Value is something I always think about when I’m looking at old guns. Is this Purdey a good value? What about this Parker? Which ones will people want 20 years from now? Which will fall out of favor? To understand stuff like this, I collect old gun catalogs – especially ones with price lists in them.
The catalog you see was an especially nice find for me. It’s a Holland & Holland New & Used Gun Catalog from the Spring of 1965. It’s full of ton of useful info: prices, lots of different guns from different makers, etc. More importantly, because this catalog was shipped to customers in the UK and the US there’s a key paragraph inside which unlocks the British £ to US $ conversion mystery:
“As an indication of your approximate total delivered costs including duty you may multiply the price of the weapon in £’s in London by 3.5. For example, a gun offered at £100 will cost you about $350, all charges and duties paid”
So what did a brand new, 12 gauge sidelock Holland & Holland Royal cost in 1965? £650 pounds, or $2,275 (that’s without a case or accessories). A 12 gauge H&H Northwoods boxlock was £200 or $700. New H&H Rifles were more expensive. A .470 Royal cost £985 ($3,447.50) with case and tools. It punished you with more than just recoil.
As for used guns, decent 12 gauge Royals were £375 – £425. A 12 gauge Purdey with new barrels by the maker was £500. The most expensive used guns are both O/Us: an early and super rare 12g H&H (#36000) and a 12g Woodward. Both are £950.
As for bargains, I spotted two. One was a cased Edwinson Green 12g Best-quality sidelock for £285. I’ve seen a few of these and they are fabulous – equal to a London Best. Then there’s a 16g Szulovsky sidelock for just £130. I’ve never seen or heard of a Szulovsky, but I bet it was a very fine gun.
To make sense of the prices, here’s are some figures from 1965: a basic Rolex Submariner was around $230, a Corvette Fastback Coupe was $3947 from the factory , the typical American home sold for $19,900, and the median American family income was $6,900. A new Rolls Royce Silver Shadow was £6,557.
Today, a brand new 12 gauge Holland & Holland SxS Royal costs $118,000. A stainless Rolex Sub runs $8,000, a new 2014 Corvette Stingray costs $54,950, the typical American house sells for around $213,000, and the median family income is $51,000. And a new Rolls Royce Wraith is $379,000.
And what about that H&H Royal from the mid 1965? In excellent original condition, here’s about it’s worth today: