Firearms or gun collecting is a niche in the antique collection industry that is slowly gaining its ground. There are more gun collectors out there than you think, especially when it comes to antique guns. These guns, depending on the age and condition, could be worth a significant amount of money. This is another reason why collectors seek them out. Whether you like collecting antique guns for hobby or to make money, you need to know the in’s and out’s of this business first.
Hold on to that antique gun in your possession. Take time to learn about what causes the value of antique guns to fluctuate and how you can exploit that when trying to sell your old guns.
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When talking about antique guns, there are two categories that they typically fall under. The first one is the Muzzleloader, which is a type of firearm wherein the projectile is loaded into the muzzle. The antique collectors who buy this type of gun do so not for firing purposes. Instead, this type of gun is collected because of its historical value. They are often put on display to showcase them as part of a large collection of firearms.
The second type of antique firearm that is sought after by collectors is the cartridge-firing gun. It is also more commonly known as shell gun. It typically comes with an ammunition packaging and cased primer that is designed to fit into the firing chamber. This type of gun is collected with the intent of shooting.
In addition to these two general categories, the type of firearms that are collected by antique hobbyists can be recognized as follows: hand guns and long guns. You can distinguish the different types of guns based on the material used for making them. Most of these guns are made with aluminum, polymer, and steel.
Whether you want to sell or collect antique firearms, you need to be ready to do some research. Not all antique guns are valuable or of a certain value. There are several factors that go into the process of assessing its value. Unless you have a trained eye or experience handling guns, you won’t be able to make that assessment yourself.
To help you out, the succeeding sections will tackle the factors that are used to determine the value of antique guns and firearms. You can get more information about each below so you can use them as guideline.
The condition of an antique gun will be one of the biggest factors for its pricing. No matter how valuable or rare the gun is, if it is in a pretty bad state, it won’t command as high of a price than one that is in a good condition. It does not even have to be in pristine condition – it should still be functional (or have most, if not all, of its parts).
As a collector, you need to determine what condition you would settle for. Most antique collectors or gun enthusiasts would be willing to pay for a gun with some honest wear. Some would prefer having a gun that is mechanically safe and functional over a gun that comes with 100% original finish. After all, it is an antique and it is expected to look its age!
Since the gun is a type of firearm, it is highly important to check the safety features of a gun as part of its condition evaluation. It can be rough to assess when it comes to guns particularly in terms of originality. Some guns have their parts replaced over the years. This could cause the gun to lose its originality. But in terms of safety, it has definitely improved in that department. How do you then assess what’s more valuable: originality or safety? This could vary in the eyes of the collector as each buyer would have different priorities. If you are not sure what the right approach is, you need to consult an expert appraiser.
During your research, you need to check if there are any reproductions made of a specific type of gun that you own (or think about selling). Without close examination, the reproductions can look a lot like the original. But an expert eye will be able to determine the difference pretty easily. If you are not sure if yours is an original or reproduction, it is best to have it checked.
The provenance of a gun refers to any historical association it might have concerning its previous ownership. For example, your gun might have been previously owned by a famous personality or it might have an interesting story that ties it with some of the critical moments in history. Or better yet, the gun could have been part of a royal armory in the past. You will only determine the provenance of an antique item by doing some research. When an antique item has a special interest, it will significantly increase in value.
The make and model of an antique gun is one of the things that you need to consider when it comes to valuing the item. This is the first thing that is usually taken into consideration when assessing the value of antique firearms. In particular, collectors who buy antique guns based on specialization will look into this factor more closely.
The quality for each maker will vary significantly; this is one thing that gun enthusiasts pay a lot of attention to. In addition, some models or makes also have historical significance. It is therefore important to research on the background of a specific gun’s make and model to have a more specific approximation of value. Some of the most notable makes and models of gun throughout history include Smith & Wesson, Winchester, Remington, Luger, Enfield, and Arisaka. The best manufacturers command premium prices as some of them are associated with higher quality guns.
The rarity of the gun is also one factor affecting value. Antique collectors are more willing to pay premium prices for novel items or early models that were manufactured in small quantities. Meanwhile, if you can get hold of guns that are examples of early technical innovations, then you can also command higher prices for those. Some buyers are even willing to overlook any minor defects or condition problems for those rare items.
The artistic appeal of an antique gun is often overlooked. However, it can have some influence on the pricing of the antique firearm. There are a few firearms that are carved with fine engravings, which add to their artistic value. This is typically manufactured from the 18th to the 19th centuries. This period was known as the “Golden Age” when it comes to firearms engraving; therefore, you can get a good price for items that originated from this era.
Antique items require tremendous amount of care. It is essential if you want to preserve its value. Here are some of the best practices to follow when preserving an antique gun or firearm:
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Lindsey Bourret is the Managing Director at Mearto. In addition to overseeing the daily operations of the business, she also enjoys sharing her extensive knowledge of the fine art and antiques market with our customers through our website, blog, e-newsletter and social media accounts.