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THE LAST WORD
Most collectors of firearms and other weaponry have heard the time honored admonitions from their mentors, “Buy a gun (or whatever), buy a book.” Some might even say, “Before you buy…buy a book." is good advice, for there's nothing like being informed before making what could be a major purchase, or the beginnings of a rst collection.
Readers of this magazine have probably noticed that most of our articles end with a section called “further reading” and quite oen we list books that are long out of print. We also include book reviews on books that we consider classics but which were published decades ago. We don’t do this to frustrate our readers but rather to steer them to sources that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Also, books on collectible arms are themselves a good investment. e initial value of books is the obvious content they contain on their subject matter. Readers who take the time to pursue the out-of-print suggestions soon may find that books that originally sold for a few dollars now sell for hundreds. Well-written books by recognized authorities oen have small printings, prompting high prices in the secondary market quite quickly.
Fortunately there are on-line sources that are so well organized that virtually any title can easily be located. Most of these sites list the available copies in order of price. Several sources we’ve had success with are www.booknder.com, www.alibris.com, www.abebooks.com, and www.addall.com which seems to consolidate offerings from the other sources. As an example I looked up e Mantons -Gunmakers by W.Keith Neal and found 16 copies being offered with prices ranging from $184 to $631.
We have also noted that recently some titles have been reprinted, thereby making them available at a fraction of the resale value of the rst editions; an example of this being Manhattan Firearms by Waldo Nutter (see Arms Heritage Magazine; Volume 3).
Gun shows - Their Changing Character
In the “good old days”, gun shows were the primary means of adding to one’s collection. You could always go to even a small regional show with the realistic expectation of finding a treasure. With the exception of a few large national shows, that is no longer the case. Many regional gun shows have deteriorated to a point where they are little more than gloried ea markets. Others, those with restrictions on non gun-related material, have maintained some of their character but seem more like social gatherings than opportunities to buy or sell. the same tired merchandise is trotted out at the air show. I wonder whether, when something is actually sold, the seller laments that “he must have priced it too low.”
I don’t know what the percentage of arms that change hands at gun shows is when compared to big auctions, internet sales and on-line auctions but I am sure it is in the realm of 1%. e big auction houses have collectively grossed more than 100 million dollars in sales in 2010 and 2011 and are on track to well exceed that number in 2012.
In a big city like Houston where I live there is a “gun show” virtually every weekend within a mile radius. I visited one recently and found a table of modern handguns being offered at low prices to all comers, work-around devices to seemingly convert semi-automatics to full auto, opportunities to enroll in courses to acquire concealed carry permits cropping up in many aisles. Even booths oering beef jerky and T-shirts were present; apparently everything but collectible firearms, other than odd individual items, could be purchased at a gun show once noted for being a great resource for the serious collector.
Of course, it could be said that gun shows are gun shows, and today the promoters of such are willing to "rent" table space to just about anybody just to make the shows viable events, sad to say. ere are, of course, those shows, generally sponsored by collector clubs such as TGCA, CGCA, RSA, CCA, SWCA, etc., that cater to the collector of vintage and antique arms as well as more modern collectibles, in addition to the Las Vegas and Tulsa shows, but not everyone can travel to these events.
e solution? I’m not sure there is one. Change occurs while we’re not paying attention. I for one lament what appears to be the passing of an institution. Your thoughts?