Crud. We meant to write about this one, and it’s on us, so we are giving you no advanced warning (well, maybe 1 hour, because we think they kick off at 0900 Central time), for which transgression we apologize: nostra maxima culpa. And all that.
But the nice people (and occasional furnishers of fine firearms for the Hogsafe, deep in the Hogcave naturally) Rock Island Auctions are running a, to steal an expression from Donald Trump, Yuuuuuge auction this week, with incredible amounts of cool stuff. It doesn’t matter what you like, from affordable needs-rewatting Class III to minty classic Winchesters and Colts from frontier days, to the most obscure oddities from the nether reaches of collecting, they’ve got it.
The auction will fun, ah, run, for four days, 25-28 February so it kicks off this morning. The lots are listed in a catalog that’s the size of a small-town’s telephone book (for those of you of a certain age who remember these things).
You can browse or search the catalog online. Looking for something specific?
Some Cool Lots
Here’s a set of three Ruger semi-auto carbines. We’re interested because of the first one, a Ruger Mini-14 in a folding stock that was one of several kinds available in the aftermarket prior to the AWB of 1994, and that never returned to the market afterward. It folds like an MP40 or AKMS.
There’s also a mint NIB Mini and a Ruger .44 Magnum carbine, a once-popular deer gun in these parts. It’s like a 10-22 that came back from boot camp with a deeper voice and more serious gravamen. All three guns are mass-produced 20th Century firearms, but if you like Rugers….
Here’s a Collector Prize and Collector no-Prize in One Lot. Everybody knows that the first double-action pistol was the Walther PP of 1929. Everybody is wrong. (And yeah, we’ve written that first sentence in earnest before). There are at least two prior claimants, a limited-production Russian firearm that’s mentioned in old books, and Alois Tomiška’s Little Tom pistols. The Little Tom was ahead of its time, as a DAO pocket pistol made even before World War I. Tomiška was a Czech, which meant nothing in the age of Empires; his state was the Habsburg Empire. Most Little Toms were made in Vienna (and are so marked: Wien auf Deutsch), but some earlier ones were made in Austria’s Bohemian province and are marked by the Prague proof house. This one? It’s in poor condition — for one thing, the trigger has not reset properly, suggesting a smith’s attention is needed — but it’s innocent of any markings whatsoever, and will provide someone with an interesting research project (as well as bragging rights for DA primacy over all us Walther collectors).
The other gun in the lot is apparently a FN1900 copy, a Mélior made by Robar et Cie., a prolific Liège manufacturer of small pistols, most of them copies of other designs, and not much of a collector piece. But it’s worth eating the Robar to own the Little Tom.
Of course, if you want just a Little Tom and in better condition, and will settle for a Wiener Waffenfabrik marked pistol from post-WWI Austria, Rock Island can hook you up there, too:
I didn’t check the calibers on these collector pieces, but I’d expect them to be .32 ACP/7.65 Browning caliber.
Want an NFA Gunsmith’s Special? Here’s a DEWAT registered Chauchat for relatively short money. As we understand it, this can be restored legally to firing condition, if it can be restored physically, with some documents filed with BATFE.
These DEWATs used to be sold from ads in gun magazines, just the thing to decorate your hunting camp or rumpus room (remember that term? That’s an easier way to date you than cutting off a leg and counting rings). You were expected to make up your own war story.
“The Sho-sho kept jamming, and the Boche were still coming… so I choked up on the barrel and began breaking skulls. Line drive to right field! Take that, Fritz. Then and there, I vowed I’d bring the thing back in my duffel bag and hang it on the wall, so I’d never forget.”
Some of these old 1950s-60s DEWATS were only mildly demilled — they used to plug barrels with lead, for instance — and are an easy fix. That this one has not been fixed to date suggests that it might not be one of those.
Still, who buys a Chauchat to shoot? (Well, Ian or Karl would. They’d enter two-gun matches with it). But it’s the principle of the thing, isn’t it? Still, an 8mm Chauchat exuding World War I history, likely to go under the hammer for under $10k.
One last item: Three Chinese Mongrels. Two somewhat inept copies (of a Beretta and an FN 1900) and a Type 31 which is alleged to refer to 31 years of Chicom rule, but that would be 1980, and China didn’t make this in 1980. We’re guessing 31 years since Sun Yat-Sen’s Chinese Revolution, or 1950.
Don’t like these lots we’ve selected? There are over 9000 firearms in over 4000 lots, so you’re probably going to find something you want. Whether you can afford it — well, that’s between you and your next Roman numeral’d Plaintiff.
RIA’s Own Tips on Maximizing your Auction Fortunes
RIA sends out an engaging email newsletter to its customers — you can sign up at the site, it’s free — and a recent one included these tips for getting the most out of a firearms auction. This is specific to RIA, but some of the tips apply when you’re working with other premium auctioneers, as well, and they get you in mind of thinking strategically about your auction bids.
That way you don’t ever take something out of the box and ask yourself, Why did I….? And you don’t ever see a hammer price and go, Dang I’d have topped that!