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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Top Guns: 2015 April Premiere Auction

In case you missed our post-auction write-up, our April Premiere Firearms Auction was a weekend filled with bidder battles that made for an exciting and fun event.  The sale as a whole garnered over $11.6 million and enjoyed great participation, with many lots receiving dozens of sealed bids before the auction even started.  Per positive response, here again are the top items in a whole bunch of categories we hope you find useful or interesting.  Again, these aren't some cherry-picked stats from the auction that we use to hype our results.  This is straight from the data to you.  Enjoy!

Most Popular Item

Lot 3871: : Cased Colt Python Double Action Revolver
Number of Sealed Bidders: 36

To clarify, this revolver had 36 bidders competing for it before the auction began.  This isn't really surprising since Colt snake guns, especially the Python, are currently enjoying a celebrity-like level of attention.  It's also not surprising that this particular revolver broke its low estimate of $1,300 and sold for $3,162.  What is surprising is that this example has the second lowest estimate out of all Pythons in the entire auction.  What does that tell us?  That people are still trying to get in on these tough looking beauties on the ground floor.

Something that WAS surprising for Colt Pythons was the new record price reached for one during this auction.  Lot 1934 was a first year production with the low serial number of 170 and it easily caused the most excitement of the weekend as bids just kept climbing and climbing.  It would eventually sell for $17,250.

Top Dollar

Lot 1093: Highly Documented, Cased, and Earliest Known Factory Engraved Colt Pocket Model Paterson Revolver No. 1 (Baby Paterson) with Accessories

Realized Price: $414,000

Drawing top dollar in this auction was this diminutive Colt Paterson.  These pocket pistols are the earliest offering from the legendary manufacturer and this example is particularly early with its serial number of 98.  Therefore not only is it one of the first one hundred Colts ever made (in quantity), it is also the earliest known factory engraved Colt and the earliest known to be fitted with pearl grips.  Only 500 No. 1 Model revolvers were ever made.  Its mother-of-pearl grips, special 1 3/4 inch barrel, hand-engraved frame, backstrap, & barrel, six German silver band inlays, backstrap inlaid with a German silver escutcheon, case-hardened frame & hammer, and six German silver stud inlays to secure the grips are, in the opinion of Colt expert R.L. Wilson, evident that this was used as a sample piece by Samuel Colt himself.  This revolver has been in numerous prominent collections and documented in several books.

Highest Performing Item Overall

Lot 3772: Cased Colt Rattlesnake Legacy Edition Commemorative Model 1911A1 Semi-Automatic Pistol
Low Estimate: $900
Realized Price: $4,887

The coolest features about this gun are easily the grips bound in the skin of an American Diamondback rattlesnake.  What's unusual is that commemorative guns typically don't draw huge prices.  Yes, Colts have often been the top performers at our auctions, but usually they're classic models that have stood the test of time, and while a 1911A1 certainly fits that bill, a modern commemorative one doesn't.

This Colt just barely edged out lot 3492 as the top performing item overall; it contained the rare Springfield Armory experimental M1 Garand chambered for the 22-06 cartridges.  Generating much interest and many bids, the iconic weapon far surpassed its $6,500 low estimate on its way to sell for $31,625.

Highest Performing Genre: Shotguns

Lot 1746: Extremely Scarce, Desirable, and Documented Parker Bros. AHE Double Barrel Shotgun with Vent Rib in 20 Gauge with Additional Barrel Set

When we say that Rock Island Auction Company is becoming the place to go for high end hunting pieces, both rifles and shotguns, we're not kidding.  It's always nice to see the numbers verify the trends one notices in person.  Shown above is the double barrel Parker Brothers shotgun that found the highest sale amount of the genre at an impressive $48,875.  The top performing shotgun though was a bit more, shall we say, popular, in nature.  Lot 3746 contained the Franchi SPAS-12 shotgun: banned from import in both 1989 and 1994, and featured in movies such as Jurassic Park, Terminator, The Matrix, & Snatch, was (pun intended) snatched up by a collector who disregarded the $1,000 low estimate to add the celebrity shotgun to their collection for $3,737.  That's 225% OVER its anticipated figure.

Highest Selling Colt

Since the top dollar of the entire auction and the top performer of the auction were Colts that we've already covered, we'll just move right along.

Highest Selling Winchester

Lot 1017: Rare Deluxe Factory Engraved Gold-Plated Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action Rifle

This deluxe Winchester 1866 lever action, manufactured circa 1869, drew $69,000 at auction.  This third model has a gold finish that was period replated, a highly figured fancy walnut stock with the high polish piano finish, over 70% of the original blue finish, a nitre blue loading gate with barely a mark upon it, factory engraving on the receiver, fore end cap, & buttplate, special sights, and several casehardened small parts.  It would be easier to list the special order features this rifle didn't have!

Highest Selling German Arm

Lot 1451: Extraordinary Historic Pre-World War II Walther Factory Engraved Gold Plated Model PP Presentation Pistol For King Carol II of Romania

With three world class selections in this auction all with an emphasis on German and European arms, it was anybody's guess which collector firearm would claim the top spot in this genre.  When the auction was all said and done, the gilded Walther PP you see above reigned supreme as the top grossing German arm with a realized price of $92,000.  Hot on its heels in second place was the DWM Model 1902 "Cartridge Counter" Test Luger in lot 3345 that earned $74,750.

Highest Selling Civil War Item

Lot 265: Rare Cased Pinfire LeMat Grapeshot Revolver
This cased Belgian pinfire version of the Civil War hand cannon earned this honor with a sale price of $31,625.  Some lucky collector also received the added bonus of some nasty looking fragmented "slugs" for use in its 20 gauge smoothbore barrel.  In no small coincidence, the third best selling Civil War arm was also a LeMat in lot 1085, though it was a Paris addressed Second Model that used the percussion firing system.  Both are a tribute to the popularity of what is easily the most recognizable Confederate revolver.

Highest Selling Non-Firearm

Lot 1295: Historic Theodore Roosevelt Presentation Inscribed Western Saddle with Research

This  category was also wide open with the amount of historic and often highly adorned Nazi items appearing in this auction.  It's hard to hide my satisfaction that this item, with its neat presidential and wild west history, edged out the Nazi gifts.  I believe Teddy would say, "BULLY!"  This was a gift to President Roosevelt from the historic Rough Riders, which he in turn presented to Lucille Mulhall, known then as "The First Cowgirl" and "Queen of the Range."  That's a lot of history between two stirrups.

Well how about that?  This was a very well-rounded sale with three phenomenal collections focusing on German and European arms, but the Colts still took the cake.  Not only did a Colt see the highest price of the auction, and the best performance, but also the auction's most popular item!  This doesn't even mention the large number of other Colts that received a high number of bids before the auction even began.  They were also aided by the William Baird Collection - a lifelong study on Colt Model 1877/78 Lightnings and Thunderers.  We don't call Colts "blue chip" guns without good reason.

Now that you've read about the past auction, be sure to check out the upcoming auction!  That's right! The catalog for our June Regional Firearms Auction is already online as of today.  Head on over today to search for all your favorites and to place those bids as early as possible.

-Written by Joel Kolander

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