…….. or do we collect guns? There’s a subtle distinction! Simply amassing large numbers of firearms, for no other reason than to hold such numbers, isn’t really the ethos which is attached to our collecting interests. Collecting can often evolve with an expanding interest, examples which are of both ancient and modern work. Some will collect vintage air weapons, some muzzle loading weaponry, some the near exotic breach loading hammer guns of a surprisingly short period, and then some the more ‘modern’ weaponry. Then there are also those who having the suitable wherewithal, will commission and collect the modern day weaponry.
Your scribe knows of one chap who owns nine Boss O/Us, with two pairs included in that. Initially, his interest was fired by the idea of what he saw as the pinnacle of British Gunmaking. His first acquisitions were bought as cheaply as possible, and predictably with those signs of wear which though not immediately obvious to the tyro, they would have been to those who were qualified to offer opinions. As this chap’s understanding and experience grew, so he learnt from his early mistakes. His early purchases were eventually sold on, and replaced with those examples which were the next step-up. He has a remarkable collection, and one of importance.
There are also those who collect with no real interest in the guns themselves, but in their investment value. Some of those collections are quite astounding. Again, those who have such collections, will often look at the gun which is the least regarded by them, and only consider parting with it when that gun which we just can’t walk away from, appears! Oh to have a bottomless pocket!
A bottomless pocket isn’t always necessary though, there are many highly desirable guns which will continue to change hands for but a few hundred pounds, but yet they will still be of interest to many.
Then of course, there are the middle road collectors who’s eye will be taken by exhibitions of the Gunmaker’s art. I remember a boxlock gun which appeared at auction in 2010-11 and from memory it was a non-ejector. It had been made around 1910 and came from a lesser London maker. The estimate was £3-500 from memory. It sold, gain from memory, for £2300 + comms. I left the bidding at £700, and have often wondered if I should have continued. The gun was quite simply, stunning. It had a beautifully shaped action body, the barrels were as beautiful and correct as any that I’ve ever seen and could be described as near perfect, it had a delightful stock of rare and beautifully coloured French wood, it was exquisitely engraved, and of vital importance, it had the bulk of the original colour and finish. The standard of finish was exemplary. The gun appeared to be virtually unused. Your scribe has often thought of that gun!
Another section, though limited, would be those who collect what could be considered as the pinnacle of the desirable, the Double Rifle. There’s a London based Gunmaker and trader, who virtually single handedly kick started the interest in such weapons during the 1970s. The history attached to the privately held caches of such guns, remains a fascination to many, your scribe included! Not to be dismissed, are some of the quite delightful rook and rabbit rifles. At comparatively less cost, they remain of interest to a few.
Collecting guns isn’t always the prerogative of the well healed. There is extant, a now retired Lockmaker. This man has a near encyclopaedic knowledge of the trade in which he served an apprenticeship. The understanding of, and the interest in Lockmaking, is a growing interest for a few, and again, there are those who marvel at the workmanship involved, and all so often, all that is visible upon internal inspection, will be the name Stanton or Joseph Brazier.
I suppose, though it would be a subjective thought, that there are those guns which the collector looks at, and never tires of doing so, and they are simply ’Not For Sale’!
This is the first and opening blog of this forum. There will be others. Those who would care to contribute their thoughts, and so add to our knowledge, will be more than welcome to offer their thoughts to Admin, with a view to future publication. It’s also hoped that our ’Speaker’s corner’ will be equally well attended.
The Head ‘Keeper.