Unseen for 50 Years – Exquisite Fine Arms Collection Goes to Auction

Rock Island Auction Company will feature a rare cased Gastinne-Renette masterpiece and exquisite firearms from acclaimed collector Norman R. Blank during the December Premier Auction

ROCK ISLAND, Ill., Nov. 7, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC) is presenting the collection of Norman R. Blank – a grouping of high art European arms over 50 years in the making and unseen by the public for several decades. Offering unmatched examples of European artistry, the collection of fine arms is already garnering the attention of several museums. The grouping is highlighted by a cased pair of presentation pistols by Parisian master gunmaker Gastinne-Renette whose clientele has included the Emperor of France and the King of Spain. They will be available at the December Premier Auction in Bedford, Texas, Friday, Dec. 8 through Sunday, Dec. 10, as part of numerous selections from the Norman R. Blank Collection.

The cased pair is an example of the 19th-century firearm artistry that Gastinne-Renette was known and awarded medals for at several international expositions between the 1840s and the 1870s. The pistols feature an intricate leafy grapevine scroll engraving that coordinates with the hammer carved to depict a battle between a snake and a squirrel. Complementing the pistols are its accessories, including a floral-patterned powder measure, ebony relief case, and a chased powder flask, which are works of art themselves. The rifle barrels bear the inscription “GASTINE-RENETTE A PARIS” and the date 1855. The pair was also once owned by renowned Olympian and pistol shot Walter Winans.

“We have seen the magnificent work of Gastine-Renette come through our doors several times, most notably with cased pistols made for Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria that we sold in 2020,” Kevin Hogan, President of Rock Island Auction Company said. “Mr. Blank’s collection presents an extremely exciting moment in the world of fine arms. Collectors might be aware of an item or two from the collection, but almost no one has seen it in its entirety. It’s the last of the great European collections in private hands from the last of the great students.”

Included with the set is also a purchase agreement dated April 1966, when the renowned gun collector Norman R. Blank purchased the pistols. Blank was a modern Renaissance man, indulging in collecting classic Ferraris, fine wine, and antiquarian books, but his primary passion was the collecting of fine firearms. Blank’s distinguished collection includes high-end European firearms, from exquisite 17th-century flintlocks and wheellocks to exhibition-quality cartridge guns from the early 20th century.

Pieces from Blank’s collection that will be featured in Rock Island’s final auction of the year include, but are not limited to:

  • A Flintlock double barrel shotgun by Pierre Greverath from the Armory of Schloss Dyck
  • A pair of Wheellock sporting rifles crafted by Georg Keiser of Vienna and commissioned for the Imperial Hapsburg Family
  • A .470 (Nitro Express) sidelock ejector double rifle by John Rigby & Co., accompanied by a fine case and accessories
  • A pair of exquisitely engraved “hair rifled” over/under Flintlock pistols by John Manton
  • A Flintlock fusil crafted at the Versailles Manufactory
  • A Flintlock sporting gun by Christian Koerber, originally belonging to King Frederick I of Wurttemberg

For additional information on Rock Island Auction Company and other highlights of the December event, visit: www.rockislandauction.com.

About Rock Island Auction Company:
Rock Island Auction Company is the world’s no. 1 auction company for firearms, bladed weapons and militaria. Founded in 1993 by its current CEO Patrick Hogan, RIAC continues to lead the industry with record sales numbers and its extensive and well-crafted marketing efforts. The company’s 150,000 square-foot Illinois campus consists of two buildings, hosts 18-plus auctions each year, while the 90,000 square-foot Bedford facility will open in December at 3600 Harwood Road. RIAC actively seeks consignments, be it a single weapon or a collection of hundreds, an item valued at $1,000 or $1 million.

 For more information, please visit www.rockislandauction.com or call 1-800-238-8022.

Media Contact
Julia Patterson


SOURCE Rock Island Auction Company