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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Top Guns: 2015 June Regional Auction

Here we go again, collector friends!  These are some of the heavy hitters, growing trends, and unexpected performers from 2015 June Regional Firearms Auction.  As always, I must stress that these results are not "cherry picked" or altered in any way.  What you see here are the numbers obtained directly from the actions of thousands of firearms collectors.  Let's get started, shall we?

Most Popular

Lot 4904: Three Smith & Wesson Model 41 Semi-Automatic Pistols 
Estimate: $1,700 - $2,500
Realized Price: $3,162.50
Number of Sealed Bids: 30

Just when you think you have a grip on what folks love, they throw you a curve ball.  These three plinkers are Smith & Wesson Model 41 pistols.  They fire .22 LR and were introduced in 1957.  Some bidders obviously appreciated the high condition these pistols remained in, but given the year of their introduction, perhaps these were remembered by several collectors as beloved guns of a bygone boyhood.  Whatever the reason, the firearms in this lot had 30 bids on them before the auction even started, plus any live bids they received!  An impressive figure for guns that are not generally recognized as being extremely popular.

Top Dollar

Lot 2008:  New Haven Arms Co. Henry Lever Action Rifle

Bringing in the highest price of the entire sale was lot 2008's New Haven Arms Henry rifle.  This wasn't too big of a surprise as it did have one of the top four highest estimates of the auction, however, it was able to beat out an engraved Henry, and a Civil War martially inspected Henry to claim the top honor with a realized price of $23,000 . Those that think our Regional Auctions are only about "usable" guns or modern guns and not about some extremely desirable collector pieces, may need to change their position.

Highest Performing Item Overall

Lot 4878: "Josey Wales" Attributed Navy Arms/Pietta Percussion Revolver with Framed Josey Wales Reward Poster, Certificate of Authenticity, and Paramount Letter
Estimate: $2,500 - $5,000
Realized Price: $17,250

It is not a common sight to see an Italian black powder replica of a Colt to reach a 5-figure price tag.  However, when that percussion piece is attributed to use in the movie "The Outlaw Josey Wales," it changes the whole scope of things.  This Pietta revolver must have been found by a big Clint Eastwood or Western movie fan, because its value absolutely soared!  Josey Wales rides again!

Highest Performing Genre: European Military

Lot 4370: Ten Knives
As you can tell by the above lot and the final lot shown in this article, the genre of European Military items was pushed strongly by edged weapons.  In fact, of the top 10 items in the category, eight were edged weapons, and of the top 20 items, a surprising 16 were bladed!  Much like the Josey Wales Pietta listed above, strong internet participation from live bidders proved to be the driving force.  Looks like edged weapon collectors know where to go to find the items they want.

Highest Selling Colt

Lot 4191: Extremely Scarce First Generation Colt Single Action Army Revolver in .32 S&W with Factory Letter and Paperwork
Estimate: $5,500 - $7,000
Realized Price: $7,475

No firearms manufacturer, or any business owner for that matter, wants their competitor's name to appear on their product.  If you take a closer look at the barrel, you'll notice that this Colt SAA is chambered in ".32 S&W."  In "The Colt Peacemaker Encyclopedia" by Keith Cochran, he states that only 32 standard 1st Generation Peacemakers were produced in this caliber out of a total run that exceeded 350,000.  That's not 10%.  That's not even 1%.  That is less that .01% of the entire production, making this gun both beautiful and remarkably rare.

Highest Selling Winchester

Lot 30: Deluxe Engraved Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action Saddle Ring Carbine

Estimate: $9,000 - $14,000
Realized Price: $9,500

Even though the engraving was not performed at the factory, this Winchester 1866 features professional embellishment of the period that was more than enough to earn it the place as the top Winchester in the auction.  Even the buttplate and cartridge elevator feature some of the craftsman's fine handiwork.  It is a Third Model that enjoys antique status, having been manufactured in 1882.

Highest Selling German Arm

Lot 4226: Engraved Mauser 1940 Dated Luger Semi-Automatic Pistol
Estimate: $1,800 - $2,750
Realized Price: $4,600

The description for this Luger simply states, "With Krieghoff toggle assembly engraved to match the rest of the pistol, "FEUR" safety marking."  However, this work was clearly done at great expense.  The tight scroll work and "fiddlehead" foliage are well done and cover nearly every surface of the pistol.  It adorns the full length of the barrel as does the backstrap, front strap, trigger guard, receiver, magazine well, and as mentioned earlier, the toggle assembly.  All that work, plus an attractive finish make this a very ornate, yet understated, German arm.

Highest Selling Civil War Arm

Lot 29: Civil War Era U.S. Martially Inspected New Haven Arms Henry Lever Action Rifle
Estimate: $18,000 - $25,000
Realized Price: $20,700

Combine the popularity of Civil War weapons with that of "the father of the Winchester lever actions," and the result are ever-present high bids that come in for martially inspected Henry rifles. The rifle shown above was manufactured in the midst of the Civil War (1863) and has the correct serial number to prove it.  The stamp of "CGC," standing for inspector Charles G. Chapman, can still be found on the right barrel flat at the breech.

Highest Selling Non-Firearm Item

Lot 4332: Grouping of Seventeen European Style Daggers
Estimate Price: $1,000 - $1,400
Realized Price: $6,325

This lot of European daggers and knives generated quite a few chuckles, as auction attendees grew more and more incredulous at the rising price.  A bidding battle between two live online bidders drove the price of the ornate lot higher and higher.  With dedicated blade collectors on the phones and online, it was one of many lots containing edged weapons that easily exceed its high estimate.

Those are the numbers!  Were you surprised?  Sure, maybe not by a rare, 1st Gen SAA in an unusual caliber or the Civil War martially inspected Henry, but who could have predicted the prolific bids on the daggers or the abundance of participation on the S&W pistols?  Surprises like these are exactly what make an auction so exciting.  Sometimes, big bids come out of nowhere on items you would never guess.  Other times, battles break out over items people just have to have and from time to time old favorites come up with a new price that sets the bar ever higher.  Our next two auctions are the August Online Only Auction and our big September Premiere Firearms Auction.  Check out some of the lots and photos for those auctions and see if you can guess which ones will be appearing in this column next.


  1. I really, REALLY, do not like grouping items that sell for over $200.00 each.

  2. I understand what you mean, but how else can 7000 items in 1 auction be sold in three days?

    1. More auctions and no printed catalog. Your online search tool for each auction works fine. We hate grouping.

  3. I've gotten a lot of good items bidding on groupings. I keep what and I like & resale the rest and always ending up paying less for the item I really wanted than I would have bid on it alone.