Advise please


September 8, 2003, 11:31 PM
A neighbor down the street asked me to take a look at her late husband’s firearm collection and try to find out exactly what is taking up an entire room in her house. I started digging and have come up with 20 long arms and 10 pistols all in great shape and most in mint condition and LOTS of reloading equipment and supplies. Mostly WWI and WWII era some custom stuff. In Worn leather case I found a .375 double rifle with lots of really great engraving (can’t figure the maker). So the advice part is what to do with it all? I told her the ballpark amount she could get if she sold it all, but she said that “Henry” wouldn’t like that. I asked if she would be interested in donating items to museums and such. I asked if her kids or grandkids would like to have any of Henry’s guns and her reply was that none of the seem to be interested in that stuff or would sell it as soon as they could. She really doesn’t feel like keeping it there till it rots to dust because so much of her husbands time and life was put into caring and shooting those firearms. Gents and ladies, this old gal is tuff as nails but doesn’t have a lot of friends, except me the Mrs. and a few others her age, and I really afraid of steering her wrong or not seeing another option after it’s too late. ANY and I mean ANY advise or ideas would be welcomed

She offered me the .375 for my trouble. I said no, but I said that I would like the Colt 1911 with the "property of the Army" stamp, if she didn’t mind. Her reply “that’s Henry’s favorite he would love for you to have it”. Ever see a grown man cry?



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September 8, 2003, 11:46 PM
Take care of that lady duckfoot, she sounds like a real sweetheart.

If those guns are truly collectable, start with any records that your friend may have kept. Serious collectors ought to have a reciept book, or collectors notes. He may have belonged to some sort of collectors society as well.

30 guns aint all that much, perhaps you could list a few of the rarer-looking ones for people here to comment about.

Contact local museums that have a firearms collection and ask if they wouldn't mind evaluating the collection as a possible donation to the general collection (make sure you arrange a "cannot sell" clause as part of the donation terms).

Perhaps a local American Legion post is maintaining a collection of WWI-WWII firearms?

Contact auction houses specializing in militaria to get their opinions about values, these often have Estate Sales specialists (you can forget to tell them that she doesn't plan on selling ;) )

September 8, 2003, 11:50 PM
I would try to aim it at a museum. If no other family members are interested. A local man died here a couple of years ago (Boise, Idaho)
and left his very extensive gun collection to our local historical museum. I have visited the museum a couple of times since they put most of his collection on display. I walked away in awe at what one man could collect.
To leave such a gift for future generations to see was inspirational to me.
I would also keep the .45 and enjoy it. Shoot it if it is a "shooter", or keep it well oiled in a place of honor in your home if it is too pristine to shoot. The lady is lucky to have found you for advice. There are too many people out there who think of nothing but dollar signs. Good luck to you.

September 9, 2003, 12:05 AM
Ditto on what the others have said. Glad to see you trying to keep this deal on the high road. You can't go wrong doing what is best for this widow.

4v50 Gary
September 9, 2003, 12:12 AM
It's better for us to sell our collections off than to leave the task to the surviving spouse. If that surviving spouse doesn't have any idea what it's worth, they can get taken for a ride and never realize the potential.

Realizing my own mortality has really curtailed my buying. I've even considered drafting a will and leaving some guns to specific museums.

September 9, 2003, 02:06 AM
Well CWL the short list of what she has is:

The rifles (I think but not 100% of the following)

William Evans Double rifle in a .375 H&H (found the papers)

Winchester Model 1885 High Wall Single Shot Rifle. in fair shape

Nazi stamped 98k, looks mint.

Remington 1903A4, in good shape.

Three M1's, one mint, the other two in good shape.

M1C, looks mint.

M1986 Krag Jorgensen, in good shape. nice wood!!

M1898 Krag Jorgensen carbine, looks in fair shape.

M1873 Trapdoor Rifle in outstanding shape.

And then more up to date stuff after that.

The pistols (I think but not 100% of the following)

Colt woodsmen good shape

Colt 1911 Property maked Army (mine:D)

Colt python, with out a letter in the S/N

Colt SSA ? fair shape

Mauser 96 (broomhandel) in fair shape

Walther p-38 outstanding shape (seems to have been brought back by Henry's father)

and then more upto date stuff after that

Still looking for records for now because I only had a hour to look the first time. I'll be back over in the morning and try to find out what I can.

September 9, 2003, 04:00 AM
Don't donate it to the museum, but rather lend it to them to dislpay. That way they can be seen by others, be cared for, and she retains ownership. Try the local military base as most have museums with large firearms displays. My father has loan the Army base near us firearms for display in the past.

September 9, 2003, 04:04 AM
Yup, here's the point where you run into problems. ;) Broomhandles, for instance, are a hobby unto themselves, with zillions of variations.

Had a guy come in the store the other day and ask what his Luger was worth. I asked him what kind of Luger it was, and he replied "German." I told him "Well, somewhere between $200 and $35,000, depending on the specific variant and condition." ;)

September 9, 2003, 04:19 AM

September 9, 2003, 05:49 AM
Do they deactivate or demill guns that go into museums?

I was at the Admiral nimitz museum / museum of the pacific war
(lots and lots of guns) and there was a small sign that read something to the effect that they deactivated some of Nimitz's guns so they could be
put on display.

I would make sure that worst they would do is remove the firing pin.

September 9, 2003, 07:04 AM
I think that she might be leaning to the donation route because that's the only idea that I didn't get an immediate no to. We shall see, I'll keep you up dated.


September 9, 2003, 07:25 AM
If she wants to go the donation route, contact the NRA. They have a fine museum!! :D

September 9, 2003, 08:08 AM
Sounds like that gentleman may have been in the ETO during WW II.....God Bless him!

My how things change...wonder how many AKs and Hi-Powers our lads will be bringing back from Iraq?

Many small towns will even have museums. I was visiting the GFs parents in Alabama, and the tiny town of Aliceville, AL used to have a German POW camp there, and they had a little museum with some of the stuff local fellows brought back, uniforms, weapons, etc. I'm sure some of these types of places operate on a shoestring budget and would greatly appreciate the help.

The GFs grandfather flew bombers over Germany, and it was way cool to see his uniform and souveniers on display for future generations.

Monte Harrison
September 9, 2003, 08:53 AM
Ever see a grown man cry? Are you kidding? I got choked up just reading that.

September 9, 2003, 11:51 AM
Altho' it seems like a dream job, the process 'Foot is going thru is jinn-you-whine PITA. It's worse if the widder really, really needs the money. If this 'un does, I'd recommend making her a modest cash offer to start, with the understanding that if further research (or offers) reveal that any of the guns is worth a bunch more than you thought. you make her whole on that deal. The offer of a gun to do this is a nice gesture on her part.

Andrew Wyatt
September 9, 2003, 12:45 PM
With anything but guns, i'd say they belong in a museum, however, no one can get a proper appreciation for a firearm by looking at it as it gathers dust in a glass case.

I'd make the widow an offer on them, or arrange some sort of loan or something so you can expose more shooters to these pieces.

Consider talking to the fellers at

September 9, 2003, 01:14 PM

Your a true gentleman!!


September 9, 2003, 01:27 PM
It sounds as if she is by herself.... If this is the case, I recommend a complete inventory of all firearms and then try to find a way to secure them before anything else. If there is no "gun safe", then split up the inventory and store at trusted friends places. Keep possible loses to a minimum.
Give her a copy of the inventory (inventory it with her there) and then keep a copy for yourself. Get this done then find a way to satisfactorily dispose of the firearms. The previous suggestions on equity to the widow are great should the firearms be worth more than you might initially give her.
I would also check on insurance riders to make sure the firearms are covered against theft, loss, etc. many insurance companies require "extra" to insure highly desireable items, like guns, jewelry, and other expensive "stuff". We might all check or insurance policies from time to time.... Sorry this is so long.
Blessings to all.

September 9, 2003, 01:44 PM
I differ from the others here . . . I would NOT put them in a museum. Museum collections change, and who's to say whether or not some future curator is a member of HCI and decides to have them melted down? Or locals protest, and they get removed from display?

There seem to be some mighty fine firearms there . . . but candidly, unless there's some documented "history" behind some of the firearms, it doesn't really sound like it's the basis for a museum display. Philosophically, I'd MUCH rather they were in the hands of shooters who will use them and appreciate them for what they are, and maybe pass them on to THEIR kids.

Sadly, that means the collections will probably be broken up, but that way it may bring a smile to MANY individuals.

And kudos to you, duckfoot, for your integrity. Passing on a double rifle for a 1911 demonstrates that you really are trying to help the lady, and not take advantage of her.

September 9, 2003, 02:35 PM
Duckfoot your doing a good thing. Just do what you and her feel is right. You can't go wrong helping somone else.

September 9, 2003, 02:38 PM
I think you'll find most museums permanently "deactivate" any and all firearms that get donated. Note: Permanently usually means the thing will never, ever fire again. I also think you'll find they don't really want the sporting arms. Unless thay have significant historical interest.

September 9, 2003, 03:20 PM
if you are friends with her family as well, why not have the guns stored in the event someone in her family eventually sees the true value of keeping them in the family. maybe have it put in an estate her grandkids could inherit, if she has grandkids.

duck, do you have any details on your newly acquired 1911? manufacturer, age, condition? envious minds want to know!

September 12, 2003, 02:27 PM
Went back over today and shot the bull for about an hour with Sally, and went to work. She knows that I am talking to you guys about what is happing and what I am doing and she said that it was fine and a really good idea. So no problems on that front. Went back to finding papers and such for the firearms and came across a brief case full of paper work. While cataloging I had noticed that there were papers for more firearms than I could account for, about fifteen more. When I asked Sally about it she said that there might be more in the safe but she doesn’t remember the combo and because Henry died so suddenly she never got it from him or remember where he wrote it down. So I went to go look at this safe and sure enough it's a really old big "New York, Safe, Vault and Lock".

Hutch, you are so right!!

So we sat back down and talked about what to do with all this stuff and I asked her if she was hurting for money. She said that she's fine and is collecting on several investments the she and Henry made quite a few years ago. So we got down to brass tacks and I told her some of the suggestions that came through from here and she seem to like the idea of donating the older ones but would like the guns that her husband shot the most to go to people that could appreciate them. Oh boy. I told her that I’d have to look into it some more and see what I could come up with. As far as the safe goes we are still looking for that combo, but I can assume by the papers that there are 10 more rifles (maybe another double rifle) and five more pistols in that safe, and are the cream of the collection. I'll keep you posted.


Matt G
September 12, 2003, 02:47 PM
Duckfoot, you haven't mentioned how Henry's widow is set, financially. That would seriously factor into the situation.

Many museums will pay for some items. Don't just donate, out of hand.

Sounds like a lot of those are collectable shooters. Don't discount putting on an estate sale for enthusiasts. Puts the guns into the loving ownership of those who will appreciate them again, and puts up a nice little nest egg for Henry's widow. Consider, if she has a long-term illness late in life, the extra money is nice for options for her.

The important thing, of course, is to do what's best for Henry's widow, while respecting Henry's wishes as best as is possible. Henry would likely be happiest knowing that his collection went on to appreciative hands, and benefitted his wife. I know that's what I want to happen to my collection, at any rate.

Good luck. I know you'll do the right thing.


September 12, 2003, 03:30 PM
If you can't find the combo for the safe, a good locksmith should be able to get it open one way or another, depending on whether you want to save the safe or not. If you can't find anybody locally, I'll be coming to NC on business in early Oct and would be glad to take a look at it for you. It does sound like you have mostly shootable as opposed to highly collectable guns there. And what about the reloading stuff? I had to do something like this for a neighbor once. It does take a while. As long as she isn't in a financial bind, take your time and make up a list of everything. Then separate it into shootable or collectable. Put reloading equipments - presses, dies, molds, etc - and supplies - powder, bullets, primers,etc on a third list. Maybe some of the members here would be interested in making offers on some of the stuff. Heck - for sure anything bought by members here would be going to a good home. Let us know how it goes.

4v50 Gary
September 12, 2003, 05:49 PM
BTW, Very important to find the papers for the M1903A4 and M1C so as to keep them with the gun. It proves authenticity.

September 12, 2003, 06:09 PM
The other alternative to donation or private sale is an auction house such as Sotheby or Christie. The lady will get the going price and the weapons would go to someone who will appreciate them.

I belive that both Houses have firearms experts who would tell you if thier is even a market for a particular weapon. They aren't going to take the collection if they can't move them.

Both Houses should have a web site for contact.

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