The First Great Firearms Sale of the Decade

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By Scott Mayer

Rock Island Auction
http://rockislandauction.com/

Auction Dates April 20-22

Included in the auction are several of the more curious guns and gun-like items such as this F.C. Taylor Fur Getter Trap Gun. In use, bait was put on the hook and when the animal took the bait, it pulled the trigger firing the gun. The result probably does not need explanation.

Included in the auction are several of the more curious guns and gun-like items such as this F.C. Taylor Fur Getter Trap Gun. In use, bait was put on the hook and when the animal took the bait, it pulled the trigger firing the gun. The result probably does not need explanation.

Several areas of collecting are represented including minis. I counted 17 ranging from miniature flintlock blunderbuss with a carved ivory stock and functioning lock to this Thompson 1928 sub gun with detachable magazine and shoulder stock. It even simulates open-bolt operation and has a functional safety.

Several areas of collecting are represented including minis. I counted 17 ranging from miniature flintlock blunderbuss with a carved ivory stock and functioning lock to this Thompson 1928 sub gun with detachable magazine and shoulder stock. It even simulates open-bolt operation and has a functional safety.

There is a factory Fitz Special in the catalog. J.H. Fitzgerald, or “Fitz,” was Colt’s ballistic expert and police training consultant from 1918 to 1944. This was one of his unique designs so the gun could be fired from inside a pocket.

There is a factory Fitz Special in the catalog. J.H. Fitzgerald, or “Fitz,” was Colt’s ballistic expert and police training consultant from 1918 to 1944. This was one of his unique designs so the gun could be fired from inside a pocket.

If you’re just looking for a new deer rifle, there are plenty of lots like this one that has two modern Winchester Model 70 rifles.

If you’re just looking for a new deer rifle, there are plenty of lots like this one that has two modern Winchester Model 70 rifles.

The R. J. Braverman Corp Pen Pistol was modeled after the Stinger Pen Pistols used by C.I.A. and O.S.S. agents.

The R. J. Braverman Corp Pen Pistol was modeled after the Stinger Pen Pistols used by C.I.A. and O.S.S. agents.

Advanced Winchester or Western collectors will want to consider this documented original Winchester Model 1873 “One of One Thousand” rifles chambered in .44-40.

Advanced Winchester or Western collectors will want to consider this documented original Winchester Model 1873 “One of One Thousand” rifles chambered in .44-40.

This cased presentation Colt No. 3 Belt Model Paterson revolver with full complement of accessories is “fresh” meaning it has never before been offered at auction.

This cased presentation Colt No. 3 Belt Model Paterson revolver with full complement of accessories is “fresh” meaning it has never before been offered at auction.

When you grasped the handle of this Hitler “Night Pistol” Luger, your skin conductivity completed a circuit between the two brass panels illuminating a tactical light at the muzzle.

When you grasped the handle of this Hitler “Night Pistol” Luger, your skin conductivity completed a circuit between the two brass panels illuminating a tactical light at the muzzle.

Modern handguns are part of this auction. This Smith & Wesson Model 500 is one of several .500 S&W revolvers cataloged.

Modern handguns are part of this auction. This Smith & Wesson Model 500 is one of several .500 S&W revolvers cataloged.

This is “Tim’s” Colt Navy Cartridge revolver serial number 1. It has remained in his family for the past 142 years and this is the first time it has been seen outside the family.

This is “Tim’s” Colt Navy Cartridge revolver serial number 1. It has remained in his family for the past 142 years and this is the first time it has been seen outside the family.

It’s not often you get a chance to buy a real Gatling Gun. The one up for auction includes an original carriage and field limber.

It’s not often you get a chance to buy a real Gatling Gun. The one up for auction includes an original carriage and field limber.

It would not be unreasonable to expect a typical Cowboy Action shooter to bid on this Tristar 411 side-by-side to use in competition.

It would not be unreasonable to expect a typical Cowboy Action shooter to bid on this Tristar 411 side-by-side to use in competition.

If you’re not interested in bidding on a rare or historical fowling piece, you might be interested in one of the many Benelli lots.

If you’re not interested in bidding on a rare or historical fowling piece, you might be interested in one of the many Benelli lots.

There is an amazing number of 1911 pistols going up for auction ranging from the very earliest collectable guns to modern production ones.

There is an amazing number of 1911 pistols going up for auction ranging from the very earliest collectable guns to modern production ones.

Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC) is holding an auction later this month that it’s billing as “The Great Firearms Sale of the Decade.” That’s a pretty bold claim, even for the “nation’s leading auction house for firearms, edged weapons, and military artifacts,” so I did some checking to see what all the hype was about. I wanted to know not only what was going to be auctioned that makes this one so great, but also what the auction is like for sellers and buyers. Was this an auction just for well-heeled collectors and museum staff, or could an ordinary gun owner such as me simply find a deer rifle? Why would someone choose to sell a gun by auction in the first place, and of the major gun auction houses, what should I look for if I was going to sell off a collection?

The first thing that struck me as I browsed through the 3,158 lots is that 3,158 lots is a heck of a lot of stuff—most of which is guns! In fact, it’s so much stuff that this auction is going to take three days: April 20, 21 and 22. At first, I thought RIAC had sent me two catalogs, but the auction is so big that it takes up two huge spiral-bound volumes. Many lots contain more than one gun, so there are even more guns here than you realize.

The second thing that struck me was the variety of guns. RIAC is referring to this auction as an “encyclopedic selection” of firearms, and I’ll give them that and add it’s also encyclopedic regarding firearms development. Lots range from ancient Japanese matchlocks to modern machineguns with everything in between including modern sporting guns and some of the more curious gun stuff like alarm guns and miniatures. Specific areas of collecting that are heavily represented include Colt and Winchester, and the number of military guns is simply incredible including a mostly complete German collection and the finest Luger collection RIAC has ever offered.

History

For pure history buffs, pieces that really stand out to me include such things as a Georg Luger Model 1902 Carbine presented to Hugo Borchardt. Reportedly, those two were not exactly fond of each other (I’ve seen the term “bitter enemies” used) and it’s believed this DWM presentation gun in some way paid homage to Brochardt for his role in developing the toggle lock design used in the Luger.

I knew President Lincoln was a shooter, but I really think he is more appropriately labeled a gun nut. He used to shoot on the south lawn of the White House and even functioned as chief of ordnance by testing new weapons himself. Can you imagine the amazing array of guns he got to shoot as President during that period of rapid firearms development? In this auction, is a cased, three-barrel set Maynard single-shot percussion rifle/shotgun attributed to President Lincoln. It even has a fired target believed to be his with the initials “AL” on it. It’s a 10-shot group on a 3×3 ½-inch target, which is pretty darn good shooting.

If there is one type of man-made item through which the past 800 or so years of world history can be told, it’s guns, and there are more guns in this auction tied specifically to world history than I can list. There are guns attributed to Emperor Napoleon III, King George III, Viktor Lutze, and the U.S.S. Maine just to name a few.

Development

I’ve been a gun technology nut for the past 30 years having researched and studied everything from semi- and fully-automatic muzzleloaders to electromagnetic rail and super high velocity light-gas guns and even I was surprised at some of the gun technology represented in this auction. For example, Surefire tactical lights and Crimson Trace laser grips are “new” products, but the Nazis were using similar technology. This auction includes a Hitler “Night Pistol” that I have never seen before. It’s basically a .30-caliber Luger pistol with a tactical light and battery mounted under the muzzle much like a modern Surefire. Wires go back to the right grip panel and attach to a pair of brass plates in the grip. When you grasp the gun, skin conductivity completes the circuit between the brass plates and illuminates the light!

If you’re interested in following the general development of firearms, this auction has several examples of guns along the procession. Just skimming the catalog you’ll find matchlocks, flintlocks, miquelets, percussion, pinfire, teat-fire, volcanic, and conventional cartridge guns. There are muzzleloaders, breechloaders, rimfires, rear-loading revolvers, front-loading revolvers, single-shots, bolt-actions, lever-actions (including pistols), semi-automatics, fully-automatics and even artillery.

Sporting Guns

It’s easy to get the impression that this auction is all about rare and collectible guns, but it’s not. While those are the emphasis, this auction is also chocked full of new, modern rifles, handguns, and shotguns. This could easily be a place for you to pick up anything from a new Smith & Wesson .500 Mag. revolver to a Benelli Super Black Eagle shotgun.

An Amazing Find

One of the truly rare guns in this auction is an exhibition engraved and cased Colt Navy cartridge revolver. It is serial number 1 and, in December 1871, Colt presented it to Lewis Sheldon who was Colt’s paymaster during the Civil War. The story of how this gun got to auction is one of those “once-in-a-lifetime” stories, and I was fortunate that RIAC put me in touch with the gun’s owner, Sheldon’s great, great, great, grandson, “Tim.” Thanks to Tim, not only did I get to hear the wonderful story of this gun, but also get insight into dealing with RIAC from a seller’s perspective.

Tim is not a gun collector. In fact, he’s not a gun guy at all and explained to me how all of his life, this gun had never been anything more than a family heirloom that his grandmother kept in her cedar chest. The boys played with it when they were young, and the family would get it out now and then to look at it. It has been in the family for 141 years, and has never been seen outside the family until now.

The gun’s “discovery” started in July 2010 when Tim and his wife returned home to collect the last of their belongings from their parents’ houses. “We were literally getting ready to leave when I remembered the gun,” Tim told me during a telephone interview. “I just jammed it in the back along with the suitcases. When we got home, I put the gun in our cedar chest, because, well, that’s what my family does with guns,” laughed Tim.

The story could have easily ended there were it not for one of Tim’s neighbors, Randy, who’s a competitive shooter with a healthy interest in guns. Once while Tim was visiting him, the subject of the gun came up.

“I knew it was a Colt, but that’s about the extent of it,” Tim said. “I started to describe it [to Randy] and the more I talked the wider his eyes got and by the time I was done his jaw was on the floor. We went over to my house to look at it, and he turns it over and sees it’s serial number 1. He didn’t know what the gun was either, but he knew enough to have it looked at.”

Tim started to search for more information about the gun and the man it was presented to. He knew Sheldon was his great, great, great grandfather, but didn’t know he had worked for Colt, much less why he was given the gun.

“It’s similar to an 1861 Navy,” says Tim during our phone call, “but not the same.”

Factory records that far back are sketchy at best and Colt’s historian wasn’t able to provide any information on the gun, Lewis Sheldon, or why the gun was presented to him. Not deterred, Tim turned to the Internet to see if anyone in cyberspace had information. The online community proved very helpful and directed Tim to the Colt Collector’s Association. He was also directed to a couple of firearm auction houses, including RIAC.

Kevin Williams and Dennis Russell from the collector’s association pointed toward the gun as being a transition piece. Rollin White’s patent on bored-through cylinders had recently expired and gun companies were taking advantage of it by coming up with different ways to chamber the new rimmed metallic cartridges. Williams and Russell also discovered that Sheldon worked for Colt.

Hoping RIAC might have additional information, Tim blindly sent a photo of the gun through their website with a message saying he didn’t know what the gun was.

“It was a Friday evening or Saturday morning…” when Tim emailed RIAC “…and on Sunday morning I got a call from them.”

Since that first call, RIAC, and in particular expert Richard Ellis, provided the most information about the Colt. According to Tim, often when Ellis turned up a new bit of information there were doubters who then went on and did their own research only to end up agreeing with Ellis.

Since Tim had initiated the contact, RIAC understandably asked if he was interested in putting the gun up for auction, but he was not. Instead, the Colt moved from its cedar chest to a safe deposit box where it sat for the next six months. RIAC was still keen on it, though, and its president, Pat Hogan, personally called Tim early on to see if he wanted to sell it. The answer was still no, but Tim assured Pat that if it were to go to auction, RIAC would get first crack at it.

In late 2011, Tim started to feel that keeping the gun was wrong. It certainly has great sentimental value, but Tim is the kind of guy who recognizes the importance of the piece as it relates to American history. I’ve seen it referred to as a “national treasure,” but stored away by Tim, it was just a gun in a vault.

“I want it to be in the hands of someone who will appreciate it at a level my family or I never could,” explained Tim.

In December, Tim contacted RIAC to say he “might be willing to do something,” and from there things went quickly. “The gun has been sitting with nothing happening for 140 years and in the past month and a half things have gone crazy,” Tim told me.

The gun was unknown to collectors at that point, so what better way to unveil it than at the Las Vegas Antique Arms Show. There, serious collectors would be able to see it and maybe more information would turn up, so RIAC flew a representative to meet Tim and get the gun for the show.

“We met in a parking lot at Wendy’s,” Tim said with a laugh. Up to then, the folks at RIAC had seen only pictures of the gun. “Richard Ellis told me he had to sit down when he saw it in person.”

Without question, the Colt has monetary value—probably significant monetary value. But as with any unique item that is “fresh” on the market, there is no buying or selling history on which to base a pre-auction estimate.

“I discussed selling the gun with my dad,” Tim explained. The Colt had always been a gun in a cedar chest to the family, but now with it’s potential value understood, it had become a gun in a safe. Tim and his father had to ask themselves if Tim’s grandmother had left them gun, or a chance to have a better life.

In a very selfless act of great benefit to collectors, the family chose the latter. “I kind of wish it had not been as valuable so I could show it at gun shows, but it’s too valuable for me to do that,” Tim said. A significant amount of money will likely change hands, but as Tim explained to me, “The real value is what it spurred us to do to find out about our family. If the new owners find a new tidbit about my family’s history, that’s priceless. I don’t think the auction is the end of the story for us.”

When asked what it was like dealing with RIAC, Tim said he couldn’t have been happier. “It would have been easy for someone to fleece us for $20,000…” Tim admitted, “…but RIAC didn’t do that. They were patient with us. They gave us our space. They were good to us, they were good to the gun, and they earned our trust.”

Consigning and Bidding
Tim’s story is certainly not the norm when it comes to guns going to auction, so I spoke with Pat and Kevin Hogan of RIAC to get an understanding of what usually happens on their end of things. They explained to me that there are several reasons people bring guns to auction. For example, a collector may sell off the more modern guns to make room for older guns in their collection. There is also the investment value of gun collections, and there comes a time for many collectors when it’s time to cash out. I had always considered an auction the best place for selling collectible guns, but not necessarily new ones that have a known suggested retail value. Pat disagreed and explained that a good auction house knows how to sell, and combines items into “lots” that inspire bidding and bring in more money to the consignor.

Major auction houses are “competitive” when it comes to commissions, so the Hogans were kind enough to pass on some consigning tips to help GunsAmerica readers choose the right auction house if they have a collection to consign.

For the most part, collectors know the value range for collectable guns. There are records indicating how many of a specific gun was made, and reference materials with continuously updated pricing. It’s important for the auction house to have realistic pre-auction estimates, and for consignors to set realistic reserves. “If the reserve is too high, I’ll turn you away,” Pat told me. If the reserve is set too high, bidders end up “bidding against the house,” and that’s not good for sellers or buyers as it results in items not being sold.

Another important consideration is how well and how much the auction house advertises an auction. Hogan explained that for the auction Tim’s gun is in, one of the things they’ve done is mail out 16-page mailers to more than 70,000 pre-qualified collectors–and that’s in addition to the massive catalogs sent out to thousands more collectors. They’ve even taken out ads in major city newspapers, because collectors are where you find them, and that includes high-rent districts like New York City and Chicago. If you have a collection of significant value, see if the auction house knows its regular bidders well enough that they might even make special bidder-specific catalogs.

When asked what he thought made RIAC different from other auction houses, Pat replied that he asks himself, “Can I get one more bid than them?” Part of my background is sales and I know the importance of making “just one more call” at the end of the day. In my experience, striving for that “just one more” makes all the difference in the world. As I think of Tim’s experience, his gun, and this auction, I’m anxious to see what that “one more” bid turns out to be later this month.

Like most of you, I won’t actually be there to see what goes down in person, but that doesn’t mean we can’t participate in the excitement. For starters, you can go to RIAC’s website and see all of the lots going on the block. In addition to detailed descriptions, RIAC has perhaps some of the best firearms photography I’ve ever seen and if you’ve ever tried to take a photo of a nickel-plated gun, you know that’s saying a lot! Along with the excellent descriptions and photography are realistic pre-auction estimates so you know if you’re even in the league to bid on certain lots and I promise you, you don’t have to be bankrolled by a major firearms museum to be a legitimate bidder on many of the lots. In fact, there’s one lot containing a Colt Official Police Double Action revolver in .38 Special teamed with a Colt Officers Model Match Target revolver in .22 LR that I may have go after myself. If you see something in the catalog that you can’t live without, be sure and register for the auction now, and make sure you read RIAC’s instruction on how to bid the way you intend to bid. I’d wish you good luck, but then, you just might like those same Colts, too.

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • A "True" Winchester Expert! September 4, 2015, 11:20 pm

    When are those “chicken shit’s”, Pat and/or Kevin Hogan, going to comment on selling a ($400,000.00) 100% “Authentic” Winchester model 1873 “1 of 1000” rifle, for only $35,000.00! Now that’s has to be the biggest “Fu.. up” in firearms auction house history, not to mention the largest “screwing” that any antique firearms consigner has ever received! Pat Hogan, Kevin Hogan, Richard Ellis and Ed Lewis should all be in a United States Federal Prison, for all the corrupt and unethical dealings they do every week of every month of every year!

  • Randall N. August 17, 2015, 7:17 am

    The Winchester rifle, (1 of 1000 ) sold in the 2011 auction as a “Copy”, by the Rock Island Auction Company has since been (in 2012) “Authenticated”! The rifle that R.I.A.C. stated was the original, owned by the auther Edward Lewis, has been undeniably exposed as “the true fake” and not the one auctioned in 2011 by the Rock Island Auction Company! The “so-called” in house expert employed by the company made a rush to judgement by a phone call from Ed Lewis, re-submitted his first evaluation as the rifle being authentic, second guessed his own evaluation, and pulled the rifle to later sell it as a so-called “COPY”! The rifle has now the proper correct status as being a 100% genuine “Winchester produced” rare (one of one thousand) model 1873 rifle. It stands as one of the top five (5) highest overall condition antique rifles of its type, and is currently within the estate collection of a mid west u.s. collection. This just goes to prove that even the Rock Island Auction Company can make mistakes, and did they ever make one in this rifle! The rare rifle sold in 2011 for $35,000.00 + ($5,250.00) buyers premium, and now has been appraised at $250,000.00 to $400,000.00+!

  • Mick May 16, 2013, 6:29 pm

    Thanks for the article! I live about 50 miles from Rock Island, and have had the privilege of having been on a PPC team with Richard Ellis back in the mid-80’s. I hope to come to the auction house in the not-to-distant future to say hello, if not to buy guns… too many tuitions!

  • Blakeney August 4, 2012, 5:45 pm

    I have several small hand guns 22s , black powder shot gun, Sig Sauer P 230, air rifles. amunition, what is the best way to get the best price for the guns?

  • paul zimmerli July 9, 2012, 9:46 am

    Thanks for an informative piece.
    Most of us don’t realize how involved the auction process is.
    The comments have been most enlightening as well…

  • SPK May 19, 2012, 11:41 am

    Hey Scott E. drop by the ole watering hole sometime 😉

    BTW, I enjoyed your article…good stuff.

  • Mike Price May 18, 2012, 10:40 pm

    Scott, great stuff, really nice work, very proud of you and like to read your stuff.

  • Firearms Auction April 30, 2012, 12:55 am

    Nice work on this article, keep it up sir.

  • Tom Lynch April 22, 2012, 8:11 am

    Great article on the Colt! I enjoyed reading it.

  • bladerunner Gun shop April 21, 2012, 1:26 am

    when is this auction how do we bid can we attend as dealers

    • Administrator April 21, 2012, 8:39 pm

      It is this weekend, today and tomorrow. Everything is live you have to be there or absentee bid through their website.

  • charlie keier April 20, 2012, 3:46 pm

    When is this auction?,,.GREAT stuff,,, I will bid…………………….

    • Administrator April 20, 2012, 6:23 pm

      It is over the weekend at the website listed.

  • Larry Hamm3r April 19, 2012, 1:58 pm

    I am sure the 2 capanies are not affiliated.

  • Larry Hamm3r April 19, 2012, 1:44 pm

    I am looking forward to learning about gun history. Thanks for the great read. Awesome old weapons. Who would have guessed. About Rock Island…..I have a tactical compact 45 (1911) on order….back ordered. Anxiously awaiting to pack it around.

  • Eric Lueders April 19, 2012, 10:44 am

    I have very little experience with auction houses, but when I approached Rock Island Auctions about consigning some items, they adamantly resisted telling me what their commission would be. I decided at that point that I could offer a firearm to a collector for a much lower price than Rock Island might realize and still come out better. A gun costing a bidder $2400, would net the seller $1500 (25% commission plus 20% buyer’s fee). I might have the percentages wrong, but you get my point. I can sell the gun for $2000 and make a lot more money. It’s more work for sure, but worth it to me.

    • Scott Mayer April 19, 2012, 1:19 pm

      It’s normal for an auction house to have a sliding commission scale based on the ultimate hammer price of an item. Generally the more it goes for the lower the commission percentage. Auction houses I’ve dealt with (non-gun) gave me the brackets, but couldn’t tell me the commission until the hammer fell. Sometimes there are also insurance, catalog and photography fees to consider.

      As part of the research for this blog, I asked RIAC about how well it works out for a seller. The seller and RIAC have to agree on a reserve and you have to decide if, in a worst case scenario, you can live with that amount after subtracting commissions and fees. If you can’t live with that, then list the item on GunsAmerica for sale instead. RIAC also said that if you auction only one single item, it’s a crap shoot if you’ll make much of a profit. Depending on bidding, some items sell high and some sell low, so the more items a consignor has in an auction, the more it averages out toward profit.

    • Kevin Hogan April 25, 2012, 3:27 pm

      Eric, our commission rate at Rock Island Auction Company varries based on two things; quantity and quality. We don’t have a sliding scale commission rate but rather a flat rate across the board. Sliding commission scales in our opinion are a bit of a conflict of interest. In a sense, the less money an item brings on a sliding scale the more money the auction house stands to make because their fee is higher when and item sells for less. Here at RIA the commission rate is flat. No hidden fees for insurance, photography, or advertising. When you enter into an agreement at RIA we become partners. The more money your item sells for the more money we both make. Our biggest asset here at Rock Island Auction Company is relentless marketing campaigns. Each auction we go above and beyond promoting our consignors items at guns shows, in one of the 35 plus industry print publications we utilize or in the full page ads we run prior to each auction in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Baltimore Sun, or Chicago Tribune. No other auction house works harder than RIA to maximize your return and market your items. Our buyer’s premium is 15% for pre-approved check or cash and 17.5% for credit card. I would love to personally speak with you about consigning so feel free to send me an email Khogan@rockislandauction.com or call me 1-800-238-8022

  • RedGreen April 19, 2012, 10:00 am

    Most other “museums” will take items especially firearms with a smile and put them on display for a short time and then sell them out the back door after six months or so. Even if they have signed papers to “display and never sell”. The items just somehow disappear with no trail.

    • RedNBlue April 23, 2012, 8:55 am

      An FFL transfer is a “trail”, I don’t see how they could get around that.

  • Kevin J. Richards April 19, 2012, 9:55 am

    I searched for modern pistols, rifles, and shotguns and the lowest amount I seen was $900.00. Normally auctions are an ideal place to get a great deal on merchandise, but the pricing for this is ridiculous. I was searching for a few reasonably priced items> 12 gauge tac. shotgun, .22 / 410 rifle, and a 1911 .45 acp… but not at these prices !!

    • Scott Mayer April 19, 2012, 11:17 am

      Kevin,
      Check that lot again–there might be two guns in it with that $900 estimate. There are many lots with more than one gun. Here is some of what I’m seeing, and remember, these are pre-auction estimates, not prices. Bidders can run these numbers higher or lower at an auction.

      * Lot 1880 TWO new/nearly new cased S&W revolvers one is a Model 29-2 .44 Mag. and the other is a Model 27-2 .357 Mag. $900-$1500

      * Lot 1887 TWO new/nearly new S&W revolvers one is a K22 Masterpiece .22 LR and the other is a Model 10 .38 $700-$1000

      *Lot 1186 TWO new/nearly new Browning shotguns one is a BPS 10-ga. pump and the other is a Gold Hunter Grade I Semi-auto 12-ga. $800-$1200

      * Lot 1948 THREE consecutively Serial Numbered Boxed Winchester Model 94 Trapper Lever Action rifles $1200-$1800

      *Lot 3825 TWO Colt 1911s nearly new one is a MKIV Series 80 Officers ACP and the other is a Defender Series 90 $1000 -$1600

      And there are TONS more lots like this. You have to look and make sure if it’s a one- or multi-gun lot.

  • francis rice April 19, 2012, 9:51 am

    i like the blog and the news it very importin to get out in this world to day! thank you!

  • Jack O'Neill April 19, 2012, 9:00 am

    I watched the first episode of their TV series where they asked their expert about the authenticity of a Winchester 1873 1 in a 1,000. He said he thought it was a fake, but they disregarded his expertise and advertised it as authentic. Just before the auction the owner of the real Winchester with the same serial number called after seeing the brochure. They then turned around and advertised it as a fake and sold it that way. My advice, buyer beware…..Jack

    • Kevin Hogan April 25, 2012, 1:22 pm

      Jack you are missing many of the facts. When the rifle originally came into Rock Island Auction we were extremely excited. Who wouldn’t be? We thought it was an original 1 of 1000. That gun came from a wonderful multimillion dollar collection filled with some incredibly historic and incredibly high conditioned antiques firearms. You are 100% correct that when the gun came in we advertised it as being a genuine 1 of 1000. The gun itself had a factory letter which identified it as being a 1 of 1000. Our firearms expert Richard Ellis did indeed expressed concerns over the piece however that very rifle is of pictured in R.L. Wilson’s Winchester Book 1 of 1000. As an auction house our primary fiduciary obligation is to our consignor. Just because our expert expressed a concern does not over ride the provenance of a factory letter, or published documentation in the definitive work on the subject. It was not until the advertising went out that we received a call from well known collector of Winchester 1 of 1000 rifles. He said he had the same serial number. We then went back to Richard who confirmed the serial number had been altered to match an existing 1 of 1000. Who ever sold the rifle to our consignor some 60 years ago took a beautiful First Model 1873 Winchester and had it engraved to the exact specifications of a 1 of 1000. What he did was try to make a $50,000 gorgeous first model 1873 Winchester into a $400,000 1 of 1000. We pulled the firearm from our premiere auction. Placed it into our regional auction and sold the rifle for what it was; an outstanding COPY of an original 1 of 1000. We celebrated the history of the rifle, “the gun that fooled the experts for 60 years”. We sold the rifle in our 2011 summer regional auction as a copy for $35,000. Other disreputable auction house may have still tried to pass it off as the real deal. However we wanted the collecting fraternity and the world to know that this rifle was indeed not an authentic rifle so it could not be sold to some one later as the real deal. In the end we were able exhibit why we are the #1 auction house in the world for selling firearms, our reputation and still help recuperate some of the consignors losses.

      • D. H. May 27, 2014, 7:01 pm

        Why is a convicted felon associated with RIA in any capacity. Mr. Ellis, As is documented, was involved in a 2 million dollar false bidding fraud scam that resulted in him being convicted of a felony and also paying a substantial amount of money out in a civil suit. Why do you allow him to soil your reputation RIA? His personal collection, which you sold, also had several guns that were not correct. By allowing him to be even a small part of your company in any capacity, ruins your reputation!!

    • A "True" Winchester Expert! September 1, 2015, 5:52 pm

      Jack, the R.I.A.C. did have it 100% correct about the authenticity of the 1 of 1000! Then they changed their story using the in house inspection of ex-convict Richard Ellis! Not only was he wrong in claiming the rifle a fake, but the caller telling Hogan he owned the “Real” 1 of 1000 ( with the same serial number ) was a lier! It was he that owned a fake rifle, and the rifle sold at auction, for only $35,000.00, has since been fully authenticated as 100% originial in every way by the Winchester Companies chief expert on the field! The rifle was purchased by a very smart individual that did not listen to the crap put out by Pat Hogan and the convicted felon Richard Ellis, went on his own research and bought one of the finest condition Winchester model 1873 “One of One Thousand” rifles known to still exist! The rifle sold for $35,000.00 at auction and has a current appraisl of $250,000.00 to $375,000.00! You are correct in your statement “Buyer Beware”, but what it should be is “Consigner Beware”!!! The poor consigner that relied on the “idiot” Pat Hogan to auction off a quarter of a million dollar (1 of 1000) rifle, but sold it for the “give away” sum of only $35,000.00, should be by law liable to compensate the consigner for incredible value/selling difference! This is not the first, but instead, just one of many documented cases were the “consigner” was totally screwed by Pat Hogan, and the R.I.A.C., but the “sharp eyed” bidder/buyer was rewarded substantially! You and your research be the judge on anything that is sold by R.I.A.C., and you too can pick up a true treasure, for pennies on the dollar!

    • A "True" Winchester Expert! September 1, 2015, 6:01 pm

      Jack, the R.I.A.C. did have it 100% correct about the authenticity of the 1 of 1000! Then they changed their story using the in house inspection of ex-convict Richard Ellis! Not only was he wrong in claiming the rifle a fake, but the caller telling Hogan he owned the “Real” 1 of 1000 ( with the same serial number ) was a lier! It was he that owned a fake rifle, and the rifle sold at auction, for only $35,000.00, has since been fully authenticated as 100% originial “in every way” by the Winchester Companies chief expert in the field! The rifle was purchased by a very smart individual that did not listen to the crap put out by Pat Hogan and the convicted felon Richard Ellis, went on his own research and bought one of the finest condition Winchester model 1873 “One of One Thousand” rifles known to still exist! The rifle sold for $35,000.00 at auction and has a current appraisl of $250,000.00 to $400,000.00! You are correct in your statement “Buyer Beware”, but what it should be is “Consigner Beware”!!! The poor consigner that relied on the “idiot” Pat Hogan to auction off a quarter of a million dollar (1 of 1000) rifle, but sold it for the “give away” sum of only $35,000.00, should be by law liable to compensate the consigner for incredible value/selling difference! This is not the first, but instead, just one of many documented cases were the “consigner” was totally screwed by Pat Hogan, and the R.I.A.C., but the “sharp eyed” bidder/buyer was rewarded substantially! You and your research be the judge on anything that is sold by R.I.A.C., and you too can pick up a true treasure, for pennies on the dollar!

  • Joe Martin April 19, 2012, 8:45 am

    Why didn’t you use this story to encourage people to “lend” guns like this to a museum so that all of us could see them?

    • Administrator April 19, 2012, 8:50 am

      The NRA firearms museum in virginia has quite a bit of great stuff.

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