Gun Auctions for Fun and Profit

Lot #117 – Patrick John Wayne's Colt Single Action Army Revolver 1 Of 1000 "Rusty Nail Edition"

Sponsored by Richmond Auctions

Auctions are wonderfully fun events. It doesn’t matter if you are bidding or just looking, hoping to land a prize, or figuring how much your own collection is worth, an auction is always educational.

Richmond Auctions (named for its founder, Jordan Richmond, not for Richmond, Virginia) is a relative newcomer to the field but is making a concerted effort to establish itself as one of the best. It began several years ago with an auction of what is known as “automobilia” and “petroliana.”

With its latest, coming up on November 18, the Richmond 2023 Premier Firearm & Sportsman Auction will expand into firearms and related collectibles—and what a way to start! Online bidding is currently available on

Two particular groups of lots are noteworthy. The first, consisting of a dozen guns and related objects, belonged to the family of actor John Wayne.

The second group comes from the famous American custom gunmaker Frank Pachmayr. Some of these are guns Pachmayr had engraved or upgraded, others were Pachmayr’s personal guns. But anyone who loves shotguns owes to himself (or herself) to look them over. Unless you are the most jaded shotgun collector, Pachmayr’s personal 28-gauge Parker, upgraded to the level of the mythical “Invincible,” will knock your socks off.

For most people, however, the John Wayne items hold the most interest.  Not many actors qualify as genuine icons, but The Duke was one of them. His son, Patrick John Wayne, had a considerable collection of guns, including Lot #147 Patrick Wayne’s 1 of 300 cased set of two Winchester Model 1894 “John Wayne Commemorative” rifles. They were made in 1981 in honor of John Wayne, and appear to be unfired (as one would expect.)

Lot #147 – Patrick Wayne’s 1 of 300 Cased Set Of Two Winchester Model 1894 John Wayne Commemorative Lever Action Rifles

Two other lots are noteworthy.

Lot #154 is, if anything, even more enticing: It’s one of seven sets of three Colt revolvers, in a fitted display case, produced in the Colt Custom Shop and given to members of the John Wayne family. Each gun has a unique serial number, designating they were made for the Wayne Family (JWF) and specifically for Patrick Wayne (03, the Duke’s third child). All three are Colt Single Action Armies, and to call them stunning is to understate the case. Even non-gun lovers are astonished by them. The Colt Custom Shop was renowned for its skill and good taste for more than century, and these guns live up to Colt’s standards.

Lot 154 – Patrick Wayne’s Set of Three John Wayne Family Issue Commemorative Colt Single Action Army Revolvers

These lots may have high estimates —starting bids of $10,000 each— but even if you don’t have ten grand to spare (and they will almost certainly sell for far more than that), they are worth a long look. You won’t see such guns for sale very often.

This auction is interesting in that it has a wide range of fascinating lots with something for, seemingly, everyone—at least in financial terms. While the John Wayne lots mentioned above have high reserves, others are remarkably low. For example, Lot #37 is a Peters Cartridge Company display sign, with a starting bid of only $300.

A century ago, America had several prominent cartridge companies, and all issued both cartridge boards (with real cartridges affixed) and illustrated signs. Rare Winchester-Western boards will sell for $50,000 or more, depending on size, condition, and rarity, and this has made all such advertising materials highly collectible. In fact, there is an expanding collecting fraternity devoted just to such boards, which suggests any purchased now are likely to increase in value.

Lot 325 – 1914 Hercules Powder Co. “The Game Bird Of The Future” Paper Calendar

At a time of economic uncertainty, most financial advisors include investment in hard goods, such as guns, as an excellent way to diversify holdings. Not every collectible increases in value, obviously, but many do and fine guns are a prime example. Every generation has looked at prices current then and said, “Surely the market’s peaked.” But in every case, the gun market has proceeded to scale new heights as the years passed.

For every Colt or Winchester that sets a new price record at auction, there are a thousand people kicking themselves for not buying one, years ago, when they had the chance.

Gun auctions, such as this one from Richmond, are an excellent way not only to, perhaps, acquire another investment, but also to see what your own guns might be worth, if not to you, then to your heirs.

They are a lot of fun besides, and they don’t cost you a thing to look. Can’t beat that.