Two Coming Auctions from Rock Island

We’re not affiliated with them in any way, except as a satisfied customer. But RIA has two auctions coming up that may be of interest to you. Even if you are not a buyer now, you can benefit greatly from the catalog photos and descriptions, and they can be highly entertaining reading.

Note that in our experience all auctioneers’ estimates on most lots are lowballs, designed to encourage bidders.

RIA Online Auction Friday 6 November

First things first: you can get your bids in now (and sign up, if you like, for Outbid Notification) for the nearly 900 lots in this upcoming auction. Of interest to our readers, perhaps, is this unusual piece of history, a Remington-made French Mle 1907/15 carbine.

Remington 1907-15

French weapons are under-loved by collectors. But this is a rare Remington foreign contract gun, a much rarer survivor than the Remington Mosin-Nagants which didn’t leave on schedule, which means it’s likely to sell well despite being in what might be called, uncharitably, beater condition. (Indeed, it has a crudely applied recoil pad, so it may not be a factory carbine at all, but a Bubba sporter. The sling swivel looks aftermarket, too). Still, it’s a century-old artifact that comes with several stories you can use it to tell — WWI production by “neutral” US for the Allies; Remington contract manufacturing; the loss of a generation of French youth in fruitless trench war, leading to mutiny in the short term and French enervation in the long. Or you could tell the story of the “sporterizers” that Bubbafied a generation of military rifles in the 1950s through the 70s. All these stories and more can be told with the prop on hand, one short rifle that would have its own story to tell, if only it could speak!

Perhaps less interesting to you, but remarkable to us, is a collection of derringers and small pistols including a knuckle-duster and a Remington-Eliot four barrel, and quite a few wall-hanger vintage and antique shotguns like this Parker Brothers Damascus-barreled 12-gauge:

Parker Brothers shotgunThat, hung over your mantel with your own BS story about how it was Great Uncle Ichabod’s, would instantly vault your stock higher with the upland hunters around here. Guns of this era are also interesting to study as examples of the gunsmith’s art in an era when most machinery ran from steam, water power, or the smith’s own muscle and sinew. Of course, this 1889-era antique is not safe to fire, but isn’t every home better for the incorporation of original art in its decor?

There are dozens and dozens of Winchesters, including this 1907 Police Rifle that just shouts, “Stop in the name of the Law!”

Winchester 1907 police rifleTake that, evildoers.

There’s also 14 Walther lots, 76 Colt lots, 12 Mauser pistols including 4 Broomhandles, a lot of three Mauser rifles (a WWI G.98, a WWII K.98, and a K.98 converted to a single-shot .22), and all kinds of other oddities and endities.

December 4-6 Premiere Auction

If the Rock Island online auctions are cool, the Premiere Auctions are absolute zero. It’s a bit mind-boggling. Want a rare Volcanic pistol? They’ve got two to choose from, of this incredibly historic firearm that is the nexus between the legendary names Winchester and Smith & Wesson. More of a long gun guy? They have a rare Volcanic detachable-stock carbine — but no, not exactly; they have consecutively numbered pair. (Alas, the stocks are missing from both).

There are over 400 Winchester lots, including many rare and unique pieces.

To parallel our statement about the online auction, the Premiere auction offers 29 Walther lots, including this rare-as-unicorn-ivory VG1 “last ditch” rifle:

Walther-coded VG1 rifle

….and a P-38 prototype, 830 Colt lots, 69 Mauser pistols including 7 Broomhandles, and all kinds of other oddities and endities, almost all of which are finer, rarer, or better provenanced than their online-auction counterparts.

The Rock Island Auction Blog is a great way to stay in touch with upcoming auctions, and they have great little historical articles.

9 thoughts on “Two Coming Auctions from Rock Island

  1. Dyspeptic Gunsmith

    Depending upon the grade of damascus and the condition, they can be fired with reduced pressure loads available from RST.

    If you read the book by WW Greener, “The Gun and Its Development,” you find that he had damascus barrels proofed side-by-side with “fluid steel” barrels of the earliest alloy steel development and his damascus barrels out-performed the fluid steel barrels of that day.

    The issue of damascus and “is it safe to shoot?” actually brings three different issues to bear:

    1. The quality of the damascus. Not all “damascus” is really “damascus,” – some barrels are known as “wire twist,” some are damascus and some are more specialized. Some damascus barrels are of exceptional quality, some are pure shit wound around a mandrel.

    The worst damascus barrels, and the ones that gave the poor reputation to damascus, were Belgian barrels made by the boatload (literally) and shipped to the US on “farmer’s guns” or to be hung on American actions at low prices. There were 10’s of thousands of these guns made and sold into the US market at fire-sale prices 100+ years ago. The worst were back-street Belgian guns that were made from parts rejected by the name Belgian gun houses and shovelled out the side door. No proofs, no accountability, no quality. And the result was what you’d expect: the shotgun version of the “ring of fire” pistol of today.

    The best damascus barrels, properly cared for, are things of beauty and can withstand modern loads – as long as the chamber lengths are respected. There were many guns made with 2.5″ chambers, not the modern 2.75″ chambers of today. If your tubes have short chambers, respect the chamber length and get the proper shells for it.

    2. Has the damascus/twist barrel been stored and cared for properly? Was any corrosion allowed to attack the weld points up & down the tube? Corrosion attacks damascus barrels unevenly, and over time, the integrity of the welds that spiral down the barrel become an issue.

    3. NB that modern loads have been creeping up in MAP’s for some time. In the older days, you have trap and field loads, and most people shooting the smaller upland game didn’t see much need to go heavier than a trap load. #7.5 to #8 shot, 7/8ths of an ounce, maybe 1 ounce, at sub-sonic speeds. Perhaps the MAP was in the 6,000 to 7,000 PSI range.

    Today’s field loads for shotguns are running perhaps in the high 11K PSI range. Don’t put modern field loads into older shotguns – why beat them up? Shoot lighter loads. When I’m shooting older SxS shotguns, with alloy or damascus barrels (I own several of both types), I’m shooting 7/8ths to 1oz 3 dram equivalent or 2.75 dram equivalent powder loads, and I make sure the shells match the chamber. They work.

    Now, last issue: Several of my fellow gunsmiths who also love and work on older shotguns point out how the damascus -> fluid steel transition was one of the first brilliant modern marketing campaigns out there. A few of those crap Belgian side-street guns blew their barrels with nitro powders, and the gun companies, looking to make a quick buck, started telling people that damascus barrels would blow up with the new nitro loads. This spurred a big buying wave of new shotguns in the time period of about 100 years ago. Some quality damascus shotguns of old have been privately tested and found to be capable of handling modern nitro target loads just fine. As with everything in today’s litigious society, no one wants to issue a blanket statement, and I’ll hang this caveat on here: Not all damascus barrels were created equally, not all were cared for equally, not all shooters are smart enough to know their loads properly, etc, so you should consult a gunsmith who knows their stuff about older shotguns before firing a modern smokeless powder load in 100+ year old shotgun, whether damascus or fluid steel.

    1. Hognose Post author

      Sad but true: the answer to everything that matters usually comes down to, “It depends.”

      Thanks for an excellent comment!

  2. Tom Stone

    If you have a Damascus 12 gauge you can also buy a 16 or 20 gauge insert that is positioned with “O” rings and a threaded barrel tensioner. I remember seeing these advertised in the early 1970’s and believe they are still made.

  3. Tam

    I confess: I like Frog rifles. I’ve got a Gras, a couple Berthiers, and the 36 and 49/56 flavors of MAS. I think if I could get a good working shooter-grade Lebel, it would be a complete enough set for me to stop.

  4. j.r. guerra in s. tx.

    oooh, my Grand Dad has one of those Winchester autoloaders back in the good old days. Local shopkeepers were deputized to arm themselves and come a runnin’ when / if there was a bank robbery or local holdup in town. This was during the Great Depression and fear of this was pretty common. I don’t believe that it ever was used for that function though – at least it was never mentioned in my presence.

    I saw it as a young child. I was sick and had and had to stay home from school one day with my Grandparents due to both my parents being at work. Wandering around the old house, I saw a dirty gun case in the corner and asked Grandpa what it was. He took it out of the case, checked the chamber / magazine to be sure it was empty and allowed me a minute or so to admire it. It was beautifully blued and very heavy.

    I never saw it again and I have no idea where it ended up.

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