Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC), reports record-setting sales of more than $121 million for the first time in company history.
With a total of 21 auctions in the last 12 months, RIAC hosted the four largest firearms auctions ever held, including December 2020 ($22 million), May 2021 ($30 million), September 2021 ($24 million), and December 2021 ($25.2 million,) says a news release from the company.
Rock Island Auction Company is recognized as the premier firearms auction house in the world for collectors at every level, the release says. The company has developed multiple platforms to view and/or bid on auction items. In 2021, RIAC drew bidders from 26 different countries and all 50 states, as well as bidders from the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C.
“Every year we continue to see more people express interest in collecting historic firearms. People are seeing the value behind investing in a piece of history and are realizing that art doesn’t just hang on the wall,” said Kevin Hogan, President of Rock Island Auction Company. “This year was a milestone for our brand, with more than 30,000 firearms and related items selling. In the last 12 months, we had two items sell for more than $1 million and another sell for more than $2 million, which was the Napoleon Garniture that sold in December’s Premier Auction.”
The company’s legacy and expertise in the industry has led it to present some of the finest collector arms publicly available. In May 2021, Rock Island Auction Company hosted the largest firearms auction ever held, with $30 million in realized sales. In December 2021, Rock Island Auction Company’s final Premier Auction event of the calendar year presented the Napoleon Garniture, a stunning and historic six-piece collection, which sold to a phone bidder for $2.875 million, capping a year that saw more than 50 pieces achieve six-figure price tags.
Highlights throughout 2021
Napoleon Presentation Garniture of Six Arms from Boutet ($2,875,000; December 2021)
The iconic presentation Garniture of Napoleon Bonaparte is well respected, not only as an art piece but also for its historical significance. The Napoleon Garniture features six masterfully crafted pieces, including a rifled carbine, a pair of rifled carriage pistols, a pair of pocket pistols, and a “glaive” sword and scabbard. The set was presented to Napoleon in 1797 by the French Directory, and it was crafted by one of the most renowned European arms makers in history, Nicholas-Noel Boutet of the Versailles Manufactory.
Alexander Hamilton’s Flintlock Holster Pistols and Epaulettes($1,150,000; May 2021)
A pair of national treasure flintlock holster pistols inscribed with Alexander Hamilton’s initials sold in May during Rock Island Auction Company’s spring Premier Auction. The pistols were presented to the founding father and first United States Secretary of the Treasury by his father-in-law, General Philip Schuyler. Included with his pistols were Hamilton’s epaulettes, which he wore during his service in the Continental Army. Hamilton’s artifacts served as the flagship of the three-day auction, which realized more than $30 million, becoming the largest firearms auction ever held.
L.D. Nimschke Engraved Solid Silver Winchester Model 1866 Rifle($977,500; December 2021)
This iconic gun, memorialized on the cover of Winchester Magazine, was presented at Rock Island Auction Company’s December Premier Auction. The L.D. Nimschke engraved solid silver Winchester Model 1866 rifle transcends firearms collecting as an object of art. Recognized as one of the most extravagant Winchesters ever created, the gun features a cast solid silver frame, six solid silver bands, solid silver mounts, carrier block, end cap, and lever. The gun was made as a presentation from the President of Peru, Jose Balta, to the President of Bolivia, Mariano Melgarejo.
Jack Crawford & James Barton Adams Presentation Winchester 1873 ($718,750; September 2021)
Presented by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company to Jack Crawford in 1902, the Winchester Deluxe Model 1873 lever action rifle with dual presentation plaques sold at auction in September 2021 for $718,750. The beautifully crafted firearm started as a carbine in 1895 and was factory converted into a rifle by Winchester in 1897 for exhibition at several World’s Fairs. This spectacular piece was presented to John “Captain Jack” Wallace Crawford in 1902. In 1903, Crawford had a plaque engraved on the other side of the rifle and gave it to his dear friend James Adams. The rifle features factory scrolls and panel scene engraving that includes a buck on the left side plate. Additionally, it holds 99 percent of the nickel finish and 98 percent of the gold finish, which led the piece to sell at twice its estimated price.
J. Ulrich Exhibition Relief Engraved Winchester Model 1873 Rifle ($718,750; May 2021)
Engraved by John Ulrich, this Winchester model was commissioned as a factory display piece for the 1876 Centennial Exposition and later presented by the company to the Honduran President Marco A. Soto. The beautifully crafted rifle features meticulously engraved wilderness scenes including buffalo hunting, elk hunting, a moose, a bear, a turkey, an elk, a squirrel in a tree, and a fox. The condition, depth of engraving, execution and style makes this Winchester a defining piece.
One of 100 Winchester Model 1876 Lever Action Rifle ($690,000; September 2021)
Both rare and historically significant, this One of One Hundred Winchester Model 1876 lever action rifle was the first ever shipped and perhaps the only example featuring silver inlaid bands. The Winchester Model 1876 has a distinctive “One of One Hundred” inscription surrounded by factory scroll engraving and a silver band at the breech, and a silver blade front sight with dovetailed base. This piece was originally on display during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia and is believed to be one of only seven or eight ever manufactured.
Confederate Columbus Arsenal Bronze 9-Pounder($661,250; May 2021)
Rock Island Auction Company presented the 1863 Dated Columbus Arsenal Bronze 9-Pounder in May 2021. This scarce piece was one of only five manufactured in 1863 before the arsenal was destroyed in April 1865 by Union raiders. The historic Confederate cannon features its original carriage, limber, and cannon balls. Archival documents show that the cannon was to be received as part of the Coosa River bridge defense in 1864.
Bat Masterson’s Colt Single Action Army Revolver and Holster Rig($488,750; May 2021)
Bat Masterson’s Colt Single Action Army revolver and holster rig are recognized as a great symbol of law enforcement. An American legend, western lawmen, and gunfighter, Masterson was known to have been involved in multiple shootouts of the Wild West in the 1870s and 1880s. Over the years, he became close friends with President Theodore Roosevelt. The gun features a high front sight, special ordered by Bat Masterson himself.
Presentation Pair of Engraved Remington New Model Army Revolvers($460,000; May 2021)
This set of 19th century percussion revolvers symbolizes art and the friendship between President Abraham Lincoln and Czar Alexander II of Russia. These “mirror image” engraved revolvers feature a blue and silver finish with carved antique ivory grips. The pair of army revolvers were specially engraved by New York master engraver L. D. Nimschke after the departure of the Russian Imperial Atlantic Fleet in April of 1864.
Crystal Palace Exhibition Gastinne-Renette Percussion Pistols($345,000; September 2021)
Made by award-winning Parisian firearms creator, Louis-Julien Gastinne-Renette, these percussion pistols were on display in London, 1851, during the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry, also referenced as the Great Exhibition or Crystal Palace Exhibition. While the design of these pistols follows the same basic form of many French dueling and target pistols, these pistols have intricate, highly sculpted Gothic architectural elements and delicately shaped leaf designs. Period documents state, “At the London Exposition, Gastinne Renette Pistols carried off all honors, for being the best made and ornamented Pistol exhibited.” This cased pair makes it easy to see why.
1911 Production Serial Number 9 Colt Model 1911 Pistol($322,000; May 2021)
Manufactured during the first year of production, this pistol is one of the very first 1911 pistols ever produced. The U.S. Colt Model 1911 pistol was assembled in the first block of 40 models at the Colt plant on the very first day of production in December 1911. As a result of the late start, Colt had only completed 51 pistols in the first year of production, making this piece exceptionally rare and unique.
Colt No. 5 Squareback Model Texas Paterson Revolver($431,250; December 2021)
This Colt No. 5 Squareback Model Texas Paterson revolver is one of a select few silver banded variations of the reported 1,000 Texas Paterson revolvers manufactured by Samuel Colt’s Patent Arms Manufacturing Company from 1838-1840. This exceptionally rare revolver with nine silver bands and astonishing blue finishing came in a case with its original tools and in excellent condition. The No. 5 Holster Model revolvers were the largest of all the Paterson handguns and achieved fame as a result of their use by Captain Jack Hays and other Rangers on the Texas frontier.
Colt Single Action Army Revolver Owned by General Emory Upton($345,000; December 2021)
What could be one of the most remarkable Colt firearms known to exist, this Colt Single Action Army Revolver once belonged to Major General Emory Upton. Known as the “Father of the Modern United States Army,” General Upton was a true American hero who spent his life dedicated to saving the lives of American servicemen through improved tactics, training and planning. This presentation grade, special order firearm is an example of a Colt Single Action Army revolver, one of the most famous handguns in history and the first of the two major “Colt .45s” of the American military.
For more information, visit Rock Island Auction Company’s End of the Year Highlights.
About Rock Island Auction Company
Rock Island Auction Company is the world’s No. 1 uction company for firearms, bladed weapons and militaria. Founded in 1993 by its current CEO Patrick Hogan, RIAC continues to lead the industry with record sales numbers. Its 150,000-square-foot campus consists of two buildings and hosts about 18 auctions each year. They actively seek consignments, whether it’s a single weapon or a collection of hundreds. For more information, visit the website here.