booth even caught the attention of Midway Founder and CEO Larry Potterfield who spent some time with our early Winchester and Henry rifles.

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the convention happened during the auction which took place immediately after the Saturday evening banquet.  A gentleman approached the podium to speak and began to tell a touching story of his friend's military service in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The presenter was Dan Catlin and he works for The Wildlife Gallery taxidermist in Blanchard, Michigan.   He told the story of his co-worker Robb Gustafson and his exemplary military service record: two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, four Army Commendation Medals, and an Army Achievement Medal.  Gustafson served as a weapons instructor, land navigation instructor, and sniper, but had his service cut short when a combatant's bullet slammed into his helmet leaving him brain damaged for several months.  Thankfully, the soldier was able to recover and resume his life, part of which involved a passion for hunting.  After previously hearing this heroic story, optics manufacturer Trijicon graciously offered to send the soldier on the hunt of a lifetime! Gustafson was so touched that he decided to pay it forward.  At this year's DSC Convention, he would auction the helmet that he was wearing that fateful day.  Not only would all proceeds gained by the auction be used to provide safaris to other young hunters, but specifically to those who had lost a parent to combat.  The helmet was a standard issue helmet with the monochrome green colored flag stuck to one side and the digital camouflage helmet cover still in place.  In fact, the helmet looked in remarkably good shape minus the large divot that dented the surface over the right temple.  It stood on a handsome wooden stand and was ready for auction.

The bidding began at $30,000 and was quick to escalate.  Eventually there would be only two bidders remaining: a generous woman in the audience and RIAC Owner and President Patrick Hogan.  Mr. Hogan would finally win the helmet with a bid of $80,000!  The crowd immediately gave a standing ovation and on the screens that projected views of the speakers on stage, one could tell that Catlin was extremely pleased.  However, upon winning, Mr. Hogan quickly beckoned the auction assistant who was taking his bids and signaling them to the auctioneer.  He came to our table and Hogan quickly told him something, and then told him to "Hurry!" as the auction assistant turned to walk toward the auctioneer.  Before long, the auctioneer's voice came over the microphone in a much slower tone that we had just heard in the bidding.  He said with some astonishment in his voice, "Ladies...and... Gentlemen.  I have just been informed that Rock Island Auction Company will be donating back the helmet AND WE'RE GONNA SELL IT AGAIN!"  With that announcement, the entire crowd leapt from the chairs with whoops and whistles!  In the midst of all the excitement, one could still see Catlin on the projector screen with tears welling in his eyes.  It was truly a touching moment for many of those in attendance.

The helmet would eventually sell again for $60,000 and receive an additional donation from a large fishing outfit for $10,000, bringing the total to $150,000 for the budding organization that would provide once in a lifetime hunts to children that had lost parents to war.  Throughout the night Mr. Hogan would be approached by friends and strangers thanking him for his generosity, though the most touching was unquestionably when Catlin himself approached, shook Mr. Hogan's hand, looked him in the eyes, and sincerely said, "Thank you for making our dreams come true."  Saturday night could not have ended on a better note.

*** The organization to send more young people on hunts is still in its infancy, but you can be sure that as it develops Rock Island Auction Company will be sure to post updates on our social media pages.  If you would like to make a donation, please contact Dan Catlin at ***

Sunday, January 12
Sunday would only be a half day, but the attendance did not seem to suffer for it.  Plenty of people still came by to see the pair of Gatling guns, the Holland & Holland rifles, the early Colt semi-autos, the early Winchesters, the Henry rifles, the Model 90s, the Olympic grades, the high quality sporting arms, Colt percussion and SAA, some Merwin & Hulbert revolvers, and a simply gorgeous Dickson & Sons triple barrel shotgun.  RIAC definitely made an impression that our May Premiere Auction is not to be missed.  Even though we are not a hunting outfit, nor is our existence focused on preserving wildlife, people came to our booth and were impressed.  After all, it's hard not to be impressed with 2 Gatling guns.

The RIAC booth was packed!

People were not afaid to get a closer look or even make a phone call about either of our TWO Gatling guns.

Some gentlemen look approvingly at our sporting arms and Model 90 rifles.

Everyone likes a photo of the Gatling guns!

These two collectors look on our assortment of Henry rifles and early Winchester rifles.

They were quite a hit.

Winchesters in the background.  1897 Colt Gatling in the foreground.

All ages can appreciate the Model 90 "Gallery guns"

RIAC made three custom display cases for our three consecutively serial numbered Holland & Holland rifles.
Rifles of this high quality were VERY well received among all the safari hunters in attendance.

President and Owner Pat Hogan shows off the unusual reload process on a Merwin & Hulbert revolver.

He also enjoyed sharing some info on the Model 90's.

The Dallas Safari Club's Convention was a fantastic and friendly experience!  They made it very easy to see why they are considered a premier organization in their field.  Everything was top notch, from the facilities and nightly banquets to their publications and the quality of exhibitors.  This was another great experience for RIAC where we not only showed some of our consignors' guns off to thousands of potential buyers, but we also met a lot of great new folks, saw some welcome familiar faces, and contributed to saving a lot of wildlife and habitat.  I can't wait to go back and show off what RIAC will have next year!


  1. RIA is the best in the business!

  2. ria is a class act . as well as the safari club . .

  3. A great blog. Thank you for sharing this post.

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