Estimating historical value


May 24, 2003, 12:44 AM
How would one estimate the value of a firearm that in and of itself is normal, but it was owned or used or carried in a circumstance that would make it historically unique? A fictional example would be a run of the mill .38 special revolver that was once shot by Gen. George Patton. I have a specific example in mind, but due to confidentiality issues I can not give any more detail at this time.

If you enjoyed reading about "Estimating historical value" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
May 24, 2003, 03:51 AM
In my opinion, and those are like feet, everyone has a couple, depending on the condition of the piece, and a substantiated value from an acredited appreiser, the value of the gun can be determined.

If you have acredited documentation that the gun was used, issued to, or owned by a famous person the acredited value increases, (in my opinion) to what ever the market will bear.


May 24, 2003, 09:07 AM
So if my goal is to find out "what the market will bear", how could I get an estimate of that?

Walt Sherrill
May 24, 2003, 09:52 AM
Well, you're (as I would be) a minor leaguer trying to play in the big leagues, and its not easy...

If you own the gun, your best bet would be to go to a dealer who specializes in fine guns and collectibles, and see what he offers you. Then add about 30%-40%+ to that. <grin>

If it's a gun you're thinking about buying, good luck.

The risks far outweigh the advantages unless you've got PROOF POSITIVE of the historical connection -- but historiocity is typically hard to establish.

May 24, 2003, 10:00 AM
I don't know of a way to estimate the value of a particular gun related to a historical figure. It would have to depend on who the figure was, how the gun was used, the documentation and overall public interest.

Back when Jesse James was killed, his mother flooded the market with revolvers "used by Jesse James." She would buy barrels full of junk guns and sell them to visitors.

At the other end of the spectrum, the .38 that Jack Ruby used to kill Lee Harvey Oswald is well documented and pops up on the auction block on occassion. IIRC, the last time it sold, it went for a few $100k.

Some guns, due to their notoriety, such as the 6.5 mm Carcano that killed Kennedy, the Charter Arms used to shoot Reagan or one of the two pistols Hitler possessed when he commited suicide, if ever placed on the market, would draw millions.

The remainder would greatly depend on the buyer's interest in the person that owned it.

One possible comparison would be the value of autographs by famous people. Some of these sell for thousands and some sell for a few hundred.

May 24, 2003, 11:08 AM
So who could I contact to begin the appraisal procedure. I am sure my local gun dealer is ill equipped for such an estimate. Is there a society or club or organization that could help with this?

Walt Sherrill
May 24, 2003, 07:10 PM
One dealer I've dealt with and respect is Cherry's in nearby Greensboro, NC. You can contact them at their website. (http://)

Jim K
May 24, 2003, 09:10 PM
There is an old saying regarding buying guns - "buy the gun, not the story". Thousands of guns have been touted as owned or used by famous and infamous persons; few were. Many are plain silly, like the Manurhin Walther PP with A. Hitler electric pencilled on the slide for only $10,000. Others are well done and appear genuine.

But without good provenance and tight documentation, the stories mean nothing, and the gun usually is worth no more than any other gun of the type.

So, for example, having a note written by your Grandfather saying that the gun was owned by Jesse James would not be much proof. A police record that that gun, by serial number, was seized from Jesse would be much better.

Proof that a gun was owned or carried by the historical personage is much better than proof that he fired it. The person could have fired thousands of guns in his lifetime, so that is not especially interesting. There are exceptions, like the Mauser C-96 inscribed with the note that it was fired by Kaiser Wilhelm II.

So, if you think you have good documentation, make sure it is good and can be validated. Anyone can write a "note from grandpa."


If you enjoyed reading about "Estimating historical value" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!