Will you be able to "cash out" when you're ready?

Posted by Bruce Canfield

Interest in U.S. military weaponry continues to grow with corresponding increases in price and shortages of many types of collector-grade specimens. A number of long-time collectors have expressed some concern that new (and younger) collectors are not coming into the field due to the astronomical prices that some weapons are now fetching. While some specific types of weapons are beginning to be priced out of the reach of many collectors, I am seeing quite a few younger collectors coming into the hobby. Part of the reason is the availability of the CMP M1 rifles and other weapons. Many people can afford a $700 CMP Garand and this has seemed to whet the appetites of many persons with a passing interest in U.S. martial arms. As most of us can testify, a passing interest in collecting U.S. martial arms can easily become something of an addiction if we’re not careful. There are still a number of military long arms, handguns and edged weapons available at reasonable prices today. Sure, they’re quite a bit higher than they were ten years ago but what’s not? We sometimes focus too much on the weapons costing thousands of dollars each when there are interesting items that can be had for much less. Keeping new collectors coming into the field every year is vital if this hobby is going to continue to grow. Always do your part to encourage fledging collectors. While this is the right thing to do for several reasons, there are also some less altruistic motives for this. Most of us in our 40s, 50s or 60s have given some thought to the possibility of disposing of our collections at some future date. The reasons for doing so can range from a hedge against inflation, to supplementing our retirement income to a change in interests and/or lifestyles. We may decide some day that we’d rather travel the world and spend our kids’ inheritances than continue to pursue our hobby of collecting U.S. military weapons. When (and if) that time comes, we probably assume there will be a bunch of eager collectors with handfuls of cash jumping up and down to buy our weapons. While this might be the case now (or will be when the economy rebounds), what about fifteen, twenty or thirty years from now? If there aren’t any new (and younger) collectors coming into the field today, who will be these future buyers? Few 22-year-old beginning collectors can afford several thousand dollars for a collector-grade trench gun or Spencer carbine today. However, when these same gentlemen are in their 40s and 50s, many will then have the disposable incomes to purchase non-essential “big ticket” items such as martial collectibles. The big question is “will they choose to do so and will there be enough of them around to constitute a reliable source of buyers?” Thirty years from now, we won’t have much luck trying to sell our collections to other old geezers who will be having the same thoughts we do about the subject. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not yet in the geezer category (but I sure will be in 30 years if I’m still around!) and have no intention of selling my collection. My point is, however, that I would like to have that option in the future. Without a new generation of dedicated and committed collectors, this option might not be available to us. Hopefully, this will give you something to think about and another reason to encourage young collectors to pursue the hobby.

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