In 2014, Cowan’s Auctions, Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio acquired Little John’s Auction Service of Orange, CA, one of the most respected and recognized firearms auctioneers in the country. The acquisition brings together two premier firms with a combined 60 years of business experience and more than $600 million in sales. With the transfer of ownership, Cowan’s Auctions, Inc. became the third largest antiques firearms auction house in the country, and creates an unrivaled team of widely respected experts.
John Gangel, President and CEO of Little John’s Auction Service will join Jack Lewis, Cowan’s Director of Firearms and Militaria, as a consignment director and auctioneer. Gangel has owned and operated one of the nation’s top firearms auction houses since 1979. Wes Cowan, a nationally recognized antiques expert and PBS television star, formed Cowan’s Auctions in 1995, and has been a leading firearms auctioneer for the past decade.
With offices in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Denver, Cowan’s holds over 40 auctions each year, with annual sales exceeding $16M. We reach buyers around the globe, and take pride in our reputation for integrity, customer service and great results.
A full-service house, Cowan’s Auctions is also a leader in the industry, having disrupted the marketplace from the start. We were among the earliest auction houses to launch a website and one of the first to sell online. In 2014, Cowan’s, along with 5 of our competitors, launched bidsquare.com, on online bidding platform where auction houses are vetted to ensure honesty and quality.
In 2006, we represented the estate of former owner of the Cincinnati Reds, Marge Schott, selling a Charles Schreyvogel western oil painting for over $1.4 million. Specializing in rare, one-of-a-kind items, our 2009 Firearms auction featured the Engraved and Gold Inlaid Winchester Model 1886 Takedown Rifle in Unfired Condition made for John F. Dodge, which sold for $450,000.
We continue to set record prices for American Indian Art, Modern Ceramics, American History and Fine Art.
Several Cowan’s specialists are frequent appraisers on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow, and regularly give lectures across the country.
But, like many companies, we started small.
In 1977, after receiving his BA and MA in Anthropology from the University of Kentucky, Wes Cowan headed north, to the University of Michigan, to pursue his PhD. Wes took respite from the grind of school by driving the back roads of southeastern Michigan, stopping at the many antique stores of the day. A collector since early childhood, he began collecting the only thing he could afford: photographs of 19th century America, [link to 2015 stereoview auction].
Wes joined the faculty of the Ohio State University in 1980. In 1984, he joined the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History as Curator of Archaeology. Along the way, he kept building his knowledge of early photography and the history it captured. In his spare time, Wes was soon buying, selling and trading with collectors and holding mail and phone ‘auctions’ from a makeshift office in his garage. In 1995 he left the museum, became a licensed auctioneer and launched Cowan’s Auctions, Inc.
Wes quickly built a reputation as an expert who brought a new level of scholarship and honesty to the arena. Over the next few years the business grew rapidly as Cowan’s added expertise in American Indian Art, Furniture, Paintings and Decorative Art, Jewelry, Antique Firearms and 20th century Modern Ceramics.
Cowan’s attracts buyers from around the globe and takes pride in our reputation for integrity, customer service and great results.
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