I recently RE-discovered my cartridge collection from over 50 years ago. Is there anything published giving “relative” values? I’m familiar with Fjestad’s ‘Blue Book’ and Flayderman’s ‘Guide’ for firearms, but I don’t know of anything like them for cartridges. Can anyone help?
The IAA has a feature which publishes values for different groups of collectable cartridges, although I don’t know how often these appear, several times a year at least. If your not a member it’s easy to join just go to the home page. Also available is a CD of back issues, again available to members.
Also Pete deCoux (good guy that he is, koff, koff) has back sale catalogs available covering a wide variety of collectable ammunition, see the web site link below this post.
The best and really only accurate way to get an idea of a collectible cartridge’s value is to check auction results. Pete’s auction is an excellent source, as is Vic Engel’s. These telephone and mail bid auctions are well-known, well-publicized, and are open to the public. Other mainly firearms auctions often also sell collectible cartridges. Check rockislandauction.com as one example. Internet auction sites like Gunbroker.com and AuctionArms.com can also be helpful.
The important thing, in my opinion, is that accurate indications of what a cartridge might be “worth” can only be established by what identical (or nearly so) specimens actually sell for in the open market; never what somebody who may or may not know what he’s talking about thinks they should be worth. Obviously, this involves a little work, but it’s fun and you will learn a lot.
My specialty is MBA Gyrojets and other ordnance and in the course of writing a book on them, I developed an Excel spreadsheet of every known public, well-advertised cartridge (and firearm) auction of Gyrojets, Finjets, etc. going back to the early Jim Tillinghast days, adjusted for inflation. I’ll be happy to help with those.
Collector cartridges are not “worth” any practical , usefull value. What they will bring when someone wants one and has the money to buy is only a current estimate of value. Often a cartridge will be bid up by 2 collectors who want it and have money. Many times the second place bidder will pass on the offer for an identical specimen . Auctions imply that the final “bidder” is a “winner”. You might notice that Ebay calls buyers of fixed price items “winners”. Buyers of my fixed price references also often refer to themselves as “winners” of that sale. Of course, anyone with the price is also a winner. The current prices published by the IAA are a guide. One fellow who I knew carried two sets with him. The old set he used to buy with and the new set to establish a sale price.
Long time European dealer Graham Irving told me that a certain collector known to have means and a buyer for most everything he wanted put a damper on European sales. Sellers would come in with a 100 round or more can of new ammo for which this fellow would pay a large price for the first one. The balance would not sell because this fellow was the only collector in that universe who would pay that price. A new lot number is not often worth a large price to a large number of buyers.
Auction professional Rbt. Buttweiler sold many window shotshells to a collector at high prices. When the seller fell on hard times and consigned the same items to Buttweiler for resale he got far less than he paid. He had created an artificial “value” in that item and when he was removed from the bidding the items sold much lower.
Auctions are only good as long as 2 buyers have money and want the same item. That only establishes a “value” at the time of sale. It very often evaporates.
I have a shell which sold for $5,000 in one of my auctions. I had 2. One sold. The other bidder died before I got around to offering the other one. It is a unique item but no longer would bring that kind of money.
Buy what you like and can afford. looking at collecting as an “investment” is foolishness.
Try to insure your collection at auction prices.
Try selling some cartridges to your banker and you will soon see what they are “worth”.
I should also mention that the BUTTWEILER ARCHIVE which I have published on CD comes with prices realized . These prices have not changed much since the 1990s.