Auction Report - Can’t stop the Rock
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- Last updated: 24/04/2017
When you have been the world’s #1 firearms auction house since 2003, people notice. When you have the best year in industry history, shattering your own records along the way, they really start to pay attention. But when the biggest and the best hosts the largest firearms auction in history, the results are unmatched.
The 2017 February Regional Firearms Auction held by Rock Island Auction Company was the largest firearms auction in history. Over 10,000 collector firearms were sold in four short days, much to the delight of collectors from around the United States and beyond, who showed up in a staggering response. Over 23,000 sealed bids were placed before the auction even began, and 28,000 had been placed by the time the final gavel fell, another RIAC record. When the massive four-day event was finished, RIAC would have a new record total to accompany the record number of items and sealed bids – over $8 million. This phenomenal result is further proof of a red-hot firearms collecting industry, as are the over 450 new bidders in this auction alone who helped make this event such as success.
Day one of the auction began on Thursday after a busy and boisterous Preview Day. The buzz in the preview hall was a sound indicator of the excitement that lay ahead, and when it was time to go, there was no holding anyone back. Bids came flying from live attendees, the phones, and an unusually high number from live online bidders as well. As the auctioneers sold item after item, they relayed the popular items to the attendees and those watching the live online video, frequently stating: “This item has over 24 sealed bidders and you can see the six live phone bidders, so set your sights a little higher.” The day released a great deal of pent-up excitement and it showed in the bids. Lot 437 was one such example.
Containing a Gustloff- Werke “bcd/4” Code Model 98 sniper rifle, the winning bidder paid $13,800 for the rifle. Also popular was a collection of military rifles in lot 387. With one Mosin-Nagant sniper rifle, a Martini action, and two SVT rifles, it drew 43 sealed bidders and half a dozen live phone bidders, driving the realised price to $6325 before it could be won. An outstanding result for a lot with a $2000 estimate.
Friday was even busier in the auction hall, as more and more people took an extended weekend to attend the auction in-person. It resulted in more exceeded estimates and more surprising bids in both familiar and unexpected places. Antique pistols are always popular items, but whether it was a derringer, palm pistol, or any number of pocket pistols, the bidding was relentless. Colt M1911 pistols and U.S. military rifles also brought prices that exceeded recent market values. It seemed that every category was determined to surpass its estimate and to best the genre that preceded it. The top seller of the day was a Henry rifle in lot 2040 excellently engraved with floral scroll and punch dots that achieved $23,000.
The third day of auction saw the ever-popular Colts and Winchesters again resume centre stage, with the exception of a S&W Model 320 revolving rifle and a Ford GPW Jeep that made their way into the day’s top sellers at $9775 and $10,925, respectively. German World War II memorabilia enjoyed some protracted bidding battles, as did the derringers who continued their success from previous days.
Day four should have found everyone exhausted and ready for some respite. On the contrary, collectors both in person and on the phone seemed more determined than ever to leave with the guns they wanted.
A fun grouping of European military rifles in lot 6369 had 35 bids before it came to the block and couldn’t be had until it nearly doubled its high estimate, selling for $3162. An AMC Auto Mag pistol with a 10-inch round barrel in lot 6803 started a bidding war of its own, skating far past its $1500 estimate en route to an $8050 pay day.
Derringers and pocket pistols continued their reign, but not far behind were the S&W double action revolvers. No matter the model or the calibre, these finely tuned wheelguns continue to spur aggressive bidding and high prices.
2017 began much in the same way as 2016 ended, with Rock Island Auction Company setting records. Whether making new personal benchmarks or setting the standard for the industry as a whole, they continue to prove that not only is the collector firearms market red hot but that these arms remain a solid, alternative investment, with certain genres and manufacturers outperforming traditional financial investments.
With no plans to take their foot off of the gas in 2017, Rock Island Auction Company continues to dominate the industry as the premier destination for buying and consigning collector firearms.
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