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"Limited Edition" reproduction military weapons


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#1 Bluehawk

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Posted 24 September 2008 - 07:45 PM

By total chance, I happened to see a segment on TV interviewing Pat Buchanan in his home office.

A good part of it was of him showing several of his collection of "limited edition" reproduction (functional I assume) famous and military side arms and long guns... all with elaborate engraving on metal parts and with special glass topped wood display cases.

My question has to do with the extent to which any of those weapons will ever retain any historical or monetary value?

Couldn't someone, possibly, obtain the real thing for a price close to what would be paid for a replica?

#2 Charlie Flick

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 06:48 AM

Blue:

My experience has been that the reproduction/commemorative military firearms generally do not attract a lot of attention and thus not a lot of value. Very few people collect them. People tend to want the real deal and not something created years later. The Colt blackpowder Civil War guns have never really taken off in value and can still be had quite cheaply. The Colt M1911 WW1 Commemorative guns have some value, but there is not a lot of interest in them. I suspect that a straight .45 Government Model bought at the same time that the M1911 WW1 Commemorative Guns came out would today be worth a whole lot more. The repro guns made by the original makers like Colt also do better value-wise than those guns made by some brand X company copying the original design.

The exception to my comments above are the repro guns used by reinactors and shooters. For example, Harrington & Richardson made a very handsome set of .45-70 Springfield rifles that were well received, but are really shooters and not considered collectible guns. These are not really considered commemorative guns.

As to obtaining the real thing for close to the price of the commemorative, that is highly dependent on the particular model of gun and the condition. Hard to make any generalizations about that. However, if you are concerned about appreciation in value, always choose the highest condition original piece and you will do far better value-wise than the commemorative, in my opinion.

Hope that helps.

Regards,
Charlie Flick

#3 Bluehawk

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 06:53 AM

Thanks, Charlie... you confirmed my suppositions, but one never knows.

Those guns surely are beautiful to look at though... and from what miniscule knowledge I do have of antique weapons I did wonder whether these new commemoratives would in some way be equivalent with special model commemoratives made of and contemporaneous with original Colts and the like.

Apparently not.

Mr. Buchanan was quite excited and involved in his collection of commemoratives - he has them all laid out horizontally on tables about 5 feet from his work desk.

Edited by Bluehawk, 25 September 2008 - 06:56 AM.


#4 Orgone

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 12:08 PM

As a long time gun collector, I have always distained the idea of "commemorative" guns, meaning those specialy marked firearms sold at a premium price to "commemorate" some special event or person in history. It was bad enough that Colt and Winchester got into this act big time, at least those guns were real shooters made by a "real" gun company. What bothers me are these "commemorative guns" being hawked by these so called "Historical Societies" that are just gun dealers masquerading as some phoney organization. They take some Chinese copy of a WW2 firearm, give it some machine engraving, laser etching, high polish and plating and sell it as the "Battle of the Bulge" commemorative Sniper M-16 for about 6 times what the gun is really worth. The gun can be made like a piece of crap because no one ever expects it will ever be fired. These guns have about zero resale value and don't even make good shooters. These so called "Historical Foundations" should be forced to prove that they really exist before they're allowed to sell their goods.
What is equaly offensive to me is this stupid commemorative knife business. So what if somebody makes a "commemorative" "Operation Market Garden" Sykes-Fairbairn Special Forces/SAS commando knife with an etched blade, chrodnium plated handle and a fitted, plush lined cardboard box and is priced at only $399.+ shipping. It's about as close to a real WW2 item as an I-Pod. It just makes NO sense to me why anyone would buy such crap, yet I have seen these knives resell for more money than they originaly cost at shows to collectors. This makes almost as much sense to me as people who bought an ELVIS commemorative .45 revolver or a box of Duke Wayne "commemorative" .38-55 ammo. Save your money and buy "REAL" collectibles, not this garbage.

#5 Bluehawk

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 01:12 PM

Orgone...

I myself was wondering if anyone ever does, or ought to (!), fire one of those things???

I wouldn't, just on general principles.

#6 dogfacedsoldier

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 02:30 PM

The Winchester 94 Commemoratives seem to command a good price, in fact I hardly ever see them anymore, and I knew people who did shoot them. I know the Colt reissue Navies and such were originally advertised as a contiuation of the original production run, I'm not crazy about CW era and earlier pistols, except for reenacting. I personally have a Uberti Single Action Army revolver in 45 Long Colt, and it is a great shooter. Who can afford the Colts. Otherwise I was never attracted to historical commemorative pieces.


Jon

#7 J_Andrews

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 03:52 PM

A man with considerable experience in several collecting fields (British militaria, die-cast toys, Marx toys, military miniatures, toy railroading, books on historical subjects, Colt firearms and swords) -- and who made his living from these after retirement from teaching -- once told me "Anything MADE to be collectible, in the long run, is NOT collectible".

That is, do not bother accumulating Beanie Babies, Star Wars action figures, Franklin Mint issues, Dale Earnhardt Memorial exclusives or anything else that would not exist without a presumed market amongst "eager collectors".

He went on to explain that, for example, an Elvis collector just has to have the latest, limited edition, Elvis bobblehead or teapot, so signs up to buy one. Better still, he buys TWO, one to keep as his own and one as "an investment". But 10 or 20 years later, very few Elvis nuts want to buy it....the DEMAND has not grown (much) and SUPPLY has (because previous buyers have died or given up the hobby and their personal items surface).

#8 Bluehawk

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 04:11 PM

So... generally is the price Mr. Buchanan (e.g.) paid for a commemorative weapon about the same, more than or less than what one would pay to have the unadorned original it was modeled upon ?

#9 Bill in VA

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 05:23 PM

It depends. I saw the segment with Pat Buchanan excitedly showing off his vast collection of guns, most of which come straight from the American Hysterical Foundation in Richmond, VA. Generally speaking, the guns are safe to fire, and in most cases are/were orignal guns but they've been greatly boosted...polished and engraved, force-matched parts in many cases, or new/replacement parts added, etc... IN some instances they're not original guns (still real guns though) such as an Uberti in place of a Colt Model P, or a Kahr Thompson rifle in place of an Auto-Ordnance Thomspon submachine gun. How do the prices compare with the unadorned original?
Here's a couple of examples...
+AHF's "Airborne Golden Anniversary Thompson" (a long-barreled "M1" (M1927M1 actually) semi-auto Thompson rifle made by Kahr) sells for $2995. A live WWII A-O M1 TSMG averages between $16k-$18k;

+The AHF "Vietnam War Commemorative .45" (a 1911A1 also made by Kahr) sells for $1995; a nice unmessed-with Remington-Rand 1911A1 averages abnout $1200

+their "The Iron Cross P38 – Knight’s Cross “One of 100”" is a real wartime P.38 (according to the AHF.) Their asking price is (are you sitting down?): $3995! A VERY nice P.38 of a common "code" such as a byf43 or an ac43 will set you back about $700-$800. Add another $200 for a nice wartime soft-shell holster.

+ The "Walther Iron Cross PP, "One of 300"" carries an asking price of $2895. Granted, it's a "genuine German-made Walther" but is it a wartime PP? I dunno. But I recently passed up a decent commercial-marked wartime PP bring-back (no papers) from the vet's son for $700 (I'd've given him $600 due to its finish.)

+The AHF's "British Secret Intelligence Service (MI-6) Walther PPK" sells for the bargain price of $2795. Granted, PPKs haven't been imported into the US since the 1968 GCA, and they tend to bring pretty good money. I recently offered for sale an army-marked (1st Heer contract) E/359 PPK with both matching magazines and WaA'd holster for $1200 (I know, a smokin' price) and ended up trading it straight-up for a Remington-Rand 1911A1 and an Argentine Sistema Colt. If I'd been patient, to the right buyer I'd guess my rig was probably closer to $1600.

We can go on with this, but I think you get the picture. If you're still in need of a good laugh, dig some more on their web site: http://www.ahffirearms.com/

If you're going to collect guns, buy the real thing, unmessed-with and in the best condition you can afford. And for gosh sakes, learn a little bit about the guns you collect so you don't sound like some Buchanan-esque dilletante who only knows what the American Hysterical Foundation tells him.
;)

#10 Bluehawk

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 05:32 PM

...If you're going to collect guns, buy the real thing, unmessed-with and in the best condition you can afford. And for gosh sakes, learn a little bit about the guns you collect so you don't sound like some Buchanan-esque dilletante who only knows what the American Hysterical Foundation tells him.
;)

That is the impression I got when looking at his collection, which when added to the pricing information you've supplied above, cements the intuitions I had at the time.

Is it the case that in olden times when a manufacturer WOULD make a "commemorative" version, the edition was extremely limited and not for sale?

#11 bayonetman

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 05:44 PM

A lot of the highly decorated commemorative pieces that I have seen are not all that well done, or are done by machine/laser etc. Certainly not on a level with the fine hand engraved special presentation pieces done even yet today and the old Colts and Winchesters.

I fully agree that anything made and advertised as a collectible probably will never be of great value.

As a side note, my late uncle collected Winchesters, and did buy a couple of the Model 1894 collectors editions. One of them had never been chambered - the barrel was correctly rifled, but the chamber had not been finished and it would not chamber a cartridge. It did have the full proof marks on the barrel but obviously had not been test fired. He kept it as a curiosity, realizing that Winchester actually did not expect the gun to be fired as it would "seriously devalue the collectibility".

Personally I have no interest in any of the commemorative guns or knives. I would far rather have a honestly used original to any of the fancy decorated modern copies.

#12 gwb123

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 05:55 PM

From above: "It's about as close to a real WW2 item as an I-Pod."

That's classic. I am adding that to my book of quotes.

And "commemorative ammunition'? Really. What exactly would be the point of that? Ammunition is made to be fired, not sit on a shelf!

#13 El Bibliotecario

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 06:19 PM

I think repro collecting is appropriate for people like Buchanan who never served in the military.

#14 Bluehawk

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Posted 25 September 2008 - 06:26 PM

I think repro collecting is appropriate for people like Buchanan who never served in the military.

I had a similar thought when watching how "boyish" (and awkward, I must add) he became handling the guns. It was as if he hadn't ever fired one... which may not be true at all for what I know of him.

Evidently, that sector of collecting is for those who aren't concerned with the price.

#15 jgawne

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 05:12 AM

Never try and understand why people collect what they do.

Persnally I collect all kinds of wacky stuff- and many non-military related. Go talk to die hard gun collectors and they will think us nuts to pay $300 for a little patch. I'd look ata guy paying $5,000 for a stamp and think "well, it's his money...." Unless you actually know that market, for all we know those weapons do appreciate in value, but then maybe he just likes them. Like him or not, Buchanan is a smart guy and actually not that bad a historian.

Personally, I doubt I would ever buy one of those, but then if they did a nice one on the capture of Brest- but I have always said "anything made to be collectible- isn't" but if it makes someone happy it doesn't bother me.

#16 Bluehawk

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Posted 26 September 2008 - 05:17 AM

... Buchanan is a smart guy and actually not that bad a historian.

He certainly is a good historian... and that's a big part of what caught my attention when I got to see his arms collection. His main interest was in the history of each piece, actually... he talked and talked about that, and I found myself wishing they would have let him go on some more about what his thoughts were.

#17 Mk VII

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 03:41 AM

Winchester did sell 'One Of A Hundred' and 'One Of A Thousand' versions of the 1873 rifle in the 19th c. (in very small numbers). The fakers have turned their attention to both of these.

#18 Bluehawk

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 04:04 AM

Winchester did sell 'One Of A Hundred' and 'One Of A Thousand' versions of the 1873 rifle in the 19th c. (in very small numbers). The fakers have turned their attention to both of these.

How can those be told apart from the originals?


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