Gun Auctions: What Sells, And What Auctioneers Look for in a Consigner

How to make the most of gun auctions.

by  Mark Kakkuri

In other words, while Glock continues to enjoy a banner year—the company is trying handle backorders of 70,000 units—firearm auctions tend to feature entirely different categories of firearms sales.

At Findlay, Ohio-based Old Barn Auctions, firearms consultant Larry Wells says they recently auctioned off a Winchester 94 Deluxe Sporting Rifle sold for $3,800, a Henry First Model for $20,000; and an engraved Gustav Young 1862 Colt Pocket Navy with ivory grips for $13,500.

Gunrunner Online Firearm Auctions recently offered at auction 30 unopened boxes of Model 12 trap guns from the 1960’s and 1970’s, including Super Pigeons, Pigeon, Skeet and Trap Grades. ”These beautiful and rare pieces created a nationwide sensation!” says owner Scott Weber, explaining that the company seems to do best with fine double shotguns and rare military firearms. “We have also done well with ‘famous guns,’ selling some of Elvis Presley’s personal firearms and the firearms of Winchester exhibition shooter Herb Parsons,” Weber says.

According to James D. Julia, his auction company’s recent sales included a Napolean-era pair of cased pistols by Boutet Arms (Versailles, France)—”the finest gunsmiths in history,” he says—that went for $438,000. In March 2009 Julia auctioned off the firearms collection of Dr. Joseph Murphy of Philadelphia, a collector of Colt pistols. “In terms of average quality, rarity, and number of firearms, Dr. Murphy’s collection arguably was one of the finest collections in history, if not the best,” says Julia. With this auction, he says, “the eyes of the gun fraternity were on me.”

Overall Julia says it was a fantastic sale: The first lot included engraved and cased #2 Paterson pistols with an expected sale range of $275,000 to $500,000. The final price was $517,500. Thirty lots later, says Julia, an engraved Colt Single Action estimated at $450,000 to $800,000 went for $747,500.

Finally, Curt Kramer of Kramer Auctions reports that Winchester rifles “are always a hit—those old lever actions really appeal to a wide range of buyers.” The most memorable and significant sale for Kramer, however, was a Sharps Berdan Rifle. “Aside from being a fantastic firearm,” says Kramer, “the family selling it had no idea what they had. So they were in shock when this ‘Civil War gun’ as they had described it topped the sale at over $12,000.”
Not all the auctions, however, were marked by sales of rare or antique firearms. Kramer says he also noticed a big increase in the sale of quality new or used modern handguns. “I am sure the political environment had something to do with that,” he says.

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