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Why do YOU collect Winchesters?
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May 29, 2021 - 4:08 am
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Consider this a “Help Wanted” ad. I want to know why YOU collect Winchesters. We all have our reasons. I’d like to compile several representative answers and submit them as an article for our magazine. There are no right or wrong answers. All I ask is that you grant permission for your answers to be used in this article. No promises, I think it would make for interesting and inspirational reading if we can pull it off. 

No guarantees, I’ll leave this up to our editor. And yes, I have my answer. I want to read yours first.

 

Mike

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May 29, 2021 - 11:09 am
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I was just thinking about this recently as I walked around at the Wanamacher show in Tulsa. I realized my interest lies in the preservation of the craftsmanship and artistry. I try to collect the earliest guns in the best original configuration I can afford. I have never sold one yet and have only traded one to a close friend on the premise that I have first right to refusal should he decide to part with it. I talked to more than a dozen “dealers” and it occurred to me that some of them viewed their wares simply as a commodity while comparatively few showed interest in the guns historical value. I marvel at the quality, workmanship and precision of all the parts that came about at a time before electricity and hydraulics were widely available. The designers were genius in developing firearms, some of which, that have remained largely unchanged in the most basic configuration for 170 years.

That’s why I collect & I suspect that my views differ very little from most on this forum.

Darrin

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May 29, 2021 - 11:48 am
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Started buying in Montana about 12 years ago. My main interest is in OB, CB guns in good condition. I now own a few Part octagon guns. have 85, 86, 92,  94 and 95 Model Winchesters, but prefer the Model 1886. Have two of every caliber in the 86, Take-down and solid guns.

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May 29, 2021 - 2:03 pm
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I don’t have the words to explain my obsession with Winchesters.  Simply put, “It’s my “Drug of choice”.  I’m simply hooked!  Kiss  RDB

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May 29, 2021 - 3:27 pm
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Winchesters (and Savages) were the very first guns I hunted with. Dad had Winchesters from the .22 pump all the way up to ‘Big Medicine” the .405 in a model 95. I hunted with them all.

Shoot low boys. They're riding Shetland Ponies.

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May 29, 2021 - 3:51 pm
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Interesting question.  I would say that it has everything to so with the success and popularity that Winchester experienced prior to my entry into the world.  Winchesters were highly prominent in all those old western movies and tv shows.  Winchesters were  commonly seen in use and available much more than other rifles. Popularity breeds more popularity. This surely had a lot to do with my grandfather hunting deer with a M1886 in .45-90 and why I had so many uncles and cousins using ’94 carbines.  When I entered the scene as a young boy, I became enthralled with my Dad’s .33.  It was the first deer rifle he purchased – probably in his late teems. It was quite a few years before I became aware other manufacturers made lever rifles.  So, I would say it was the established status Winchester had attained that made Winchester chose me rather than me choosing Winchesters.  I watched a lot of western movies and TV shows when I was young and 99% of the time it was a Winchester used.  “The Rifleman” did not use a Marlin M1894! 

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May 29, 2021 - 4:09 pm
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Part II of my thoughts.  Starting in my late teen years, I became aware of other lever rifles and let my eyes, “wander.”  I was in my early 20’s when I purchased my first Burgess M1878 .45-70 repeating rifle.  It was in very high condition (mirror bright original blue) a super low serial number, nickel trim with deluxe butt wood.  I thought it was really something.  I recall being surprised that it brought little reaction to anyone I showed it to.  It was an oddity that no one had heard of or could relate to.  After that, I bought a Whitney-Kennedy in .45-60 and one in .44-40.  Again, they didn’t spark interest in anyone I showed them.  I thought they were cool.  I acquired Marlins and Savages back then as well.  They at least registered some level of recognition in others.  I also continued to collect Winchesters and they always elicited a much more enthusiastic reaction from others.  

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May 29, 2021 - 6:03 pm
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steve004 said Popularity breeds more popularity.

Also known as the herd mentality, but absolutely true–same reason Colts bring more in general than S&Ws. And as with all kinds of herd mentalities (like MASKS), it’s the media that fans the flames. 

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May 29, 2021 - 8:03 pm
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clarence said

steve004 said Popularity breeds more popularity.

Also known as the herd mentality, but absolutely true–same reason Colts bring more in general than S&Ws. And as with all kinds of herd mentalities (like MASKS), it’s the media that fans the flames.   

All those Hollywood movies and TV series ended up putting a lot of money in Winchester and Colt’s pocketbooks over the span of many decades.  A lot of guys bought 94 carbines a a result of watching Winchester 1892 .44 rifles and carbines used in the westerns they watched as children and teenagers. 

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May 30, 2021 - 3:15 am
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I lied, I really don’t have an answer. I have several and all are pretty flimsy. Some days I justify my modest collection of representative models by saying it helps tell the story of Winchester. My 94’s and later my 1894’s were inspired by Western movies and TV shows before I noticed prop lever guns were generally 1892’s. I like the .22’s because I can afford them, they’re well made and generally very accurate. Target models even more so. I enjoy collecting loading tools and moulds because they’re fun to look at. Sometimes I talk abut my “Blue Steel and Walnut” holdings with my investment guy while I’m trying to get my mind around what he’s trying to tell me about my equity and bond holdings. Some days the amateur historian in me just likes learning about how things were and how they came to be.  Other reasons include the fun and fellowship at collector shows and forums.

Quite honestly my “answer” lines up pretty well with Roger’s. I really don’t have a good answer, at least not one that would make for a good article. That’s why I want to know why other collectors do what they do. Darrin makes a good point abut the dealers. I guess technically they are collectors but they certainly have a different outlook from many of us. Many of them also seem to have a knack for finding new items for my collection. 

Several members are widely recognized experts in their fields, none of them set out to be gurus. They just collected and researched. And researched and collected some more. They also keep good records, are very observant and have excellent memories. Most are very generous with their knowledge to help us mere mortals with our collections. 

I’m enjoying the posts, hopefully I can hammer them into something we’ll enjoy reading. Keep them coming, please.

 

Mike

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May 30, 2021 - 1:30 pm
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Darrin Smith said
I talked to more than a dozen “dealers” and it occurred to me that some of them viewed their wares simply as a commodity while comparatively few showed interest in the guns historical value. 

Darrin,  That’s always been my observation, too; about 60 yrs worth of observation, by the way, & not “dozens,” but hundreds. I’m willing to concede that at the very beginning, they might have had personal interests that outweighed their mercenary interests, but soon it became “all about the dough.”  Love & hate are supposed to be the most powerful emotions, but I think greed is every bit their equal.   Exceptions?  Maybe, but few & far between.

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May 30, 2021 - 1:32 pm
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The hunt is definitely part of it – the excitement around the corner.  When asked, “what’s your favorite piece?” the answer for many is, “the one I haven’t found yet.”

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May 30, 2021 - 1:45 pm
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clarence said

Darrin Smith said
I talked to more than a dozen “dealers” and it occurred to me that some of them viewed their wares simply as a commodity while comparatively few showed interest in the guns historical value. 

Darrin,  That’s always been my observation, too; about 60 yrs worth of observation, by the way, & not “dozens,” but hundreds. I’m willing to concede that at the very beginning, they might have had personal interests that outweighed their mercenary interests, but soon it became “all about the dough.”  Love & hate are supposed to be the most powerful emotions, but I think greed is every bit their equal.   Exceptions?  Maybe, but few & far between.  

I’ve met many dealers who started out as collectors.  Many found they did well enough with buying and selling that they could quit their day jobs.  I’ve recall a few told me they figured out they couldn’t both be a collector and a dealer.  I’m sure that isn’t true for all and some do manage to do it.  We certainly know many dealers who have had significant private collections (in addition to their inventory).  I recall Merz has had a private collection and Tommy Rholes had a significant private collection. 

I think the more money you have, the easier it is to do both.  Those dealers I’ve known who live more of a, “hand to mouth” existence have more of a struggle.  Generally, you want to keep the, “nicest” pieces for your collection.  That can be tough as those pieces are likely the ones a dealer can make the most money on.  Those pieces also tie up a lot of capital.  

As a generality, I think making your hobby your business, spoils the hobby to at least some degree.

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May 30, 2021 - 1:52 pm
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 steve004 said

Those dealers I’ve known who live more of a, “hand to mouth” existence have more of a struggle. 

Then why don’t they get a real job?  Poor guys, my heart goes out to them.

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May 30, 2021 - 1:58 pm
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clarence said

 steve004 said

Those dealers I’ve known who live more of a, “hand to mouth” existence have more of a struggle. 

Then why don’t they get a real job?  Poor guys, my heart goes out to them.  

Some people don’t know any other way, I suppose. 

 

Mike

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May 30, 2021 - 2:15 pm
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clarence said

 steve004 said

Those dealers I’ve known who live more of a, “hand to mouth” existence have more of a struggle. 

Then why don’t they get a real job?  Poor guys, my heart goes out to them.  

Clarence, the main point I was making was that they can pull it off, there’s just not enough left over to hold back high dollar items.  But still, I don’t expect still I don’t expect the sympathy for them to be pouring out 😉

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May 30, 2021 - 2:41 pm
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  I made my living in aviation, many of my customers resented the fact that I made money off their hobby. How can I run a business without paying the bills and making a living. Auction houses, large gun shows, and yes, gun dealers make or try to make money off your hobby. It’s the same if your hobby is golf, fishing, boating, skiing, ect.

 I’ve bought most of my guns from gun dealers and I don’t resent the fact that they might make money on me. It’s my choice. T/R

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May 30, 2021 - 4:20 pm
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TR said
  I made my living in aviation, many of my customers resented the fact that I made money off their hobby.

If you mean you were a flight instructor, com. pilot, or mechanic, isn’t there a world of difference in education, skills, experience, between that and peddling guns?  Based on the thousands of ads on GB, GI, etc. I’ve read, it obvious the latter business can be pursued with not more than an 8th grade education.

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May 30, 2021 - 6:47 pm
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My interest began as a youngster in early 1960  when my dad had a small gun shop in addition to a snack bar that he ran with help from the DAV. As he acquired more guns he eventually obtained a deluxe 94 30 wcf. I was in sixth grade at that time and I was in love with that gun. I would fondle it every evening and shoot countless imaginary giant bucks with my 30-30. Asking my dad if he would sell me the gun he replied I can get $450.00 for that gun and you will never earn that much money. Years of toting armloads of dad’s guns  into and out of gun shows till I hated gun shows and I never saw the likes of my rifle Again. Fast forward to today and I love quality gun shows and yes I have managed to own several deluxe 1894

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June 1, 2021 - 2:58 am
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I’m a child of the 50’s (born 1950) and I grew up watching every western movie and cowboy TV show, and for all I knew they all used Winchester. The only guns in our house were mine. Mostly Matells, I still have my Fanner 50. Growing up in upscale Greenwich CT no one hunted or shot clays or targets. We did go to watch polo and tennis. Grew up and moved to Oregon.  Borrowed my wife’s Grandpa’s Winchester 94 and got my first blacktail. It was a realization of a kid I used to be. I bought my first Winchester when I finally had the spending money. Then my father in law passed and he left me 3 Winchester 22’s . I was hooked . I love the craftmanship. The expert wood work. The beauty of blued steel. And they’re from my home state. I have 35 Winchester 22’s so far, and love shootings them all. I supply guns and ammo for local Scouts and our Church’s God, Guns, and Grub outings. The kids all love Winchesters now too. The guys with 1022’s sneak over for a few round through a Winchester  74 or 77. Turning 72 in Aug. has me wondering what I want done with my accumulation. I not a collector, I accumulate them, restore them, refinish if needed.  No real collector value, just cowboy value.

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 “There is but one answer to be made to the dynamite bomb and that can best be made by the Winchester rifle.”

Teddy Roosevelt 

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