Info needed on collectability of unsearched lots (not an offer to buy/trade/sell)
I used to be a member way back when it was the International Cartridge Collectors Assn, and I had a collection of a couple thousand types of mostly military and police loads. When I had to apply for a destructive devices permit from the California DOJ simply because I had tracers in the collection, I donated the collection to a PD that had a reference collection. It actually saved someone from going to jail, by the way.
The guy in charge of the collection told me he was working on a case where someone had started a small brush fire with a tracer. The suspect insisted that he had not purchased tracers; just surplus military ammo with no red tips. I mentioned that in my collection there was a bunch of chemically-cleaned Israeli surplus ammo, and that when I had pulled a few bullets, I had found one that was a tracer with the red tip cleaned off. He found the Israeli ammo in the collection I had donated and started pulling bullets. Sure enough, he came up with one that was an unmarked tracer. He used it in court, and the charges were dismissed. (BTW: the rounds were really yellowy brass colored from the chemical dip, if anyone has one they intend to shoot. I don’t remember the headstamp, but I think it was Israeli, and not ammo they had purchased elsewhere. It still had a faint outline where it had been in rusty linked belts.)
Anyway, back then I used to try to find all the different headstamps I could for a particular caliber. It was like looking for a complete penny collection: most were easy to find, but some were harder. What brings this up is that I now work for a firearms auction house, and one of the consignors also has a large ammo collection. When I saw what he had, it reminded me of my own former collection. There were lots of nicely-cataloged items, but ammo cans full of loose common rounds, like 30-06, that were mostly different headstamps, but not yet sorted or cataloged.
He’s given us a few nice rounds (which I will post in the B/S/T forum when I get access) , and he wants to give us the rest over time if they are worth what he wants.
I’m looking for advice.
Is there enough interest in the collector world these days for unsearched cans of mostly different headstamp ammo? I know how much value you put on ammo that you picked up one or two rounds at a time. But most of the time, your time is worth a lot to you, and not much to others. I also suspect that it’s not worth much of a premium over surplus and mixed commercial [quote]shooter[/quote] ammo.
The analogy I’m thinking of is that there are a few wheat cents that are worth a lot of money, but unless you know one is there in a bag-full, it’s going to go for three cents apiece with the rest of the unsearched ones.
Since I have been out of general ammo collecting for about 25 years, I would love advice on what to tell him (Consign them, take them to a gun show in bulk, shoot them, etc). I currently collect only a few calibers related to guns I actually own, so I don’t know the current collectability of the bulk, unsorted stuff he’s got. The auction house here in NH is only a couple of years old. They get a few collectible rounds, but mostly shooter ammo, so there’s no real track record here.
Based on what I saw, I would guess that 90% of what’s in the cans is common, about 8 or 9% being a little harder to find, but not uncommon, with less than 1% being uncommon. If I had to search it all, it would take a week; my hands would be black for a months, and I would have eyestrain for a year.
BTW, I love this web site! The last time I was a member, my computer was a 286, and I was running straight DOS. The amount of info here is staggering!
Thanks for any advice you are willing to share.