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Press release:

The legend of Samuel Colt was alive and well as Colt firearms accounted for 8 of the top 10 items sold during the weekend for an astonishing sum of $2,012,500. The talk of the weekend was with out question the breathtaking original and ultra rare Colt 16 inch “Buntline Special” Single Action Army Revolver with its original Factory Stock which sold for a World Record $546,250.00 (lot 3228). Colt only manufactured ten of these iconic 16 inch “Buntline Specials” and this current result breaks the previous record set by Rock Island Auction in December of 2010 when they achieved a sales price of $368,000.00 for a 16 inch Buntline . . .

“We are the only auction company to ever offer one of these magnificent and rare specimens to the collecting world and they have certainly lived up to their iconic status”, said Patrick Hogan President and CEO of Rock Island Auction Company.

Other notable Colts included two Colt Single Actions recovered from the infamous Dalton gang’s failed double bank robbery attempt in Coffeyville Kansas, one of which was documented to have been taken of the hip of the slain “Highwayman” himself Bob Dalton which sold for $322,000.00(lot 1281) and the other from the same shipment to the Dalton gang brought $109,250.00(lot 1282) respectively.

A Colt 1851 Navy personally presented by Samuel Colt to his friend and famous 19th century Sea Captain J.J. Comstock of the U.S. Steamship Baltic sold for an impressive $276,000.00(lot 1201). While a Factory engraved Colt Single Action brought $103,500 (lot 1295) and Factory engraved silver plated Colt Bisley Model sold for $97,750.00. Rounding out the Colt’s was an impressive and rare original Colt Model 1890 Gatling gun with its original field carriage which fetched $253,000(lot 3279).

Colt’s major 19th century manufacturing competitors also experienced a banner weekend. An original nickel Plated deluxe case presentation Smith & Wesson 320 Revolving Rifle brought a World Record price of $97,750.00 and a beautiful Smith & Wesson Number 3 American brought $23,000. A scarce blue finish Remington 1890 revolver went for $28,750.00 and an ultra rare Factory engraved Remington Model 51 with its original box brought $11,500.00.

Firearms from the Winchester Repeating Arms Company and its predecessors were also in high demand. An extraordinary Factory documented Winchester Model 1873 “One of One Thousand” with an extremely rare half octagon barrel rang the bell at $402,500.00(lot 1007). A Factory engraved gold plated New Haven Arms Co. Henry Rifle brought an impressive $184,000.00(lot 1003). Both a Factory engraved Winchester Model 1866 and a special order Winchester Model 1873 sold for $80,500.00.

The September auction marked another chance to own a piece from one of the most significant U.S. and German military collections ever assembled as prices for these two genres continue to soar. A 1943 dated Krieghoff Luger rig with Lutfwaffe Proofed holster and two matching magazines brought $46,000.00.

An original early production model 1902 DWM Luger carbine with matching shoulder stock commanded $43,125.00. While the U.S. military grouping saw an exceptional World War II U.S. Singer Manufacturing Company 1911A1 bring $69,000.00 and serial number 119 Springfield Armory Rod Bayonet 1903 went for $40,250.00.

Other notable sales include a Angelo Bee master engraved Winchester Model 21 Shotgun for $46,000.00, an 1987 Humvee brought $37,375.00, an early Colt Model 1921 Fully Automatic Thompson Sub Machine Gun sold for an impressive $48,875.00 and a Washington Territory shipped Sharps Model 1874 sold for $20,750.00. A historic Napoleon Bonaparte presentation silver hilted French Saber sold for $63,250.00 and a rare 2nd Light Horse Lancers of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard Czapka brought $21,850.00.

Touted as Rock Island Auctions “most anticipated sale in the company’s history” the sale was comprised of four well known estate collections headlined by the world renowned Gateway Collection. “The offering of firearms was truly an unprecedented event for the gun collecting community as these key collections had been assembled for over a half a century. Collectors will go a life time without seeing some of these extreme rarities ever offered for public sale again”, said Hogan, who also has the pleasure of selling part II of the Gateway Collection in November.

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    • Why would they? You can buy a functional equivalent for shooting that costs much less.

      These pieces with provenance are an investment, just like rare art, documents or books. As people who collect rare, first-edition books how often they open that collectable book to read it. The answer usually is “never.”

      • And just like with guns, its a shame. No point in owning something you dont use. People who collect things just to own them…I dont know why. But they just dont sit well with me.

        • It is used. It is used as a store of value and an asset class to the high-end investor.

          Guns of this value don’t need to be shot to have value or use. Highly collectable objects (whether it be art, jewels, guns, rare books, etc) are seeing a surge of money chasing them, because the idiots at the Fed (Ben Bernanke being the idiot-in-charge) have decided to crush the value of the dollar and make formerly ‘safe’ investments like bonds nearly worthless for their return, all to bail out the fraudulent bankers who still have heaping, steaming messes on their balance sheets.

          So there’s a lot of money seeking alternative investments. Collectable guns are one such asset class.

        • As Dyspeptic Gunsmith said above, those are rare examples of each type. Buy a similar gun of the type for much less and shoot it instead.

        • I realize. By “car” I meant something akin to a Ferrari Daytona or something. Don’t care if it’s rare. I’d use it. I wouldn’t run thousands of rounds through the thing nor hot hand loads, but I wouldn’t let it rot in a box either.

        • Re-read the article.

          Several of these guns have a unique provenance to them. If that provenance can be documented and verified, then the gun in question becomes like no other gun.

          eg: The Dalton Gang guns. They’re not just any gun of that type, those guns have a provenance that they were taken off the Dalton Gang.

          Those guns are irreplaceable. There are other guns “like” those guns, but there are no other guns that are “those guns.”

          You can buy SAA’s all day long from that generation that won’t go over $10K. And remember, in the under 192,000 serial range, you can shoot ONLY black powder loads. The malleable iron frames won’t take the pressure spikes of smokeless. So you’d better be cleaning it very well, or you’re going to get corrosion into the piece.

          You can buy modern reproductions for $2K and under which have transfer bars for safety, $4K+ will get you something that is stunning from USFA and doesn’t have a transfer bar if you’re a purist. Both will handle very generous loads of smokeless.

          With that disparity in value and the pitfalls of shooting a 1st gen SAA, why would anyone ever buy something so rare to just shoot it?

      • If I had that kind of disposable income I would buy and not shoot them also. I have investments in things that don’t interest me except for thir dollar value. It would be nice to combine my love of guns with investing.

        • If I had that kind of disposable income I would buy a WWII half-track with a quad-.50 on it, and shoot the ever-lovin’ sh** out of it.

      • If it were 100mm…

        Seriously, though, these guns have earned their keep but now they’re retired and it’s no shame to subject them to no more wear or tear.

        Noone complains that a beloved horse should be ridden ’til it dies, or that the retirement pasture is a bad thing. Well, noone should.

        Preserving an ancient weapon is no waste of the weapon; it’s a show of respect.

  1. I’m part of the generation that grew up with the tv westerns like the lone ranger and gunsmoke. The hollywood emphasis on the colt revolver and the buntline special gives them a special place in my early memories. If I had the kind of funds involved in this auction I would have taken part.

  2. I certainly hope they were machined better back in the day than my 1980s 7.5″ nickle plated Colt SAA is. I can see machining marks on it, on the frame, in the area where the the hammer rests when it is down.

    • Of course I don’t want guns, especially historic guns, melted down. That said, I don’t know what some people have against cars with good gas mileage. As rated by the EPA, the Volt is the most fuel-efficient car with a gasoline engine sold in the USA. Who has a problem that they’re not paying enough at the pump? Why wouldn’t you want a car that used up the fuel in the tank more slowly and saved you a lot of money by doing so, whatever your politics? Bring on the fuel-efficient engines, the hybrids, and the electric cars! I’m happy to see vehicles on the market that are less expensive to maintain. No one should speak ill of you or try to stop you if you want to drive a Hummer H1 and can afford it, I’d like one myself, but it’s great for the the people of America that some of the costs of owning a car are coming down through the new vehicle choices coming to market. When the technology matures and becomes less expensive it will probably come into my hands and save me money. I don’t expect to become rich, so a cheap workhorse with good miles per gallon is my kind of vehicle.

  3. To each their own.
    If people want to buy guns such as these as an investment, then that’s fine by me, though I have no interest in collecting rare firearms.
    If I want a gun it’s so I can fully enjoy it by using it as intended & not so I can take it out & look at it once in a while, or ponder on its dollar value.

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