The online catalog of September 2019 Rock Island Premiere Firearms Auction is published and as always, we thoroughly browsed it to find the most unusual, rare and obscure firearms consigned to the auction. The premiere auctions of RIAC are some of the largest small arms auctions held in the United States (and in the world) that’s why you can always find there dozens of lots that are truly gems of firearms history and design.
The list presented below goes in no particular order. The model names are linked to the corresponding Rock Island Auction pages where you can find more and higher resolution images as well as more detailed descriptions of the lots. Without further ado, let’s see what are some of the coolest guns consigned to the September 2019 Rock Island Premiere Firearms Auction.
Winchester revolver – the combination of these words will sound odd to most of us because generally speaking there is no such thing as a Winchester revolver. Well, this unicorn is an exception. This revolver was initially designed by William W. Wetmore and Charles S. Wells, two former Smith & Wesson employees who were hired by Winchester in 1872. It was introduced to the public at the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of signing the Declaration of Independence. Later, the revolver was improved by the swing-out cylinder and ejection mechanism designed by Stephen W. Wood.
This was Winchester’s attempt to enter the revolver market that was already overcrowded and dominated by Colt, Remington and Smith & Wesson․ Nevertheless, with its solid top strap and swing-out cylinder, it was an advanced design ahead of its time. As the legend goes, this revolver was designed as a response to Colt’s introduction of 1883 Burgess lever-action rifle. It is believed that Colt and Winchester officials met and achieved a “gentleman’s agreement” which led to Colt ceasing the Burgess rifle production and Winchester stopping the development of revolvers.
This particular sample was submitted to the U.S. Navy Ordnance Bureau in December 1876. It is chambered in .44-40 Winchester, has a 6-round cylinder, single-action mechanism and it’s color case hardened. Out of 13 Winchester revolvers ever made, only four had the swing-out cylinder design. This specimen is also in perfect condition retaining 80 to 90 percent of the original finish. Extremely rare and historically significant gun in perfect condition – no wonder why this lot is expected to be sold at up to $400,000.
Estimated price: $250,000 – $400,000
This was an attempt by Colt to introduce a polymer-framed high-capacity (14-round) striker-fired pistol chambered in .40 S&W. This prototype pistol was demonstrated and offered to various law enforcement agencies, but apparently, it didn’t impress anyone or the project was halted for another reason. According to the letter that is consigned with the pistol, this particular sample is one of seven models from the Colt Engineering Vault. The letter also states that a total of 49 pistols were serialized by the factory and 29 of them have been destroyed.
Estimated price: $2,000 – $3,000
This steampunky gadget was made in 1920 by Taylor Fur Co of St. Louis, Missouri. It is basically a .22 caliber single shot trap gun that is designed to shoot animals hunted for their fur. The way it works is the stem that reminds a giant woodscrew is screwed into the ground and the bait is mounted on the hook that protrudes over the muzzle. The hook is attached to the trigger and once the animal catches the bait and pulls it, the gun fires. Probably, it will be a good idea to first place the bait then load the gun.
Estimated price: $1,800 – $2,750
One trigger pull and four projectiles are simultaneously launched downrange as if you have a pocket artillery battery performing a salvo fire. Well, actually, this type of percussion pistols have a bit less elegant name than a pocket artillery battery – they are normally referred to as “duck foot” pistols. This particular duck foot pistol was manufactured in the early 19th century. Whether this could be an effective weapon or not is arguable. It would largely depend on the circumstances the gun was used in. While four bullets are better than one, at a far enough distance you may miss the intended primary target due to the spread of the projectiles. On the other hand, you could hit four targets at once if the gun was fired in the direction of multiple targets. At any rate, these are unusual and interesting pieces of firearms history.
Estimated price: $4,500 – $6,500
I think it is safe to say that Pedersen Device is one of the rarest and most interesting military firearm accessories ever developed. It was a drop-in accessory for the Springfield Model 1903 Mark 1 rifle which was the version of US Army’s service rifle specifically made to be used with the Mark I Pedersen Device. The M1903 Mark I rifle has a couple of design changes done to accommodate the Pedersen Device. These modifications include the different sear and trigger design, magazine cut-off, recessed stock and cutout on the left side of the receiver to work as an ejection port for the Pedersen Device. Installed instead of the bolt of the rifle, this device converted the bolt-action rifle into a magazine-fed semi-auto pistol caliber firearm firing a .30-18 Auto (a.k.a. 7.65×20mm Longue) cartridge fed from a 40-round magazine.
This was an interesting concept but it was late for WW1 and it was outdated by the beginning of WW2 because successful semi-auto rifles and submachine guns were already developed and adopted. As a result, the vast majority of Pedersen devices were destroyed and presumably, only 60-100 of them survived.
Estimated price: $9,500 – $16,000
And that’s the list of this author’s picks of most rare and unusual firearms seen in the upcoming Rock Island Premiere Firearms Auction. The auction has dozens of lots that could easily make into our list. It is always quite hard to choose five lots from this plethora of unique firearms. That’s why I’d highly recommend to browse the catalog yourself and I am sure you’ll find many lots that are more appealing for you depending on what niche of the firearms world you are more interested in.
As we’ve seen in many Rock Island Auctions, this time the lot that will supposedly be sold at the highest price is also a Colt Walker revolver with an estimated price range that the auction house predicts it to be sold at being $650,000 – $950,000. As always, once the auction ends, we’ll take a look at the most expensive firearms sold during the auction. Stay tuned!