There is a new top-of-the-heap when it comes to legendary auction-block firearms.
Last month, we reported that a Model 1886 Winchester lever-action rifle chambered in .45-70 presented to the man who captured Apache leader Geronimo would be sold by the Rock Island Auction Company, along with some other high profile firearms, including Bringham Young’s revolver.
The rifle ultimately exceeded all expectations and drew a stunning $1.265 million on the block. While other guns have sold for more as a pair, no other single firearm has fetched such a price the world over, according to this story from sportingclassicsdaily.com.
“It is an honor to be entrusted with an American treasure,” said RIAC President Kevin Hogan. “Being serial number one and possessing such outstanding condition would alone be enough to draw six figures at auction. When you add one of the most famous names in the history of the Old West you have a huge crossover appeal and set the stage for something special to happen.”
The gun was presented to Capt. Henry W. Lawton, leader of the U.S. military force sent into Arizona to hunt down the renegade Apache Geronimo in 1885 and 1886. Several dozen of Geronimo’s warriors had been raiding on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border for some time.
Today, the rifle is in excellent condition, with the barrel and full-length magazine tube both retaining 95 percent of their original bluing, along with the hammer, trigger, lever, and buttplate. The receiver still has 90 percent of its color, while the bolt is nearly 100 percent intact, despite being over 100 years old, the story says. Lawton led an initial force of 3,500 men, and later 5,000, to track them down and bring and end to their violent raids.
Lawton’s campaign was a difficult one, as he and his men chased Geronimo through the searing desert landscape for nearly two years.
Eventually, the troops caught up to him in the Mexican Sierre Madres. On September 4, 1886, Geronimo surrendered to Lawton, who received the 26-inch-barrel Winchester as a gift from his friend Lt. George E. Albee, both of whom were medal of honor recipients and had been friends in the Civil War, the story says. The words “Albee to Lawton” is inscribed on the barrel, just behind the rear sight.
The rifle was auctioned along with a gold watch gifted to Lawton around the same time.
This world-record sales comes after RIAC set a record in 2015 with a sales total of $51 million.