Milestone’s Oct. 23 Premier Antique & Modern Firearms Auction loaded with fresh-to-market one-off productions

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Featured: Untouched Civil War-era Winchester Henry rifle, one of only 75 Rutledge-bore Winchester Model 61s, WWII Allied & Axis handguns, many other blue-chip arms

WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – A choice selection of recently discovered firearms that have never before appeared at auction will headline Milestone’s October 23, 2021 Premier Antique & Modern Firearms sale. After months of traveling extensively and visiting private collections, Milestone’s firearms team has secured a number of top prizes, including guns that were produced in very low numbers or for a specific agency, arms with a low survival rate, and early examples that display historically significant design innovations. The live auction will take place at Milestone’s comfortable, purpose-built auction gallery in suburban Cleveland, with all remote forms of bidding available, including live online through multiple platforms. 

Colt ‘Python Hunter’ .357 Magnum with 8-inch caliber, manufactured in 1980 with factory-mounted special Leupold M8 4-power scope. Housed in Halliburton aluminum carry case with ammo box, matching tool set, cleaning rod and instruction manual. Estimate $5,000-$7,500
Colt ‘Python Hunter’ .357 Magnum with 8-inch caliber, manufactured in 1980 with factory-mounted special Leupold M8 4-power scope. Housed in Halliburton aluminum carry case with ammo box, matching tool set, cleaning rod and instruction manual. Estimate $5,000-$7,500

More than 420 high-quality lots from the most popular firearms-collecting categories will be offered, with a timeline that runs from the 18th century through Vietnam. “There are some very rare and unusual entries in this sale,” said Milestone Auctions firearms specialist Tony Wilcox. “At the preview, collectors are going to enjoy examining the fine points of each gun, but if they’re not able to attend in person, they’ll find that the catalog descriptions are very well detailed. We try to put ourselves in the bidder’s shoes and provide the type of information we think they would want to know.” 

At the pinnacle of the antique firearms section is an iconic New Haven Arms Model 1860 brass-framed Henry rifle, .44 Henry caliber with a 24¼-in barrel length, that was manufactured in 1863. A wonderful example of the reliable, high-capacity lever-action rifle that was immediately pressed into service during the Civil War and later used during the westward migration, it is untouched, has never been cleaned, and comes from a long-established collection in northern Colorado. The auction estimate is $20,000-$30,000. 

A truly historical 19th-century highlight is the very fine, never-cleaned New Haven .31-caliber “Volcanic” pocket pistol manufactured in 1857, and subsequently engraved and presented to the gallant Bavarian general Ludwig von der Tann, in 1881. Its estimate is $7,500-$9,500. 

Described by Wilcox as “probably the finest rifle of its type that [we] have ever sold,” a Winchester Full Antique Deluxe 1894 model, 38-55 WCF, with a piano-finished buttstock, was manufactured in 1897. A super example in absolutely unapologetic condition, it comes to auction directly from a Florida private collection and has a $10,000-$20,000 estimate.

The Colt name stands for quality and American tradition, and there will be plenty of Colts from which to choose, including dozens of high-grade Pythons, SAAs, a factory-verified unfired .22 nickel Diamondback, and numerous Model 1911s. 

An elusive and important Colt Model 1905 automatic pistol, .45 ACP and manufactured in 1911, is one of just over 6,000 made. “They represent the matrix of the enduring Colt .45 that is still in use a century after its invention,” Wilcox noted. Early iterations of the Model 1905 are in great demand and hardly ever turn up at auction. The entry in Milestone’s sale carries a $9,500-$17,500 estimate. Another stellar Colt is a Model 1911 manufactured in 1917 and made available exclusively to NRA members through the US Government. The majority of the issue was produced by Springfield, but some 50 or so of the guns, including this one, were made by Colt. Marked ‘N.R.A.,’ it comes to auction with a $10,000-$15,000 estimate. 

An exciting prospect for collectors of Colt’s Snake series is a factory-verified .22-caliber nickel Diamondback made in 1982. “The model was made in low numbers to begin with, but probably 80 percent of Colt nickel Diamondbacks sold over the past seven or eight years have been fakes, with nickel that was refinished by counterfeiters. Our gun is verified with papers proving it was shipped as a factory-nickeled example.” In as-new, unfired condition in its original period box with paperwork, it is estimated at $4,500-$6,000. Also, a Colt “Python Hunter” .357 Magnum made in 1980 with a factory-mounted Leupold M8 4-power scope, comes with an ammo box, matching tool set, cleaning rod and instructions manual. Estimate: $5,000-$7,500

An exceptional Remington UMC Model 1911 pistol manufactured in 1918 is one of only 21,676 of its type that were produced. “Right after World War I, any of these guns that remained were destroyed by US Government Surplus because their parts were not deemed interchangeable. As a result, the number of survivors is low. This one is among the finest and most honest examples we’ve seen recently,” Wilcox said. Estimate: $10,000-$20,000

Among the military highlights is a Scarce SA der NSDAP/Gruppe Pommern Walther PP pistol, .32 ACP, manufactured between 1937 and 1940 for use by Nazi German police who protected the storm troopers. A rare survivor with authentic markings, it is estimated at $4,000-$6,000.

Manufactured in 1939, an extremely rare Rutledge-bore Model 61 Winchester 22-caliber pump rifle is one of only an estimated 75 that were produced. In all-original condition, this fantastic gun comes from a Kansas private collection and will be offered publicly for the first time – either at auction or other public sale – with a $7,500-$12,500 estimate.

Built pre-World War II, a Browning A5 .16-gauge two-barrel (25½ and 27½ inches, respectively) shotgun set is profusely engraved with a game scene and signed by master engraver Felix Funkin. A consignor affidavit states that the original owner was Oklahoma State Senator Walter Ferguson (1886-1936). Estimate: $4,500-$6,500  

Truly one of a kind, the 1983 Coors Schuetzenfest Grand Prize Rifle was custom-crafted by Ron Long (Denver, Colo.) under commission to the event’s sponsor, Coors Brewing Co., with the action donated by Bill Ruger of Ruger Firearms. It comes in a fitted display case with accessories, loading tools, two Adolph Coors shooting medals, and an actual 1984 issue of American Rifleman magazine, which depicts the rifle on its cover. Estimate: $7,500-$12,500

Massive in size and intended for commercial hunting, a rare Nitro Belgium ELG-proofed 8-bore SXS shotgun has two 29½-inch barrels. Near-mint, never used, and able to accommodate modern ammunition, it will cross the auction block with a $6,500-$8,500 estimate.

Milestone’s Saturday Oct. 23, 2021 Antique & Modern Firearms gallery auction will be held at 38198 Willoughby Parkway, Willoughby (suburban Cleveland), OH 44094. Start time: 10 a.m. ET. All forms of bidding will be available, including live via the Internet through Milestone’s bidding platform, LiveAuctioneers, Proxibid, or Invaluable. For additional information, call 440-527-8060 or email [email protected]. Online: www.milestoneauctions.com

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James Ardis
James Ardis
Senior Writer and Editor

James Ardis is a writer, editor, and content strategist focused on the auction industry. His company, James Ardis Writing, has partnered with auction houses, galleries, and many clients outside the art world.

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