Here are some words of wisdom for anyone who collects gun. This is from Leroy Merz’s website. Merz is one of the most successful antique firearms dealers in the country, so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about.
Should a gun be refinished or cleaned? Definitely not. You may have seen old cars or other antiques that have been restored and sell for a lot of money. The opposite is true for restored guns. There is no way to duplicate the original finish on a gun, especially after the metal has worn away or pitted. Once the metal is gone, there is no way to replace the lost metal. Some people do collect restored guns. That is a personal choice. But most people will pay a lot more for a gun showing honest wear and age, rather than one that has been cleaned, refinished or restored.