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.
Steyr Model 1893 revolver was presumably designed for Austrian government trials, however, it wasn’t adopted and less than 100 of these revolvers were ever made. This revolver is chambered in an 8mm cartridge, has a 7-round swing-out cylinder and double-action/single-action trigger mechanism. It also features a mechanism of sealing the cylinder gap similar to that of the Model 1895 Nagant revolver. The way the action is sealed is that after the cylinder rotates aligning the next chamber with the bore, it also ever so slightly moves forward pushing the mouth of the telescoped cartridge case into the forcing cone of the barrel. Upon firing, the cartridge case expands and seals the system.
This particular Steyr Model 1893 was brought to the stateside as a WW2 war trophy by U.S. Army technician Robert W. Belschwender. During WW2, Belschwender’s unit, the 71st Infantry Division, made it to Austria where he captured this revolver from the Steyr factory.
Estimated price: $18,000 – $27,500
As you know, the Springfield Model 1873, colloquially referred to as Trapdoor Springfield, is a breech-loading single-shot rifle adopted by the US military in 1873 along with the .45-70-400 (.45-70 Government) cartridge. What we are looking at here is an experiment of converting the single-shot Trapdoor Springfield into a manual repeater by retrofitting it with a tubular magazine and a cartridge lifter. Working the hinged breech block of this carbine not only extracts and ejects the spent case like in standard Trapdoor Springfields, but also operates the cartridge lifter which elevates a round from the magazine up to the feeding path. Although the shooter has to manually push the elevated cartridge into the chamber, it still should be a faster reloading procedure compared to the standard single-shot rifles. There is also a magazine cutoff mechanism built into the breech block which allows using the gun as a single-shot firearm keeping the loaded magazine in reserve.
This conversion is attributed to a gentleman named A. Sheridan Jones of Menno, Dakota Territory who was apparently experimenting with various Trapdoor Springfield magazine conversions. According to the United States War Department records, he submitted a rifle to 1882 trials, however, it was not this particular rifle but another Springfield conversion fed from a buttstock magazine.
Estimated price: $8,500 – $16,000
The Chinese Type 64 is a hammer-fired direct blowback pistol with a built-in suppressor. The pistol is chambered in the proprietary 7.62x17mm rimless cartridge which is reportedly ballistically similar to .32 ACP. The suppressor is mounted to the frame enclosing the 3″ barrel and extending down to the area in front of the trigger guard. The internal construction of the suppressor utilizes a combination of baffles, wire mesh and rubber wipes. The cross-bolt switch on the slide allows switching from the semi-auto mode to manual repeater mode that requires racking the slide to cycle the action. By eliminating the sound of cycling action, this manual mode allows achieving utmost sound suppression at the cost of reloading speed.
This particular Type 64 pistol was brought to the United States by Mitchell WerBell III. During WW2 WerBell was an OSS operative. After the war, he founded a company called SIONICS and started designing suppressors. He partnered with Gordon Ingram and they introduced a MAC-10 SMG equipped with WerBell’s suppressor which they were trying to sell to the US Government during the Vietnam War. In 1960, in Vietnam, there was an assassination attempt on WerBell with this very Type 64 pistol. Well, the attempt was unsuccessful, WerBell managed to kill the assassin and take his gun as a trophy.
Estimated price: $18,000 – $27,500
The Guycot pistol was designed and patented in France in the 1870s by Henri Guenot and Paulin Gay. The mechanism of this pistol is extremely interesting. Inside the frame, there is a chain consisting of chambers linked to each other. The caseless rocket ball type cartridges are loaded through the top loading gate. The double-action trigger mechanism rotates the chain aligning one of the chambers with the bore, pulls the barrel back forcing it to overlap the aligned chamber and seal the action, and lastly, cocks and releases the striker which fires the gun.
This particular Guycot pistol is a 6.5mm caliber 25-shot gun with a 3.5″ barrel. There was also a 40-round pistol with the chain extending into the grip and an 80-round carbine utilizing this mechanism. The downside of this design is the use of rather weak cartridges, however, its advantage is the extremely high capacity for the era.
Estimated price: $10,000 – $18,000
Patented in 1877 by a gentleman named Oscar Frankenau, this little gadget is a coin purse with a built-in double-action 5-shot 5mm pinfire revolver. The purse has two compartments one of which is for storing money and the other one houses the wheelgun. The bullet hole on the side of the purse’s frame which is aligned with the muzzle of the 3/4″ barrel, is covered by a plate and the trigger of the revolver folds flush with the purse. So as seen in the picture below, externally nothing gives away that there is a firearm integrated into this coin purse.
In order to fire the gun, one must first unfold the trigger down which will automatically slide the bullet hole cover plate out of the way. With the trigger unfolded all is required to fire the gun is pulling the trigger (without opening the purse or cocking the hammer) as it is a double-action revolver. Quite an ingenious design of a concealed firearm.
Estimated price: $2,500 – $4,000
I hope you enjoyed reading about these amazing firearms from the September 2020 Rock Island Premier Firearms Auction catalog. I encourage everyone to browse the catalog and I am sure no matter what category of firearms you are more interested in, you’ll be able to find something cool there, because as in the case of any other Rock Island premier auction, this one is also full of a wide variety of lots – from historical muzzleloaders to modern machine guns, and everything inbetween.
The September 2020 Rock Island Premier Firearms Auction will be held on September 11th, 12th and 13th. Stay tuned for the followup article telling about the most expensive lots sold during this auction which we’ll publish shortly after the auction ends.