Among the rare finds, and there were many, at the premiere firearms auction last week at Rock Island Auction Company was the near mint Singer M1911A1 pistol. This pistol belonged to a Colonel Owen G. Birtwistle and with the pistol the buyer also gets an informal memoir of the late air commanders life.
The Singer M1911A1 is considered among many WWII collectors as a holy grail type of firearm because there were only 500 ever produced. Singer was given a test contract to make the sidearms for the military during WWII but after a run of only 500 the Ordinance Dept. had them halt production so they could focus their efforts elsewhere. The pistols were almost exclusively issued to the U.S. Army Air Corpsmen who had very low survival rates during the war. This has resulted in an unknown, but seemingly decreasing, number of these sidearms left.
“We had the privilege to sell the worlds finest Singer 1911 not too long ago,” said Joel Kolander, Interactive Production Manager for RIA, “and it sold for $414,000. That Singer was one percentage grade better than this Singer.” To find one such as this, both in this condition and battle worn, is a rare gem. To find a Singer that rides along with all the history is really unheard of. The aforementioned Singer which set the world record only came with a pair of magazines and the original box.
One could argue that the buyer of this spectacular piece of American military history got it at a steal, as they only paid $3,000 more than the estimated high price, buying it at $253,000. Considering the amount of history that comes, along with it and the impact that Col. Birtwistle had on the war, this was a purchase that is sure to increase in value.