August 27, 2013 Updated September 5, 2013
Firearms Auction To IncludeThe Finest Iron-Frame Henry Rifle Known
"Fresh, historic, and rare," is the combination of words Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC) owner and president Patrick Hogan has used to describe the company's upcoming premiere firearms auction to be held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Sept. 13 to 15. "The entire auction exudes condition, quality, and rarity, but its greatest appeal lies in the freshness of what is being offered," said Hogan. In the sale are a number of collections from legendary names in firearms collecting, and with those collections come some truly stunning and rare firearms.
"Each auction we hold and each collection we sell is totally different. Like a fingerprint, no two are the same. Over the years, many important collectors have chosen to utilize Rock Island as their preferred method of marketing and selling their valued and cherished collections, and this sale is no different. In fact, one name in particular stands out above all the rest," said Laurence Thomson, RIAC's executive director of operations. The collection referred to is the Mac McCroskie collection. Throughout the world's gun circles, McCroskie's collection has assumed cult status as the finest and most significant Winchester collection ever established, as well as the home of magnificent Colts and Smith & Wessons.
Contained within this sale from this fabled collection are two of the finest individual firearms to come to auction in the last several decades. The first is considered the finest iron-frame Henry rifle in existence, serial number 49, in near factory mint condition. Iron-frame Henry rifles are considered the most sought after and rare variation of the Henry rifles. The second firearm, also from the McCroskie collection, is the masterpiece relief engraved Conrad F. Ulrich signed Winchester 1866 with engraved barrel. This rifle is the definition of a "steel canvas." The engraving on the rifle contains borders, scrolls, patterns, figures, shading, and backgrounds, all exquisitely done. "Both of these pieces offer collectors and investment buyers a chance to own, without question, the very best," said Thomson. "The McCroskie collection was amassed during the golden age of gun collecting, and Mr. McCroskie was known to only buy the very best of the best. We are talking about nearly half a century of collecting," said Hogan.
The two McCroskie rifles will be in good company, as the sale also features the collection of Mike Ginn, who put together a staggering collection of Winchester model 1866s, early 1873s, and the most impressive and encyclopedic collection of large frame 1876 rifles Rock Island has ever cataloged. The apex of Ginn's collection is a magnificent factory engraved J. Ulrich signed special order 1876 short rifle with a 22" round matte barrel, factory engraved, .50 express caliber, case-hardened, and with a shotgun checkered butt. Other significant and impressive Winchester lever actions include a near mint case-hardened Winchester 1886 50-100-450 and a factory documented, first-year production three-digit number, special order deluxe Winchester model 1894 with case-hardened receiver. There is also a rare documented factory special order Winchester model 1876 .50 express rifle with saber bayonet and factory letter and an early hand-engraved serial number 331 Winchester model 1873 saddle ring carbine. In total, the sale features over 350 Winchesters, which include over ten .50 express 1876 and 1886 rifles, but also encompasses equally rare model 70s, model 21s, model 12s and a collection of 13 special order and prototype rifles and shotguns from the personal collection of John Olin.
The Colts in the sale are a perfect complement to the historic grouping of Winchesters and are also associated with a prominent name in Colt collecting, C.D. Terry. "The grouping of Colts is as complete as it is magnificent and covers nearly every significant Colt production model, both in spectacular condition and breathtaking engraved variations. Everything from the Paterson all the way to the Colt Thomson submachine gun and everything in between will be featured in the sale," said Hogan. It will start with the very pistol from which Samuel Colt developed his rotating cylinder design, the rare collier "five-chamber" flintlock revolver, to the next product of Colt's design, the Colt belt model paterson revolver no. 2 with extra cylinder. The sale continues to follow every significant model thereafter, featuring some of the finest condition examples ever before offered and includes a comprehensive study of the 1860 Army model and some fabulous factory engraved examples.
The sale features two of the three known factory engraved 1871-72 open top revolvers as well as a factory engraved gold and silver plated Colt model 1851 Navy revolver with raised relief carved Ulysses S. Grant ivory grip.
Continuing the theme of engraved firearms, the auction features several works by an artist many consider the finest engraver of the 19th century, Gustave Young. The documented sharps panel scene Young engraved model 1853 percussion sporting rifle is a highlight. This rifle is not only a piece of high art, it is also historically significant, as it has been identified to Sgt. Fredrick Rose of the Pennsylvania Shamokin Guards, participants in the Second Battle of Bull Run, South Mountain, Antietam (at the famous Dunker Church), Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and later in Sherman's march to the sea.
Another standout is the documented Gustave Young's 1893 Chicago World's Fair Exposition factory engraved and gold inlaid Smith & Wesson 44 double action frontier model revolver with Nevada gold mining lawmen history. This revolver was commissioned by S&W specifically for the World's Fair. Subsequently, the revolver was presented to Mr. Claude Inman, the sheriff of the gold mining town named Goldfield, Nev. This pistol is part of the William H.D. Goddard collection of S&W revolvers and Colt automatic pistols.
Goddard authored the definitive book on Colt 1911's: "The Government Models: The Development of the Colt Model 1911." One of the most significant is a rare documented Colt model 1900 sight safety, Browning slide lock prototype semi-automatic pistol. This pistol is quite possibly one of the most important individual semi-automatic pistols on the collectors market and marks a massive evolutionary turning point as it is John Moses Browning's personal design and implementation of the slide lock. This historic breakthrough design can be observed today on nearly every semi-automatic pistol still being manufactured. Others of note include a U.S. Navy contract Colt 1900 "sight safety" model semi-automatic pistol with factory letter and a rare World War II singer tool room/prototype M1911A1 semi-automatic pistol with documentation.
"When quality, condition, and rarity come together, there is no telling what will happen at auction. Rarely can you tout something as being the very best of the best in any field of collectible, but in this sale we can say it more than once," said Hogan. The numbers of the auction alone are impressive, featuring over 350 Winchesters, nearly 600 Colt firearms, over 300 U.S. military firearms, over 800 foreign military firearms, and over 500 sporting arms. The total will be over 2,700 lots.
To learn more, visit www.rockislandauction.com or call 1-800-238-8022.