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Is provenance worth more
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April 25, 2022 - 12:14 am
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Burt Humphrey said
The original question was “does a gun from a well known collector add value”? The answer from responding forum members has been a resounding “no”. Well, I do not disagree in principal but then then there is reality. I would not even be able to count the number of guns I have seen sold over the last 50 years by well known dealers/collectors which asked and received a price above what anyone else could ask and receive, because the tag on the gun at a gun show or the description of the gun in an advertisement said “from my personal collection”. This continues to be the case in this new world of auctions – you continually see the statement “from the collection of xxxx” which generally contributes to reaching a crazy price. People are willing to pay crazy prices if a gun for sale was in the collection of Tom Sellick or has a museum letter for the gun addressed to Hank Williams Jr – that’s just life in the fast lane!

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Burt – 

I think you make a good point – that is, by providing a practical answer.  And I agree with you.  I would say yes, value is often added when a piece comes from a well-known collector.  Not that the collectors here would pay more – but the collector’s here don’t comprise the entire world of those who buy guns.  We are just a small fraction.  This is similar to various crazy prices we often comment on.  Most the time, it’s not the guys here paying those prices. I believe many of the buying public are swayed by hype such as the perceived prominence of the previous owner.  It reminds me of the phenomenon where many will pay more for a rifle pictured in one of the Madis books.   

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April 25, 2022 - 12:26 am
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Burt Humphrey said
 People are willing to pay crazy prices if a gun for sale was in the collection of Tom Sellick or has a museum letter for the gun addressed to Hank Williams Jr – that’s just life in the fast lane!

  

Those two aren’t merely “well known collectors”–they’re celebrities!  Big diff.

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April 25, 2022 - 12:36 am
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steve004 said
  I would say yes, value is often added when a piece comes from a well-known collector.      

But the value isn’t added because they are “well known collectors.”  It’s added because they have become “famous people” for reasons having nothing to do with their interest in guns.  Their celebrity status, not their knowledge of guns, is the thing generating the added value.  Both of you are mixing up separate & unrelated factors.

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April 25, 2022 - 12:44 am
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clarence said

steve004 said
  I would say yes, value is often added when a piece comes from a well-known collector.      

But the value isn’t added because they are “well known collectors.”  It’s added because they have become “famous people” for reasons having nothing to do with their interest in guns.  Their celebrity status, not their knowledge of guns, is the factor generating the added value.  

I agree with Clarence 100%!!

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April 25, 2022 - 1:25 am
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clarence said

steve004 said
  I would say yes, value is often added when a piece comes from a well-known collector.      

But the value isn’t added because they are “well known collectors.”  It’s added because they have become “famous people” for reasons having nothing to do with their interest in guns.  Their celebrity status, not their knowledge of guns, is the thing generating the added value.  Both of you are mixing up separate & unrelated factors.  

I believe what you are saying is true – that at least quasi-logical people are influenced that way.  And then, there are, “people” who will jump at all manner of hype.  And there’s plenty out there.  Sort of like people will pay extra just because one of the name brand auction houses is offering it. 

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April 25, 2022 - 1:33 am
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steve004 said

Sort of like people will pay extra just because one of the name brand auction houses is offering it.   

Rock Island Auction is head and shoulders above the rest in this regard.  I see the auction results here as compared to other auction houses, and it seems like la la land!

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April 25, 2022 - 2:22 am
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Guns that can be documented as being in the personal collections of guys like Tommy Rholes, Felix Bedlan, Lewis Yearout and Paul Sorrell have always brought more money just because they belonged to these guys who were not celebrities but just long time dealers/collectors and had some of the finest Winchesters in their collections. When these guys sold a gun and it was advertised as “from my personal collection”, the gun always brought more than top dollar. No reason that it should be that way but that is just the way it has always been. So, back to the original questions of “does a gun from a well known collector add value”? From my experience, the answer has always been “yes”.

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April 25, 2022 - 3:15 am
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Burt Humphrey said  No reason that it should be that way but that is just the way it has always been.

But there IS a good reason:  the “collecting world” is full of blithering idiots, whose “gunology” knowledge is negligible, but whose pockets are deep.  I just watched a gun (a M1922 Spfd.) sell–on that playground of know-nothings, GUNBROKER–for over twice the value anybody with the brains to know what they were looking at would pay for it–non-original stock, non-original bolt, but it sold for the same price an all-original specimen would have brought.  Ignorance pays, if you’re a seller.

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April 25, 2022 - 3:54 am
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Burt Humphrey said
Guns that can be documented as being in the personal collections of guys like Tommy Rholes, Felix Bedlan, Lewis Yearout and Paul Sorrell have always brought more money just because they belonged to these guys who were not celebrities but just long time dealers/collectors and had some of the finest Winchesters in their collections. When these guys sold a gun and it was advertised as “from my personal collection”, the gun always brought more than top dollar. No reason that it should be that way but that is just the way it has always been. So, back to the original questions of “does a gun from a well known collector add value”? From my experience, the answer has always been “yes”.  

  Maybe the reason guns from these four collectors/dealers brought more money is because they recognized a gun with potential either now or in the future. Tommy Rholes was a real gentleman and I loved buying from him, but the only reason I bought guns from him was the guns. He had what I wanted. I bought a gun at RIA out of Felix Bedlan collection and paid over twice the high estimate. I would have paid the same money if it came out of the Bubba collection. I wanted that gun because it was one of a kind. I bought from Paul Sorrell because he handled 34″-36″ barreled guns, he knew where they were. These four names recognized rare, who wanted what, and placed the guns. If one of their rare guns come for sale again it will go high. T/R

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April 25, 2022 - 4:06 am
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clarence said

Those two aren’t merely “well known collectors”–they’re celebrities!  Big diff.  

Maybe. I have it on pretty good authority that Hank Jr. is a pretty serious collector and is no slouch as a gunsmith. Not sure about Selleck but he has always struck me as knowledgeable about firearms, even seems to know a fair bit about the old ones. 

An observation about the “from the personal collection…” verbiage I often hear that from folks who are firearms dealers or collectors but haven’t bothered to get an FFL. 

 

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April 25, 2022 - 4:06 am
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clarence said

Burt Humphrey said  No reason that it should be that way but that is just the way it has always been.

But there IS a good reason:  the “collecting world” is full of blithering idiots, whose “gunology” knowledge is negligible, but whose pockets are deep.  I just watched a gun (a M1922 Spfd.) sell–on that playground of know-nothings, GUNBROKER–for over twice the value anybody with the brains to know what they were looking at would pay for it–non-original stock, non-original bolt, but it sold for the same price an all-original specimen would have brought.  Ignorance pays, if you’re a seller.  

Clarence – I don’t mean to get your blood pressure up and don’t disagree with anything you are saying. I have merely tried to make the point that in the real world of Winchester collecting, when a gun that has spent some time in the collection of a well known collector, becomes available for sale to the general public, it always seems to bring more money than most would think it should because of where it has been – I am not justifying it, just saying that is how it is and how it has always been. We both know lots of collectors with minimal knowledge are buying guns that are not right and tucking them away everyday. I bought my first Winchester back in the 60’s when I was still in high school and they were my passion for a long time. I was always a condition guy but only after the original and correct bases were covered. Over the years I often bought guns from guys like Tommy Rholes and probably paid too much at the time. However, time was on my side and the guns that had me sweating the most were the ones that appreciated in value the most. Over the last few years I have downsized from over 60 nice levers to 9 – it was my choice to keep one of each model manufactured in the 19th century. So, I am down to what I would consider a very modest Winchester lever collector. I am pleased that many of my guns were sold to WACA members and I am confident every gun was original and correct, sold at a fair price. Too bad I am not one of those well known dealers/collectors – I could have sold many of them for far more money. 

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April 26, 2022 - 1:17 pm
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Nice looking collection Burt!!

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April 26, 2022 - 5:08 pm
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RickC said
Nice looking collection Burt!!  

I agree completely.  Even though Burt is always modest about what his collection had been, at its height, before he did a great deal of, “thinning” it must have been fabulous to see.  Just the group he posts now is a delight to view.

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April 26, 2022 - 5:32 pm
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steve004 said

I agree completely.  Even though Burt is always modest about what his collection had been, at its height, before he did a great deal of, “thinning” it must have been fabulous to see.  Just the group he posts now is a delight to view.  

I totally agree Steve. 

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April 27, 2022 - 2:45 am
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steve004 said

I agree completely.  Even though Burt is always modest about what his collection had been, at its height, before he did a great deal of, “thinning” it must have been fabulous to see.  Just the group he posts now is a delight to view.  

Yep! Burt’s “culls” are better than my “centerpieces”. Takes a brave man to sell such wonderful examples. 

Thanks for sharing your guns and expertise, Burt!

 

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April 27, 2022 - 5:19 pm
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steve004 said

I agree completely.  Even though Burt is always modest about what his collection had been, at its height, before he did a great deal of, “thinning” it must have been fabulous to see.  Just the group he posts now is a delight to view.  

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Steve – in the past I have told you about the top gun in this poor quality photo from long ago. It was the first deluxe Winchester I ever owned – Model 86 in 45-70 – it was near new condition – the photo was taken after I sold it. I bought the gun in the fall of 1967 when I was 17 from the family of a dentist who had passed away in Sturgis, South Dakota. I spent every dime of the money I had earned working all summer on an interstate construction fencing project. My dad was so disappointed in me! Unfortunately, by the time I sold the gun for a lot of money my dad had passed away. None of the other guns in the photo were mine. There are some noteworthy guns here – the gun on the bottom is an engraved 86 in 33 caliber – the 6th from the top is an iron frame Henry, serial #90 – 2nd from the bottom is a factory inscribed 76. The last time I saw the iron frame Henry it was for sale at $350,000. These guns are now scattered throughout the country and will never be together again – like they always say, we are only temporary caretakers.

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April 28, 2022 - 12:34 am
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First I’d like to say I’m sorry to get evert ones blood pressure hitting epic levels over this. Second let me say that I’m neither a” guy with deep pockets” nor some one just buying guns to buy guns. I came here to ask questions of more knowledgeable people than myself as I have had a long desire and interest in 86 Winchesters ever since I was a little kid, listening to my grand father talk about deer hunting with his 45-70.  It is only now I can finically do this and hope to bring my sons and grand children into this and teach them. So to all that have answered my questions with courtesy and respect,I say thank you for your help. I quess from here on out I will be try to be more careful of the questions I ask and to whom.

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April 28, 2022 - 12:40 am
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oldcrankyyankee said
First I’d like to say I’m sorry to get evert ones blood pressure hitting epic levels over this. Second let me say that I’m neither a” guy with deep pockets” nor some one just buying guns to buy guns. I came here to ask questions of more knowledgeable people than myself as I have had a long desire and interest in 86 Winchesters ever since I was a little kid, listening to my grand father talk about deer hunting with his 45-70.  It is only now I can finically do this and hope to bring my sons and grand children into this and teach them. So to all that have answered my questions with courtesy and respect,I say thank you for your help. I quess from here on out I will be try to be more careful of the questions I ask and to whom.  

What seems to be the problem?

At the very least, I got a great deal out of this thread.  You should have, as well.

Plus, the generosity of Burt Humphrey providing photographs of his amazing collection—both past and present—is a real treasure!

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April 28, 2022 - 12:44 am
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oldcrankyyankee said
First I’d like to say I’m sorry to get evert ones blood pressure hitting epic levels over this……

My BP’s fine. I enjoyed exploring my thoughts on the question and got some interesting perspective from others’ responses. It’s a question we touch on with some of the posts about auction guns. We’ll never agree on an answer but that’s OK. Good thread, thanks for posting the question.

 

Mike

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April 29, 2022 - 11:28 pm
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Well to all who joined in on this,I say THANK YOU!!! Certainly helped me with my thought s on gun collecting. I guess i should spend more time thinking about the gun and not necessarily who owned it before me. I have decided that alot of the hoopla about the provenance is really just the seller trying to hype up the guns to get more out of them, ie an advertising gimmick. Of course I say this understanding that there are cases where sometimes it can matter.       

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