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Old November 10, 2011, 11:24 AM   #1
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Trying to get educated on Antique Guns

I'm try to educate myself on certain antique guns. For now, I've limited my area of interest to Colt SAA's - which is more than enough for me to digest over a period of time.

Some general questions:

1. Is there a good internet forum (that gets any amount of traffic) dedicated specifically to antique firearms? I am aware that there are some pretty good experts around here - but no specific topic just for antique / collectible firearms.

2. Are there any good books available just on Colt SAA's and related guns?

3. Here's one thing that I'm really trying to figure out: Finish condition on 100+ year old firearms - the bluing/case hardening changes to something of a black/brown/gray patina....or does it? If it's not glossy blue, but black/brown/gray patina - is this considered to still have finish on the gun? How is this treated for collector's purposes?
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Old November 10, 2011, 01:43 PM   #2
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Have you searched and read the answers to questions that have been submitted?

The Blue Book has an 80-page color Photo Percentage Grading System. This link shows 3 or 4 examples.
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Old November 10, 2011, 02:53 PM   #3
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No. And, no. And, thank you - that's exactly what I'm looking for.
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Old November 10, 2011, 06:39 PM   #4
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Try I am over there too...They are great guys and know ANYTHING on Colt Guns.
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Old November 12, 2011, 04:56 PM   #5
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Caution works

You should also know there are lots of frauds or counterfeit guns out there in the event you plan on investing. Sometimes, a small detail change can transform a gun of average value to one with a high premium. Likewise, altered guns can suffer greatly in value. Last year on Pawn Stars, customer came in with "antique" handgun he had paid over a thousands bucks for, hoping to turn a profit. Gun proved to be an Italian reproduction cleverly aged to look authentic 19th century. Gun was only worth what it originally sold for, if that much.

Regarding Colts, thre are lots of books out there and you should seek out anything written by R.L. Wilson.
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Old November 13, 2011, 09:58 AM   #6
Bud Helms
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This is a good time to move this to Harley Nolden's Institute for Firearms Research.
"The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion." - John Lawton, speaking to the American Association of Broadcast Journalists in 1995
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Old November 13, 2011, 10:28 PM   #7
James K
Join Date: March 17, 1999
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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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