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Don Grove’s Winchesters at Ward’s Auctions…
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Or, how they did relative to inflated dealer prices.

I don’t mean to pick on Don, especially since he recently passed away, but an auction price is more indicative of actual value than inflated dealer prices (a.k.a., how they really gouge you).  I get it they have to make a living, and they have the right to, plus they have overhead I do…but I’m at the point where I shop around and don’t have to pay inflated dealer prices for their expertise.

In any event, I copied down all the pre 1900 model lever rifles & carbines from his site as I believed all 44 in his inventory would go to auction at Ward’s, which ended yesterday.  15 rifles and carbines did.  I will give the Ward’s price and Don’s price of all 15, and the percentage of Don’s price these hammered at.  The number in parentheses is what calculations will be taken from, annd that’s the Ward’s hammer price plus 18% commission. Again, I don’t mean to pick on Don exclusively, but this is illustrative of the markup one encounters when buying at retail.

I’ll begin with the only two I really considered .  Both had problems.  They still remained described as Wonderful and Fantastic, but Ward’s did incorporate my findings in the description.

The first, Winchester 1892 SRC in .44-40, antique, buttstock replaced.  Lot 4028, serial number 16239.  $10,476  ($12,361.68) vs $14,900.  82.96%

The second 1892 SRC IN .44-40, No 470853, Lot 4027.  I had to point out that in a previous auction description the lower tang had been stamped and also marked with an electric pencil importer’s markings.  At that sale, it hammered at $5250, January 2022.  $5000 ($5900) vs $10,900.  54.12%

Lot 4012, Winchester 1873, serial no 324028, 16” trapper carbine.  $11025 ($13,009.50) vs $24,900.  52.25%

Lot 4014, Winchester 1873 rifle, No 69632.  $7333 ($8652.94) vs $19,900.  43.48%

Lot 4015, Winchester 1873 rifle, No 20068.  $11,904 ($14,046.72) vs $15,900.  88.34%

Lot 4011, a 1866 SRC, No 14412.  $19047 ($22,475.46 vs $29000.  77.50%.

Lot 4019, a Winchester 1886 Rifle, No 57985.  $4305 ($5079.90) vs $15000.  33.87%

Lot 4022, .38-40 Model 1892 rifle, No 531759.  $4725 ($5575.50) vs $9900.  56.32%

Lot 4021, 1892 Musket No 884533.  $9261 ($10,927.98) vs $19,900.  54.91%

Lot 4030, an 1894 .32-40 rifle, No 686030.  $3360 ($3964.80) vs $5900.  67.20%

Lot 4042, Model 1894 SRC, No 91112.  $1628 ($1921.04) vs $3900.  49.26%

Lot 4032.  Model 1894, No 415617.  $2310 ($2725.80) vs $6500.  41.94%

Lot 4038, 1894 SRC No 1082787.  $3586 ($4231.48) vs $6900.  61.33%

And, lastly, a couple of 1895s.

Lot 4045, a SRC, No 400729.  $5964 ($7037.52) vs $9900.  71.09%

Lot 4046, an 1895 rifle, No 419874.  $3150 ($3717) vs $7900.  47.05%

It pays to get good books, do your homework, and not overpay.  This also explains why I usually walk around a gun show and come home empty handed.

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mrcvs said
Or, how they did relative to inflated dealer prices.

I don’t mean to pick on Don, especially since he recently passed away, but an auction price is more indicative of actual value than inflated dealer prices (a.k.a., how they really gouge you).  I get it they have to make a living, and they have the right to, plus they have overhead I do…but I’m at the point where I shop around and don’t have to pay inflated dealer prices for their expertise.

In any event, I copied down all the pre 1900 model lever rifles & carbines from his site as I believed all 44 in his inventory would go to auction at Ward’s, which ended yesterday.  15 rifles and carbines did.  I will give the Ward’s price and Don’s price of all 15, and the percentage of Don’s price these hammered at.  The number in parentheses is what calculations will be taken from, annd that’s the Ward’s hammer price plus 18% commission. Again, I don’t mean to pick on Don exclusively, but this is illustrative of the markup one encounters when buying at retail.

I’ll begin with the only two I really considered .  Both had problems.  They still remained described as Wonderful and Fantastic, but Ward’s did incorporate my findings in the description.

The first, Winchester 1892 SRC in .44-40, antique, buttstock replaced.  Lot 4028, serial number 16239.  $10,476  ($12,361.68) vs $14,900.  82.96%

The second 1892 SRC IN .44-40, No 470853, Lot 4027.  I had to point out that in a previous auction description the lower tang had been stamped and also marked with an electric pencil importer’s markings.  At that sale, it hammered at $5250, January 2022.  $5000 ($5900) vs $10,900.  54.12%

Lot 4012, Winchester 1873, serial no 324028, 16” trapper carbine.  $11025 ($13,009.50) vs $24,900.  52.25%

Lot 4014, Winchester 1873 rifle, No 69632.  $7333 ($8652.94) vs $19,900.  43.48%

Lot 4015, Winchester 1873 rifle, No 20068.  $11,904 ($14,046.72) vs $15,900.  88.34%

Lot 4011, a 1866 SRC, No 14412.  $19047 ($22,475.46 vs $29000.  77.50%.

Lot 4019, a Winchester 1886 Rifle, No 57985.  $4305 ($5079.90) vs $15000.  33.87%

Lot 4022, .38-40 Model 1892 rifle, No 531759.  $4725 ($5575.50) vs $9900.  56.32%

Lot 4021, 1892 Musket No 884533.  $9261 ($10,927.98) vs $19,900.  54.91%

Lot 4030, an 1894 .32-40 rifle, No 686030.  $3360 ($3964.80) vs $5900.  67.20%

Lot 4042, Model 1894 SRC, No 91112.  $1628 ($1921.04) vs $3900.  49.26%

Lot 4032.  Model 1894, No 415617.  $2310 ($2725.80) vs $6500.  41.94%

Lot 4038, 1894 SRC No 1082787.  $3586 ($4231.48) vs $6900.  61.33%

And, lastly, a couple of 1895s.

Lot 4045, a SRC, No 400729.  $5964 ($7037.52) vs $9900.  71.09%

Lot 4046, an 1895 rifle, No 419874.  $3150 ($3717) vs $7900.  47.05%

It pays to get good books, do your homework, and not overpay.  This also explains why I usually walk around a gun show and come home empty handed.

  

You forgot the 1894 trapper carbine.  Don had this one priced at $15K on his website.

https://www.wardscollectibles.com/auction/A95/viewitem.php?item=4037

Don

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March 3, 2024 - 5:07 am
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deerhunter said

mrcvs said

Or, how they did relative to inflated dealer prices.

I don’t mean to pick on Don, especially since he recently passed away, but an auction price is more indicative of actual value than inflated dealer prices (a.k.a., how they really gouge you).  I get it they have to make a living, and they have the right to, plus they have overhead I do…but I’m at the point where I shop around and don’t have to pay inflated dealer prices for their expertise.

In any event, I copied down all the pre 1900 model lever rifles & carbines from his site as I believed all 44 in his inventory would go to auction at Ward’s, which ended yesterday.  15 rifles and carbines did.  I will give the Ward’s price and Don’s price of all 15, and the percentage of Don’s price these hammered at.  The number in parentheses is what calculations will be taken from, annd that’s the Ward’s hammer price plus 18% commission. Again, I don’t mean to pick on Don exclusively, but this is illustrative of the markup one encounters when buying at retail.

I’ll begin with the only two I really considered .  Both had problems.  They still remained described as Wonderful and Fantastic, but Ward’s did incorporate my findings in the description.

The first, Winchester 1892 SRC in .44-40, antique, buttstock replaced.  Lot 4028, serial number 16239.  $10,476  ($12,361.68) vs $14,900.  82.96%

The second 1892 SRC IN .44-40, No 470853, Lot 4027.  I had to point out that in a previous auction description the lower tang had been stamped and also marked with an electric pencil importer’s markings.  At that sale, it hammered at $5250, January 2022.  $5000 ($5900) vs $10,900.  54.12%

Lot 4012, Winchester 1873, serial no 324028, 16” trapper carbine.  $11025 ($13,009.50) vs $24,900.  52.25%

Lot 4014, Winchester 1873 rifle, No 69632.  $7333 ($8652.94) vs $19,900.  43.48%

Lot 4015, Winchester 1873 rifle, No 20068.  $11,904 ($14,046.72) vs $15,900.  88.34%

Lot 4011, a 1866 SRC, No 14412.  $19047 ($22,475.46 vs $29000.  77.50%.

Lot 4019, a Winchester 1886 Rifle, No 57985.  $4305 ($5079.90) vs $15000.  33.87%

Lot 4022, .38-40 Model 1892 rifle, No 531759.  $4725 ($5575.50) vs $9900.  56.32%

Lot 4021, 1892 Musket No 884533.  $9261 ($10,927.98) vs $19,900.  54.91%

Lot 4030, an 1894 .32-40 rifle, No 686030.  $3360 ($3964.80) vs $5900.  67.20%

Lot 4042, Model 1894 SRC, No 91112.  $1628 ($1921.04) vs $3900.  49.26%

Lot 4032.  Model 1894, No 415617.  $2310 ($2725.80) vs $6500.  41.94%

Lot 4038, 1894 SRC No 1082787.  $3586 ($4231.48) vs $6900.  61.33%

And, lastly, a couple of 1895s.

Lot 4045, a SRC, No 400729.  $5964 ($7037.52) vs $9900.  71.09%

Lot 4046, an 1895 rifle, No 419874.  $3150 ($3717) vs $7900.  47.05%

It pays to get good books, do your homework, and not overpay.  This also explains why I usually walk around a gun show and come home empty handed.

  

You forgot the 1894 trapper carbine.  Don had this one priced at $15K on his website.

https://www.wardscollectibles.com/auction/A95/viewitem.php?item=4037

Don

  

Lot 4037, 1894 Trapper carbine No 1051727 $7156 ($8444.08) vs $15000.  56.29%

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March 3, 2024 - 5:35 am
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I get it they have to make a living… mrcvs said  

A “living”?  It’s a living for the proprietor of a small gun store, but do such carriage-trade dealers depend on gun-sale profits to put food on their tables, make their mortgage payments, & the like?  Or does money in the bank derived from other sources subsidize the gun business?

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March 3, 2024 - 11:38 am
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Great thread. Very interesting. 

 Rick C 

   

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March 3, 2024 - 1:31 pm
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Yes, this was quite interesting.  Thanks for taking the time to post all of the detail.  I have casually followed Don’s offerings since the, “Shotgun News” days.  It was my unwavering impression that his items were consistently overpriced.  

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I expect an added cost from the sellers who attend shows and have expenses, and pay to have a website etc.

 Rick C 

   

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steve004 said
Yes, this was quite interesting.  Thanks for taking the time to post all of the detail.  I have casually followed Don’s offerings since the, “Shotgun News” days.  It was my unwavering impression that his items were consistently overpriced.    

Yes, Don’s items were overpriced…and overrepresented.  I would like a Model 1892 SRC in .44-40, and there were two of these.  Both had problems I identified.

The rifle that had the lowest percentage, meaning the difference between what it sold for and what Don valued it at, was the 1886 rifle.  I don’t know how Don represented it, but Ward’s clearly stated it was restored.

I think my point is, ultimately, when it comes to this hobby, I enjoy it.  I don’t, however, enjoy getting gouged!

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mrcvs said  I don’t, however, enjoy getting gouged!
  

Others, & there’s apparently no shortage of them, don’t particularly care, or Don, Leroy, & a whole pack of others whose names I’ve forgotten, would not have been so successful.

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  Attending large gun shows as a dealer across this nation is expensive. It takes two people, a vehicle large enough to transport 30 expensive Winchesters, table rent on three $200 tables, 5 nights in a $200 dollar a night hotel, meals for two for five days, and fuel. Lets say you have a special wife that will go on a five day 2000 mile round trip drive and sit behind a table for three days. This is what it costs.

     table rent on three tables  $600

     five nights in a quality hotel  $1000

     meals good enough your wife does not divorce you $750

     2000 miles of fuel  and vehicle use at $.50 a mile $1000

  $3,350. is your expense plus your time. Selling over priced guns is not easy or done quickly. There are easier ways to make money than attending gun shows. It has to be a hobby. A web site is cheaper and the way most for profit dealers are doing it.

  As a collector I can buddy up with a couple like minded collectors and cut the cost on a big show. It’s a hobby and hobbies cost money.

                                                          T/R

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mrcvs said

steve004 said

Yes, this was quite interesting.  Thanks for taking the time to post all of the detail.  I have casually followed Don’s offerings since the, “Shotgun News” days.  It was my unwavering impression that his items were consistently overpriced.    

Yes, Don’s items were overpriced…and overrepresented.  I would like a Model 1892 SRC in .44-40, and there were two of these.  Both had problems I identified.

The rifle that had the lowest percentage, meaning the difference between what it sold for and what Don valued it at, was the 1886 rifle.  I don’t know how Don represented it, but Ward’s clearly stated it was restored.

I think my point is, ultimately, when it comes to this hobby, I enjoy it.  I don’t, however, enjoy getting gouged!

  

Regarding that 1886, in addition to the restore, Ward’s is defending the caliber designation mentioned in the letter as a ledger error, etc.  However, aren’t those wrench marks on the right-hand side of the barrel just forward of the receiver and above the forearm wood?  To me, that is evidence of barrel removal and a possible barrel swap.  Wrench marks on barrels are a huge turnoff for me on any old Winchester no matter what or how rare it is. Too many red flags with this one and, evidently, others agreed based on the bidding results.

https://www.wardscollectibles.com/auction/A95/viewitem.php?item=4019

Just my 2 cents,

Don

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March 3, 2024 - 3:58 pm
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Those wrench or vice marks on the right side of he barrel are a real killer for me.  They are quite ugly/disfiguring and what they suggest is quite the negative.

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TR said
  Attending large gun shows as a dealer across this nation is expensive. It takes two people, a vehicle large enough to transport 30 expensive Winchesters, table rent on three $200 tables, 5 nights in a $200 dollar a night hotel, meals for two for five days, and fuel. Lets say you have a special wife that will go on a five day 2000 mile round trip drive and sit behind a table for three days. This is what it costs.

     table rent on three tables  $600

     five nights in a quality hotel  $1000

     meals good enough your wife does not divorce you $750

     2000 miles of fuel  and vehicle use at $.50 a mile $1000

  $3,350. is your expense plus your time. Selling over priced guns is not easy or done quickly. There are easier ways to make money than attending gun shows. It has to be a hobby. A web site is cheaper and the way most for profit dealers are doing it.

  As a collector I can buddy up with a couple like minded collectors and cut the cost on a big show. It’s a hobby and hobbies cost money.

                                                          T/R

  

I had thought about this.  I’ve known some dealers who routinely travel large distances pulling heavy trailers with large gas-guzzling pickups.  The travel, table costs and all other associated expenses can, logically, justify higher asking prices.  However, as a buyer, I’m not going to factor that in.  If I can get an item I want without that level of mark-up, I’m going elsewhere.  I realize that there are different audiences out there.  I’m not in that audience where my discretionary spending is not consequential.  I also realize that some items are so special that another one can’t be found elsewhere so the bullet has to be bitten.

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TR said
  Attending large gun shows as a dealer across this nation is expensive. It takes two people, a vehicle large enough to transport 30 expensive Winchesters, table rent on three $200 tables, 5 nights in a $200 dollar a night hotel, meals for two for five days, and fuel. Lets say you have a special wife that will go on a five day 2000 mile round trip drive and sit behind a table for three days. This is what it costs.

     table rent on three tables  $600

     five nights in a quality hotel  $1000

     meals good enough your wife does not divorce you $750

     2000 miles of fuel  and vehicle use at $.50 a mile $1000

  $3,350. is your expense plus your time. Selling over priced guns is not easy or done quickly. There are easier ways to make money than attending gun shows. It has to be a hobby. A web site is cheaper and the way most for profit dealers are doing it.

When I was gun-showing in the ’70s & ’80s, I traveled by myself (like many if not most of the other vendors I got to know), sought out the cheapest motels I could find & didn’t expect to find them a block away from the show, & for the most part brought my own food with me.  After doing that a few yrs, I bought a second-hand 14′ travel trailer & parked it where ever could.  I wasn’t brought up as a rich kid & never got used to living royally.

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March 3, 2024 - 5:01 pm
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steve004 said

TR said

  Attending large gun shows as a dealer across this nation is expensive. It takes two people, a vehicle large enough to transport 30 expensive Winchesters, table rent on three $200 tables, 5 nights in a $200 dollar a night hotel, meals for two for five days, and fuel. Lets say you have a special wife that will go on a five day 2000 mile round trip drive and sit behind a table for three days. This is what it costs.

     table rent on three tables  $600

     five nights in a quality hotel  $1000

     meals good enough your wife does not divorce you $750

     2000 miles of fuel  and vehicle use at $.50 a mile $1000

  $3,350. is your expense plus your time. Selling over priced guns is not easy or done quickly. There are easier ways to make money than attending gun shows. It has to be a hobby. A web site is cheaper and the way most for profit dealers are doing it.

  As a collector I can buddy up with a couple like minded collectors and cut the cost on a big show. It’s a hobby and hobbies cost money.

                                                          T/R

  

I had thought about this.  I’ve known some dealers who routinely travel large distances pulling heavy trailers with large gas-guzzling pickups.  The travel, table costs and all other associated expenses can, logically, justify higher asking prices.  However, as a buyer, I’m not going to factor that in.  If I can get an item I want without that level of mark-up, I’m going elsewhere.  I realize that there are different audiences out there.  I’m not in that audience where my discretionary spending is not consequential.  I also realize that some items are so special that another one can’t be found elsewhere so the bullet has to be bitten.

  

 Steve,

 I agree 100%, you are wise to try and cut out the middle man. But as a collector I sometimes bite the bullet like you say, although it doesn’t taste good.

                                                                  T/R

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March 3, 2024 - 5:13 pm
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Consigning the guns to an auction involves quite a bit less effort and expense than operating a brick & mortar store or traveling to gun shows. Traveling to shows is getting more expensive and it’s never been cheap. Some dealers have employees and their wages and expenses are part of the cost of going to shows. Another thing to consider is that asking price is just that with most dealers, most are negotiable. Also consider that Don and other dealers bought some or most guns at auction at the same price you could have bought them for, selling for a profit is what it takes to support a business. Profits don’t go into the seller’s pocket, they must pay expenses first. Don always had some nice guns. We all buy guns with issues whether we recognize them or not. 
For many of us collecting is a hobby, for others it’s a business. I prefer to buy and sell with other collectors but the businesses help support our hobby and they often have something I want and occasionally they buy one from me or convince me to consign it at auction. 

 

Mike

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March 3, 2024 - 5:17 pm
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Over the last 30+ years I have bought more guns at gun shows than at auctions.  I think online auctions are usually the last place to find a deal.  But I have found some.  Online auctions are where the crooks can hide and the inexperienced can go crazy.  I did bid on a shotgun at Wards but didn’t get it.  Wards 30 second rule let the snipers play games for just over 5 hours after the auction was supposed to be over. 

There are a lot of dealers that ask too much for their guns.  But, at a show you can pick the gun up and then if it looks OK try to make a deal. If you don’t like their price walk away.

Once other thing.  One of my mentors was a molester/restorer.  We used to take in guns at the gun shows and have them “restored”.  There are quite a few well know dealers that have sent guns with us over the years. 

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March 3, 2024 - 5:50 pm
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I am by no means a defender of Don Grove, but I don’t see the point in comparing realized auction prices to prices he was asking on his web site. I have never bought from him as I always thought too high but it is not right to compare his asking prices to auction prices. If you don’t like his prices try to negotiate or walk away. Its sellers property and they can ask whatever they want. I believe there were some good buys at Wards auction and none of us know is Don’s estate lost money on his sales

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March 3, 2024 - 7:47 pm
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antler1 said
I am by no means a defender of Don Grove, but I don’t see the point in comparing realized auction prices to prices he was asking on his web site. I have never bought from him as I always thought too high but it is not right to compare his asking prices to auction prices. If you don’t like his prices try to negotiate or walk away. Its sellers property and they can ask whatever they want. I believe there were some good buys at Wards auction and none of us know is Don’s estate lost money on his sales 

It was simply a means of comparing full retail vs auction prices—and why you really shouldn’t buy from a dealer unless you really want something that badly.  It was an excellent example demonstrating that nothing at auction reached the asking prices when offered for sale previously.  Which certainly could have happened, but, since this didn’t happen, it suggests that these were overpriced.  Or, lots of bargains were to be had at Ward’s…

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antler1 said
I am by no means a defender of Don Grove, but I don’t see the point in comparing realized auction prices to prices he was asking on his web site.  

The point is, that major auctions are NOT known for offering bargains; it may happen rarely for exceptional reasons, like listing so many items bidders run out of money or stamina, but in general anything sold at a major auction brings top dollar for the time & place.  Isn’t that a fact brought up here all the time, when something sells for a jaw-dropping price beyond all explanation? 

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