So just what is it with "collectors" anyway?


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Boats
July 19, 2005, 07:02 PM
I was showing off my new-to-me third issue Colt's Detective Special to a shooting acquaintance. It is obvious that there is holster wear thinning out the bluing at key spots on the muzzle and the frame, though nothing really horrible. In passing, I mentioned that Colt's has been getting pretty good remarks for their factory refurbishments of late and I'd probably let them reblue the piece at some point.

Then he lectures me on how rebluing it will adversely affect its "collectability." You'd think I'd proposed sending an original 1873 SAA for some pink gun kote applied by Billy Bob's half-wit cousin of no references, and not factory refinishing a daily carry piece with a matte blue job that is rather common on the secondary market.

"Well someday you might regret having reblued a piece of history. This was evidently in reference to the fact that Colt's likely won't be making any more, (unless the finally get their act together that is).

I said, "I'll let my son or daughter worry about that, if either is stupid enough to sell one of Dad's carry guns when I leave it to him or her. Hopefully, I will have raised them right."

Fortunately, he let me continue on being a Philistine without further commentary. All I could see at that moment was a visual of one those snooty bow-tied geeks on those antique shows on PBS going, "Tsk, tsk, tsk, it's not in original condition, sorry, you could have had quite an auction price." LIKE IT MATTERS!!!

Seriously, these are the same types that argue that the ceiling frescoes of the Sistine Chapel looked better cracking apart and covered with centuries of candle soot and sludge on them than as they looked the day Michelangelo completed the work following careful and professional restoration. I don't understand that mentality against restoration at all, especially as it regards a rather common double action snubnose of relatively recent manufacture.

Imagine what a farce the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance would be were meticulous restoration and refurbishment of classic cars not allowed.

This is the preservation of a machine we are talking about here, not sending an original Civil War uniform to the local dry cleaner for a steam pressing following some mending of the bullet holes. :rolleyes:

Any insights?

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Polishrifleman
July 19, 2005, 07:42 PM
My .02, people are just that way.

My dad is one of them and he isn't going to change. I get a smile over that fact that steel beer can I found in the woods and shot holes in could have been worth some money once I showed him my shooting skills as a 12 yr old (about 25yrs ago) or the wrench he saw my 4yr old working on his bike with saying to me "that's Snapon you need to keep that nice" you mean not use it dad? :D

Hopefully your friend has some nice stuff and hopefully it is appreciating at more than .05% per decade, I really can wait to inherit all the collectibles I am going to receive when he passes.

Cacique500
July 19, 2005, 08:01 PM
I collect Sistema's (Argentine 1911's) and I have no problem getting them reblued. Now they all look *good* and I keep them looking that way.

I'd much rather have a nice looking pistol worth 'regular' value than one that looks like it's been dragged behind a truck worth 2x as much because it's never been reblued.

Harry Paget Flashman
July 19, 2005, 08:03 PM
I had a Winchester 1897 12 ga pump shotgun that was about 70% that I took to a gunsmith to get reblued. He talked me out of it and he was probably right. It had no rust, just a "weathered" look. I gave it to my Son-in-law. Some day my Grandson will own it.

My Mom had a Stevens Crackshot .22 that she used for rat control on their dairy in Oklahoma. It was a gift from her Dad in 1934. In 1975 she got it back from my uncle all rusted up. My Father had it reblued and he refinished the stock. My Mom gave it to me about 20 years ago. It has lost no "value" to me. My Dad passed on several years ago and I treasure the care he put into that rifle that cost $4 new.

Last year I bought a S&W model 1917 with a battered old set of wood grips that someone had had reblued. Whoever did it did a great job. I replaced the grips and now it's a pristine gun.

Moral of the story: Whatever trips your trigger. It's yours to do with what you want.

Smoke
July 19, 2005, 08:16 PM
Don't worry about others opinions. I't is YOUR gun after all.
If he is so worried about the future value of the gun, offer to sell it to him for what he thinks it will be worth is it's current condition + 50 years. :evil:

All my guns are shooters. Should I choose to refinish, reblue, or paint any gun I choose that is my business and none of anyone elses.

I don't buy guns as investments. But that's just me.

Smoke

XavierBreath
July 19, 2005, 08:56 PM
Some people would not burn firewood because it might be worth more once it petrifies.

It's a Dick Special, not Doc Holiday's derringer. It's also yours. Reblue it if you like. I appreciate honest wear myself, but it ain't my gun. The fellow probably wanted to show he knew more about "collecting and preservation" than you, it's all a subtle game of one upmanship. When you see him next, tell him you had the barrel replaced with one from a Ruger. :scrutiny:

Hawk
July 19, 2005, 08:57 PM
It's yours, so relax.

That said, this years Bluebook has a number of articles about the "new" respectability of professional restoration (as opposed to a "grind and reblue".

Far from "ruining it", a good restoration will fetch 70 - 80% of the bluebook value of an arm in equal original condition. I gather this new paradigm has much to do with Harrah's, restored classic autos and the professionalism and expertise of people like Doug Turnbull.

I'd guess the Colt comes under the "Doug Turnbull" class of resto's.

Maybe your collector friend just needs to catch up with the times...

Old Fuff
July 19, 2005, 08:59 PM
Occasionally you will find an older gun (pre-World War Two and backwards) that was blued using methods that are generally unavailable today. In other words as a practical matter the original finish cannot be duplicated. In these cases serious thought should be be given to the question; "Is it better to preserve what's left of the original finish rather then refinish using a different "incorrect for the period" finish?

However, if you were to return your Colt Detective Special for rebluing the company would use the same process as they did when the gun was made. After the gun was reblued only a qualified expert could tell that it wasn't the original finish. On the part of collectors, there is far less objection to factory refinishing if the finish that's applied is the "correct" one. I would not hesitate to send back my own 2nd. Issue Detective Special for refinishing, and I am one of those collectors who is picky about preserving older guns.

Hawk
July 19, 2005, 09:22 PM
As usual, friend Fuff nails it.

I'm no expert but the ability of the "restorers" to duplicate the original work looks to be a big part of its surge of acceptability.

There are several, this is just an example from Turnbull: We carefully match the appropriate level of polish to original manufacturer specifications. For example on rust blued Parker shotgun barrels we start with a file and finish the barrels with gentle longitudinal strokes of 240 grit to match original factory specifications. On small screw heads like the ones found on Colt SAA revolvers we polish to a 1000 grit finish and use a fire blue (nitre blue) to ensure a brilliant high-contrast "Spring Blue". We currently offer rust blue, nitre blue and charcoal blue finishes. In addition we also offer traditional blackening for later guns and military "Black Army" that was prevalent on 1911 Colt handguns of late 1918 war time manufacture.

The number of different finishes that were applied to original 1911's is a study in itself.

Comparing a Turnbull or equivalent to a "reblue" is comparing a full frame-off auto restoration to a pass through the MAACO 99.00 booth. 'Taint the same. Not even close, and collectors are largely on board with that.

rwc
July 19, 2005, 09:28 PM
I think the fact that many folks collect things is a fascinating snap-shot into the mind of Americans (and others). All I can say is I'm not one of them. If my kid wants a toy action figure - she's darn well going to play with it (at least once). Pistols are tools and are meant to be used as such.

My two pennies.

Majic
July 19, 2005, 09:34 PM
While it won't make sense now, 50 to 75 years down the road your grandchild will see the price difference as the DS was never in the matte finish.

Old Fuff
July 19, 2005, 10:24 PM
Mr. Turnbull does some excellent work, but it is justifiably expensive. Some antique or classic guns are valuable enough to be worth a Turnbull restoration, but many more common guns are not. Colt will refinish a Detective Special to a high-gloss blue using the same process and chemicals they did when these late model revolvers were made. This does not apply to those guns made before World War Two.

The real key point when it comes to factory refinishing a firearm with collector value (or the potential for same) is to decide if the new finish will duplicate the original one, or be something entirely different. Refinishing a collectable with the wrong finish may substantially reduce its value, while refinishing a post-World War Two gun with identically the same finish, applied by the gun's manufacturer may actually increase the value.

It all boils down to a matter of judgment.

One other note: Other then collectables that are in brand new, unfired condition there is no reason they can't be shot. I often enjoy shooting collectables, while at the same time watching they're value go up. While I understand the "guns are tools" argument, I sort of like making $$$$ too. You might say that over the years I've had my cake, and got to eat it too.

Knowledgeable collectors are crazy like a fox ...

Boats
July 19, 2005, 10:24 PM
Well whatever Majic, it sure ain't royal blue. :D I would trust Colt to match it up.

22-rimfire
July 19, 2005, 10:45 PM
Get it reblued if that makes you happy. I accumulate guns, and I would never refinish an old gun. That's me. You can always buy new ones to shoot and play with. Once a gun gets to about 90%, you pretty much can't hurt it as long as you take reasonably good care of it. After the reblue, please be honest if you sell the gun. Honesty and Intergrity.

Carlos
July 19, 2005, 11:18 PM
Well, everybody has an opinion, and my thought on this is that blueing is maintenance; much like getting your car paint touched up.

It is your piece and you're free to keep it in the condition that pleases you.

Boats
July 19, 2005, 11:30 PM
What is an "old" gun? A third or fourth issue Det. Spec. isn't a C&R. Don't worry about integrity, it won't be sold by me. Still doesn't explain why it matters that a non-Carbona blue postwar firearm is refinished at all.

Sunray
July 19, 2005, 11:46 PM
"...how rebluing it will adversely affect its "collectability."..." He right. If it were a collector's piece. However, since it isn't, although there are some that are, do what you want with it. Your kid swill be happy they have 'dad's old gun' in any condition.

hillbilly
July 20, 2005, 12:06 AM
I refuse to own any gun that I won't shoot.

If I get it, that sucker's going to the range, and it's going to go "BANG!"

Therefore, none of my guns have "collector value," or at least they won't once I'm done with them.....

hillbilly

GRB
July 20, 2005, 12:10 AM
To a collector it gives an item more value to be in original pristine condition or even in original aged/used condition that to be refinished. So what if collectors like to collect items that are usually in original condition. I'd much rather have a nice looking pistol worth 'regular' value than one that looks like it's been dragged behind a truck worth 2x as much because it's never been reblued.

It is kind of the same with some gun enthusiasts who are shooters as oposed to gun collectors. The shooters prefer to have a working gun, to be fired whenever and; they prefer it to be well maintained over being in an original but not so great condition. So they maintain their guns and have them reblued as needed.

I don't see the point in getting bothered over all of it, it is your gun to do with as you want. Then again, if it was a gun that was worth $150,000.00 in original condition and you (generic) wanted to reblue it, well I would consider you sort of nuts but, I imagine that this particular Colt is not one of those.

There is a bit of logic I do not understand though, that is if I read the following quote correctly:That is part of collecting. I'd much rather have a nice looking pistol worth 'regular' value than one that looks like it's been dragged behind a truck worth 2x as much because it's never been reblued. Tell me, if you have a gun that is a 'collectible' and part of its value is that it is in original condition, even if that condition is not the best shape: Would you really rather have that same gun reblued if you knew it decreased the value to 'regular' value especially when it had been valued at 2x higher price before rebluing?

If that is correct, then all I can sday is EGADS gun nuts of the world! Wake up before it is too late - opportunity knocks. You could have easily sold that gun for 2x the value and bought another in reblued condition and then had enough left over to buy another gun. Now I am not talking about guns that hold sentimental value for you, they are maybe priceless. I am talking about a gun you buy and want to have reblued and someone tells you: 'Hey that gun is worth 2x more not reblued' and; they are not kidding because some collector type nut will buy it from you at a much higher price. I would sell it pronto and find another and then take the money I have left over and put it toward something good. Maybe you guys are all made of money but I have a lot of expenses and when the goose lays the golden eggs, I am not having them blued!

All the best,
Glenn B

Pocomoke
July 20, 2005, 01:14 AM
Glenn B,
Well said. The monetary 'value' of a collector's piece is only realized when there is an actual buyer willing to pay the price. Just sitting in the safe it migh please one mightily, but it ain't cash money.

Now aside from genuine historical arms...say original Colt Walkers and such, the collectors market is a fickle one. What's coveted today ain't necessarily going to be the case tomorrow. My dad collected vintage cameras and carefully restored and re-finished some pre-WWI pieces. They all worked as though they came from the factory. Shutters timed correctly and leather bellows were soft and light proof. They had little to no value if the shutters were glued tight with congealed oil. One could take pictures with them and experience the same complicated process as the original owners and be just as amazed at the pictures turning out.

Much as the restored cars. If a 1958 Jaguar XK-150 roadster isn't running you've lost ninety % of the total experience of owning. I want to hear the exhaust tooling down the road.( an awesome sound I remember well)

How far does the collectors bug go? Does a Colt SAA have less valuable because it doesn't have the original trigger spring? To each his own...but if one hangs on to a piece hoping for a payout later be prepared for surprises in both directions.

Ala Dan
July 20, 2005, 01:27 AM
Greeting's All-

Congrat's Boats my friend on the 3rd issue Colt Dick's Special :D

We must have been look'in for the same type weapon, as on Friday
15 July 2005 I picked up a cherry (99%+) 2nd issue (1971) Colt
Dick's Special myself; with NO visible signs of wear. My ole' bud
even threw in a Bianchi black, unlined leather holster for the DS.
My cost, the price of a NIB S&W model 642. I think I did well on
this one my friend. Enjoy~

Cacique500
July 20, 2005, 07:50 AM
Tell me, if you have a gun that is a 'collectible' and part of its value is that it is in original condition, even if that condition is not the best shape: Would you really rather have that same gun reblued if you knew it decreased the value to 'regular' value especially when it had been valued at 2x higher price before rebluing?

In my case with the Sistema's the vast majority of them have been arsenal refinished...so I don't even blink when I think about having one of those reblued. I just picked up one of the 'original' Hartford Colt Sistemas (this is one of the models where the value is higher if the finish is original). The finish was in pretty rough shape...but using our example above, I only paid 'regular' value for it. Now it looks like a brand new pistol and I'm very pleased with it (which is what matters since it's my pistol!).

To answer your question, yes I would have the gun reblued. I'm not collecting museum grade pistols here...but I do want the pistols I collect to look 'nice' and function safely (even if that means replacing original parts).

Here's a pic of a Sistema in about 75% condition...
http://www.1911pistolgrips.com/img/miscwebpics/oldsistema.jpg

And here's 3 of the ones I've had reblued...
http://www.1911pistolgrips.com/img/miscwebpics/Sistema.jpg

BigG
July 20, 2005, 08:59 AM
It may be hard to see with something today, but when you have seen a suit of armor 500 years old that has been lovingly preserved through the generations, it says something to me. Ditto with a classic Colt or Winchester or a pre-war Luger - somebody cared enough to leave a beautiful artifact for posterity.

I suspect you object to the attitude of the collector more than to the thing itself. I know they can be snotty. ;)

Boats
July 20, 2005, 10:33 AM
If my Colt survives to be 500 years old, who is going to care how it got to them, only that it has at all?

BigG
July 20, 2005, 11:06 AM
The particular gun you cite is not one of the classics, but you and I are not going to be around 500 years from now anyway, so who knows. All I know is I appreciate seeing something that has been handed down through generations and cared for, even though those persons knew it would be passed on to persons yet unknown. You do what you want to do. ;)

GRB
July 20, 2005, 07:14 PM
To answer your question, yes I would have the gun reblued. I'm not collecting museum grade pistols here...but I do want the pistols I collect to look 'nice' and function safely (even if that means replacing original parts).I have to think you misunderstood my question or that you have lots of money. You are saying, in essence, : Yes you would reblue a gun you bought, for let's say a bargain of $500, if it brought its real value of $2,000 down by half?" That was the question in brief but stated more practically.

I realize those pistols you are rebluing are probably worth more reblued and did not mean such. I meant a collectible, such as historic type firearm, in lets say 60 - 70% finish that is worth $2,000 as is and which would be easily sold at that price. Would you then reblue it and maybe bring its value down to half that instead of selling it to someone else as is. I just find it hard to believe anyone would do that instead of selling the gun for $2,000 and then buying more guns with the 2 grand. I am not knocking it, if you can afford to do it great by me. Just wondering if I made myself clear the first time.

Those old pistols reblued are very nice by the way.

I do want to correct something I said in my earlier post. Pocomoke made me rethink what I had written. To a collector it gives an item more value to be in original pristine condition or even in original aged/used condition that to be refinished. That should be to some collectors there is more value in an original item in decent shape as opposed to refinished shape AND; that only goes for certain items. Some items will stand refinishing or repair nicely as far as 'collectors' are concerned but; many items are wanted as is so long as they are in good or better ORIGINAL condition. That is a collector's thing, not usually a user's thing (or in our case not a shooter's thing).

I understand both sides of the coin here. I love some old things that are in very good or better condition myself. If I find an older firearm for sale that is listed to sell for $550 and it is in excellent 'original' condition as opposed to the same firearm for sale that is restored to 'like new' condition selling for $400, I would probably go with the 'original' condition one for more money. Why? Well despite this maybe seeming like some sort of contradiction about my saying I don't have money to burn, I would likely buy the excellent/original condition, yet more expensive, one because the one in excellent original condition was kept better, much better, than any firearm that had to be restored. For all I know the restored one has used sub standard parts such as springs in the restoration. Any reblue job may also be substandard and may not last as long as the original finish on the one that is original condition. The restored model may also have a lot less rifling left in the barrel. Play between parts may have increased. I would just worry about the abuse the one went through to get in such a poor condition that it needed to be restored.

Of course if I found a good buy on a surplus rifle or pistol that was about $150 and it would cost $150 to restore, then I might buy two of them, and have the better one restored and simply resell the other, or have the other restored also and sell it to pay in part for the one I kept. My bet is that a gun enthusiast, instead of a strident collector, would buy the restored gun for more than I paid including its restoration, but not for as much as the excellent original gun would sell.

Lots of variables in being a gun lover for sure. That is one of the things that makes it so much fun.

All the best,
Glenn B

Cacique500
July 20, 2005, 08:21 PM
You are saying, in essence, : Yes you would reblue a gun you bought, for let's say a bargain of $500, if it brought its real value of $2,000 down by half?"

I'd still be making $500 on the deal then wouldn't I? :)

Seriously though, if it were something *really unique* I most likely would not have it reblued.

For me personally, the pistols I collect & own *have* to look good...that's just me. I'd most likely sacrifice the chance to obtain something 'unique' if it were all beat to hell and wait for something better to come along.

Gordon Fink
July 21, 2005, 05:42 PM
In the long run, any firearm will be valuable, regardless of collectibility, once only grandfathered examples are “legal” to transfer—and perhaps even more so when those too are “illegal” outright.

~G. Fink

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