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Buyer Beware!!!
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April 4, 2014 - 2:39 pm
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While perusing the Winchester offerings coming up in the next R.I.A. auction, I discovered a very major false listing…

http://www.rockislandauction.com/viewitem/aid/61/lid/1273

This Model 71 rifle was NOT factory engraved as it is being claimed and advertised ❗

As many of you are aware, I have been surveying the Model 71 for several years, and I recently wrote the article about them for the Collector Magazine. As it turns out, I surveyed the subject rifle when it was listed and sold in Greg Martin’s January 2010 auction. At that time, it was a 100% standard Model 71 rifle, in well used condition (it was graded at 70%). Now, here we are just slightly more than 4-years later, and it is all dolled up, and being advertised as "factory" engraved.

Caveat Emptor!!

Bert

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April 4, 2014 - 3:00 pm
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Yes Bert. I caught them with a very fake USMC 1903A1 Unertl snipers rifle a few years back. It does not do any good to tell them either. They have a "know it all" staff I would guess, and they are going to be right, even if they are wrong. I am really getting fed up with all the fakes and restorations out there. My BIL paid over $4,000+ for a real nice M53 that your partner Larry looked over at a Reno show and found it to be a restoration. Thanks for the heads up Bert. I know you are an honest man !!!!! Big Larry

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April 4, 2014 - 3:01 pm
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Wow! That is crazy. And that is one of the guns I was watching. Nothing I could ever afford – if it had been original – but, following it nonetheless. Fake gun, fake paperwork, man. I find stuff like this very disheartening. Glad you already had it in your survey Bert. Will you be talking to RIA? I understand what Larry is saying about not listening, but if it can be pointed out (shown) that this "same" gun sold at Greg Martin’s auction just a few years back and is not the same gun it is today, it would be hard to ignore that.

Matt

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April 4, 2014 - 3:30 pm
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Brazen! I would like to know who RIA got that from. This was done within the past four years. There should not be too long a trail to follow. Whoever faked the letter has committed a felony. I’d like to see that person pay the consequences. Do you think the police would be interested in opening an investigation into this? There is certainly a chunk of change involved.

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April 4, 2014 - 4:12 pm
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Maybe there are two out there with the same Serial number ❓
Bert, are you 100% sure it is the same rifle?
I know of a certain 1886 SRC that I looked at a few years ago that is in a collection that the guy had from the 60s, when checking to see what one of the features in the letter was, the same gun popped up in a very well know Winchester collector’s collection, same serial number and same features. I am sure both collectors have the same letter from Cody on the gun. Yes as the title of this thread states, Buyer Beware

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April 4, 2014 - 9:10 pm
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"Road King" said
Maybe there are two out there with the same Serial number ❓

That is extremely unlikely. During the time that the Model 71 was being manufactured, Winchester marked duplicate serial numbered guns with an "X" on the end of the number

Bert, are you 100% sure it is the same rifle?

Yes, I am 99.9% sure that it is the same rifle.

As others have noted, RIA has demonstrated a pronounced propensity for listing and selling fake engraved or rare Winchesters in the recent past.

Bert

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April 4, 2014 - 9:28 pm
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Strange that the letter is not signed either.. 😯 It will be fun to follow this one to see how it plays out. Maybe someone should send RIA a copy of the GM Auction catalogue.

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April 4, 2014 - 10:40 pm
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I have warned several different Model 71 collectors that I personally know… I suspect that the word will spread.

Bert

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April 5, 2014 - 9:39 am
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Good for you Bert. Most of the time these well known fakers remain anonymous because folks think they will get in trouble for slander or something else. As in the case of the really faked up M1892 44-40 with the $10,000 asking price, the seller is a very well known and respected gun seller. I was "clued in" by a friend as to his dishonesty, and he will remain anonymous. I am sure by now a lot of good folks are wise to him and the dealer from Long Beach. Thanks, Big Larry

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April 6, 2014 - 7:58 am
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From the "letter" It is interesting that even though the Model 71 records are "very sketchy" there just happens to be quite complete and exact information on this particular rifle. And from my personal point of view, the engraving is ugly compared to that on older Winchesters.

Michael

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April 6, 2014 - 3:11 pm
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I found the ‘sketchy’ bit a bit sketchy myself! I was also surprised to note that there are small chips out of the wood on either side of the upper tang. Unusual for a mint rifle.

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April 6, 2014 - 4:48 pm
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I still would like to see this brought up to the folks at RIA, as this seems to be a clear case of misrepresentation. And if it is so, I would like to see the culprit hung out to dry, to put it mildly.

Matt

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April 6, 2014 - 9:40 pm
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Just as an aside.
Generally auctions houses enjoy necessary exemptions from laws concerning misrepresentations, fraud, etc. That is because the general concept, with exceptions, is that auctions are little more than middle men moving property. They are not expected to be experts in the field of what they purvey. They are generally entitled to “rely” on seller representations absent “actual knowledge” of the existence of a misrepresentation or fraud. They also generally have no “duty to inquire or investigate” even in the face of suspicions. To statutorily impose other standards would likely at least turn their status into some combination of investigator, guarantor or insurer. There are exceptions under circumstances where special duties may be imposed by statute (such as particularly nowadays where environmental concerns raise their head) or where the particular auction house assumes such special duties (such as Christies, where they may employ experts for such as evaluations). Still, even where such expertise does occur, the house liability is probably limited to standards of employing established experts.

Yet an entirely different coin is that of investigation and prosecution of sellers in such crimes as might be inferred in this thread. First is the question of proving the requisite level of knowledge and then most often of proving “intent to defraud”. While this may seem simple, particularly in interstate transactions and with jurisdictional considerations, possible conflict of laws concerns and witnesses of varying credibility, memory and motivation scattered all over; the result is normally a flame out.
Then in terms of resources for returns; typically a lot of investigative and prosecutorial resources with very little payback in terms of any serious sentences or the ‘click’ of public acclaim. The public is interested in taking violent offenders on first and then the big fish in various categories.

Most provable frauds are left to the victim to make a civil case. For most victims it’s not economically worthwhile. Then also the collectability of judgment issues. All in all, almost never any neatly wrapped packages here!
This is really just touching on a hugely complex subject. But there is a bottom line here and it generally isn’t pretty for fraud victims. The real world answer lies in little more than the preventive measure: “BUYER BEWARE”.

Two quick disclaimers.
None of this is intended or should be taken as legal advice.
Not to be assumed here as defending auction house practices with which I have not particular expertise, interest or background. Yet experience with the public agency side of wider political/economic crime investigations, domestic and international.

All here just my take.

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April 7, 2014 - 10:36 am
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That factory letter gave me a good laugh. I guess whomever drummed it up didn’t feel that they could pull off DeLuigi’s Signature. That is even if there really was such a worker at the factory by that name. Also would kind of a professional would offer up an opinion to a gun being the finest gun ever produced sight un-seen.

I’ll be watching to see if this one gets sold or not.

Maverick

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April 7, 2014 - 2:23 pm
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I would really like to know who wrote the auction description…

The top of the breech bolt is fitted with a Lyman model 56 peep sight.

Really… and all this time I though it was a No. 98A Winchester manufactured bolt-peep sight.

As for the factory letter from "F.P. Deluigi", it is has errors and dubious claims. The first glaring one I see is the statement " … made for the Winchester Repeating Arms Co." In the year 1936, the company name was "Winchester-Western". The really dubious statement is the first person statement "In my opinion, it was the finest 71 Winchester ever produced by Winchester Repeating Arms." The rifle in question was manufactured 46-years before Mr. Deluigi allegedly wrote the letter in 1982. How could he have any basis for his opinion?

I truly hope that the bidders and collectors looking at this auction clearly see lot # 1273 for what it is… an outright faked gun and documentation.

Bert

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April 10, 2014 - 1:15 pm
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First of all, RIA is aware of the issue and had obtained a copy of the prior auction catalog. I am still waiting to hear back from them as to what they are going to do with this particular rifle, which I too had been watching rather closely!

When I talked with them on Monday, they said all the right things and were looking into this further. I can only hope they do the right thing and send it back to whomever gave it to them to sell along with the dreamed up history!

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April 10, 2014 - 2:53 pm
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Tom71 said
First of all, RIA is aware of the issue and had obtained a copy of the prior auction catalog. I am still waiting to hear back from them as to what they are going to do with this particular rifle, which I too had been watching rather closely!

When I talked with them on Monday, they said all the right things and were looking into this further. I can only hope they do the right thing and send it back to whomever gave it to them to sell along with the dreamed up history!

That is good to hear Tom. Please keep us posted.

Matt

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April 11, 2014 - 10:34 am
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Tom71 said
First of all, RIA is aware of the issue and had obtained a copy of the prior auction catalog. I am still waiting to hear back from them as to what they are going to do with this particular rifle, which I too had been watching rather closely!

When I talked with them on Monday, they said all the right things and were looking into this further. I can only hope they do the right thing and send it back to whomever gave it to them to sell along with the dreamed up history!

If that is the case they should remove it from there listing / website and edit the video they posted on YouTube that includes the rifle in it. As embarrassing as such a mistake is for them, you’d think they would want to amend such a mistake as soon as possible to save there reputation. I would also think that such a mistake would constitute some form of an apology.

Sincerely,
Maverick

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April 12, 2014 - 11:53 am
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My specialty is Pre-64 Model 70s. Check the Model 70s in the same auction as the M71. In 40+ years of collecting M70s I never heard of one chambered in 32 Winchester Special or 219 Zipper. Suddenly, there are several in the same sale.

Also, check the number of "professionally refinished" M70s in rare calibers or configurations.

M70 collectors know that the fakers are making barrels in rare calibers. They have correct looking roll stamps and proof marks. Until now, they used original stocks and actions with fake barrels. But the barrels are new looking and stand out when put with 90-95% original stocks and actions. So they refinish everything and still have a valuable rifle–collectors will pay for rare or one-of-a-kind rifles even if refinished.

As for RIA, they have removed M70s from auctions in recent years when claimed originality was questioned.

Buyer Beware Indeed!

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April 13, 2014 - 12:17 pm
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Sent RIA an e-mail today on this rifle under discussion and hope I get an answer tomorrow. It was rather pointed and I let them also know I hadn’t gotten a reply from my phone call of last Monday, the 7th of April. I will post the result whenever I hear back from them!

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