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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I am right now preparing a longer posting for the Italian firearms forum, but first would like to present most respectfully my yet unhatched thought to the specialists here, in the "sterner and austerer forum" ;-).

a) It is forum policy that sporterization is not on-topic within the frame of *this* board (doesn't mean nor imply that it must be evil, some of the very best and most exquisite custom sporters had an earlier life as once-military rifles; Dutchman himself has sporterized, too), and thus must not be discussed here (*rattle* *clank* *noise of a padlock being shut close" by the gaoler, ehhhh, most esteemed moderator).

b) On the other hand, the opposite extreme of reconstructing a military rifle that never was in this very form, under the guise of "restoration", is as least as bad, and may be even worse, if viewed under a specific angle of preservation, honesty and originality.

It is *not* fruitful to try for an abstract and sharp definition of either concept. The grey zone between will always exist, necessarily. I remind you of the old 18th century German aphorism (Lichtenberg) of "the knife without a blade that was only lacking the grip and hilt". This quip very succinctly outlines one crucial problem of such "restorations" that aren't.

But it is very well possible to analyze individual cases and say "this I deem licit and laudable", "this I deem problematic", "this I deem illicit, or even fraud". If we want to gain proper moral and craftsmanship standards, we must not remain stuck in our cosy muddy frogpond of gun collecting with its very frogpondian outlook. We must instead address the real experts, i.e. professional restorers (paintings, sculptures, architecture, manuscripts, bookbindings etc.) and feed on their experience and on the wealth of painstaking deliberation that those have discussed and developed.

Corollary: not every cabinetmaker who occasionally makes a leather armchair, a cupboard and a closet is already such an expert. But any diligent craftsman worth his salt will recognize the methodic difference between merely repairing a current damage, and restoring a truly historic piece.

Alexander (Carcano)

Oh, PS:

ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S AXE

It is reported that in Springfield, Illinois, a museum dedicated to Honest Abe has what it describes as the very axe Lincoln used to split fence rails, earning him his nickname. Docents at the museum will, with scrupulous honesty, explain that over its life the axe has had five new handles and two new heads. And it's still the Old Rail Splitter's axe.

MORAL: Continuity does not earn identity.

(Source: http://desertcraftsmen.com/Abe.shtml)
 

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"the knife without a blade that was only lacking the grip and hilt".
In Estados Undios we say, "if he only had a brain....".



This quip very succinctly outlines one crucial problem of such "restorations" that aren't.
Much like art, we know it when we see it.


But it is very well possible to analyze individual cases and say "this I deem licit and laudable", "this I deem problematic", "this I deem illicit, or even fraud".
This is done in this forum by the austere and humorless custodian.


If we want to gain proper moral and craftsmanship standards, we must not remain stuck in our cosy muddy frogpond of gun collecting with its very frogpondian outlook.
Is it the frog who defines the pond or the insects that wander into the reach of the frog's tongue? Or perhaps the occasional passerby skipping merrily down the road to grandma's house with a basket of cookies? Is it a frogpond by virture of residence of the frog as being the most noisy of the tenants or was the name of the pond somehow hijacked by the frog when it should be the lilypond or the mesquito pond or trout pond, carp pond or bluegil pond? I'm thinking it must be the evening's harmony of the many frog voices echoing accross the water surface <ribbitt> that lends itself the name, frogpond. I say, Leander, what a novel idea this frogpondianism we've stumbled upon this winter's morn, who's sigh of solstice past is far beyond the sun's possession by proxy of such distance and lack of temperate blood. There is rumor, nay, a story upon the cave wall in color illustrated, men hunkered in a corner over the orange glowing embers of the nightbefore fire and in the reflection of their eyes the hunger and rumble of stomaches bloated by weeks of travel among the bogs and warring factions, the imagry and aroma, unique in its searching out of noses and fingers and tongues to satisfy, the thin and wiggling remnants of the resident lake dweller, pierced the night before with long slender and sharp sticks, the frog who's legs now toast themselves slowly so that the men of the cave may live better with more joy, he then gives title to the small pond among the reeds and thatched canopy of forest, the pond of the frog who brought us to another day without the need to eat that dreadful gruel consumed by the hoards of Bohemian barbarians. This may explain the origin of that logic displayed in millennial progeny, the frogpondian sect of debateurs known, often, with scorn and ridicule, as lawyers, not unlike the sawyers or houtzaggers who, with tools sharp and destructive motive rip through what was once whole and natural and complete, to separate and injure without recompense, any illusion of future. Or it just may be a wart upon the nose of humanity masquerading as a beauty mark to the unknowning masses of <ribbit ribbit> frogs.


We must instead address the real experts, i.e. professional restorers (paintings, sculptures, architecture, manuscripts, bookbindings etc.) and feed on their experience and on the wealth of painstaking deliberation that those have discussed and developed.
This particular aspect of your prefacial collary would be best left to the unforunate pseudo-collector of the distant future who must sweep together the once-was of military rifles and build them into a semblage of what they were as them that were altogether and pure may be lost and what they may reconstruct could well be all there is left.


But any diligent craftsman worth his salt will recognize the methodic difference between merely repairing a current damage, and restoring a truly historic piece.
We may only hope this segregation of idealogy exists in clairvoyant reality.


over its life the axe has had five new handles and two new heads. And it's still the Old Rail Splitter's axe.
But its not in it's original configuration. Its been Bubba'd.


MORAL: Continuity does not earn identity.
Has this quasi morality had it's DNA tested so that we may do more than question or speculate upon it's identity or origin? It will be with forensic discernment that morality is separated from the ramblings of the village idiot, though they may be mistaken for each other more often than not.


Dutchman
 

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I really did not understand all that I read above, but here are my thoughts. By merely placing an item in "original configuration" by no means meets the standard of making it "original". Humpty Dumpty can't be put back together again. As an example, one may match parts by maker and/or date on a RC Mauser, but it will never be original again and thus cannot ever be "restored" to original condition without those very same "factory original" parts that were assembled together the day it left the assembly line. It will be an imitation "look alike" possibily built to feed a fantasy. (How is the original German finish and 60 plus years of patina "restored" after Soviet bubbafication?) Restoring a milsurp to original configuration is not a bad thing to do, just use the correct words to describe it. I have returned a few "bubbas" to original configuration; however they are not "original" and never will be again. It is too late. I won't deceive myself by using inappropriate terminology or by cashing in on the appearance of one in "original configuration". If one can make an "original" from miscellaneous used parts found from stores scattered about the world, what would he call an authentic original? Fifty years from now how many cobbled-up "originals" will be sold as authentic originals to fetch those higher prices? That is a valid concern.

As to sporterizing topics: All discussions are not appropriate in certain venues. Most folks would not talk in church on a Sunday morning about what they did on the previous Saturday night. DDR
 

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Fascinating topic. I have several CG m96s, as well as a sporterized Husky M38 which was desecrated by the importer back in the day. A couple years ago I got a yen for a Husky M38 in original condition, but couldn't find one locally at a price I could afford. So I made one from parts I'd picked up over the years. Started with a brand new Numrich Husky receiver and bolt and installed a used barrel. Added a beech stock and various small parts and came up with something that looks just like the original (and probably shoots just as well). A glance at the receiver immediately reveals the rifle's lineage, as it is stamped "GPC W. Hurley, NY" where the serial # would be, and the serial # "S.W. xxx" is stamped above in very small characters.

Never gave it much thought, but is there a chance that after the rifle passes from my hands, someone may try to represent it as original? And what can I do to prevent such a thing?
 

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"...someone may try to represent it as original? And what can I do to prevent such a thing?"

After it passes through your hands, probably nothing. All you can do is to represent it honestly and then it is the buyer's responsibility to know what he is buying and to pay accordingly. Knowing human nature, not all folks may be as honest as you. DDR
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Criteria for restorations and reconstructions

I like the important semantic distinction that Dudley DR made between "original" and "in original configuration".

An addition: two criteria for proper restorations lege artis that these days seems almost universally applied in the world of art (and I shall let you decide, Dutchman, whether that large one is a frogpond, a blue lagoon, or a shark pit...) seem to be:

- recognizability and traceability of any reconstructions, additions, alterations (not necessarily immediate visibility: so are not you expected to burn into the stock with two-inch-letters: Iohannes Bubba me restauravit pulcherrimaque refecit A.D. MMVII, but a small lasting inscription in the stock channel or under the buttplate would be expected and morally demanded, especially if parts have been altered, replaced or "reconstructed")

- revisibility of any restaurative work undertaken: it must be possible for another to undo your actions in future, maybe with better knowledge, craft and methodology, and to reconstitute the status ex ante.

Alexander
 

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Discussion Starter #7
"Collectors World" and "Looks World"

There is a really beautiful statement from Bill in Indiana (in today's Kar 98k board) that I want to quote litterim here, because it is so fitting to the topic of discussion:

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There are two worlds in the 98k market. Here is how I see them...
The "collector's" world, and the "Looks" world. There will always be buyers in both worlds, but merchandise from those two worlds rarely is acceptable in both worlds. "Collectors" value originality, while those "Looks" buyers value looks over originality. Both may cherish a very minty looking but unmolested rifle, but "collectors" will not go ape over a very nice but reblued rifle.

Your rifle is pretty, but reblued, and as such will only sell best in the "Looks" world.
It is basically excluded from ever really belonging again in the "Collector's" world. If it crosses over, it's value will always be seriously downgraded by collectors due to the re-blue. The "Collector's" world will always give a better return on investment.
You prabably paid a fair retail price in the "Looks" world, but overpaid for the "Collector's" world. Now all you have to do is decide what type of collector you want to be.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Here is a fairly convincing take, too (it was about a Carcano cavalry carbine:

War is Peace
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Posted - 04/06/2004 : 12:04:17 PM
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Sir:

If I were in your shoes, I would consider the 1st Rule of Being in the Hole: Stop digging the hole any deeper. By the time you spend the funds necessary to purchase a new front sight/bayonet lug assembly and a bayonet (as well as the time, effort and possibly money to remove and replace the neutered part), you will have far more invested in the piece than it is worth. Additionally, it appears from your photo that the rear barrel band has been buffed to an “in the white” condition and the stock finish looks decidedly unoriginal. Perhaps I am incorrect on the band and stock issues-it could well be my poor eye sight or the photo. At the end of the process you will have less money. You will also lack a “collectible” example of the Carcano carbine.

The so-called “restoration” of an inexpensive rifle rarely makes sense. You can (with a little patience and with much less effort than you are about to expend fixing the piece at hand) easily find a nice, unmodified example of the Carcano for less than $100. Less patience, and more money (about $150) will find you an example within minutes if you search with the usual suspects: Auction Arms, Gunbroker, Guns America etc…

If you had a sentimental attachment to it (such as having been brought back from WWII by your grandfather), or if this piece has a known history that separates it from the run of the mill sporterized Carcano, then, and only then does it make sense to proceed with your quest. On the upside, one of the few remaining “freedoms” we have, is to do (some) things that don’t always make perfect sense and waste money in the process. I do it all the time.
 

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Dutchman.......If only I could put into words what you said in your few lines!!

Oh, and I do so love well cooked frog legs!!!
 
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