Antique and Collectable Firearms
and Militaria Headquarters www.OldGuns.net Newsletter Number 11 -September, 2003 Celebrating Over Six Years Of Service
To Our Collector Friends! Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.
We have an excellent collection of Colt Gold Cup pistols, most in exceptionally
nice condition with original boxes. Also a number of scarce military rifles,
including some really great and some very inexpensive examples, and a several
military shotguns. We also have a large group of military pistols. Most of
these are not yet posted, but a few were recent additions that we included
on the Newsletter Specials
page in case you missed them..
As Harold Peterson, one of the pioneering arms collectors in the
U.S. once said, "I don't worry about the fakes I recognize, but I worry a
lot about those I don't recognize. We know the feeling, and the other day
were puzzling over an apparent M1 Garand Type 1 National Match rifle, but
with a pitted receiver, but it came with a CMP box and CMP certificate. After
a bit of detective work, we figured out that the box probably was used to
ship a different rifle, the certificate was a clever fake from a color copier,
and the pitted receiver was also a "reweld", and the NM marks on the barrel
were probably phony too. Having caught it, we will now sell it for what it
is, not what it appears to be. (You can see it on the Newsletter Special page
Collectors love cartouches. Collectors pay more money for nice
cartouches. Fakers know this. Fakers have access to a large selection of
stamps to mark just about anything you want. Gun Parts Corps is selling
copies of some WW2 era cartouche stamps. And, if they don't have them, some
skilled "gentlemen" will provide them. You NEED to be aware of the full
scope of skullduggery going on.
The NgraveR Company's offerings http://www.ngraver.com/finishing.htm
offer not just stamps for cartouches in the wood, but metal stampings as
well. I consider their contributions comparable to a decrepit old French
prostitute unashamedly sharing various diseases.
The guy in Georgia http://www.trfindley.com/
seems to be genuinely enthused about making stuff look nice, and his fees
are very modest, so I view his sins as those of a promiscuous amateur with
no sense of right or wrong.
Stamping/restamping/restoring has been going on for a long time,
and these two are some of the best (worst?) examples I have seen. The really
pathetic part is that there does not seem to be a trace of remorse or guilt
about doing something that will be used to perpetrate frauds upon a lot
of people. PERHAPS that is not their intention, but that is surely their
effect. I suspect the guy in GA is the less criminally motivated of the
two, and he does have some fairly useful info on refinishing.
Now, I am sure that the folks doing all this truly believe there
is nothing wrong with what they do. I am certain that many child molesters
also believe that their unspeakably disgusting acts are perfectly acceptable
behavior. I hope the fakers get thrown in jail (under a new "Hobby Protection
Act" banning such fakery.) If someone tells other inmates they are child
molesters and maybe "Bubba" will teach them the error of their ways.
We just got done cataloging a lot of different types of guns.
Before posting them for the public, we wanted to give our loyal customers
and subscribers a shot at them. A bit of everything with some ugly guns ("assault
rifles"- that we normally do not carry, but got as part of a collection);
some great Enfields, a variety of U.S. military longarms and other WW2 guns,
some nice modern handguns, and who knows what else. Go check them out at http://oldguns.net/nlspecials903.htm
This page will only be up for a few days and then we will be moving these
to the regular catalog pages for everyone else.
The Newsletter Specials page only has guns, so don't forget to
check all the regular catalog pages as we have added a lot of stuff in recent
weeks that you may have missed.
If you do not go to the Big Reno Show, you are missing a great
show and a lot of other fun events. In August the Garand Collectors Association
had their convention there, with many wonderful displays of U.S. martial arms
(not just Garands). I especially liked Gary's superb presentation of post
WW2 U.S. Sniper rifles, and Rick's U.S. Grenade Launcher and rifle grenade
exhibit. Some really great stuff that I had only seen in books before. The
GCA also had a nice reception and a great diner. The dinner speaker was Walt
Ehlers, the only surviving person who won a Medal of Honor on 6 June 1944.
(He will be featured on Ollie North's War Stories in the next week or so.)
Last time GCA met in Reno, the late Joe Foss was speaker. The Winchester Arms
Collectors Assn and some other groups also meet in conjunction with the Reno
show. At about 900 tables it is one of the largest and best shows in the country,
at least in the west. I like t better than Las Vegas, even though (or maybe
because?) that has a lot more extreme high end stuff that most of us cannot
afford. The next show (without the Garand Collectors) will be at the Reno
Hilton, November 14-16th. See you there!
Ruger & His Guns: A History of the Man, the Company
and Their Firearms,
R.L. Wilson, 1996, 358 pages (Out of print, but copies available in the $65-85
Not being a Ruger collector, I procrastinated about adding this to my library.
I wish I had gotten it earlier.
William B. Ruger founded Sturm, Ruger & Company in 1949 with production
of their semi-automatic .22 pistol. Then came single action revolvers, and
semiautomatic rifles, single shot rifles, then bolt action rifles, and shotguns,
and semi-auto large caliber pistols, and the Mini-14, and machine guns for
law enforcement. In less than 50 years, Ruger has become a successful player
in every aspect of the firearms market, unlike most of the older makers who
concentrate on a small segments (e.g Colt and S&W do handguns, Remington
and Winchester do longarms).
More impressive is Bill Ruger's personal involvement with most of the innovative
features which have come to mark Ruger products. Also, Bill Ruger was a gun
collector, as well as an engineer, and he was keenly aware of the need to
integrate ease of manufacture and use, and visual appeal into new designs.
One of their major innovations was the use of investment castings to achieve
complex shapes of great strength with minimal amount of machine tool time
to run up costs. Early on, Ruger set up their own casting operation for firearms
parts, and eventually got into casting titanium parts as well, with an eye
to a more diversified customer base. In fact, they produce some of Callaway's
"Big Bertha" golf club heads. (Useless toys for folks who don't know how to
have fun shooting, in my opinion.) In his spare time, Ruger also designed
and built a prototype classic car (he was a car collector, too) and a yacht.
Another passion was collecting fine western paintings and art.
The research for this book was started by the late Ed Ezell, of the Smithsonian
(and the man who arranged for Eugene Stoner and Mikail Kalashnikov to meet
in Virginia). Ezell died before the book was too far along, and it was eventually
turned over to R.L. Wilson for completion. Wilson is in his element dealing
with wealthy patrons, praising their accomplishments, albeit well justified
in this case. He mixes a good balance of interviews with Bill Ruger along
with letters and interviews with those who worked with him in many different
capacities in design, production, sales, of merely friends. Further, and this
is unique in my experience, he includes generous selections from the Company's
annual reports summarizing that years' experiences, profit and loss info,
new product introductions and the plague of lawsuits. These provide a keen
insight into the intended and actual direction of the Company's progress over
the years, as seen from specific points in time, but then blended together
into an excellent historical narrative. An appendix provides selected financial
data on an annual basis from 1949 through 1993 (which I believe is related
to use of Ruger as a case study at Harvard Business School or Wharton.) Ruger
NEVER borrowed any money to start or run the company, an uncommon philosophy
these days, but one that proved very successful.
As you come to know how the Man and his Company developed over time, you
also are introduced to the Ruger firearms in the same timeline. Besides the
historical background, each model is honored by a two page spread with an
oversized detailed photo, and loads of data of great interest to collectors.
This includes dates, serial numbers, marking variations, engraved and special
feature guns, model numbers for variations, and often cutaway or exploded
views to appreciate the mechanical features as well. There are also appendices
containing charts showing serial numbers for each year for each model (through
1993) and examples of scores of marking variations used.
Wilson does an admirable job presenting a wealth of interesting and useful
information in a readable manner, making this a most useful reference book.
It is further enhanced by the superb quality photography which make it a visual
treat worth careful study even if you have no interest in Rugers.
Bill Ruger's focus was traditional yet innovative designs, built with excellent
manufacturing quality at a reasonable price. Understandably, this has created
hordes of loyal customers and a large number of enthusiastic collectors, including
the highly regarded Ruger Collectors Association.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in guns or gun collecting
as a great education about a great man, a great company and some of the greatest
guns made in the 20th century. With the book out of print and seven years
old, Bill Ruger's death in July 2001 would justify a second edition with a
final chapter on the Man, and an update on the guns. Let us hope for that,
but meanwhile, see if you can locate a copy of the first edition. You will
be glad you did.
We highly recommend two outstanding special exhibits that will be ending
soon. Surprise your spouse by whisking them off for a delightful mini-vacation.
I cannot think of better choices than these two.
The Legacy of a Legend" is a once in a lifetime exhibit at the Buffalo
Bill Historical Center in Cody, WY, home of the superb COdy Firearms Museum,
plus some of the finest western art and Indian exhibits anywhere in the world.
(And, a Natural History museum that suffers from excessive political correctness.)
The special Colt exhibit closes October 6th, and the items will be returned
to the various sources that lent them for this special exhibit. The museum
complex is open 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM in September but cut back to 8:00 to 5:00
The Minneapolis Institute
of Arts (in Minnesooota) features "Three
Centuries of Tradition: The Renaissance of Custom Sporting Arms in America"
through October 5, 2003. This pioneering exhibit (excoriated by one rabidly
anti-gun, anti-hunting elitist "art critic") presents "custom-made
sporting arms as consummate examples of the decorative arts, demonstrating
the highest artistic achievements in carving, inlay, and engraving of metal
and wood." Utterly fantastic work, well worth the visit, if for no other
reason than to thumb your nose at the "artsy" types offended by
"killing instruments" in their galleries. Open 10:00 to 5:00 most
days, Thursday evenings until 9:00 PM.