What's It Worth? Upward Valuation Journey: A Confederate Pistol

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Many years ago, a customer answered one of our ads for antique firearms and brought in an antique percussion revolver (interesting despite its poor condition). According to the paperwork, their ancestor bought it in the 1980s for $3,000. They sold it to us, after negotiations, for $8,000. We knew we were taking a chance because of its poor condition, but it was one of a small handful of guns made for the Confederate army in the 1860s.

As we’ve written before, all Civil War items are collectible with Confederate items usually topping Union items in valuation. We were confident we could make a small profit in spite of the terrible condition but were unable to find a buyer for well over two years. Then a local doctor took a liking to it and we were able to eke out an acceptable profit with a selling price of a little over $10,000.

Fast forward five years. The doctor decided to buy a very expensive diamond for his wife this past Christmas. Sadly for us, he wanted to give us back this gun in lieu of us making any profit! Of course this is not the way we prefer to do business, but he is a good customer and we accepted it back as a trade, allowing $13,000 for it.

We were once again tasked with marketing this historic if obscure Spiller and Burr Confederate pistol. Only a handful remain, but the condition issue was daunting. We decided to try to sell it at auction and were very pleased when a phone bidder, bidding on behalf of a Confederate armaments collector, won the item for a $25,000 hammer price.

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