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Auction guns

Written by Rock Island Auctions’ Joel R. Kolander:

In the business of firearms auctions, it is simply an unavoidable fact of life that one is going to come across what is known as a spurious firearm. For those unfamiliar with the term, “spurious” is the most gracious way of calling something a fake. Phony. Bogus. At its most innocent, a fake or counterfeit item can be sold as such. Someone may want that Russian Contract 1911 pistol with spurious Cyrillic text, as a representation of the original but at only a fraction of the cost. In fact, many replica cars are sold just the same way. You wouldn’t find me turning down a replica of a 1968 AC Cobra, but I’m definitely not going to pay the same price as the original. There is a market for such pieces given that they are priced accordingly and disclosed as such to the buying public. Much like the AC Cobra example, replicas can be extremely desirable and a lot of fun . . .

Sometimes, either collectors, and even auction houses, can make mistakes in good faith. Perhaps they in possession of such a meticulously crafted forgery that it is impossible to tell the difference save for some of the world’s foremost experts. Is anyone to be held to blame in such an event except the forger? No, for both parties acted in good faith and intent with what they thought was a “real” object. However, if after the fact the buyer were to find that their item was not 100% as claimed, then it would be the duty of the seller to make it right. It is exactly scenarios like this why Rock Island Auction Company offers a guarantee of the headline of every single item in their Premiere Firearms Auctions. Should that item not be as advertised in the item’s headline, RIAC will make it right via a full refund. We even put it in the front of every Premiere Auction Catalog right there in the Terms and Conditions.

Honesty and integrity are two qualities indispensable to an auction house, or any selling business. It’s as simple as knowing that if you burn someone once, they’re not going to return, and if there are too many people who question their transactions, the sellers carefully built reputation can nose-dive faster than German U-boat. Businesses stand to gain much more from positive experiences and good word-of-mouth advertising, then they could ever achieve by being less than completely truthful.

It is with that dedication and responsibility to fairness, that we can examine the last kind of spurious arms: out and out fakes maliciously sold as the genuine article for profit. It goes without saying that the faking of firearms hurts the collecting community. Not only is it fraudulent, it erodes trust, and could potentially lower the prices of authentic items. Jim Supica, current Museum Director of NRA Museums, once detailed several types of fraud in an article he wrote for the Blue Book of Gun Values.

– Aging and modifying a modern reproduction or replica firearm to pass it as an original

– Altering a common model to make it appear to be a rare model

– Adding modern engraving to an older gun, and passing it as original period engraving

– Creating false historical documentation or attribution of historical usage.

– Altering a firearm to a more valuable configuration – for example, rare barrel length, uncommon finish, special grips, or fancy stock, rare caliber.

– “Upgrading” a low grade gun to resemble a higher grade by the same maker.

As we mentioned before, even Rock Island Auction Company is not immune to these types of guns, and the obvious recourse is to make it right. We have done so on numerous occasions, most notably on an episode of our T.V. show “Ready, Aim, Sold!” when we found we were dealing with a fake Winchester 1 of 1,000.

Auction guns

You may wonder why we wrote this article. It is the need to distance ourselves from several potentially spurious firearms previously in our possession and sold by RIAC and currently being offered for sale at James D. Julia Auction. In their auction is a collection with many firearms with claims of provenance to the Battle of Little Bighorn, Gen. George Custer, and several Native American warriors. However, the claims of provenance appear downright false and we know because we have previously sold some of the firearms in question.

We would like it to be known that Rock Island Auction Company never sold any of the guns in this collection with any of their current provenance claims and did not sell them to the current consignor of James Julia. Two of the firearms in question were sold by RIAC, to a dealer, within the last 14 months. A third, a single action revolver with alleged ties to Cheyenne chief Two Moons, was previously turned down by RIAC from this same Julia consignor when its lack of documentation was discovered. However it was sold in a previous James Julia sale for an enormous amount of money.

Auction guns

A fourth firearm was sold by Little John’s auction house during their May 2011 sale.  It is also being listed again with questionable claims.

Now, since we have discovered these questionable guns, James D. Julia has pulled them from their website catalog. We do not know what their plans are with these guns, but we are hoping it is a transparent act in the spirit of honesty to help return some peace of mind to the collecting community. Further we wonder what recourse the buyers of the same consignor items in the Julia sale in March have? However, as it currently stands, we are not optimistic for a positive outcome for the people for the following reasons.

The first reason lies in the listing for a facsimile Colt Walker sold by them in their sale held in the spring of 2014. In the items description, after touting what an excellent fake the gun is, the following sentence appears in the item’s official description: “Fool your enemies, sell them this great fake.”

Those are words you will never find at Rock Island Auction Company. As discussed earlier, to sell guns openly disclosed as fakes or replicas is one matter, but to encourage deception of another firearms collector is something that no collector or investor should abide. This sort of sentiment, in combination with the wild claims of provenance, should cause grave concern to any buyer who purchased some of the $240,000 of items sold by this collector in the James D. Julia March 2014 auction.

We began this article by stating that every auction house will, from time to time, receive fake guns. Julia’s is no exception and we await to see how they not only handle the items currently removed from their website, but also the $240,000 worth of  items sold this past March. Let it be known that, yes, we sold some of these guns previously, we as in RIAC yet we have no ties to this obvious deception now on going in the next James Julia sale.

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  1. “…then they could ever achieve by being less than completely truthful.”

    Not sure who made the mistake… the original author or in the reprinting but the word “than” should have been used instead of “then”.

    • That is one of the little grammar mistakes which really torques my lugnuts! Their/they’re/there being another. It is all I can do to NOT point them out every time.

      • Me, too! Participating in internet message boards is a constant exercise in overlooking poor grammar and spelling, but “then/than”, for some reason, just kills me. I’ll take a thousand “your/you’re” mix-ups over one “then/than”.

  2. Kinda makes me just a little glad I’m not rich enough to even be interested in buying such stuff.

    • Of course I’d rather be rich enough to be able to buy such stuff but simply choose not to do so. I actually prefer old stuff that is common enough and capable enough to actually use without worrying about degrading its value. Like my little friend the Mosin Nagant….

  3. Well Mr. Farago, while I have no dog in this fight, I must say that I am astonished and disappointed that you would post this obviously SPECIOUS HIT PIECE written by Rock Island Auctions to defame their competitor.

    Seriously disappointed.

    “Truth” indeed.

    • Lance, please cite a credible source to back up your claim. Is there a cease and desist or other legal action pending in either direction?

      • Why? Why should I have to submit “credible sources” to question the credibility of a hit piece that cites no “credible sources.”

        Seriously. It’s self evident why Mr. Kolander couldn’t be bothered to find out what his competitor’s response is. Frankly, the manner and character of Mr. Kolander’s reaction to his competitor’s successes and failures is entirely Mr. Kolander’s business. He can cast aspersions if he wants–directly or through innuendo–if he thinks it will improve his business.

        But The Truth About Guns–Mr. Farago–really ought to make the effort to discover the truth of Mr. Kolander’s self serving implied accusations before posting them unabridged, uncontested, and unvalidated… unless I presume too much upon the “truth” to be expected from “The Truth About Guns.”

    • Yup totally a “hit piece” with no credibility or cited source /sarc. I dont know who nicholas black elk is but apparently whoever he left his letters to is a total douche canoe, i mean ill take your family history provenance if its something your grandaddy picked up at normandy, provided he was there and its been in family hands ever since. But this seller bought these guns as recently as a year ago and claims to have provenance? Did this great indian write a bunch of stuff in his diary from the second half of the diary like “dear diary, today whiteman come for land, shot him with whore pocket pistol snxxx, picked up colt sn093.” Or is this bullshit?

      • Seeing as this is a multi-paragraph sales pitch for the Mighty Fine and Ethical Business Practices of RIAC, does this fine piece of journalism fall under the guise of “sponsored content”?

  4. I dunno, but RAIC is the one throwing the rocks, as it where. I do not see a duty for TTAG to research the James Julia claim. Now I do see a duty for James Julia to publish what they did with the particular group of firearms referenced as they would be priceless if provenance could be proved. And should James Julia refute the RAIC charge then TTAG should publish that.

    I am not a lawyer so that that opinion as such.

  5. Ahem…I have been an an antique and fine art dealer for 20 years. The number of items of any genre is limited. In the auction market the competition is FIERCE for the best consignments. I don’t know the truth of the allegations but yeah getting Julias side is very important. I also know Julia has sold many millions of $ art and antiques and not just guns-unlike Rock Island. I’ve had rival auction houses( in Chicago) impugn the integrity of a competitor even though I KNOW the same people would bid on the painting I would consign. As I said take any auctioneers word with a grain of salt. BTW fakes and counterfeits are a huge problem for any collecting field. Caveat Emptor…

    • Old enough to be worth something. Difficult to substantiate the claim. Famous enough to be known by most. New enough to have the pieces in working order.

      • Don’t forget it was a relatively small engagement, so almost by definition any artifacts would be quite rare. Even if every single firearm from the battle survived to this day, that would still only be, what a thousand, maybe two thousand guns?

    • “Day 12, In the Middle of the Battle of little Bighorn:

      I can only hope that this Colt Mode 1861, Serial #001 will surely be found by a lonely prospector some day and passed down through his family, only to be sold off at auction by a sniveling little niece or nephew who doesn’t know any better. Gasp! Indians! I must finish my letter of sure provenance and go fight at the Battle of Little Bighorn.”

  6. Didn’t RIA just sell a “Nazi” belt-buckle pistol that’s most likely fake?
    I also remember them selling a “Hitler Guard ‘Night Pistol'” 08 with flashlight attachment that looked rather dubious…

    • Yes they did. But if I recall they made no claim about it provenance. Ian from forgotten weapons handled it at the RIA and he thought it was possibly fake as well. He made a video about it from the show with the owners blessing. I also read a follow up article he wrote on his site where he decided that it was most likely a phony.

  7. I have in my possession a toilet seat that General Custard sat on the night before the battle of little bighorn.

    Its even autographed. I got it in a whorehouse fire sale.

    Up for grabs here, 10,000 dollars.

    You guys get first pick.

  8. Hilarious….apparently according to Julia’s auction just write me up a letter and it is fact!

    • ∆ …and there you have it, Mr. Farago; the predictable consequence of your failure to exercise any due dilligence–your lack of journalistic integrity.

      Congratulations! Your modern mainstream media credentials are intact!

      • Let’s be perfectly clear on a couple of key points here Lance.

        1. Re-blogging a story does not mean you endorse it. It is news as re-blogged from RIA, not a “hit piece” written by TTAG. If you are unable to differentiate between authors and content perspective then you have issues.

        2. TTAG only offers you their version of the truth. TTAG has many authors and as Robert himself has stated many times the “Truth” is always viewed through a colored lens. The “Truth” is this article was written and TTAG thought it was worthy of being posted and interpreted by individual readers. TTAG makes no claim that any of the content is truthful, lies, or pixie dust.

        3. This is the internet. If you need me to elaborate any further than this, then I can’t help you.

        P.S. I would rather you not post anymore. I can’t make you stop, but please do the polite and respectful thing and just go away.

        • Dan,

          1) I am aware of the distinction, and I made that abundantly clear… even though you couldn’t be bothered to note it.

          2) I made it clear that I was disappointed that the bar for the “truth” apparently had been set so egregiously low to accomdate Mr. Kolander’s attack upon his competitor.

          3) If you don’ t bother to read what I post, you’ll hardly notice I’m even here… you should be congradulated on your excellent start!

  9. “those in glass houses…”

    I think RIAC just opened up a can of worms here. Authenticating firearms is difficult — sometimes fakers go to great lengths to pass off a firearm as something it is not. ALL of the big auction houses have made mistakes one time or another. RIAC just opened up the same scrutiny of items they have sold in the past.

    I *know* of many items that RIAC has misrepresented in the past, including several “singer” 1911s. In addition their warranty is actually less comprehensive than Julia’s. RIAC will only warranty the “headline” which is often very generic. For example “WW2 Colt M1911A1”. But the “headline” doesn’t include things like refinished, or wrong parts, etc. I am also familiar with cases where guns were returned due to issues and the exact same gun re-listed in RIAC’s next auction with the exact same description (trying to get someone else to buy the fake).

    anyways the main point is RIAC is not better or worse than any other auction house. caveat emptor.

    • As Jim Julia has withdrawn the guns with the forged provenance it is the consignor who has made false written representations about the history and acquisition who should be the object of derision, scorn, civil litigation and criminal indictment for mail fraud. Julia’s is the victim and not the perpetrator.

  10. Anyone else have flashbacks to the Philip K Dick book ‘The Man in the High Castle’? Fakes passed off as legit.

  11. What a bunch of cry babies! Julia has kicked your ass and instead of spending your time figuring out how to overcome this problem you spend your time making the likes of Dr. Geoffrey Sturgiss and his absolutely world beating collection pay the price, NOT JULIA AUCTIONS, when all he did was bring the revenue from his collection sale to the U.S. instead of having all the revenue go to a European country!! This is what you call animosity and you (RIAC) ought to be ashamed!! Self centered is what I would call it, but you put it off as being the savior of the gun collecting world when in reality you are bringing it to it’s knees if left to RIAC. I wonder who I will consign with next time????

  12. Dear Mr. Farago,

    Re: Julia’s Response to Rock Island Auction’s Gross Misrepresentations

    Thank you for passing along and sharing with me a copy of the recent “trashing” of my company by Rock Island Auction Company that was presented on your website. I feel bad that I did not have the opportunity to weigh in and present my side of the story when you first printed this and although some of your readers have made a decision based on this one-sided representation, I do appreciate at least having finally been alerted so that I could set the record straight.

    Contrary to Rock Island’s misrepresentations of my company, we have a sterling reputation for honesty and fair dealing. We go out of our way to protect our clients and as you read further, you will see and perhaps agree with us that we do more than any other firearms house to protect our clients. It easy for one to say something like this but “the proof is in the pudding”. Firearms collectors are some of the savviest people in the business and results speak to our statement. In recent years, we have handled more high end, big name collector’s collections than any other firearms auction house on the planet Earth. We do not handle the greater number of firearms that is not our goal. We handle the greater number of high end, expensive, valuable firearms. In fact, for a number of years now, we have annually sold far more than any other auction house in the world. You do not get to do these types of things in this astute collecting world without having a stand up reputation and being fair and honest.

    Rock Island’s trashing of me is not a great surprise and this is not the first time there has been an attempt to besmirch my company and my character through distortions by this firm.

    I have been in the business for around 45 years and long ago I made the decision to promote myself and growth of my business by providing my customers with honesty, tremendous service, expertise, and the lowest commission rate in the trade. All of this does not mean I never make a mistake but it does mean I continually attempt to do what I feel is right. I realize that some competitors would rather attempt to bolster themselves by disparaging their competition and thus in their minds elevate themselves. In fact, this process of “trash talk” is unfortunately a mainstay in the political process today.

    In regards to the collector/consignor RIAC references: The man is an older man from the Dakotas. He used to run a construction company and over many, many years his business employed a number of Native Americans. During this time, working with the Sioux Indians and other tribes, he acquired various items that had come down from their families. On occasion, according to his representations to us, there were cases wherein he saw and discussed a gun, but the family would not sell. In such cases, he kept a record of the gun included the SN along with the story the family related and he documented these observations in a written journal he kept.

    The consignor/collector told us when visiting shows and gun shops, if he found a gun similar to one in his written journal that he would compare SN’s to see if there was a match. If there was, he bought it. He shared with us he had discovered a couple of guns recently that were in his original journal and they were now a part of the current consignment to us. It just so happens that the guns he bought from a dealer are those same guns that Rock Island mentions in their disparaging article.

    When cataloging guns, we try to make full disclosure if there is provenance, it is noted in our descriptions. In those cases where the only information we have is the documentation from his written journal and/or stories he had received from the Indian families that was pointed out also.

    Last week, two people contacted our firm advising us that 3 of the guns offered had been in Rock Island and Little John’s auction within the recent past. As I noted above, the consignor/collector had previously revealed a couple were recent purchases. However in checking the 3 guns, I discovered a serious contradiction with one. After much consideration, I made a decision to withdraw the entire consignment from auction.
    My actions were not those of a person conspiring to do wrong (as RIAC would have you believe) but on the contrary, highly conservative actions to ensure the right. The consignor/collector’s guns however are for the most part just as we represented them in our catalogs.

    In regards to Rock Island’s other pontifications, they remind me of an old saying that my grandmother used to use about “the pot calling the kettle black”, which is of course an idiom used to claim that a person is guilty of the very thing of which they accuse another.

    I. Regarding RIAC implication that they always attempt to do the right thing and somehow Julia’s has done something wrong because they withdrew an item or items from the auction. This is thoroughly confusing to me and the sale of a recent Carbine touted by them to have belonged to Napoleon III gives me pause for cause. The Carbine I refer to was Lot #9 in their April 20th, 21st, & 22nd, 2012 auction. RIAC specifically states in its description, “Carbine made by famous Paris gun maker Gastinne Renette for Napoleon Bonaparte’s nephew, Emperor Napoleon III”. The gun was estimated at $22,500-37,500. The buyer, trusting RIAC’s representation, purchased the gun for what he thought was a bargain and later consigned it to us, hoping and planning to make a lot of money. With good reason, if the gun indeed had definitely been made expressly for Napoleon III, it would have sold for considerably more than what it had sold for at RIAC auction. Once consigned to us, in the process of our due diligence, we became concerned to as whether it truly was made for Napoleon III. Normally, a gun such as this owned by an Emperor would carry his regal marks. We shared this with the consignor, but the consignor being convinced that the gun was Napoleon III”s because RIAC represented it that way. He pleaded with me not to use the phrase “purported to be”. After a great deal of consideration and because an attached newspaper article stated it was Napoleon III’s, we elected to change the wording to, “according to a newspaper account”. Shortly after my catalog went up online including the infamous carbine, we were immediately contacted by an attorney. There had been a big court case involving the carbine some years back and during this case, this attorney was responsible for an in-depth investigation of the carbine. His investigation clearly and convincingly proved what we had suspicioned, and that was that the carbine never belonged to Napoleon III. The attorney in his letter to me indicated that I was third person that he had contacted over the years about this misrepresentation. I had to go back to the consignor and share my newfound information and suggested to him under the circumstances that while I could reprint an addenda explaining all of this, I felt it was in his best interest to simply withdraw the gun, which he decided to do. Out of curiosity, I reconnected with the attorney who had told me that he had previously contacted 3 people. I asked if by chance he had contacted RIAC before they had sold this very same gun and his response to me was, not once but twice and yes, he had provided them with exactly all the information that he provided us with but RIAC apparently refused to acknowledge it when they sold the gun with their previously claimed attribution. The consignor immediately contacted RIAC with the revelation of all this information, it was pretty difficult for them not to refund the money. Which is what they did. This is the same auction house with the “holier than thou” approach pointing their finger at my firm and implying that we are not to be trusted??? As I said, an example of the “pot calling the kettle black”.

    II. Guarantees: Both Rock Island Auction House and my firm provide guarantees. But there is an extraordinarily dramatic difference between the guarantee provided by Rock Island and the guarantee provide by my auction house.

    1. Rock Island: Rock Island touts their guarantee as “a guarantee of the headline” of every single item in their premier firearms auction. Should that item not be as advertised in the items headline, RIAC will make it right via a full refund”.
    a) Please note: they did not mention regional firearms auctions. It is my understanding they guarantee nothing with regional firearms auction.
    b) In regards to the premier auctions, did you notice that they say headline only. What this means is that they guarantee the title only so if the title is “Model 1886 Winchester rifle”, the title only is guaranteed. Does that give you a warm and fuzzy feeling knowing that when you buy that rifle from Rock Island, they absolutely guarantee that it is Winchester and a Model 1886, but nothing else?
    c) So there can be no confusion as to what is guaranteed, under point 9 in their Conditions of Sale, it states “Guarantee. All property for sale is as is, where is. All sales are final. There will be no refunds and no exchanges. RIAC does not guarantee or make warranties on any lot sold”.

    Please compare that with the Julia guarantee.

    2. James D. Julia: We provide a special limited warranty for all items that we offer at auction. We are currently unaware of any other major firearms auction house in the world whose guarantee equals or exceeds ours. Every firearms auction house that we are aware of has a similar Conditions of Sale as that of RIAC. Essentially caveat emptor, buyer beware, sold “as is, where is”. At Julia’s, we do not hide behind “caveat emptor”:
    a. Our guarantee which is the first item on our Conditions of Sale in the front of the auction catalog and states as follows, “Guarantee: We have attempted to make a consistent effort in cataloging and describing the property to be sold. The catalog descriptions carry a limited guarantee. It is a guarantee to protect you against major discrepancies that would have a major effect upon value. Under no circumstances do we guarantee against anything less than a major discrepancy that would have less than a major effect upon the value. This limited guarantee covers authenticity. It also covers any major restoration or repairs not described. Also we guarantee against fakes, reproductions or major fabrications.
    b. Our guarantee is good for 45 days from the date of the auction so that all buyers have ample opportunity to obtain the item, examine it, and verify that there is no major issues with their item. Therefore, if we had made a mistake with one of the items RIAC is pontificating about, our clients unlike RIAC’s clients (at least per their Conditions of Sale in their catalog) after proving our mistake would have full right for a full money back refund.

    Julia’s does not hide behind caveat emptor but our guarantee is not the only thing that we do.

    c. Special consultants and experts. Since we hold ourselves to a higher standard and guarantee all objects, it is extremely important that we are as correct as possible. To that extent, we hire special consultants to catalog our guns. These special consultants are some of the most knowledgeable in their specific field. Many are recognized in their field as authorities and in some cases are noted authors, most are also active in the trade. They hold not only the necessary scholarly knowledge but they are also able to detect between what is right and what is wrong while at the same time coming up with a reasonably intelligent estimate.

    But the guarantee together with the considerable expense for hiring special consultants, still does not ensure perfection.

    d. Review and solicitation of input. Any of you who have ever attended a James D. Julia Auction know at the very beginning in my opening remarks one of the things I clearly state is that if you are aware of a problem or issue that was somehow missed in our cataloging process be certain to bring it to our attention before we sell the item. If something is wrong, we will:

    1. Put a note beside the lot indicating it;
    2. Make a correction in my catalog to be announced at the time of sale;
    3. Notify all absentee bidders of this new found issue;
    4. Post a notice on the website;

    Our reasoning is that if our staff and our specific consultant missed something, surely one of the many hundreds of eyes reviewing the guns will pick up what we might have missed. If someone does come to us and tell us of a problem, we always thank them for bringing it to our attention. As I have said over and over here, we try to do the right thing.

    III. Regarding RIAC Attempt to Vilify Us Because One of the Cataloguers Statements in their Description: Judging our company by one statement a cataloguer made in our catalog, “fool your enemies, sell them this great fake”, is rather farfetched. As I said early on, I have a number of consultants that provide my descriptions. It is expected from them that they will:

    a) Attempt to describe the item correctly;
    b) Point out significant problems and issues;
    c) If they question authenticity, bring it to my attention.

    I do not read all the descriptions after they are written and had I read this description, I would have extracted that statement. I know that the cataloger was attempting to express to his reader that this was such a great copy that it would fool anyone. Many of my catalogers not only bring in scholarly knowledge and valued information but sometimes they inject what they consider to be personal or humorous remarks. Such was the case here. It has nothing to do with the implication of our honesty or lack thereof. Most nearly anyone who has done business with us for any period of time, who knows our firm, knows our reputation, knows our continued and sincere efforts to be honest would likely never think the worst in a statement such as this. on the other hand, if we were an auction house that from time to time were embroiled in questionable handling of things, were we from time to time sued by people for what we did or did not do, etc.; then that rash statement could have a far greater revealing implication.

    In conclusion, RIAC makes a sweeping statement about fake guns which is untrue. When these guns were cataloged, our descriptions were based on information and facts we had concerning the guns and in most cases, these guns are exactly as cataloged. In one case, I discovered a significant issue and it was because of this that I elected to withdraw the items.

    Thank you again for notifying me and giving me an opportunity to share the true facts of the matter as opposed to those of an envious competitor.


    Jim Julia

    • If you truly are a honest and trustworthy businessman and have no desire to defraud, misinform or otherwise deceive buyers, you should be the last one referring to handwritten “records” as “documentation”. There is nothing more easily faked and more worthless in terms of proving “provenance” than family “stories” and personal diaries, journals etc. claimed to be from previous owners. Factory letters from the manufacturer and other much more reliable historical documentation is available for many firearms. Producing “documentation” in “handwritten” form is a joke, and anyone wishing to sell a fake gun is going to think nothing of faking the “documentation”. I’ve watched a lot of the “Forgotten Weapons” videos for both YOUR COMPANY and your supposedly dishonest “competitor” Rock Island. If RIAC is so deplorable and you’re so honorable, why do you let the same “expert” represent you on YouTube?

    • I loved that African axe you sold for $2300 as one of Wendall’s ‘Little Big Horn…hand made hatchet’ that definitely belonged to He-Dog & that he definitely used it to finish off Custer. All based entirely on the 5 holes in the blade that Wendell said ID it.! Seriously? I’ve seen more fake tomahawks come out of Julia than any other large auction house. i’m not saying Rock Island is any better but I do know Julia is incredibly over rated.

  13. Since most people aren’t going to read down many pages to see this, you should either append the reply to the blog entry or post it as a top level entry of its own. That’s the only fair thing to do.

  14. Calling the kettle black? I am a professional Forensic Genealogist of more than 25 years’ experience and I also happen to enjoy dabbling in cowboy and western antique items. When I saw a suspicious CDV from my home state of Wyoming come up for auction at R.I.A. it did not take me but 10 minutes to debunk the stated “history” of the imaged individual. I wrote two emails to Rock Island auction house in plenty of time to amend their item description. My last email being at least 10 days out from the online auction.
    The item description was never changed to reflect the person’s true contributions which were far from the trumped up claims and the photograph sold for a horrendously large amount.
    Shame on you.

  15. The Rock Island Auction Company is the most morally corrupt, unprofessional, unethical and “swindling” auction house to be currently operating! The so-called in house “firearms expert”, Richard Ellis, is nothing more than a “lieing con-man” that Pat Hogan, (president and owner of the R.I.A.C.), personally uses to manipulate, like a “Puppet on a String”! Richard Ellis is a convicted “Felon” that has a proven history of “swindling” unsuspecting innocent others by (reporting lies) instead of the true facts on a “specific antique firearm”, in the unprofessional, unethical and unlawful attempt to greatly reduce the selling price of a rare gun, or artificially inflate the selling price of a non-rare gun! The opposite is also true of the combined efforts of both Pat Hogan and Richard Ellis, as when working in collaboration to use “whatever disscription” that they both deem appropriate to obtain their “Swindling” objectives! This is a corrupt auction house that is run by a man, Patrick Hogan, that himself is built of truly unethical moral fiber. A in-house employee, Richard Ellis (felon/con-man) that is the self appointed “firearms expert”, that Hogan turns to and works with to manipulate whatever firearm they both choose to select. This is the unethical foundation that this company was, is and continues to be operated under, to this day! In this writers opinion, the Rock Island Auction Company is no different than the old saying; “the inmates are the ones that ate running the prison”! Thank you for your time in this matter, “concerned citizen”. 08/19/2015

  16. The quote in the last text should be corrected to read; “The inmates (are) the ones running the prison”! * The word (are) was miss spelled (ate)! So much for little keyboards and big fingers! Lol…. But I am quite that everyone that read the first quote knew exactly what point this writer was making.

  17. Obviously Julia’s didn’t research those “provenances” very well, since a basic google search with the serial number will bring up the listing from where it was sold, if it was listed on the internet in recent times. What I wonder is, does Rock Island do the kind of search that would reveal any similar falsehoods or any “rare” variant or historical piece that they are preparing to list? How easy is it to get Rock Island to take something back if a remorseful buyer isn’t confident in the provenance provided?

  18. Auction houses are in the business to make money–period. I have seen item lots “carefully” worded by both James Julia and Rock Island to draw in perspective bidders. In some descriptions I have seen volumes and volumes of documentation addressing the historical accounts of the person whom “may have” used the listed antique firearm. But when it comes right down to it—their was no proof or actual evidence or solid providence of the firearm being connected the described historic figure. Often such listing documentation is misleading to the perspective buyers, especially to novice buyers. It’s important for any perspective buyer to truly be aware, and knowledgeable of the item what he or she is bidding on. We as buyers need to be responsible and accountable for what we bid on, buy, and of course who we do business with. I must say that customer service goes a long way in doing good business and future business with returning customers. I had experience buying concerns with both companies. The resolution of the issues were quite different with both companies. Issue one involved the “winning” of a colt revolver from RIA company. Upon receipt of the firearm, I found the firearm site was “filed” on. The filing or modification of the rear site was not noted in the catalog nor shown in the photographs. The firearm was returned to RIA. RIA first apologized for the error and cheerfully refunded my monies. My experience with James Julia was most different for issue two. After several e-mails and numerous phone calls (voice mails) to James Julia to resolve a purchasing issue, no responses was ever returned by Mr. Julia or his staff. Moreover, I later made a visit to his auction house to address my concerns personally with Mr. Julia. When I arrived at the Julia auction house, I parked in the rear of the parking lot and experienced some difficulty in finding the front door to enter the auction house main office. By luck and perhaps fate, Mr. Julia opened his adjacent office window to “kindly greet me and direct me to the front door of his establishment. Though I knew the appearance of Mr. Julia from his catalogue photos, Mr. Julia did not know me by my appearance as when have never formally met. When I entered the front door and lobby of his auction house, I was kindly greeted by Mr. Julia’s receptionist. I gave her my name and asked to speak with Mr. Julia regarding a concern. I shared that I have traveled a long way and wanted to discuss my concerns regarding a recent auction. The receptionist followed up with a call to the “back office” to share who I was and the purpose of my visit. After 20 to 30 seconds on the phone, she hung up the phone, and stated ” Mr. Julia is not in today”. I corrected her and informed her that I just have spoken with him a few minutes ago from his window of the side parking lot. The receptionist remained most adamant that Mr. Julia was not on site for the day! The auction issue was never resolved nor did ever heard back from Mr. Julia. Certainly when it comes to good customer service, it’s important keep channels open for effective communication and for effective healthy resolution of any customer service issue. To this day, I am appreciative of the approach RIA took in their customer service to this customer. Saddened and surprised of the non customer service approach taken by the Julia company.

    • High dough that sence the way to get in to the place is in front of building as soon as you drive in. You sound like it’s a secret.

  19. Its very interesting that “Jim Julia” placed a reply in the comment section basically trashing RIAC and defending James D. Julia and “his” business practices, reputation, honesty, fairness, ethics, etc. Or maybe THAT isn’t as interesting as the fact that both RIAC and James D. Julia use the same online “expert” to produce “documentary videos” of their upcoming auction guns and have those videos posted on YouTube. The “expert” goes by the name of Ian something or other and has made a pile of videos for both auction houses/services. The same individual has multiple YouTube channels, probably the most “famous” being “Forgotten Weapons”. I find the subject material of the pre-auction videos he makes to be fascinating since the majority of the “historical firearms” he advertises, which is all it boils down to, are supposedly so rare and unusual and old that they’re all but unknown. Many are also “prototypes”, but interestingly virtually all of them display a ridiculous level of fit, finish, detail and “polish” that are completely absent from known and documented prototypes of more famous guns from famous makers. Generally prototypes are for “proof of concept” and to work out the basic mechanical details and fundamentals, and appearance, finish and details like perfect machine work, precise stock fitting, top-quality materials etc are overlooked. Not so with the “historical guns” being sold by by RIAC and James D. Julia. It’s also worth mentioning that historically “firearms” (known as “guns” before anti-gunners and Europeans became heavily involved in the old guns “industry”) and “firearms collecting” (formerly known as gun collecting) were both relatively pedestrian and there wasn’t a huge interest in super “rare” guns because in anything exceedingly “rare” there is such limited opportunity to participate. Gun collecting was also one of the FIRST major “collecting” hobbies and from its beginning has been a “dangerous” hobby because of the number of frauds, fakes and con artists involved. Like all “collecting” hobbies, a handful of “experts” literally “write the book”, and by self-publishing a book about a certain gun, an expert can be the original con artist and literally fake an entire gun “story” beginning with the guns themselves.

    And of course now that gun collecting is looked on by some as an “investment”, with lots of foreign money flooding the U.S. along with foreign collectors and foreign guns, the opportunities for fraud are infinite. Americans are simply too trusting of anyone with a foreign accent, and get taken for a ride in all of the collecting hobbies. Especially when they’re looking to “invest” long-term and figure nobody would sell a fake anything if its to be kept long-term given the possibility of the forgery or fake being discovered should increase over time.

    Its also worth mentioning that gun collectors historically and in general have not been about the money. They collect guns that appeal to them and its about acquiring guns and SPENDING money. Not acquiring guns and MAKING money. Which is why so many “prominent” collectors are not wealthy by any means and many have died essentially broke. The hobby is also fairly limited in exposure and publicity and there is lots of internal competition, networking and cooperation. Which is why despite gun collecting being a serious hobby for a lot of people for a long time, dedicated gun auction houses are a relatively recent creation. A great deal of inter-collector gun deals are by TRADE, because obviously selling guns SHOULD come with tax consequences.

    And anyone knows that an auction is the WORST place to get a “good deal” on anything truly “collectible”. Its a safe bet that most of the “collectors” purchasing guns at public internet auctions from the likes of RIAC and James D. Julia are rookies, wannabe investor/speculators and other noobs easily impressed or deceived. Or they’re spending other peoples’ money, which is the case with many purchases by “museums” funded with tax dollars and private donations.

    If that weren’t the case, there wouldn’t be con artists out there willing to advertise guns with ridiculous, unprovable claims of prior ownership using “stories” and “documentation” in the form of handwritten letters, statements and the like allegedly provided by the “family” of prior owners. Because such “documentation” is not only worthless AS “documentation” given the ease with which it can be faked, even when legitimate its nothing but a written copy of hearsay.

  20. “Documentation” is a tenious thing! I have been collecting for 60 years and have seen some pretty incredible shenanigans on the part of gun dealers and auction houses. I remember a friend who was a dealer selling a bad Harpers Ferry pistol to a new collector who, when he found out lost interest in collecting. I asked the dealer “why do that, this guy has plenty of money and would have been a long term customer?” His answer was “Just for the Hell of it, besides he should learn about something before he buys it”
    On the documentation side, there is a tomahawk attributed to a very well known historical figure that is accepted unconditionally because of its documentation, that documentation is nothing more than an early 1900’s newspaper article quoting someone as saying it belonged to that person.
    Arms and Armour are very pricey these days, attributions only increase these values, “Caveat Emptor” is the order of the day!

    • Can you guess how many thousands of Colt Thunderers were owned by Billy The Kid ?

      European reproductions of almost any original
      use metric threads — easy to check !

  21. This is bitterly ironic as I once bought a Parker B grade from RIA that was fake and when I registered a complaint, none other than Hogan the CEO lectured me “we are an auction house not an authentication house” !!!!

  22. Glad James Julia defended him self of a B.s. article. Even tho sold now will always be an honest Auction house of the past. It’s not always about money. What you internet people don’t understand you have so much stuff coming in you can only do so much research but be as honest as you can. This was a test article from Rock Island Antiques obviously has more time to put out smut pieces that worry about their company.
    Thanks, Jacob Farrin

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