Sale of rare guns and swords could bring nearly $4 million

By Lynn R. Parks

Scott Reagan, Seaford, has been in the auctioneering business for 15 years. This weekend's sale at the state fairgrounds in Harrington of the gun collection from the estate of Gene Koski could bring in 10 times the money of any auction he has ever called. "We could see $3 million, $4 million, it just depends on who's there," said Reagan, owner of Reagan Auctions. Estimated value of the more than 600 items in the collection is $1.7 million, an amount Reagan called low. About four years ago, Reagan, 48, sold guns from the estate of E. G. Adams, Greenwood, at an auction that brought in about $400,000. "That's the closest I have been to this kind of sale," he said. Koski, owner of Koski Trucking, Hurlock, Md., died last year. "It is hard to fathom a collection of this kind, both in terms of what is in it and how much it is worth, and the fact that it is local," Reagan said. "When I first started going through it, I was kind of overwhelmed. I knew Gene had a collection, but I had no idea it was like this." The collection includes 150 Colt revolvers, about a half dozen of which are "high dollar," Reagan said. A Colt single-action Army revolver, for example, with ivory grips and 24K gold inlay is valued from $12,500 to $14,500. A Colt 1848 Baby Dragoon revolver is valued at $14,500 to $16,500. Another Colt, a storekeeper's model revolver with a 4-inch barrel and pearl grips, is valued at $19,500 to $22,500. According to documents that come with the gun, the Colt was once given to Huey P. Long, governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and senator from 1932 to 1934. And yet another Colt, what Reagan calls the "Fort Delaware Colt," is valued at up to $50,000. According to its provenance, it was carried by Confederate Capt. Auguste Perrodin from Louisiana. Perrodin was captured at the Battle of Spotsylvania on May 10, 1864, and sent to Fort Delaware, where he remained for the balance of the war.

The estate also includes a number of Confederate swords, including two United States officer's swords, each valued at $3,000 to $5,000, and a Confederate sword carried by Capt. Andrew A. Hill, who was wounded and captured during Pickett's Charge, part of the battle at Gettysburg. That sword is valued between $32,500 and $40,000. Reagan said that he and members of his staff have been preparing for the auction since mid-November. He has spent about $55,000 on advertising, running announcements in gun and collecting publications across the United States. Compare that amount to $1,500, the amount he usually spends on advertising a sale. "It would be no good to have this kind of auction and advertise it the way we advertise a local auction, just running something in the local papers for two weeks," he said. And that advertising has paid off. Reagan has been contacted by people from across the United States, many of whom either intend to be at the sale or to place bids by telephone. Members of his staff are setting up enough chairs to accommodate 1,000 people. Not all of those people will be buying, of course. "I expect there will be a lot of local people there, who just want to see the collection and see who's buying," Reagan said. And who, perhaps, are hoping for a bargain. A gun worth thousands, for example, that goes for only a few hundred. But Reagan said that onlookers should not expect that to happen. The items in the Koski collection are so well documented, he said, and the sale so well advertised that "I don't think you'll find any bargains." Reagan said that, despite the number of people who will be there and the amount of money that will change hands, he is not nervous about this week's sale. "The nerve-wracking part has been the last four weeks," he said. "But that's all done and I'm ready. The actual sale will be the easy part." For your information The sale of guns and other military collectibles from the estate of Gene Koski will take place Saturday and Sunday at the state fairgrounds, Harrington. Bidding will get under way at 9:30 a.m. both days. Members of the public will be able to preview the items in the auction Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. For information, visit http://www.reaganauctions.com.

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