Today’s old gun markets have almost everything for the gun collector.
We collect because it is fun to learn about and possess these old firearms, whether they are the Guns that Won the West or the sidearm grandpa carried at Belleau Wood. Good collecting, the most satisfying kind of hunting and gathering or “accumulating,” becomes more than simple acquisition, more than decoration; it becomes a life-long passion that involves more than hiding artifacts in a safe.
The deeper we get into antique firearms, for instance, the more questions we ask: Did Remington manufacture .38 rimfi re Vest Pocket Pistols, its “Saw-Handle Deringer,” or were these simply mis-gauged .41s? And how many .30- and .32- caliber models were made? Are these versions quite rare or simply odd?
Probably less than 1,000 of the Remington Revolving Percussion Rifl e were made from about 1866-79 in .36- and .44 caliber. Larger cylinder and extra-long loading lever help identify authentic specimens. Although few were made, slight demand causes sales below $2,000 if in good condition. (This is a recreation from Traditions/Pietta.)
“Collecting, as opposed to gathering, can be an intellectual pursuit as well as a way to be with other people of a similar interest. In my experience, [fi shing] lure collectors, in particular are the some of more fun loving bunch of people I’ve encountered. How much fun is it to collect in front of your video screen? On the other hand, where else can you legally have this much fun and maybe make some money on your indulgences in the long run? Bottom line: collect what you really like and wait on those boomers to show up about the time you want to buy a house in Montana, but don’t quit the hobby just because it’s hard to find a five dollar Heddon.” – Michael Echols, originally written in 1998 and since updated for Gabby Talkington’s www.antiquelures.com. Used with permission.)
It is a challenge to dig into the unknown. There are so many peculiar and unanswered questions in every facet of firearms as to boggle the mind, and trying to decipher these puzzles keeps us on a learning curve when our human brains, by some medical and sociological accounts, have long since fossilized. Does it matter to the human race whether Remington manufactured .38 rimfire Deringers?
Probably not, but it may matter to us, personally. The mental stimulation of learning about any technology such as guns – the arguing, debating and researching – is sufficient reason, quite apart from actually owning them, to collect.
It is really no different than a medieval monk laboriously transcribing an ancient parchment scroll. It is brain health. But actually owning the old guns, turning them over in one’s gloved hands, poring over them with a magnifying glass is also important.
There is a story about an old duck hunter who has taken his grandson into the marsh. The old man calls and the cold wind blows and the boy shivers. Finally, the ducks swoop in and the old man points out the mallards and the blue wing teal and shows the boy how to tell them apart from the wood ducks, the drakes from the hens, and coaches him about lead, but the old man does not shoot.
As the next flight swings around the decoys, the boy does not raise his gun to shoot, either. “Why didn’t you shoot?” the old man asks and the boy says, “I just want to be like you, grandpa.” And the old man pats him on the back and says, “I’ve shot plenty of ducks in my time. Now it’s your turn. You have to shoot ‘em.”
It is the same way with antique firearms. Beyond the biofeedback, the hand-to-brain hypothesis suggests that it is the stimulation of our restless hands and fingers that encourages our brain to learn:
“You have to own them.” Learning about old guns is wonderful and some might say a sufficient reason to be interested. That coin has another side, however, and that is actually making a purchase; taking home your first gun. And that thrill – and it is a thrill – is absolutely necessary to fully participate in and enjoy this antique field, whether or not it is ultimately a meaningless activity and whether our kids follow in our collecting footsteps.
This gun collecting series brought to you by NM Collector Software.
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