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My collection will be sold before my passing with a few choice exceptions that have already been claimed by my sons. What are your plans for your collections?

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Gun obsession leaves arsenal as legacy - Friday, September 21, 2007

It's Christmas Day, Jerry Darnell is about to die and he's at Wal -Mart buying rifles. Four of them.

Darnell's cousin finds these firearms in early January, when he travels to Pahrump, Nev., to make the after-death arrangements. Darnell had died of natural causes at 66.

His cousin finds the new rifles unwrapped, price tags affixed, packed in with the rest of the collection. A gun hoarder's last grasp, the end of the Darnell Weaponry Estate.

It's an arsenal, really, of about 3,800 firearms, more than 1,000 bayonets and about 250,000 rounds ammunition. The collection spans Civil War to Wal - Mart: Winchester, Smith & Wesson, Remington, Ruger, Mauser, Mosin Nagant . Weapons worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Some say it is one of the largest private gun collections in Nevada, assembled by a solitary man who lived a quiet life in Pahrump.

Jerry Darnell was born in Hollywood, Calif., in 1940, the only child of an ear, nose and throat doctor to the stars. His father turned his son on to guns, then left him with enough money to spend the rest of his life chasing them.

His cousin, Bill Dearman, remembers Darnell got his first gun at 10. By Darnell's early teens, his father had given him at least 100 more.
"Jerry prided his guns to the point that he was very reluctant to even let you hold one," Dearman said. "And when you held it, it was important you didn't touch the metal, and that he wiped the metal down afterwards."

Darnell started collecting high-quality guns, old and unusual or rare: rifles used during the Civil War, Japanese Arisakas taken during the American occupation after World War II, guns that date to the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes or to the Mexican Revolution, guns with Nazi engravings, guns that collectors get hives for.

Darnell worked for less than five years of his adulthood, teaching English at private schools and then at Pepperdine University in California. He got multiple degrees. He was married, then divorced. He was an avid reader. He called his aunt every week.

He wasn't a loner so much as he was selective with his friends, Dearman said.

Mainly, Darnell collected. And maybe what he had took the place of who he didn't.

(He also left the world with a sledgehammer collection pushing 300.)

But keeping weapons enough for a small militia falls short of chic in Hollywood, so about 10 years ago, Darnell decided to find a new home for his growing collection. He chose Pahrump, and everything changed.

In the Nye County town, where locals have been known to call firearms "liberty teeth" and almost anybody 21 or older is free to holster a gun in plain sight, Darnell's hobby became a lifestyle.

He built a large storehouse to hold his collection. He built lean-to s that held rifles butt-up in rows like stiff-neck soldiers. Then he went about filling the rows, buying from chain stores or private dealers or who knows where, seemingly without consideration for much more than sheer volume: getting guns, sometimes several a day, just to have them.

"Quality turned into quantity," Dearman said. "After he came to Pahrump, he started really acquiring guns at a significant rate."

Dearman doesn't know why.

"Maybe he was just trying to have the biggest collection in the country."

Slowly, his belongings became his family.

Dearman's last act of love was spending months readying the collection for public auction.

It took a crew of five people working one week to identify Darnell's guns and bayonets and then appraise them. It took another week to prepare the catalog and load photos of the items online for remote bidders.

On Sunday, auctioneer Ski Canske auctioned about 400 guns in 4 1/2 hours at the Nye County Public Auction building. The partial collection brought in $117,870. Next week, the 250,000 rounds of ammunition will be sold at a separate auction. (It didn't seem like a good idea to sell guns and bullets at the same time, in a small room, where people are trying to waylay one another with cash.)

One man, standing outside the auction in spurs and a cowboy hat, confessed he had no idea what kind of gun he had won. It just looked good.

If Darnell had been there, he could have described each and every gun, Dearman said. Then he could have told you what kind of ammunition it called for, maybe where he got it. Maybe why.

"Jerry was just a collector, an aficionado, a connoisseur," Dearman said. "What else can I tell you?"

In a dirt lot outside the auction house, two boys stood, facing a third, wedged up against a fence. They held toy rifles up at elbow-height, fake-fired at one another, then scattered like the shotgun pellets they pictured, screaming.

Source: http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/27011
 

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Factual accounts of the man and his collection aside, this would have been an interesting article had it not been for the bombast and cliche nonsense that passes for "journalism" these days.

C/
 

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Mr. Flashy Pants
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What struck me as rather silly was "Some say it is one of the largest private gun collections in Nevada". You can pretty much bet that 3,800 firearms is one of the largest private firearm collections in any state, or the entire country for that matter, regardless of what "some say".

It sounds like a lonely life to me. I admit to being a bit obsessive about my collection, but when I go to WalMart to buy four rifles just to have more, somebody shoot me. (Is WalMart really open on Christmas day?)

A quarter million rounds of ammo is not that impressive either. That's only 65 rounds per firearm. Not even a good battle load if you ask me.

As to my collection, if my kids don't want it I hope to sell it off myself so I can enjoy seeing someone else appreciate it. I really hope my son will continue to add to it though. I'm afraid that may not happen as I already see hints of resentment about it.
 

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Mr. Flashy Pants
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I didn't think they were, but that's what the article said. How can you trust a reporter's "facts" on firearms when they can't even get something simple like WalMart's holiday schedule correct?

Maybe growing up where the sidewalks were rolled up at 5PM taught me to plan ahead better than most, but IMO anybody that is so disorganized that they need to run out to WalMart for something on Christmas day probably couldn't find their car keys to get there anyway.
 

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Thanks for the article Veritas.

I had compulsively electronically pre-bid on one of the Winchesters and was glad someone outbid me. The more I scanned, the more it became evident to me that he had gone for quantity, not quality, and the more I looked the more the rifle I bid looked worser and worser.

Now there's an ammo auction?
 

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I looked - you have to be present to bid. Lots of obscure rounds. Lots of 7.62x54R. I wonder if stuff described as "45-70 gov't, black powder" is the real thing?
 

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I bid a on a couple of the rifles from his collection with no luck. As far as my collection goes when I die if the kids don't want them the wife has instructions to sell them off.
 

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Diamond with Oak Clusters Bullet Member
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I keep a listing of what I have, with a little description, cost paid, and approx value. I figure my kids can have fun selling them.
 

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I have wanted to ask this same question for some years but never really knew how to ask it. I do not have kids and probably never will. The thought of my collection being pieced off one at a time kills me to think about, but the reality is that is probably what will happen. I think we need to have an official "Mosin Museum" here in the States, similar to the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum in Oklahoma http://www.state.ok.us/~jmdavis/.http://www.state.ok.us/~jmdavis/ Any rich benefactors about?

Seriously, we need one.........
 

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I guess you could say he was the ultimate firearms addict. What a sad way to spend a lifetime, with the resources to have done soo much more.

Ted, I wouldn't want to wager his collection was the largest, even in a single state. My collection is a single hobby, I would hope that my legacy is much more than a few days inventory in an auction house.

My Avatar is a representation of my lifes dream of actually making a difference that could be felt in every corner of the planet, no number of guns or their total value could hold a candle to the potential of my individual dream, I would only hope that the rest of y'all have something in your lives that holds a similar significance.

If a man can't pursue his dreams, to me there is not much sense in continuing the trip, considering the short time we spend out of the box.

regards
badger
 

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Mr. Flashy Pants
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Ted, I wouldn't want to wager his collection was the largest, even in a single state. My collection is a single hobby, I would hope that my legacy is much more than a few days inventory in an auction house.
Neither the article or I said "largest", but "one of the largest". Certainly there are probably private collections out there with more pieces, but even if there were 3 other collections in Nevada with 10,000 firearms, I think he would still qualify as "one of the largest". It's really a good example of poor journalism if nothing else.

At my past rate of collecting I'll hit 3,800 when I turn 104. I've been slowing down a lot lately as it gets tougher to find something I'm interested in that I don't have. Of course if I became independently wealthy and could devote myself full time to collecting with more money to spend that could all change. I don't really foresee that happening though. :rolleyes:
 

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I am constantly amazed at what passes for journalism. Anything that I've been closely associated to and appeared in the news was full of inaccuracies. If they are relaying 10 facts, how can they only get 7 of them right?

I keep a spreadsheet of my small collection with details and approximate value to help aid in the selling if I'm gone. I update it every year when I'm renewing the insurance policy. The inaccurate and incomplete descriptions of the rifles were horrible. There were several rifles I would have likely bought if I had more details (what serial numbers matched). I bid on a few rifles, but a lot of them went pretty high.
 
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