Yesterday, an antique Colt sold for what is probably the highest price ever realized for a single hand gun in the first day of the ongoing 3 day Rock Island auction in Rock Island, IL. This may be the highest price paid for any single firearm--rifle or pistol. There are some matched pairs like two that belonged to George Washington or Simon Bolivar which brought more in other previous auctions.
The hammer price on this one was $1.55 million, which does not include the 17% buyer's premium.
Here's a link to the listing, that includes a fairly informative write up of the gun along with it's background. Click on the full screen button to enlargehttps://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/73/60/cased-colt-model-colt-civilian-walker-revolver
There are only around 170 Walkers known to still exist today and one of the finest examples of military marked versions sold a few years ago for a record $920k including buyers premium. That was the most paid at the time, but was beat out a year or so later by a cased Colt Paterson that went for about $970k
The Walker Colt is significant in that it got Samuel Colt back in the revolver business after his first manufacturing attempt in Paterson, N.J. had failed. He didn't even have a business when Captain Walker contacted him about fabricating these pistols. However, Colt didn't let that stand in his way, so he contracted with Ely Whitney Jr. who had an arms factory in Connecticut to produce the massive horse pistols. The pistols were named after Capt. Walker, who had also helped Colt design them. Part of Colt's deal with Whitney was that he got the tooling left from the production. This and his share of the proceeds allowed him to set up his own manufacturing operation in Hartford, CT and the rest is "history" as the saying goes
I have two reproductions of this 4.5 pound monster. One is a 2nd gen produced by Colt and the other is a 3rd gen produced under license to Colt all marked with proprietary Colt patents and other factory marks. My 3rd gen is in a case that replicates the one in the auction. I paid less than a $1000 for my cased reproduction, so I'm about $1,549,200 ahead.
It is claimed that the .44 cal Walker and Colt's subsequent massive .44 cal Dragoons derived from it, hold the title of being the world's most powerful revolvers until the advent of the .357 magnum in the 1930's.
I have a sealed bid for a Winchester rifle in this auction which will hit the block tomorrow, but it's in the bottom feeder section of the event and even though my bid is fair, I doubt it will win. There are just too many bidders with deep pockets that are willing to overpay for this stuff at these well publicized events