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Death and your collection.


Topic author: Ronin48
Subject: Death and your collection.
Posted on: 04/02/2006 3:01:25 PM
I've been called on about six times to help dispose of a collection after the owner died. My 'fee' if the widow insisted that I take something for my trouble, was what was not readily desirable and would be hard to ship. One time it was a US. "Japanese" mine kit. When another collector expressed interest I sold it, send the widow the money and kept a broken stock 99 'carbine' I had tried to sell for two years with no luck.

But I'm off on a tangent, The worst experience I ever had was a friend in MS who died, his widow called a month later and asked if I would come over an look at collection. Deceased's high school "best" friend, person who once owned a gun store, came up and priced everything week after death. Took me a while to determine his metnod. Anything that matched, be it a late war 'beat-up' rifle was one price. A mismatched, could have been an early rifle with rod, pod, wings, dC, sling, A+ stock, was a lesser price. Some rare stuff, a North Chiuna T-19 he knew nothing about was priced at $50. I corrected all the prices to then going prices and help locate buyers. I was not offered anything from the collection and took nothing. Getting things in order took two days and two round trips.

Deceased had several, dozen or so, VG Nambus in holsters, 'friend' told widow they were all worth $250 each, he would sell for her but would have to take a 10-12% comission. He would come back and get the three-four dozen non-Japanese pitsol later.

Helped her get the pistols back, greatly POing the husband's "friend". Next show, after inviting me to accompany him to the parking lot to fight ("I quit that in the third grade!") he called me every name in the book and a few I had never heard. When he wound down I asked him if he was a Christian and did he expect to see his dead friend again. "Of course" "Well, what will you say when he asked you how you treated his wife?" His reply was, "I did not have the same relationshop with her as I did with him."

The collection owner, my friend, knew he was dying, yet he put the selling on his wife who knew nothing about his collection/value. This should be a lesson, it is for me. have a list of all your goodies an update prices once a year or more.

I still have buddies that tell me they have instructed their wife to call me and help sell the collecion when they die. I tell them I will help but my fee is now the pick of their collection. If you are to f--king stupid/lazy to inventory/price your collection why should I do it for free.​


Reply author: arisakadogs
Replied on: 04/02/2006 3:21:58 PM
Very good points Eloldefartuno! This is something we should all plan ahead for. None of us knows when our time may be up. I now wish I had kept records of every thing when bought & what I paid for it. I do this for firearms in my C&R ledger but, slings, holsters, etc. I have to rely on my shaky memory. I'm going to grab a tablet & start at one end of "the room" & make my way around describing each item & what I think it's value is.
That's pretty messed up - what you had to go through with that collector's "friend". These situations bring out the best & the worst in people. Here you are trying to help & there is this A-hole, just trying to take advantage of the situation. "Judge, he needed killing" should be a valid defense for dealing with scum like that!
I just hope when my time comes I'll be able to disburse my collection myself. Cancer is the big killer in my family, so this may work out. Pretty morbid stuff, but sometimes reality is like that.

Reply author: BradB
Replied on: 04/02/2006 4:06:30 PM
Being in the military gives one perspective. Before I left for Iraq last time, I put a paper tag with the description and value of each item on my rifles, bayonets, swords and anything else of value. Told my wife what areas on bayonets and rifles to photograph, how to describe a bore, told her that the description was on the tag, and to hit Ebay and Gunbroker to sell. Also tagged some stuff with my kids names. This strategy will work, but I have also seen a collection sold where the guy tagged everything with prices in 1985 and his family used that as a value in 2005. As Doss mentions, have a plan. It's your own family you are screwing by putting it off too long.

Reply author: davef
Replied on: 04/02/2006 4:17:33 PM
I recently update my final paperwork ,living will,disposable assets ,benificiaries..etc,and after giving some thought to my collection I left the name of a trusted associate,actually 2 of them and said sell the whole works to them for whatever they say is fair, minus their expenses for coming to pick it up.sell it to them at their price and,they can pick thru it and take what they want and sell the rest for their profit.I know I can trust them to pay a reasonable price while still leaving room for them to make something biggest worry is the stuff that over the years Ive told this guy or that guy "if I ever get rid of it ,ILL let you know first" and then filed it to memory rather than writtin it to start doin that , I almost sold a t38 series 30 jin this fall that was promised "to be sold back where I got it"..those items and a couple that are on "extended loan" from another collector,but I think those are tagged....

Reply author: gwsiii
Replied on: 04/02/2006 5:51:05 PM
It's a tough call, I've missed out on a lot of 'I want that if you get rid of it.' Very few ever remember. I've been thinking about a 'sheet' that includes a current 'sell to first name' and amount in the event of my untimely demise (probably by Mr. White with 'poisoned maters' in the 'libry') that includes an annual percentage increase. While we agree to offer first refusal in 2005, a price is seldom mentioned, and what if its 2010, by the time I head to the 'Big Shootout In the Sky." Tough call to make.

Reply author: JWMWITZ
Replied on: 04/02/2006 6:43:54 PM
This is a very important topic for those of us who have some investment in military rifles and pistols. I contacted one of the auction site sellers and asked if I could put his name in my living will for him to sell my collection. He agreed, and from what I have seen, this person gets top dollar for the items he auctions I have included instructions in my will on how to contact this person, etc. I have tagged a few special items that are family heirlooms, but for the most part, everything will go to the highest bidder once I'm gone.

I have not done the same with my bayonet collection. That's something I am not really sure what to do about. However, every bayonet is catalogued on a CD along with some names of people I have gotten to know (some on this forum) for contact should my family choose to dispose of them.

John in Charlotte, NC

Reply author: Bob in Maine
Replied on: 04/02/2006 9:13:34 PM
I have put some guns aside for my family. The rest go to two auctions, one is nation wide for the high price stuff. The rest go to a local auction. I know and have dealt with both. I trust the market place to give a fair return. Bob

Reply author: pacific-war44
Replied on: 04/03/2006 08:25:56 AM
After a recent health scare,that I am slowly but surely(I hope) recedeing from,I had to make some key decisions regarding disposeing of my beloved "stuff".I don't have one of those high dollar super collections like most of youse guys,but it's worth a buck or two. With no close liveing relatives left and a g/f and a 2 yr old son to reap the benifits of my near demise,all I could do was trust a lifelong buddy to settle my estate. He owns a gunshop and is an avid Japanese/German collector,so most of the prob solved. It really helps to have a 100% trustworthy friend(make a note Doug K.!)in such a situation,so save at least ONE buddy out there you NEVER! He will be a lifesaver,,,well,bad choice of words. And as far as leaving stuff for a young,say under 16 yr old child as an heirloom,here's a thought. Most gun related stuff can't be leagally/responsibly owned by a kid,and 12 or so yr olds lose intrest in Japanese rifles usually real fast(I know,I traded my late dad's '99 for a 10 speed bike at 13,then broke his shingunto blade attacking a live oak!)and they may not keep the item into their adult years long enough to appreciate it. So either have the item turned into cash that may be more"user-friendly",or leave it in a trust type arraingement with a buddy that will turn it over when they think the minor will appreciate it more. I'd kill to get my dad's beloved P.I. captured '99 back,but I don't recall the make or ser# even if it hit me in the head. Hell,I may have(or still may) owned/own it now! Scott

Reply author: type-14
Replied on: 04/03/2006 08:32:12 AM
Great discussion and one that all should take seriously. Like many of you I have taken some of the same steps for the final disposition of my collection. This should go without saying but the one thing I would like to add is make sure your wife/loved ones know how to get into your safe and where you keep your papers. Now this may seem funny and strange to you all but at least twice in the last year the lock and gun shop where I do my business has had to open safes so the family could get to the deceased collection and paper work (to include the will). Just a hassle that they don't need to go though once you have crossed to the other side of the river.

Reply author: Ronin48
Replied on: 04/03/2006 09:01:08 AM
A long- time friend on the Gulf Coast died, knew he was dying, He had a list of what he paid, Few things he way overpaid, some has apprecdiated. Bobby Blevins and I drove to his home, days drive from Bobby's, we shared a motel room, took the widow out or supper (left my favorfate "MG" cap at the resturant) Next day we each, independently went through the collection 100+ rifles and pistols, placed a value on each, then averaged the two values, gave her he list, helped her find some buyers and ran list in BANZAI. We received her thanks for the work, nothing else, He had two rifles I wanted, but I estimated a fair price would be around $400 each and I did not have the money.

Few months later a person form New Orleans came up and offered her $2,000 for everything left, 60+ rifles (about 20 had refinshed stocks) all his reloading equipment, books, etc. I would have refused to buy, if offered at $2K telling her she was getting cheated. Rifles showed up all around the SE. Trey purchased one of the $400 est. value rifles I wanted at a Montgomery show for around $50!!! So I guess you should tell the widow you would be interested in buyikng it all if she has an offer and will beat the offer if possible. This opens a can of worms. "Mr Blow offered me the collection for $2k, you want it for $2.2K?" She has the value list, if you dont buy the $3K value collection for $2.2K she will sell it to Mr Blow for $2K. You are buying to get one or two items and to sell the rest to recover your money?? You buy or pass. Yes you could give her what it's worth, but then you are stuck with items you don't want because you paid the going price.

I recently paid $80 for two parts rifles tha were probably worth $60 each. I spend a day driving to GA and back with a friend. Our understanding was that most of the collection was Japanese, most was all country 'junk.' One Japanese rifle out of about 20 was collectors quality. One of he family insised I buy something for my trouble of driving over. When I got home I sent them an Oldtown Station Catalog so they could contact Jim Supuka (sp?) and auction the iron. They later chose to go through a local business ("pawn shop?" to dispose of the rifles Did I gyp the family, would the two stock-cut rifle brought more in E. GA? Many questions.

Reply author: weimar_police
Replied on: 04/03/2006 10:25:19 AM
I agree with you guys, but if you are going to spend a lot of time, and it will, then don't do it for free! Hell, a gun shop might charge 25-40% or more, depending on the value they place on the collection and an auction will charge a large percentage also. Plus, a local shop, more than likely simply will not know what you have. A rare variation of a nambu is a nambu to them, no offense, but YOU are the local collector who has bought things from them, not the other way around.

So, if you charge 25-35%, you are not ripping off an old friend. Like was said, they are making you do all the work, they should have done. Even then, if you are simply 'selling" for them, it is a hell of a lot of work. Inventoring, putting up for sale, shipping. I learned from a bit of e-bay that those 25 cent losses on shipping add up, let alone the $5.00-$10.00 each, with not saying enough and the shipping costs $25.00 instead of $20... and why should you be stuck with it.
Do it honestly, but like a buisness would, inventory, price, sell, ship and take a commission.

You will get a much better profit (probably a huge differnce ) for the widow even with your well deserved "percentage".


Reply author: pato1
Replied on: 04/03/2006 12:20:13 PM
Yes, no good deed goes unpunished. I've had a few of these situations happen to me. So far I have one pistol that I paid a fair price for, one pistol ($300) that I took because they wanted give me a 3k shotgun instead, they said the deceased had told them to do this. I would have taken the shotgun but the widow was not left flush. I have also ended up with guns that I did not want for which I paid what I thought was market value only to sit on them for up to 5 years. I'm a collector not a dealer, I enjoy buying them not selling them. Selling them is work!
I have spent many hours on the phone, many unrecovered shipping charges but mostly spent time on these things. The thing that has struck me the most is the inverse relationship of the wealth of the heirs to the gratitude they exhibit for the services provided.
So, I am taking this opportunity to announce to all my friends that my new policy is that I shall be directing heirs to local gun shops for disposal. In cases where I have any interest in some of the pieces I will tell the heirs that I'll pay a 30% premium over what the dealer offers for them.
I'm still sitting on a Colt Lawman III (like new) and 8 somewhat rusty bayonets (2 19th cent Enfields, 2 19th C Springfields, 1 17" 1918SA missing the latch in a USN MKI scabbard, 2 23" 19th C euro somethings and a 17" Remington with Canadian? broad arrows). I don't even know what these are. I don't collect bayonets, but now I have to learn about them. Any helpful bayo experts out there?

Reply author: unleashedndest
Replied on: 04/03/2006 12:51:00 PM
I heard about a guy the otherday that rushed over to the graveyard and bought an entire collection from the widow real classy guy that one....

Reply author: GeorgeF
Replied on: 04/03/2006 1:39:58 PM
Having dealt with tansferring my father's collection to my posession, I sold off some of the pieces I didnt need (duplicates, etc) for my mother.

Looking back and seeing how long things were taking to categorize and sell, I think its very reasonable to offer the widow about 60-70% of the value and just take the items into your own possession. While I know my father would balk at this (depression-era child), I looked at it more practically. People knew my father was a collector. And they knew he was dead. It didnt make much sense for my mother to keep possession of all these firearms to tempt a robber.

Likewise, most widows will want to consolidate things and make things simpler. As long as you establish a very fair market price and offer in the price range I meantioned above - I do not think you are doing any harm. You could even kick back a few bucks later if your concience got the better of you. Riping someone off for 20 to 30 cents on the dollar is a sin that puts you among the lowest of the low however.

Good thread.

Reply author: Otter
Replied on: 04/03/2006 2:46:31 PM
Yeah, what are "friends" for?
My Uncle was a long time photographer and one of his best friend-who was too-passed away. The guy had just about everything you could want for one of the top of the line Hasselbladts x 2. A "friend"
came over to his widow's home and told her that the cameras and all the darkroom stuff "wasn't worth anything...I'll give you $250 for it all."
When my Uncle heard that he called her up and went over and reasonably priced everything for her.
It's value was around $10K...She got $12.5K for it all...The "friend" wasn't very happy about it!

Reply author: fingolfen
Replied on: 04/03/2006 5:00:31 PM
I've got most of my collection cataloged using gun collecting software - that lets me store pictures with everything so if the worst happens (I'm still young yet), my wife will be able to get a fair price for everything.

Reply author: gtbehary
Replied on: 04/03/2006 8:59:07 PM
My father-in law passed away a few years ago, leaving my mother-in-law a huge gun collection. She asked me for advice and I said that I would help her price it when I got back up to Pittsburgh from Florida. I only asked her not to let anyone see the collection in the mean time. Well, she called a so called fried of my father-in-law who owned a gunshop to give her a price. He offered her $5000 for the collection. Luckily she didn't take the bait. She called another so called friend/gunshop owner and told him what the other guy offered. He said that he would give her $5500 for it. SHe came to her senses and declined the offer. She needed cash and finally told me about the offers. I was furious since both of these guys were my friends too. She discussed having a gun auction and had an expert come to the house and catalogue everything. She did sell the guns at auction and made about $50,000 minus the auction fee. Of course the two so called friends were at the auction and were a bit red faced when the saw my mother-in-law after the auction was over.

Reply author: szeigler
Replied on: 04/04/2006 11:05:41 PM
If your family is depending on your gun collection to see them through the rest of their life you either have one hell of a collection or are a fool - selling a high end collection has it's drawbacks as well. Buy a life insurance policy, so selling your gun collection is the last thing she has to worry about. If I die tomorrow, my wife could sit my guns in the street and set them in fire or let the garbage collector take them away without making a dent in their bottom line. I want to give her the luxury of giving what she wants away, keep them for my kids or gouging the first 10 bastards that call asking her "sell" my collection. This is a hobby, well maybe an obsession, but just the same I don't depend on them to feed my family when I am dead.

See you on the other side....Shannon

Reply author: kennedy
Replied on: 04/05/2006 8:12:26 PM
I have tagged family guns that go to my brother, and what guns I want to go to my grandson(to start his collection)the rest are to be sold on gunboards, my wife has been instructed to screw you guys out of every red cent she can get.

Reply author: mcornell
Replied on: 04/05/2006 8:34:13 PM
Another good way to have the collection liquidated quickly, and without a lot of hassle, is through a firearms auction house. There are two nationally recognized auction houses near where I live and I like to attend their auctions. I have even consigned a few guns for family members to one of them (I happen to have a strong opinion as to which auction house gets higher prices). There is a 15% buyers and sellers premium. Since dealers attend these auctions, you will get at least as much as you would get if you took them to a gun shop. You also avoid the risk of getting ripped off (because even if the auctioneer does not know how rare/valuable/whatever your firearm is, at few bidders will recognize the value). Depending upon the size, etc... of the collection, they will even pay for shipping and insurance.

Mark Cornell

Reply author: Navybuff
Replied on: 04/05/2006 8:53:08 PM
My wife and I have talked about this a lot. To make things easier on her, if I die first she is to contact Dennis at Empire Arms about my collection. I know he would not take her to the cleaners and it might not bring as much as the auction sites. But it would be the least painful way for her. If we (God forbid) die together, we have talked about leaving the collection to That way Brent and Vic could have a raffle to help the site that as helped me so much. I have not ask Brent and Vic if this would be ok with them yet, but I will soon.

Reply author: JB
Replied on: 04/06/2006 09:42:05 AM
I prefer a little "loving" from the widow lady as my fee...... JUST KIDDING!

Reply author: Ronin48
Replied on: 04/06/2006 2:04:18 PM
Because of my approaching 'vegitable soup-mix' state I have started advertising part on my collection and made arrangements to dispose of a portion of the ones with known history now and the others later. My primary group of rifles are 30 ranging from the matchlock through the 02-45, approximately 400 years of Japanese 'shoulder' arm(cheek for the early ones) history. I look at these and think why not let them go, then the thought hits me, why? You still have ??? to enjoy them.

No.1 son is interested in Arisakas, but I fear he is more of an 'accumulator' than a collector. The difference being the latter knows pretty much all there is to know about each rifle he owns, the former just has rifles and realizes whether they are early or late.

Most don't have to face the decision of selling now or later if they still have an interest. They either die sudedenly or become so ill that the collection is not a consideration. I don't want to leave a 'mess' for Ruth and my kids to clean up, yet I hate to see the things go. The old 'between a rock and a hard place.' Anyone want to pay for 30+ rifles now and take possession later, price around $25-$30K? (Three are Kokura 97 and 99 snipers and a mint T-2)

Reply author: fredh
Replied on: 04/06/2006 2:41:05 PM
Yea, Doss, but what if you outlive us all? Wouldn't that be cruel to a serious collector? Could we trust you to ship them to our new address!!!! When I hear talk like that, I think of my father. He was told in 1941 what terrible condition his condition was in and that he'd never return to work. That was after being in the hospital for about a year with serious heart problems. Well, he returned to work the next day after release and worked until he died in 1995 at age 82.

Reply author: unleashedndest
Replied on: 04/06/2006 7:52:52 PM
Im having a Viking funeral and I'm taking it with me lol

Reply author: Tim O
Replied on: 04/06/2006 8:11:51 PM
Smile...Make each day count.

Reply author: weimar_police
Replied on: 04/07/2006 12:25:27 PM

quote: Originally posted by fredh

Yea, Doss, but what if you outlive us all? Wouldn't that be cruel to a serious collector?
True, however, as an example, I have known several folks that had alzheimers and they get worse and worse. My grandmother said that she'd move out of the house ahead of time, so there would be no stress or guilt for the kids. But as time went on, she got more addled and scared and she refused to move (comfort in knowing where you are). Eventually they had to just make her move, sell the house etc. She was a real danger to herself living by herself (there was a live-in man from the church and she had people cleaning the house and checking on her)... she would put pots on the stove and forget, she would fall asleep out on the porch in September, she would fall down...

Unless you do as Doss suggests, you will not KNOW it is past the time to sell your stuff off. And if you die, you've screwed your friends in trying to sort it out. I find that simply unfair, a lot of work and stressful for them. I would still do it if asked from my clsoe friends, but might be a bit ticked at them

Reply author: fredh
Replied on: 04/07/2006 2:33:21 PM
Weimar, you're right. It will be a burden for our heirs, but to simplify the effort in my case, I made a Excel spreadsheet with full descriptions about 20 years ago when I got the home computer. Everything is tagged and related by number back to the spreadsheet. Every few years I make a stab at updating prices, which is very subjective. The point I want to make is that very few people are lucky enough to have time to get everything in order, so better take a little time today. I am a hard case, a die hard collector, not a horse trader, and will have a particularly hard time letting go. I have had some friends ask me to dispose of their collections if something goes wrong so that the wife does not have to fool with it. I said in each case I would, and when I thought about all the work involved, I cringed, but I will follow through. I am amazed though at how impatient some people are in situations like this. A close friend was murdered back in the late '90's. His wife called and asked my advice. She was pretty well off. I asked her that out of respect for the deceased, let's don't do anything for a year. Let emotions cool and the dust settle. I'd try to get down some weekend within the next few months to start cataloguing. As a matter of fact, she said her late husband had told her the same thing. The collection was strictly top drawer - all high end stuff in the Japanese field. She told me that her phone was ringing constantly, and some had already flown in and were beating on the door for the goodies. I still said, "please be patient. There's really no hurry." She sold that collection within 2 weeks or so. I was shocked at what she did. Maybe I don't know the whole story. I certainly never asked.

Reply author: dragonfly
Replied on: 04/07/2006 3:12:18 PM
In the past, Garfield has an interesting take on after-death collection disposal. What say you these days, Garfield?

Reply author: Mike Rockhill
Replied on: 04/07/2006 6:07:22 PM
For me the post burial festivities will include a mum grinding contest (who can grind the quickest, points given for style) a sporterizing competition (saws, sand paper, polyurethane, sling swivels, and tasco scopes provided) and a bolt swap contest (let your imagination run wild)

Reply author: Nagoya10
Replied on: 04/07/2006 8:00:27 PM

quote: Originally posted by Mike Rockhill

For me the post burial festivities will include a mum grinding contest (who can grind the quickest, points given for style) a sporterizing competition (saws, sand paper, polyurethane, sling swivels, and tasco scopes provided) and a bolt swap contest (let your imagination run wild)

I laughed my butt off over this one!!

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