WILLOUGHBY, Ohio – An outstanding collection of Colts that included two very rare examples engraved by William H Gough laid the foundation for a very successful June 27 firearms event at Milestone Auctions’ suburban-Cleveland gallery. Owing to the large number of Internet bidders taking part, the 747-lot sale ran 12 hours, reaching a final tally that was close to the million-dollar mark, with after-sales included. Absentee and online bidding was available through LiveAuctioneers.
Unfired, gold-inlaid Colt 1911 engraved by William H. Gough sails past estimate to reach $51,600
“We had a motivated audience at the gallery – socially distanced for everyone’s safety – who were happy to be out of the house and doing something they really enjoyed,” said Milestone co-owner Miles King. “There were bidders for every type of firearm, but the Colts were the top attraction, with Winchesters not far behind. Collectors recognized how nice the Colt collection was and the rarity of some of the guns contained in it.”
The most previewed and sought-after Colts were two examples engraved by the renowned William H Gough, Colt’s master engraver who was active from 1912 to 1940. A gold-inlaid Colt 1911 .45 ACP-caliber gun (shown at top of page) that was shipped in 1931 to Scruggs, Vendervoort & Barney, St. Louis, appeared never to have been fired. Estimated at $25,000-$35,000, it was bid to a robust $51,600.
The second Gough-engraved gun, a 1930 Colt .38 Special Official Police Revolver, was described by Milestone’s firearms expert Dave Bushing as “solid, like new, and with almost 100% of its original finish.” It sold for its high-estimate price of $15,000.
A rare 1891 .44-.40-caliber Colt Lightning SRC, an example of the first mass-produced slide-action rifle, was “a game-changer for its time because it could fire twice as fast as any lever-action rifle,” King noted. Extensively engraved by the workshop of Cuno Helfricht, the gun in Milestone’s sale rose to $19,800 against an estimate of $8,000-$12,000.
A coveted World War I-era Colt, a 1911 .45 ACP caliber US Marine Corps pistol with all correct parts, was one of 2,400 guns of its type that were shipped to the Corps in 1917 following America’s entry into the war. It came to auction together with a 1912-style USMC holster and a copy of the 1919 book “With The Help Of God And A Few Marines” written by Brigadier General A.W. Catlin. Entered with a $4,000-$6,000 estimate, it found favor with multiple collectors and ended its bidding run at $22,200.
Produced in 1966 during the Vietnam War period, a rare and very high-quality Heckler & Koch HK41 semiautomatic 7.62-caliber NATO civilian rifle was one of fewer than 1,300 made. Of those 1,300, only about 400 were imported to the United States, which added a premium to the gun offered by Milestone. It sold above its estimate range for $11,100.
A mid-19th-century production from the British gunsmiths Forsyth & Co., led the European antique firearms section. The .65-caliber self-priming double-hammer over/under pistol featuring 9-inch Damascus twist-rifled full octagon barrels boasted beautiful condition and fine English engraving. Stamped “FORSYTH & CO PATENT GUN MAKERS LONDON” and estimated at $4,500-$6,500, it commanded $10,200.
Other highlights included: a 1934 near-mint automatic National Match 1911-A1 .45ACP caliber automatic, $8,700; a rare, experimental (one-of-a-kind) Colt 1851 .36 caliber Navy Revolver made in 1853, $7,200; and a boxed 1939 Colt .32 caliber Police Officers model with Roper checkered walnut target grips, $3,240.
“Everything we thought would do well in this sale actually did so, but there were also a lot of nice surprises,” said King. “The auction went smoothly with steady bidding throughout the entire twelve hours. We never rush bidders. We think an auction should be a marathon, not a race.”