MOLINE, Ill. – Seeking to build on last year’s record results, Rock Island Auction Co. (RIA) added more than 2,700 lots to its Sep. 11-13 premiere firearms auction. Known for being the U.S.’s largest seller of antique and vintage firearms, in this sale, however, RIA stakes a sizeable claim in the ‘other’ category: antiques and collectibles including spurs, sculpture and blades. Included is nearly 600 lots such as a rare Tiffany-made silver relief sword estimated to bring $25,000 to $50,000 to a common Victorian back bar mirror in fancy frame, estimated to sell for $300 to $450.
One special rifle is estimated to be the auction’s top lot – an engraved Winchester model 1873 lever action rifle with deluxe walnut stock. The rifle is considered the finest condition Winchester Model 1873 in existence and the best RIA has been able to sell. In fact, the "1 of 1000" Model 1873 rifles are among the ultimate rarities in Winchester collecting. Records accompanying the lot show it was received in the Winchester warehouse on August 10, 1875 and shipped on August 11, 1875. The rifle is expected to sell for $350,000 to $650,000.
Put in perspective, the low end of the pre-auction estimate on the Winchester “1 of 1,000” is more than double the high estimate on the next three most valuable lots. These include a pair of museum-quality Suhn Germany pistols, made by master craftsman Adolph Frohn between 1873 and 1893. The pistols feature delicate gold and silver inlays on the barrels, frames, trigger guards and backstraps, and intricate ivory inlays on the stocks. The pair is expected to bring $90,000 to $140,000.
A second pair of Frohn’s pistols also carries a pre-auction estimate of $90,000 to$140,000. These exquisite and ornate museum quality pistols feature delicate gold and silver inlays on the barrels, frames, trigger guards and backstraps, and intricate ivory inlays on the stocks. The pistols have a rolling block type action with offset hammer and breech lever that is recessed into the backstrap. The pistols were not designed for use but for display at world exhibitions. The pair is considered a masterpiece of Frohn’s workmanship and created for the purpose of displaying just how exceptional a gun maker he was. These, too, carry a pre-auction estimate of $90,000 to $140,000.
Estimated to bring $90,000 to $130,000 is a deluxe third model 1866 Winchester rifle, sporting a silver-plated forearm cap, receiver and buttplate. The delicate hand of master engraver Conrad Ulrich decorates the rifle. The engraving is crisp and the rifle retains 90 to 95 percent of the original blue finish, the balance fading to a plum-colored patina.
RIA is known for uncovering oddities of the firearms world and this auction is no exception. A boxed “Protector” palm pistol made by the Minneapolis Firearms Co. in the 1890s. The seven shots are held in a revolving turret that is decorated with unusual carved mother of pearl side plates. It is believed this example is the only one known to exist with carved pearl side plates. It is expected to sell for $20,000 to $30,000.
Rock Island Auction Co.’s Sep. 11-13 Premier Firearms Auction will be hosted at the firm’s Moline, Ill., headquarters and through telephone bidding. Bids may be placed online through the company’s catalog, however live online bidding during the auction is not offered. A complete catalog is available at www.rockislandauction.com or one may be purchased by calling 800-238-8022.
Photos courtesy Rock Island Auction Co.