“Fresh, Historic, and Rare” is the potent combination of words Rock Island Auction Company owner and president Patrick Hogan has used to describe the RIAC upcoming September Premiere Firearms Auction.
The entire auction exudes condition, quality, and rarity but its greatest appeal lies in the freshness of its offerings; many items in this auction look just as they did when they left their manufacturers, some over 150 years ago! Highlights include collections of some of the most monumental and legendary names in firearms collecting. McCroskie, Goddard, Ginn, Bowe, and Linkley have all consigned items from their remarkable collections to Rock Island Auction Company.
The fact of the matter is that the bulk of the marquee pieces featured in this sale have sat within some of the most noteworthy collections within their respected fields for many decades. “When quality, condition and rarity come together, there is no telling what will happen at auction. Rarely can you tout something as being the very best of the best in any field of collectible, but in this sale we can say it more than once,” said Hogan. Here is a sampling of some of the beautiful guns that will hold the limelight in this truly special event.
The following two rifles are from the most prominent name in all of Winchester collecting, Mr. Mac McCroskie. Mac collected Winchesters from the ‘50s through the ‘80s and bought nothing but the very best. Rock Island Auction Company is proud to have a part in this renowned collection.
Iron frame Henrys are the rarest and most desirable of the all the Henry rifle variations. Made only during the first few months of production—concurrently with the more common brass frame rifles—they range in serial number from 2 to 355 and are rarely seen with any more than trace amounts of their original finish. This gun is nothing short of a miracle and comes in a condition almost identical as it had when it left the factory. This rifle is over 150 years old and for the majority of its life never heard of “humidity control,” “handling gloves,” or many of the modern tools now commonly considered essential for preservation. Yet here it is in near pristine condition—The Finest Example Known to Exist.
Magnificent Documented Conrad Ulrich Masterpiece Gold-Washed Factory Exhibition Quality Relief Engraved and Signed Winchester Model 1866 Lever Action Rifle
Featured in several books on the topic of engraving masterpieces, Winchester Model 1866 serial number 79944 is a much documented piece of firearms artistry at its finest. It is simply museum quality aesthetics in museum quality condition. Every detail, grand or minute, is exquisite—from the Victorian influences, to the gold washed finish, to the engraved doe’s extended hoof, mid-stride, breaking the panel scene’s border and adding to the image’s depth. We could gush for pages about this regal gun, but instead will cover the basics. As with any supremely desirable Winchester, you would expect special order features and this gun has them in spades: gold wash finish, fancy grain walnut stock with oiled piano finish, octagon barrel, alive with engraving and panel scenes, globe front sight, and saddle rings; though the thought of this gun ever being used in a saddle seems positively vulgar, like using a Renoir for a tablecloth. Even the muzzle and butt plate feature engravings. With all these features, added by both the factory and the artist, it could be easy to forget that the rifle is an 1866 Winchester, an early model collectible in its own right, and signed by the artisan himself, Master Engraver Conrad Ulrich. The Book of Winchester Engraving states that it is “…one of Conrad’s most inspired creations.” Who couldn’t agree more? There are simply not enough superlatives for this rifle.
Exceptionally Rare Early Mauser 1912/14 Prototype Serial Number 162 Semi-Automatic Pistol in 9 mm Luger
What a fine example of a Mauser prototype semi-automatic pistol that would eventually become known as the rare and desirable Model 1914 “humpback” Mauser pistol. Humpbacks were the successor to the Model 1910, but the humpback slide would not see the light of day any later than serial number 3,000—afterward Mauser determined that the extra milling step to produce the different, new look was extraneous. Thus, no more than 3,000 humpbacks were produced resulting in an extremely valuable commodity to collectors. The item you see pictured is a prototype for the scarce humpback, making it an extremely rare version of an already rare gun. As you can see, its condition is excellent. It has maintained the vast majority of its factory bluing, enjoys crisply stamped markings, and shows off striking nitre blue accents thanks to a casehardened trigger and takedown rod lever.
This fine cased shotgun set is a direct contradiction to those who say true craftsmanship is dead. Manufactured in 1985, this oak and leather, two-level Huey case has brass corner protectors and hardware alongside its leather straps and carrying handle. Lined with a Pinot Noir shade of suede it houses the two barrels sets, the checkered walnut fore end, stock and frame, two piece brass and ebony cleaning rod, ebony handled screwdriver, nickel oiler, and two snap caps. Its features have a materials list you’d expect inside a luxury sedan and we haven’t yet begun discussing the gun itself. The frame and sideplates are elegantly case-hardened and finely engraved with an ornate floral design as delicate as it is light-handed. The barrel sets are each in 12 gauge, 28” and 30” in length, both equipped with ejectors, single brass bead sight, and choked. Accents of color are tastefully small and appear as nitre blue cocking indicators and a few specimens of gold accented text: the automatic tang mounted safety shows the gold text “SAFE” and the inset in gold on the bottom is “MJR.” Modern firearms of this quality are seldom manufactured.
Extraordinary Documented Gustave Young’s 1893 Chicago World’s Fair Exposition Engraved and Gold Inlaid Smith & Wesson 44 Double Action Frontier Model Revolver with Nevada Gold Mining Lawmen History
Truly a remarkable blend between art and firearms, this revolver was seen with several others at Smith & Wesson’s display at the 1893 Columbian Exposition (World’s Fair) in Chicago, Illinois. Other firearms displayed that day have ended up in museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, but this gun still has the good fortune to be available to the gun collecting public. It is engraved and gold inlaid by none other than Master Engraver Gustave Young in a vine-like design that covers nearly every single surface on the firearm. It also has black, Tiffany grips made of reptile skin and is simply stunning to behold. As if its lavish appearance were not enough, the gun enjoys a history unlike any other. Here are a few keywords from its adventurous life: World’s Fair, gold mining town, Tiffany’s, New York Rangers hockey team, sheriff, Madison Square Garden, assassination attempts, boxing promoter, Wyatt Earp, Jack Dempsey, Gustave Young, and Juicy Fruit gum. Curious yet? Read the rich, fascinating, and exhaustively documented history in a blog entitled, “From the 1893 Columbia Exhibition to the Gold Mines of Nevada.”
Looking for More?
The September Premiere Auction makes it easy to find a gun you will remember. The hard part was only choosing five to highlight in this enormous selection of beautiful, historic, rare, and excellent condition firearms. The firearms listed above are only the tip of the iceberg in this exciting event. Even in the Rock Island Auction Company’s 86,000 square-foot facility, employees are impressed; this is not an easy task when you regularly see some of the world’s finest firearms enter and exit your doors. Check http://www.rockislandauction.com for updates in the coming weeks! The September 2013 Premiere Auction will be held on September 13 through 15 with its preview day on the preceding Thursday, September 12.
Do you have a favorite historical gun or collectors model that you own or wished you could? Tell us about it in the comment section.