Rock Island Auction: New World Record Set

Alex C.
by Alex C.

The Rock Island Auction Company has built a very earnest reputation for delivering extremely good customer service and brokering some of the finest (and most coveted) firearms in the world. I personally have done a lot of business with them over the years and I have nothing but overwhelmingly positive things to say about each experience.

On April 30th, 2016 a new world record for a single firearm was set when the hammer fell. The final price realized was $1,265,000 for a very storied and historic Winchester 1886. If you wish to delve into the full history of the rifle, you can read Rock Island’s blog post about it (which I highly recommend).

The firearm itself is in spectacular condition considering the vintage:

And the addition of a pocket watch presented alongside the rifle surely increased the value of the lot substantially:

Some brief history, and what makes this gun worth over one million dollars:

  • Presented to Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Capt. Henry W. Lawton by fellow Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient
  • In September 1886, after a pursuit of over 1300 miles across Mexico and Arizona territory, Lawton found Geronimo and negotiated the surrender of last band of hostile Apaches to the U.S. Army. (the surrender of Geronimo ended over 25 years of bloody conflict with the Apache in the Southwest)
  • During the Spanish-American War Lawton fought in the battles of La Guasimas, El Caney and San Juan Hill
  • Promoted to Major-General, Lawton was ordered to the Philippines to command the 1st Division, VIII Corps, against Filipino insurgents. On December 19, 1899, General Lawton was killed in action in the battle of San Mateo
  • Speaking about Lawton’s death, U.S. President William McKinley said, “I have learned with inexpressible sorrow of the death of Major-General Lawton, and ask to share with the officers and men of the Eighth Corps in their grief. One of the most gallant officers of the Army has fallen.”
  • Henry W. Lawton was one of the most respected officers in the U.S. Army
  • The rifle is serial number 1
  • According to RIA: “This combination of Winchester Model 1886 (serial number 1) presented to the officer credited with the surrender of Geronimo and the very high quality watch and chain presented to Capt. Lawton by New Mexico cattlemen is one of the most important and historic firearms groups ever offered by the Rock island Auction Co.”
  • Incredible amount of documentation along with the rifle

Those who actively seek out and bid on firearms with this much provenance are truly the apex predators in the world of firearm collecting. Fine guns certainly make terrific alternative investments.

Alex C.
Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.

More by Alex C.

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  • Rob Rob on May 01, 2016

    I just hope it went to an American collector, the thought of it on some wall in Dubai for example bothers me.

  • Badwolf Badwolf on May 02, 2016

    The Philippines forces in the battle of San Mateo were commanded by Gen. Licerio Geronimo. So Gen. Lawton fought 2 Geronimos.

    • Avconsumer2 Avconsumer2 on May 02, 2016

      @Badwolf Holy crap. What a "wtf moment" that would've been for him. "Whoa whoa... ha! For a second there... I could've sworn you said his name was Geronimo! LOL!!!! Wouldn't that be... wait wha?!"

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