View Full Version : Managing the collection

September 1, 2009, 01:31 AM
I have a signficant short arm collection that I am trying to get a handle on. I've let the organization and better documentation of the collection sit unattended to for almost 20 years (since my father died) and am now motivated to address this.

To get the process started I've been doing all sorts of investigations. Trying to figure out where the best resources are and so forth. Through the experiment of posting info on several of the guns here (start here to see (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=372273)), I discovered that there is a fair amount of real knowledge here and that it's a useful and worthy community.

Next step is to fully document everything I have with the information at my disposal. This includes:

The arms themselves.
The documentation my father left behind.
Fjestad's 30th, Flayderman's 5th, Shideler's 19th, and a half-dozen history books on Colt's and S&Ws and other antiques that belonged to my dad.
This forum.
Various other collector sites.

For the 30+ items in the collection (which I expect will grow <g>) there is quite a bit of information to manage. In 1993 I sort-of started a process by creating a Word document for each gun listing the following information:


I'm not sure where this "schema" originally came from, but I copied it from a typed form that I think my dad created and had hand-written the details on.

Via the Internet, I now have at my displosal FAR more information than my dad had and this schema does not really work. I need to expand it.

I could do one of two things:

Just blindy expand it using my own instincts and ideas.
Copy something that "professionals" already use.

Hence this post. Does anyone know of a standard gun collector documentation "schema" that I can borrow from/copy so I don't have to resort to #1 above?

I've looked around and have not found anything.

Via my insurance company I can get Collectify (http://www.collectify.com)at a discount. I have been playing with it in trial mode and it actually seems pretty good. I verified that it's data export facility works well so I know that if they go out of business I can get my data (the Report functionality is also very good). It allows me to define whatever schema I want). I am currently planning on using this program.

FWIW, (and so I write it down myself) here are my goals for documenting this collection:

Learn as much about each of the items in the collection as possible.
Document that information such that it is easily referenced and updated over time.
Document the collection so that future generations (my son in particular) benefit from what I've learned.
Be able to accurately show the value and disposition of the collection for insurance and trust reasons.

September 1, 2009, 07:20 AM
All of the info you've already listed will be MORE than enough for anyone who's interested in a given example to know whether or not they want to buy it, and the only problem you might have is trying to accurately identify the "condition" of a given piece.

September 1, 2009, 11:58 AM
Thanks SDC, but being able to effectively sell the arm is not in my goals. I assume that if I meet my other goals, there will be more than enough info for a potential buyer.

Maybe I wasn't clear: I never plan on selling anything in this collection. I have personal principle of "The only way firearms leave the collection is if they are bequethed to a heir."

Here are some exmaples of other information that one might want individual schema items for, to give you a better idea of what I'm asking:

Provenence: Who, what, & where purchased, used, owned the arm before?

Estimated value: this could be multiple items (e.g. most arms in this collection have been appraised multiple times in their history; seeing the change in value over time is interesting).

September 1, 2009, 05:15 PM
Google a program called Gunsafe. That's what I use. It records all the information you are looking to keep on hand and you can put in photos of each gun you put in, there are also fields for general notes and even mainenance performed on it. It's a free download too.

September 1, 2009, 06:20 PM
Bigfatts: Thanks!

Via Bing (http://www.bing.com/search?q=Gunsafe+software) I found what you are talking about (Did you know every time you use Google a puppy dies? It's true!)


I downloaded it and played with it for a few minutes. Looks to be well designed (although it looks dated technically). I have been spending a bunch of time playing with Collectify and feel I have a pretty good understanding of it's strengths and weaknesses. I think I'll spend a bit of time with GunSafe and write up a comparsion.

At the minimum you've helped me a great deal by providing another example of a "schema" for tracking firearms. For example GunSafe tracks maintenance history; I hadn't really thought of that being important (I still don't think it's important for me, but the point of this thread is to find out what OTHER people think is important).

September 1, 2009, 10:17 PM
I've used a program called DPC Gun Collector for several years. I don't remember where I got it but I do know that I had to order an installation disc. It works fairly well but I'm going to play around with Gunsafe for a bit and see which one I like best.

September 2, 2009, 05:24 PM
I'm 90% done tweaking how I'm going to use Collectify to manage my collection. I have found it to be a very solid, flexible, and easy to use peice of software. The ONLY bug I've found in hours and hours of use was a setup bug that makes it hard to install on Windows Vista or Windows 7 (easy to work around).

I LOVE the way it lets me generate reports. I have designed (using the simple wizards it provides) a "Firearm Collection" report that when run generates an Adobe PDF file that includes all data about each arm and includes a roll-up of values. I can now take that PDF file, print it out, and ensure it survies me and my geekiness. The program supports images (of not only the arms but of things like scans of book pages documenting the arm). These can all be printed in the reports.

Here's the core schema I decided on using one of my 1911's to illustrate. I've anonoymised some of the data.... The program supports items that are multi-valued. For example, Provinence is made up of provinence items which include who, what, where, & when details for each. Same for Valuations, Literature, and so on.


Object type: Semi-Automatic Pistol
Collection Sub-type: Class 1 - Non-NFA
Date or Period: Contemporary
Status: Active
Description: Colt 1911 semi-automatic pistol carried by Capt. CJ Gibson, Sr in WWI.
Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1911 Commercial Model
Caliber: .45 Auto
Sometimes Called: 1911 Automatic
Serial No.: C14xxx
Barrel Length: 5"
Overall Length: 8.5"
Weight: 39 oz.
Capacity: 7
Country of Origin: United States of America
Date Manufactured: Late 1914
Distinguishing Features: Fixed flat top & sp. notch sights. All original, with 1917 GI holster.
Marks: CEK, Sr. notes indicate "oldest markings"
History: Carried by Capt. C.J. Gibson, Sr. as a personal sidearm in World War I. Civilian model. There used to be an original 1917 box of cartridges but it has been lost. From Chuck Gibson.
Acquisition Date: 6/8/1990
Acquisition Mode: Gibson Estate
Critics' Notes and Scores: NRA good-very good. 35% original finish. Sound mechanically. Original grips. Shows much use.
Provenance & Expertise:
Previous Ownership - 1914-???? - Capt. C.J. Gibson, Sr.,
Previous Ownership - ???? - 195? - Chuck Gibson,
Previous Ownership - 195? - 1990 - Kindel, Charles E. "Ted", Vail
Market Value (Most Recent): 1,500.00 USD


Date: 2/23/1993
Condition: NRA good-very good. 35% original finish. Sound mechanically. Original grips. Shows much use.
Notes: 0.5

Provenance & Expertise

Date(s): 1914-????
Type: Previous Ownership
Name/Organization: Capt. C.J. Gibson, Sr.
Notes: Nancy M. Kindel's 1st husband's father. He carried this as his personal sidearm in World War 1.

Date(s): ???? - 195?
Type: Previous Ownership
Name/Organization: Chuck Gibson

Date(s): 195? - 1990
Type: Previous Ownership
Name/Organization: Kindel, Charles E. "Ted"
Country: United States of America


Journal: Carried by Capt. C.J. Gibson, Sr. as a personal sidearm in World War I. Made in late 1914. Civilian model. Oldest markings. There used to be an original 1917 box of cartridges but it has been lost.

Valuation details

Valuation Date: 9/2/2009
Valuation Type: Market Value
Comments: Fideler 19th ed page 305 - Good = $1500
Source: Valuation Module
Value: 1,500.00 USD

Literature details
Type: Book
Title: Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms 5th Edition
Author: Flayderman, Norm
Edition: 5th
Page Reference: 106
I own this: Yes
ISBN: 0-87349-112-2
Author: Flayderman, Norm

Type: Book
Title: 2009 Standard Catalog of Firearms
Author: Shideler, Dan
Edition: 19th
Page Reference: 305
I own this: Yes
Author: Shideler, Dan

Question: Is there an official classifcation for "antiques" vs. "contemporary". Is it based on some timeframe?

September 3, 2009, 07:00 PM
I'm [i]NOT EVEN going to go there ! ! :eek: ;) :D :D