Rock Island Auction Company is a premiere action house known for handling extraordinary antique collectibles and numerous famous firearms over the years. Established in 1993 by founder Pat Hogan, RIAC offers clients a great selection of collectible firearms and antiques and innovative sales approaches that have earned dedicated clientele from dozens of countries and driven a string of world sales records.
There are a number of reasons why RIAC finds auction sales doing well. As gun people, I don’t have to explain the appeal to anyone reading this. Who doesn’t enjoy adding a new, choice firearm to their collection? On a practical note, there is real investment value in collectible firearms. Consumers are turning to hard-value assets, such as antique firearms, in spite of inflation because they tend to retain value. Due to the popularity of their auctions, RIAC announced plans to expand to Bedford, Texas, with the second auction house slated to open in 2023, which will feature a firearms showroom, auction hall, vault, room for offices and shipping, and more, making it unequaled in the auction industry.
Specializing in the auctioning of antique and collector firearms and militaria, RIAC hosts over twenty auctions annually in three formats, catering to many levels of collecting expertise. Premier Auctions are hosted three times annually and feature rare, unusual, historical, and high-condition world-class collectibles. Many world sales records have been set in this format. Sporting & Collector Firearms Auctions are made up of more affordable antiques, beginning collector’s items, usable sporting arms, and many non-firearms lots. The origins of this auction format began in the demand for “everyday collector” guns. Finally, are the Arms & Accessories Day Auctions. Different from typical timed online auctions, these events utilize a live stream of licensed auctioneers to conduct the auction. While this online format does not have a live audience or physical catalog, it is exactly like their other auctions.
RIAC auctions can be in-person or conducted online, and interested buyers can utilize a number of ways to bid both live and in advance of the auction. Live bidding during the auction can be done in person, via telephone, or by using RIAC Live, which shows a livestream of the auction. Absentee bids can also be submitted to RIAC via their website, authorized third-party websites, email, fax, phone, or by mailing in an Absentee Bid Form. With all forms of bidding, participants must be registered to bid prior to the auction.
RIAC also actively seeks consignments catering to every level, from single items to collections. When people agree to consign, RIAC takes care of the photography, item descriptions, advertising, storage, insurance, as well as legal transfer and shipping to the buyer done for a simple percentage of the item’s sale price.
Recognized as an international firearms auction house, RIAC has a reputation for holding the most prestigious events in the industry. One example was during their 2021 December Premier Auction, where they sold a six-piece collection from Napoleon Bonaparte, which auctioned at more than $2.8 million. In the past several years, RIAC hosted some of the largest firearm auctions ever, including December 2020 ($22 million), May 2021 ($30 million), September 2021 ($24 million), and December 2021 ($25.2 million). In 2022, RIAC hosted their May Premier Auction with $28.2 million in total sales, with a pair of Ulysses S. Grant Remington revolvers selling for $5.17 million on the opening day of the three-day auction that took place May 13-15; watch the video footage of the Ulysses S. Grant Remington revolvers selling here. Their August Premier Auction achieved $23 million in total sales with the Star Wars Han Solo blaster headlining the three-day event that took place August 26-28. The only surviving blaster originally used by Harrison Ford in Star Wars: A New Hope sold for $1,057,500.
While the sales of items and collections making record-setting six and seven-figure auction prices certainly attract the most attention, this has led some to believe they could never afford to buy anything at RIAC. High-end sales are just one aspect and RIAC prides itself on catering to enthusiasts at every price point. For example, with the different auction formats, RIAC caters to everyday pieces to the finest world-class collectibles, the sheer variety available keeps the auction house approachable for the average gun buyer while still offering the very pinnacles of the hobby. By regularly offering military firearms, antique firearms, and sporting arms, RIAC gun auctions appeal to collectors, investors, general gun enthusiasts, historians, target shooters, and hunters.
Firearm Sales Trends
Rock Island Auction Company sales data indicates trends in gun collection pricing and demand. First, antique muzzleloaders often make for some of the most impressive display pieces in gun collections. From the Civil War era, perhaps the most famous Civil War repeating rifle, the New Haven Arms Co. Henry rifle, is also one of the most recognizable collector guns today. Revolvers of the Old West offer both historical value and Hollywood appeal, having been the sidearm of choice for countless lawmen, desperados, homesteaders, and cowboys who braved the frontier, both in real life and on the big screen. Early percussion Colts like the Colt Dragoon are a gun collecting cornerstone, as is the Smith & Wesson First Model Schofield single-action revolver. Winchester lever actions of the era are another collection must-have, remaining popular as a collectible and Cowboy Action Shooting mainstay. The “Improved Henry,” better known as the Winchester Model 1866, is often hailed as “the first cowboy rifle” and is also the first rifle to bear the fabled Winchester name.
In World War I era firearms, the distinctive Luger is often called the most famous pistol in modern warfare. Manufactured in numerous variants, Georg Luger’s creation was one of the most widely carried sidearms of WW1 and beyond. “Old Slabside” 1911 handguns being the longest-serving sidearm in U.S. military history, remaining very popular and a staple in collections. Moving to the World War II era, the M1 Garand is popular due to Georg Patton’s admonishment of it being “the greatest battle implement ever devised”, its use in the millions by American GIs from 1936 to 1959, and its popularity by the Civilian Marksmanship Program in their CMP Games and the Garand Collector Association.
As more individuals build their portfolio of alternative investments, other pieces of history garner interest and a subsequent increase in sales. The Russian M1891 Mosin-Nagant rifle, invented in 1891, has seen increased popularity since 2015. When RIAC conducted an audit of more than seven years of their auction history, they found that in only a six-year span the average Mosin Nagant price at Rock Island Auction Company more than tripled, a dramatic surge in value that equals or surpasses some of the hottest collectible guns on the market right now by growth percentage. In 2015, a Mosin Nagant averaged $211.83 in price, inching up another $32.33 in 2016 before rocketing up more than $200 in 2017 and holding that average for the next three years before continuing its impressive ascent to its current $692.69 mark.
If investing in firearm collectibles appeals to you or if there’s that one gun that would be the perfect fit in your gun safe, Rock Island Auction Company is an ideal place to begin your search.
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