FAQ answer to a common question
Posted by William on July 30, 2012, 9:15 pm, in reply to "Old LC SMITH shotgun"
What is my L.C. Smith shotgun worth? |
Gun values are determined by grade and gauge rarity, amount of remaining original finishes, condition of mechanics and wood, and an intangible called the “collectability factor” (collectible gun values can vary upwards and downwards with demand fluctuations). But one other factor occasionally impacting value is, the “Historical Factor.” In those rare instances, an otherwise low-grade and ragged-out 1890 hammer gun, worth only the price of the nails used to hang it over the mantle; could be worth thousands of dollars if, for instance, its provenance can be unquestionably connected to a colorful and legendary historical figure such as Doc Holliday or member of the Dalton gang; a famous show person or shooter such as Annie Oakley or Captain A.H. Bogardus; or a Hollywood actor such as Clark Gable or Humphrey Bogart.
Since it is impossible to accurately assess gun condition and originality, either by description or internet image postings, the L.C. Smith Collectors Association cannot, and does not provide estimates of gun value.
Possible sources for such value determinations include various internet auction sites, like GunBroker, Guns International, DoubleGunShop.com; and, outside the internet, The Blue Book of Gun Values, published each year and used by all gun dealers. Copies of this book are available in almost every gun shop and book store; and should also be available in your local library. Pay particular attention to the “condition” examples featured at the front portion of this book when evaluating your gun.
Often, dealers who specialize in vintage double guns are willing to provide a written estimate of value for insurance purposes; some as a free service, and others for a fee. When you ask a dealer to appraise your gun, understand what it is you want to know. If you tell the dealer you wish to sell the gun, you will receive a “wholesale” value. The dealer would be buying to resell, and the difference between his cost and the sales price is his profit. If you ask for a value for insurance purposes, you will receive a high valuation that is most likely more that the gun would bring on the open retail market; therefore the actual value of the gun lies somewhere between the wholesale and appraised value of the gun.
Also remember that “sentimental value” is not a value factor; and therefore, never enters into any estimate of gun value! To possibly better gauge/understand gun value, it is also helpful to visit large gun shows, and note the prices of guns in similar condition and grade therein for sale; however, only shows advertised as featuring “Vintage” guns are likely to have any examples similar to yours.
Finally, please remember that 'Knowledge Is Power', and the more research you do, the better you are prepared. Don’t be timid about asking for information; and additionally, we suggest you begin your research with a copy of John Houchins' in-depth work on the Smith gun, “L.C. Smith, The Legend Lives."
Warmest regards, and good luck!
Drew Hause, Tom Archer, and Bill Hambidge