Antique and Collectable
Firearms and Militaria Headquarters www.OldGuns.net Newsletter Number 14 - March, 2005 Celebrating Almost Ten Years Of Service To Our Collector Friends! Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.
It has been too long since we sent one, but here it is at last. We hope the information is useful and interesting. Also, it is a reminder that we are constantly adding new treasures on our catalog pages, so check them frequently. To give all our customers an equal shot at the good stuff, we simply post items when the descriptions are ready. We are constantly getting good stuff from various estates, collections, and shows. Some are rare treasures for the advanced collectors, and some for collectors just getting started, or looking for neat accessories to fill gaps in their collections.
The justly famous "Baltimore Show" is March 19 and March 20 at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Maryland. This is just east of Exit 16 off I-83, easy to get to from anywhere in the eastern U.S. This is THE BEST gun show in the entire U.S., held once a year, and well worth the visit. It's like a museum where you can buy the exhibits. Well, not all exhibits. There are usually several dozen superb displays, including Civil War cannons, select items from the NRA, Springfield Armory, and Harpers Ferry museums, and presentations by several living history groups, etc. This is a high-class gun show, and handguns made after 1898 are totally banned. You won't find greasy surplus imports, camouflage clothes, blowguns, or other junks, just 950 tables of good collector grade merchandise ranging from very affordable to the best, rarest, and most valuable items. Dealers wait for years to get a table for this show, and they come from all over the world. The entire family will enjoy this show, and the catered food is excellent- (we recommend the crab cakes and the fresh sliced roast beef.) Stop by and say "hi" to John at table M29.
Be careful out there, and keep up with the news for your own protection. (Our "News & Notes section is one source.) We also recommend frequent visits to some of the other excellent websites dealing with specialized topics. For those interested in "Trapdoors," Al Frasca's http://TrapdoorCollector.com is loaded with factual info about this popular collecting field. Their Bulletin Board or Forum has insights from some of the top experts in the field. Among tidbits recently discussed there were the authenticity of two "Officer's Model" rifles currently coming up for auction, with estimates in the $30,000 range. One in New England is apparently heavily restored, or enhanced, and the location of some of the original parts was noted by one credible poster. A questionable "officers's model" in California has claims [in the small print for which an auctioneer cannot be held liable for the accuracy of] asserting it was made for "Wolf Shipley, a Superintendent of Springfield Armory," in the description apparently provided by well known author R.L. Wilson. Before bidding on an expensive item like that, it might be good to know (as was pointed out on the forum) that no one named Wolf Shipley is known to have any connection with Springfield during the trapdoor era. One would be well advised to inquire about the reputations of the cataloger and auctioneer, and if they have ever been involved with shady dealings in the past. Caveat emptor- especially on a $30,000 item!
Speaking of Al Frasca (whom we are proud to endorse as a distinguished scholar and all around good guy) gun owners need to think about security. Besides just big safes bulging with guns at home, think about security when traveling or moving. Last May, Al's vehicle (bulging with 24 guns and lots of other desirable stuff he was taking to a show) was stolen from his motel. Despite massive publicity and good detective work by Al and his partner, the Denverstone Kops could not find a thing (or their butt with both hands). When traveling, or even in your own area, it may be a good precaution to carry a legal self defense weapon. Over 35 states now allow law abiding citizens to do so with a minimum amount of training or hassle. Get yourself a concealed weapon permit and you will have that option. Just like the fire extinguisher in your house, you hope you will never use it, but glad to have it if you ever need it. Check http://packing.org for full details on carrying concealed weapons in any state.
Just so you don't run out of things to worry about… Be alert, and skeptical, when shopping. While prowling some large antique malls recently, we noted a number of obvious fakes being offered with original size price tags. In central Ohio you can find a recently made copy of the U.S. 1833 Foot Artillery sword with the blade rusty and pitted looking, (but with the telltale even brown rust from acid "aging") for a mere $1,495. A few miles away one of the ubiquitous "Tower flintlock pistols" is somewhat less skillfully aged, but a "bargain" at only $1,095, compared to the $100-150 for a brand new one available from several sources. We no longer even bother looking at the ratty old "rabbit ear" shotguns with short barrels, Indian tacks, sheriff's badges, and prominent "Wells Fargo" markings. Perhaps P.T. Barnum was right.
This is a "must see" for anyone interested in arms. It is the finest arms museum in the western hemisphere, filling four floors in a building in the heart of downtown Louisville. One entire floor is filled with exhibits done by the famous Royal Armouries at Leeds (formerly at the Tower of London). The entire complex is a masterful and fascinating presentation of arms of all types from knights in armor to modern firepower. Significantly, it is not a "nuts and bolts" focus that delights advanced collectors, but a well balanced presentation explaining the role of arms in the context of historic events. Besides all the cool weaponry, it is loaded with multi-media presentations, and well worth a full day to visit. You MUST visit this superb museum! Read more about these "Weapons of mass instruction" at http://www.opinionjournal.com/la/?id=110005222
Jeffry Stevens visited museums, lots of them, and apparently did not leave empty handed. Before you read the story (link below) you need to know that few of the museums were able to accurately identify what had been stolen among thousands of items which had been recovered. This is a really difficult task for items that do not have maker names, model markings or serial numbers. If some of your collection was stolen, could you adequately describe it and then prove it was yours if it was recovered? In a future newsletter we will share out Collection Inventory System in case you want to use something like that. Meanwhile, some good digital photos would be a good start. Okay, now you can go read about this (recently deceased) crook (with some touchy-feely quack medical excuse for his choices) at http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/northcounty/jenkins/20050219-9999-7m19jenkins.html
By now, with plenty of new things to worry about, you may be wondering about insurance coverage for your collection, or business inventory of collectibles. Some coverage may be available from your automobile, or homeowners' policy. Some places also write "fine arts" coverage that applies to antique/collector guns (but not shooting guns). The NRA also offers various types of coverage. The outfit we use is Collectibles Insurance Agency http://collectinsure.com
They will write separate policies for collections and for dealer inventory, and they include coverage while stuff is taken to shows etc, and you can easily add extra coverage if hauling more than usual. They are good people to deal with, have minimum paperwork and rates are lower than most other places we are aware of. In addition to guns, they cover just about any type of collectible, so you can insure your uniforms, militaria, books, etc, with them, or your spouse's collection of whatever's. We don't get a kickback or discount from them, but are just passing on what we hope will be useful information.
Graham Priest, The Spirit of the Pike: British Socket Bayonets of the Twentieth Century. 2003, 352 page 8.3" x 11.5" hardbound with 950 photos. $85 available from the author email@example.com
Everyone has seen the British spike bayonets and the "bowie" bladed cousins for the No. 4 Mark 1 Enfields. There are also similar bayonets made for Sten guns, and later the EM2 rifle. While we have been ignoring these, Graham Priest has been carefully studying them and doing serious research. His book is an amazing history of between the war development, wartime production, and post war use, told in exceptional detail that will appeal to the collector as well as the historian. He has opened up an interesting new collecting field that offers a wide variety of items to pursue, with most still available at very affordable prices. Priest covers the bayonet, the scabbards, and the frogs, with detailed descriptions and photos of virtually every variant known. The "dispersal codes" used on WW2 British material are explained along with the circumstances related to production of war goods while under attack with limited resources. Equally fascinating is the discussion of wartime and later distribution throughout the world to many uses, along with numerous photos of troops armed with the bayonets, scabbards and frogs. Besides the obvious British made weapons, those made in North America, Pakistan, South Africa, Italy, Belgium, and Australia are covered.
The "spike" bayonet was made as Bayonet No. 4 Mark I, Mark II, Mark II*, and Mark III, so you need to get at least four to get your collection started, along with at several different scabbards. As an example of the detail included, you will find for the "Scabbard, Bayonet, M5" made in the U.S. by Victory Plastics: a photo of the plant, a map, and the blueprints, photos of at least two frog variations and two rivet variations. Among the 20 or so pages of tables listing known variations of bayonets, scabbards and frogs, you will find a check list for NINE variations of the M5 scabbard. Detailed photos are provided of most marking variations with excellent captions, and sharp, clear photos (even on web gear!). Now you can figure out if those funny markings are maker marks, inspectors, or unit, or rifle numbers, or updated nomenclature applied to existing equipment.
In addition to the comprehensive details in the text, Priest carefully documents everything with detailed footnotes, reflecting his background as an educator. His thoroughness also reflects his zealous bayonet collecting habits which led to his first book "Brown Bess Bayonet:1720-1860" in 1986, and status as a prominent member of several distinguished bayonet collector groups.