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Sale of potentially valuable guns...

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by tac, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. tac

    tac UK, Oregon and Ontario. Well-Known Member

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    Gentlemen - I'm not selling guns, just offering some advice about the responsiblity of doing so.

    I was recently contacted off-forum by a gentleman who intends to try and sell a potentially very high value handgun for a friend, and he asked me to confirm a few things for him about it.

    I am constantly amazed that even after all this time, there are STILL people out there with genuinley historic artefacts that they claim to know nothing about - 'twas jest a'hangin' over the fireplace since I wuz a kid...my granpappy etc...... At THIS end of the scale of values, such an item is more than likely to be bought by a state museum than a private individual, although, of course, there are also many serious collectors who could afford such a piece.

    My opinions are moot, as the USA has any number of real experts on guns of this period, appraisers of their true value and genuineness, and auction houses to sell them - ALL of these SHOULD be used to the maximum to obtain the best price for the item, and to satisfy the seller.

    So IF you have a gun that you believe has great monetary or historical value, and this one MAY have both, it behooves you to do ALL the necessary research before trying to sell it.

    Meanwhile, good luck to the friend of the owner in his research, and let's hope that another piece of real American history has come to light with this gun.

    tac
     
  2. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    A Public Service Message of the highest order.

    As for historic aspects, PROVENANCE is everything. (Hard documentation). Written, first-hand, and photographs of the particular gun from the actual period are best. Chain of posession is paramount.

    "My Dad said this was Jesse James' pistol", or "Grandpa said Butch Cassidy gave him this gun after robbing the Winnemucca First National Bank" stories are rampant, and in and of themselves are of no value whatsoever.

    Having worked closely with the best firearms forensic expert in the US during the course of a two-year period to verify provenance on a certain firearm, I can personally advise that the chore will not be easy, and the trail will lead you (and even an expert) into areas you never imagined, and sometimes didn't want to go. You might also forge some good friendships, and discover the very best and the very worst in people.

    Good luck to your friend. If he approaches this with the idea that this will be an educational experience (and that is the GREATEST value), he will not be disappointed in any findings, whether or not they agree with the original belief.
     
  3. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Old saying "buy the gun, not the story" is relevant to most firearms.
     
  4. tac

    tac UK, Oregon and Ontario. Well-Known Member

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    @Spitpatch - thanks for the post, but - I have not the foggiest notion who this person is, as he contacted me via the PM system. And BTW, he mistakenly credits me with expertise that I do not have, nor have ever claimed to have, and obviously thinks that I am somebody else. All I have to help ME out with questions like he asked are the usual reference books, just like most folks interested in old guns.

    I am aware as any other non-expert about the pitfalls of the trail that he is attempting to follow, having been conned by the history of a Japanese sword over a period of many years, until it was shown at a Japanese sword appreciaition meeting here in UK to have been a [very expensive and well-done] fake by the person who actually sold it to me more than twenty years previously. To his credit he was even more appalled than I was, especially when I showed him my copy of HIS bill of sale...there was an instant exchange of a LOT of money, this time in MY direction. And I kept the fake, too, in fact, it's right here on the table top by my workdesk. It still looks very fine to me.

    So, what you have done is to reinforce my comments and advice to him, in the full appreciation that his pal might have one of the many thousands of fakes/copies - call them what you will - that exist.

    Best

    tac