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Re: Cowan auction- Daum collection day 1

Posted by John S. on Wednesday, 22 October 2014, at 6:15 p.m., in response to Re: Cowan auction- Daum collection day 1, posted by Dick Hosmer on Wednesday, 22 October 2014, at 2:15 p.m.

We may be seeing a shift in collecting interests, or maybe just an off sale. The recent Rock Island and Julia auctions seemed to haul in a lot of cash.

Just as a very broad and unscientific impression, it seemed to me like there was not much demand or money for colonial though Civil War military arms at Cowans this time. Specialty niches seemed to do well (e.g.- Sharps and even Spencers) did okay, but the other brands of CW carbines seemed to go cheap. Flintlock and percussion muskets had little interest. However, Winchesters seemed do do well, along with most Colts, and the "snake guns" brought in big bucks. Nice Kentucky rifles look like they did okay. High condition WW2 items, and Lugers seemed to have good demand, but mediocre WW1 or WW2 arms did not Some martial RIOT guns went for prices comparable to what TRENCH guns have brought in the past, which was a surprise.

I think that Cowans did not do a very good job presenting the items in their photographs. They seem to have a standard format for the photographer usually four to eight shots from standard angles, and in numerous specialized items they failed to show the "neat stuff", failing to raise interest among those who are not really advanced collectors (but might have deep pockets) already familiar with the details, which would justify a bid.

Maybe limiting the photos is a good cost/benefit tradeoff for printed catalogs, but for on line catalogs, the digital images are almost free, so they really need to improve in that area.

Frankly, as a potential seller, I think that Rock Island's catalog photos tend to be more useful for potential buyers, and that Rock Island's incessant email reminders and collateral YouTube productions help build credibility and interest and demand. Most of Cowans recent email shave stressed their "Bidsquare" bidding option, which is probably a lucrative money maker for them, taking away some of the money going to Proxibid.

As a seller, remember that bidders factor in the (about) 20% buyers premium when deciding what to bid. Then deducting whatever the auction house's commission rate for sellers is from the hammer price, sellers are left with no more than if they just sold outright to a dealer for a 60-70% wholesale offer to start with.

On the pessimistic side, we may be nearing the tipping point where collectible gun values start to decline as the number of collectors decline as well. With more auctions all the time, an increasing supply will saturate demand and prices will inevitably fall. How far, no one knows. So, collect this stuff if you like the history and the hardware, but not as a potentially lucrative investment opportunity. Besides, the government will soon be taxing everything they can, so any theoretical "profits" will be taken away anyway.


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