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1886 Winchester 50 Express Take Down Value
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January 20, 2022 - 12:24 am
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Burt Humphrey said

Steve – I am hopeful Chuck will report back to us here on the Forum after he returns from the Vegas show to let us know about the current price and availability of 50 caliber 86’s. I am not an active participant in the Winchester lever collection community anymore but I am confident the Model 86 50’s are scarce and expensive. The good stuff is often under the table and it is always expensive. Also, the re-done guns are more prevalent than they used to be and the fakers almost always do their best work on the rare guns like a 50 caliber Model 86. The 50 caliber guns have always been hard to find and expensive, driven by availability and demand. The same situation exists with 50 caliber Model 1876’s. When I downsized I was smart enough to keep one!

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Steve – when I started collecting Winchester levers the internet did not exist. At first there was Shotgun News and later the Gun List and CADA Gun Journal. Buying and selling guns was on the phone or thru the mail. When I started to downsize I had 65 levers -not many by a lot of collectors standards but mine were all original, correct and high condition. My collection included every model from the Henry thru the 88 and had both deluxes and standard grade. I had both rifles and carbines where they made them and I even had nice Model 87’s and 01’s. I have never bought a gun on the internet and I have never bought a gun at an auction. I bought guns from other collectors and dealers and generally bought one good gun each year at the winter Vegas show. Since I have lived in Alaska since 1976 it was never that easy for me to get to gun shows. I did have good contacts and I offer the attached letter written to me in 1997 by Tommy Rholes as an example of how I would find out about good guns. Think about what Tommy said in this letter “I have just acquired the best 73 carbine I have ever seen” – don’t think that did not make the short hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

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January 20, 2022 - 2:50 am
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Burt Humphrey said

Steve – when I started collecting Winchester levers the internet did not exist. At first there was Shotgun News and later the Gun List and CADA Gun Journal. Buying and selling guns was on the phone or thru the mail. When I started to downsize I had 65 levers -not many by a lot of collectors standards but mine were all original, correct and high condition. My collection included every model from the Henry thru the 88 and had both deluxes and standard grade. I had both rifles and carbines where they made them and I even had nice Model 87’s and 01’s. I have never bought a gun on the internet and I have never bought a gun at an auction. I bought guns from other collectors and dealers and generally bought one good gun each year at the winter Vegas show. Since I have lived in Alaska since 1976 it was never that easy for me to get to gun shows. I did have good contacts and I offer the attached letter written to me in 1997 by Tommy Rholes as an example of how I would find out about good guns. Think about what Tommy said in this letter “I have just acquired the best 73 carbine I have ever seen” – don’t think that did not make the short hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

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Burt – I appreciate your comments.  It brought back memories for me.  As a teenager I started my subscription to The Shotgun News.  I recall it was basically all there was.  Later of course came the Gun List and the CADA Gun Journal.  I subscribed to them all.  I recall for years I contemplated getting the early delivery of the Shotgun News.  A yearly subscription was about $20 and you could add the early delivery for a couple hundred.  It was a lot, but just getting first to one gun could have easily been worth it.  I recall doing a lot of phone calling only to find out someone got to it days before my issue arrived.  The other method was to subscribe to the mailing catalogs many dealers put out.  LeRoy Merz of course, and other big players such as James Wayne and so on.  Many regional dealers such as Jim Jasken, Rudy Dotzenrod, Ed Kukowski, Larry Orr, James Georgen – Clarence has some thoughts there! .. I subscribed to many.  But yes, Shotgun News ads – a handful of words and no photos!  You could ask for photos to be sent (snail mail!) and then a half hour after you made that arrangement, the seller would get a call from someone:  “I’ll take it right now with no photos!

That letter from Tommy is very cool!  Did you end up with the carbine?

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January 20, 2022 - 3:14 am
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Burt Humphrey said

Steve – when I started collecting Winchester levers the internet did not exist. At first there was Shotgun News and later the Gun List and CADA Gun Journal. Buying and selling guns was on the phone or thru the mail. When I started to downsize I had 65 levers -not many by a lot of collectors standards but mine were all original, correct and high condition. My collection included every model from the Henry thru the 88 and had both deluxes and standard grade. I had both rifles and carbines where they made them and I even had nice Model 87’s and 01’s. I have never bought a gun on the internet and I have never bought a gun at an auction. I bought guns from other collectors and dealers and generally bought one good gun each year at the winter Vegas show. Since I have lived in Alaska since 1976 it was never that easy for me to get to gun shows. I did have good contacts and I offer the attached letter written to me in 1997 by Tommy Rholes as an example of how I would find out about good guns. Think about what Tommy said in this letter “I have just acquired the best 73 carbine I have ever seen” – don’t think that did not make the short hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

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Steve I did not buy the 73 carbine. If it would have been a case hardened gun in that condition I would have mortgaged my soul to buy it. I thought about the gun and thought about the gun for a couple of weeks and when I finally talked to Tommy he had sold the gun to someone else. Then, I was literally sick about the fact I had passed on the gun. I think my wife sensed my frustration with passing on the gun and 2 months later, unknown to me, she talked to Tommy and bought me a super 66 carbine for Christmas – photos of the 66 attached.

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January 20, 2022 - 3:57 am
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Burt Humphrey said

 I think my wife sensed my frustration with passing on the gun and 2 months later, unknown to me, she talked to Tommy and bought me a super 66 carbine for Christmas – photos of the 66 attached.

Burt, youve got a heck of a wife!  Im still waiting on a Winchester under the Christmas treeLaugh.  Super looking 66 and 76 yourve got there.  Where did you find the 76?

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January 20, 2022 - 5:08 am
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1892takedown said

Burt Humphrey said
 I think my wife sensed my frustration with passing on the gun and 2 months later, unknown to me, she talked to Tommy and bought me a super 66 carbine for Christmas – photos of the 66 attached.

Burt, youve got a heck of a wife!  Im still waiting on a Winchester under the Christmas treeLaugh.  Super looking 66 and 76 yourve got there.  Where did you find the 76?  

Chris – I have had the 76 since 1989. Kind of an interesting story regarding my acquisition of what is a super gun. It walked into an antique shop in Anchorage and the guy that owned the shop called me because he knew I was interested in old Winchesters. I went to look at it on a Friday night after work and really liked it but not having a lot of trust in the guy who owned the antique shop and being about a grand difference in what we thought the gun was worth, I walked away. I thought about it over the weekend and decided I would just bite the bullet – when his shop opened on Monday I was there with Ben Franklins and took the gun with me. About 2 weeks later I got the latest issue of the Gun List and as I was looking thru it at 76’s, I saw a gun for sale which was the exact configuration as mine and as I looked at the serial number which was noted in  ad, it looked like it could be very close to mine. I pulled my gun out of the safe and low & behold, it was mine. The seller was Larry Orr of Larrry’s Gun Room in Beresford SD. I had known Larry for years so I called him – told him I was looking at the 76 he had advertised. Larry said he had seen the gun at a show in Spokane a couple of weeks prior and had bought the gun over the phone – said he did not yet have it but it should be there any day. I said “Larry, that gun is not going to make it because it was currently sitting in my lap and I was rather fond of it – total silence on the other end! We figured out that when I did not buy the gun on the Friday I first looked at it, the antique dealer had sold it over the phone to Rod McCallum from Portland who then sold it over the phone to Larry Orr. The antique dealer then sold it to me when I walked in with a handful of Ben Franklins because I probably paid a grand more for the gun than Rod McCallum did – he did not inform anyone! I believe I said I did not have a lot of trust in the antique dealer – good instincts Burt!! I perspired excessively for days while I waited for a letter on the gun – back in those days they did not offer the search option they have now – you just ordered a letter and waited. When I finally got a letter on the gun it was right as rain – I think I consumed a massive amount of Canadian blend in celebration. Years ago I told this story to my old friend Tommy Rholes – he just shook his head and said “you can’t make this kind of shit up”. Letter on the 76 attached – and, it is one of those deals where paying a grand too much doesn’t make any difference 33 years later.

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January 20, 2022 - 7:15 am
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Great story Burt.  Thanks for sharing.  My dad had an affinity for deluxe 73, 76, & 86’s back in the day.  At an early age the 76 was among my favorites.  I just came to the game too late, most are too expensive for me to bite off on. 

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January 20, 2022 - 5:19 pm
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1892takedown said

Burt Humphrey said
 I think my wife sensed my frustration with passing on the gun and 2 months later, unknown to me, she talked to Tommy and bought me a super 66 carbine for Christmas – photos of the 66 attached.

Burt, youve got a heck of a wife!  Im still waiting on a Winchester under the Christmas treeLaugh.  Super looking 66 and 76 yourve got there.  Where did you find the 76?  

This is the best, “gun wife” story I’ve ever heard.  Amazing.  Many wives are not on board to that extant.  I’ll tell you an opposite story (fortunately not my own).  I’m sure it took place over 50 years ago.  A fellow collector,  (John) had a collector friend (Dave) who had a wife who despised guns. Dave was relegated to a small attic room to keep his collection and any time he spent with his collection was in that room.  He did his best to pack them in there.  His collection was very much out of sight of his wife.  Dave eventually passed away and after a period of time, John paid a visit to the widow and inquired if she would be interested in selling the collection to him.  The wife snarled up her face and exclaimed – “oh… those disgusting things … just take them … get them out of here!!!”  There was no further talk of money exchanging hands and he obliged her.  I don’t know, but suspect, Dave had not kept his wife well informed about what he paid for the pieces in his collection.  Some will suggest it was John’s ethical responsibility to inform the wife of the value of the collection.  Opinions will vary.  I think John felt that given the hardships she had put Dave through, she didn’t deserve to profit from his hobby that she despised.  Or, who knows, maybe he just saw an opportunity to be greedy and took it.

I do suspect there are a subgroup of wives out there who are far from being in touch what their husband has paid for their pieces – the old joke about the widowed wife bragging he sold her husband’s guns at a rummage sale and $15 each, tripled her money on them (as he had told be he paid $5 for each piece).  I do know there are many collector’s here who have the opposite scenario – they keep good records and wife (and perhaps adult children) know where they are kept. 

My overall point is that collecting is interesting in so many ways and some of the stories we hear over the years are real keepers.  Burt’s story about the gift from his wife is a really keeper.  And on that note, his story about how he acquired that ’76, entertained the heck out of me.  It’s another one I won’t forget.  

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January 20, 2022 - 5:39 pm
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Burt Humphrey said

Steve I did not buy the 73 carbine. If it would have been a case hardened gun in that condition I would have mortgaged my soul to buy it. I thought about the gun and thought about the gun for a couple of weeks and when I finally talked to Tommy he had sold the gun to someone else. Then, I was literally sick about the fact I had passed on the gun. I think my wife sensed my frustration with passing on the gun and 2 months later, unknown to me, she talked to Tommy and bought me a super 66 carbine for Christmas – photos of the 66 attached.

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Burt – 

That was yet another interesting story.  It prompted me to reflect about the, “fork in the road” you took as a collector.  It’s a fork I pondered throughout my career.  An example of the fork I am thinking of is the option to save up $1000 a month and at the end of a year, purchasing one really nice piece; or, buying a $1000 piece every month.  With the first example, you end up with one super nice piece but you go a year without buying anything.  With the other fork, you get the thrill and enjoyment of buying a piece every month.  It sure sounds like you did a version of the former.  With that fork, you go several years with having a fairly empty safe – but after more years pass – you have a safe full of top end pieces!  What you did took discipline and I admire that.  This relates to advice Tommy Rholes is quoted:  “buy the best gun you can possibly afford.”

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January 23, 2022 - 6:47 pm
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Burt Humphrey said

Steve – I am hopeful Chuck will report back to us here on the Forum after he returns from the Vegas show to let us know about the current price and availability of 50 caliber 86’s.

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Burt, I did see two 50-100-450’s.  I don’t remember exactly the asking price but one was around let’s say 45K and the other 75K, but don’t hold me to that they could have been higher.  I am not looking for another 86 right now so I did not really look for or at many 86’s.  I knew this certain dealer always has some.

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