Need help valuing collection of items

Belpaire

Cadet
Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Hello all,

I have been cleaning out my fathers house. There are 2 civil war era guns, an Enfield rifle and a Lorenz carbine, and had them looked at by a local antique gun collector. He said he would pay $1200 for them and a early 1900's air dart gun. I had no idea of where they came from or why we had them. My father was not a gun collector.

I just came across an envelope of items that goes with them. It turns out they were from my great uncle's, uncle, who fought in the civil war. There is his enlistment papers, discharge papers, a couple of medals, his marriage certificate and his paperwork for his apprenticeship.

At this point, I do not want these items to be sold separately as they all belong together to tell they story of part of this mans life. What kind of value would all of these items have together?

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Last edited:

ucvrelics

Colonel
Forum Host
Regtl. Quartermaster Shiloh 2020
Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Antietam 2021
Joined
May 7, 2016
Location
Alabama
Hello all,

I have been cleaning out my fathers house. There are 2 civil war era guns, an Enfield rifle and a Lorenz carbine, and had them looked at by a local antique gun collector. He said he would pay $1200 for them and a early 1900's air dart gun. I had no idea of where they came from or why we had them. My father was not a gun collector.

I just came across an envelope of items that goes with them. It turns out they were from my great uncle's, uncle, who fought in the civil war. There is his enlistment papers, discharge papers, a couple of medals, his marriage certificate and his paperwork for his apprenticeship.

At this point, I do not want these items to be sold separately as they all belong together to tell they story of part of this mans life. What kind of value would all of these items have together?

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Nice looking group. I sent you a PM on them.
 

Mrs. V

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
May 5, 2017
You are absolutely correct in thinking these should be bought together. They provide provenence, which can be a rare thing. I’m guessing you have no desire to retain them yourself? And that is ok..

My suggestion? As I have cleaned out several estates of relatives. It’s ok to hang on to things to decide on their disposition some time later. Especially if you are undecided if you want to sell. I can honestly say that we would have been better off renting a storage unit and then selling the Grandparents house. There was so much stuff!!!
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Are you sure that these aren't all family pieces? If your father hung onto the guns when he wasn't a gun collector, it seems that they had value to him other than monetary. Selling them off isn't your only option: you could donate them to a relevant museum or heritage organization so they can be admired and treasured.
 

Belpaire

Cadet
Joined
Aug 19, 2021
Are you sure that these aren't all family pieces? If your father hung onto the guns when he wasn't a gun collector, it seems that they had value to him other than monetary. Selling them off isn't your only option: you could donate them to a relevant museum or heritage organization so they can be admired and treasured.

I'm quite certain all of these items belong together and all part of a distant family heritage.

I had tentatively agree to sell the guns to an individual when I discovered the other items. I have considered donating them to a museum being the best course of action.
 

1950lemans

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 23, 2013
Location
Connecticut
You'll notice that anytime you bring something of value to a "local dealer", you will never, ever get a good price. This could be anything from army cannons to 18th c. zoology books! They have to make a living and most likely will sell to their clients who most likely will know the market values. It's a good thing if you need to get rid of valuables quickly. Otherwise it's always best to sell it yourself to collectors. It takes a little effort, like approaching experts on this forum for example, but you might reap better financial gains. Then again it hinges on your interest and how you value your time.
 

1950lemans

First Sergeant
Joined
Jun 23, 2013
Location
Connecticut
I'm quite certain all of these items belong together and all part of a distant family heritage.

I had tentatively agree to sell the guns to an individual when I discovered the other items. I have considered donating them to a museum being the best course of action.
I do not recommend donating anything to any museum, local, state or national. Many are underfunded. Many are run by volunteer staffs. Your items will most likely get buried in the basement or in storage somewhere and maybe, just maybe, be put on display a century from now. In reality what most likely will happen is that they will sell off items in storage to auction houses to pay the mundane bills such as water & electricity. If you donate you need to read all the paperwork they put in front of you.
Exceptions? Yes. If the museum is specifically asking for something. Locally a museum located in one of the town parks is asking for WW II mementoes of men who served from the town. Also civilian items like ration booklets, newspapers, posters, etc. In that case your items will get used or rejected pronto quick
 

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
That mark on the enfield of the Star over the letters TC shows this was sold by Tiffany and Company, and is in nice condition. It is worth at least $2,000.
The other item is not a Lorenz, but it an Austrian made carbine, and in average shape, worth at least $800.
But the real value is if you can figure out if your ancestor would have used the Enfield during his service. It would have been used by infantryman. The short arm would have been used by a cavalry trooper.
Why don't you post about these on the forum for "Small Arms" on this site?
By the way, I agree to not donate items to a museum or historical society - they don't take care of items as well as a collector would!
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
I do not recommend donating anything to any museum, local, state or national. Many are underfunded. Many are run by volunteer staffs. Your items will most likely get buried in the basement or in storage somewhere and maybe, just maybe, be put on display a century from now. In reality what most likely will happen is that they will sell off items in storage to auction houses to pay the mundane bills such as water & electricity. If you donate you need to read all the paperwork they put in front of you.
Exceptions? Yes. If the museum is specifically asking for something. Locally a museum located in one of the town parks is asking for WW II mementoes of men who served from the town. Also civilian items like ration booklets, newspapers, posters, etc. In that case your items will get used or rejected pronto quick
I'm afraid that I couldn't disagree with you more.

Museums don't accept items out of keeping with existing collections and putting something that fits into basement storage is counterproductive. That a museum would sell off objects in order to pay bills is absolutely out of the question: museums have strict guidelines about this sort of thing.

You may have had personal experience to the contrary--and there is a marketing rule that one's singular experience tends to become seen as general. I'm very sorry about that. However, as someone who has spent years with heritage organizations (and who has donated myself), I must say that I have never encountered what you suggest.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
If there was a family tie to these items, I would certainly try to keep them!
Absolutely! However, there are occasions when there is a lack of interest. Not everyone honors family tradition, alas. However, if these items are in the keeping of an appropriate museum (etc), future family members who are interested can still have reference to them. If the items go into the hands of a collector, there is no guarantee that they will not be resold to another collector--and on and on. The future family members have lost these items forever. They won't be able to even trace where they are.
 

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
When I have some time, I'll give you a fuller response.
There is a great difference between a professional institution and most county historical societies. But even professionally run institutions have ever-decreasing interest in firearms, and they tend to keep them in storage and not on display. Sometimes storage is secure and protective. Sometimes the river rises and the stuff stored down low gets moist.
 

Fairfield

Sergeant Major
Member of the Month
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
When I have some time, I'll give you a fuller response.
There is a great difference between a professional institution and most county historical societies. But even professionally run institutions have ever-decreasing interest in firearms, and they tend to keep them in storage and not on display. Sometimes storage is secure and protective. Sometimes the river rises and the stuff stored down low gets moist.
The original statement was: "I do not recommend donating anything to any museum, local, state or national." You are incorrect in implying that smaller museums are staffed by people who don't know what they're doing. 🙂 First, a good many smaller museums do have professionals on staff. Second, small museums have many sources of information beyond some group-hording instinct (we meet regularly with other museums--large and small, private and academic); we all have attended workshops and training in methods of preservation and display. When issues with objects come up that are beyond our combined "expertese", there is a network of consultants to call in; we also can appeal to the State (Maine, for example, has been tremendously supportive and informative).

We don't just bung stuff into the basement. A basement isn't a particularly safe place unless there is some sort of climate control device. Those institutions that are anywhere near the river certainly don't put anything "down below".

There is a discussion going on right now on another thread regarding a sword obtained by a neighboring historical society. I've dragged several CWT members into it Now that it has a pretty good idea of the "ball park" (thanks to CWT), that society is going to proceed judiciously. It has several Civil War swords on display as well as a collection of rifles. The group that I belong to also has a collection of military armaments; we don't display them on a regular basis because our museum is Victorian--but they are out for every military exhibit (beit Revolutionary, 1812, ACW, World Wars). I know that they are well cared for.

Indeed, everything we have is researched, catalogued, carefully preserved and treasured. Because our local museums and institutions are little doesn't mean that they are incompetent, uninterested and careless. 🙂
 

Jeff in Ohio

Sergeant
Joined
Oct 17, 2015
As is often the case, there is a bit of overstatement, let us call it hyperbole, on both sides of this discussion:

1950lemans wrote: "I do not recommend donating anything to any museum, local, state or national."
That's a broad statement.
Fairfield responded: "...I couldn't disagree with you more"
That's a broad statement.

Here is a well written op-ed piece by Steven Miller, who describes himself this way: I have been in the museum field for nearly 50 years as a director, curator, trustee, administrator, consultant, author, critic and teacher of museum studies. I have written more than anyone about museum deaccessioning and have authorized the practice a few times during my career. Mr. Miller wrote the book on this topic, Museum Collection Ethics: Acquisition, Stewardship and Interpretation, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, www.rowman.com; 2020; 192 pages; hardcover $65, softcover $32

Here is a link to his interesting Op-Ed piece:

https://www.antiquesandthearts.com/all-american-museum-collections-are-for-sale-just-make-an-offer/

I myself think the real "danger" to donation is that arms and armament are not displayed often, increasingly for fear of giving offense, and a weapon that might be proudly and properly displayed at the NRA museum or a Civil War Museum might be just stored away, never to be seen again, at a local or state historical society facility.

I'll also note that more than once I've seen museums with a table or two of items for sale at major Civil War Shows, with all their sale offerings still having museum ID numbers painted on them, and offered for sale so the proceeds could fund some museum project or expense.
 
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