Considering the sale of antiques or collectibles?
Allow me to ramble a bit and explain the variables involved in the antique and collectible market. Value is primarily a function of Condition, Rarity and Originality. The ORDER of importance of these factors depends largely on the specific object or firearm. Lets have a look at each one.
Condition Here we consider the object in terms of its state of preservation. In firearms, such factors as metal and wood condition are significant. If the barrel was originally blued, how much of that bluing remains? If the action was color case hardened, how much of that finish remains? Similarly, the amount of surface finish on the wood remaining. Are inspector marks and proof marks clear and legible?. Are various parts and screws crisp and sharp?. Does the object show a consistent and normal patina? I find the use of the normal ‘Bell’ shaped curve useful in understanding the issues of condition. Here most objects will fall into the median range with some being to the right and some to the left. We can consider the extreme left as being highly worn, tattered and often incomplete while the extreme right as being ‘mint’ or perfect. If we assign percentages for the sake of clarity with the left being “0” and the right being “100, then we can begin to describe individual objects in terms of condition. For a variety of reasons collectible arms in the condition range of 80-85% and better have reflected spiraling values in the past decade.
Rarity As in any collectible, rarity plays a significant role in value. A special order Winchester or Colt for example is a unique variant of the normal production by these companies…..a ‘one-of ‘ because many choices were available on special order. Similarly, Confederate arms from the Civil War were not produced in a single large arsenal as were union arms at the Springfield Armory for example. Rather they were largely made in much smaller facilities and purchased by individual States or other entities. In addition, Confederate arms seem to have had a quite high attrition rate and are often found in well used condition. A final example may be a “A” or “B” grade Parker shotgun circa 1910. These guns cost $300 or more new and a relative few were sold.
Originality Basically what we are concerned with here is this: Does the gun have ALL of its original parts? Are the surface finishes of the wood and metal original? Have there been any alterations over time….factory or otherwise? Is the gun complete? Suppose we are looking at a circa 1900 high quality English shotgun. Questions relating to the above issues may be these. Have the chambers and/or chokes been altered after manufacture? Originally the gun would have been sold in a case with accessories which may have included and extra set of barrels. Frequently guns in this era were refinished by the Maker after some years of use. Fortunately, a fair amount of recorded historical data is available using the records of original manufacturers. This information, often called a “Factory Letter”, will specify the particulars of a given gun by serial number. I cannot let this end without noting a meaningless phrase that is often heard……”It is in good shape for its age”. Hmmmmm, I am not sure what that means.
Over the years, we have been fortunate enough to have had some very rare and highly collectible arms and related objects. We have sold most of the items shown in “Objects From the Past” in addition to may others. The key to this has been access to a wide collector base and fairness in dealing with buyers and sellers.
If you are considering the sale of one gun or an entire collection, I would very much appreciate the opportunity to assist you. Also consider consignment as an alternative. Inquire for details.