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Old November 13, 2011, 10:28 PM   #7
James K
Join Date: March 17, 1999
Posts: 24,184
You don't say where you are located, but one thing to do is to go to as many gun shows as you can and look, just look, at guns of interest to you. Some dealers will be willing to talk to you and show you things, some don't want anything to do with you unless you are flashing wads of $100 bills, but that is human nature.

Anyway, no charge to look, but don't handle without permission. After you see a few guns, you will begin to recognize reblues, parts guns, sanded down rusty relics, etc. For a time, keep your money in your wallet, or better, at home so you don't yield to temptation when you shouldn't.

Then buy some good books, Flayderman's of course, and big books like Wilson's Book of Colt Firearms. NOT cheap, but it and books like it can save you from making a mistake that could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Avoid the "coffee table" books, unless you want them for the pictures; most are full of stories of the "Old West" but are useless for factual content. (You don't care what kind of gun Billy the Kiddie carried, you just want to run away when someone offers it to you, cheap.)

Your chosen collecting field is a fine one, but the competition for top quality guns is fierce and there are people in the field who think a million bucks is pocket change. Even SAA dogs are going for high dollar prices these days, and there are a lot of fakes and "restored" guns. I was almost fooled by one at a gun show a year ago. The tip offs were the too-large gap between the top strap and the cylinder and the too-short cylinder notches (both indications of a "turned" cylinder) but I had to look twice, it was such a good job and the case coloring on the frame was good, but not quite good enough.

To illustrate the lengths people will go to peddle fake SAA's. One faker found out that number 123456 (let's say) was owned by (let's say) Wyatt Earp. He got a Colt letter, and it said 123456 was sold to Earp. Now fake letters are common, so anyone buying a gun based on a letter will get one directly from Colt. So our faker didn't fake letters, he faked guns, removing the original serial numbers and restamping them. If the sucker wrote Colt, he got a genuine letter saying that gun was Earp's. The faker sold a bunch of SAA's number 123456 before he was caught and served time. It is illegal to alter the serial number on a gun, even an antique, but the number of people ever prosecuted for such fakery on collectors items is very small.

Jim K
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