So, about that strategy of bidding seriously on a couple of gotta-have-it items, and lowballing a bunch of others? The strategy that had us put in a record, for us, 12 bids?
We won five of them, most of them just barely, showing we weren’t too far off in our estimates. The five lots include 14 pistols, of which we want to keep 6 or 7. That means we’ll be disposing 7 or 8 firearms, including some rarities and some pretty common dogs, in the days ahead.
The One that Got Away
In one very embarrassing case, we were sure we’d bid on a lot (2575: “Two Czechoslovakian Semi-Automatic Pistols -A) CZ Model 1924 Pistol with Military Markings B) Praga Zbrovka Model 1921 Folding Trigger Pistol”) and even entered the lot and our bid in our auction tracker spreadsheet. But we never entered the bid. We really wanted the Praga and we’ll be bummed if it was under our planned-but-never-executed $1300 bid. Here’s what those guns looked like:
The larger pistol is an early vz. 24, the Czechoslovak military’s first domestic standard service pistol. The oddball Praga is one of only two designs produced by the short-lived Zbrojovka Praha; it has a notch in the top of the slide to allow index-finger cocking, and when cocked, the trigger (visible in the photos) drops down.
In three cases, our winning bid (not including buyers’ premium) was under the low and high estimates. That’s good pickin’; in our opinion, all the auction houses set their estimates at the low end of a reasonable range. We presume they do this to encourage bidding, because many lots then get plenty of bidding action “down low,” and that may incite other buyers to join in.
In another case, our winning bid was right within the predicted range — higher than the predicted minimum, lower than the predicted max — and in the last one, we paid $400 more than the predicted minimum, and $100 more than the predicted max.
One lot where we’re keeping both guns for sure is #4257, “Two Cezska Zbrojovka Semi-Automatic Pistols with Holsters.” The two pistols are a rare Vz 22, that was only made for a very short period and is transitional between the Mauser Pistole N prototypes and the mass-produced Vz 24, and a rarer Cz 36 made in 1939, supposedly both with holsters although only one holster shows in the photos:
The Pistole N was an evolution of the Mauser 1910/14 with a locked breech (most of the Mauser prototypes are in 9 x 19 mm) and a hammer instead of the 1910/14’s striker. The unusual safety design of the pistol came directly from earlier Mauser designs, and it’s unclear whether it was Josef Nickl’s, or the creation of one of the Feederle brothers. There are two safety controls on the Vz 22 (the upper pistol in those pictures). The upper of the two safety controls visible on the left side, behind the trigger, applies the safety when it’s flicked downward; the push-button that looks like it might be a magazine release is actually a safety release. It’s easy to use and easy to adapt to, actually, although nobody will carry one of these relics as a practical firearm ever again.
This particular Vz 22 (not VZ1922, which is a different gun entirely; that’s a rare error in Rock Island’s labeling) bears unit marks identifying it as property of the Desatý Dělostrelecký Pluk — 10th Artillery Regiment — gun number 178.
The CZ 36 is also interesting. The gun was produced in four major variations over its history; this is the first one. It’s a very early DAO pistol, and this example, like most CZ 36s, has a safety. (The safety was dispensed with on the next version, the CZ 45). There was also an American clone; some parts interchange among all variants. Perhaps some time we’ll do a story on these little CZs.