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Need advice on the best way to sell - I'm not a gun person! I have inherited a working factory engraved Colt 1877 Thunderer with papers from Colt and history of original owner. I've been told this is the type of gun that would appeal to a collector but have no idea how to reach them. Is an auction house the best way to go for me - or should I try something like listing it on gunbroker.com?It seems very complicated to ship if I sold it privately. Any help or ideas would be greatly appreciated!
 

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Airdog, welcome to the Colt Forum. Members of this Forum are probably the best qualified people you will ever find to judge the authenticity and value of your Thunderer if you can post lots of good pictures of it on this Forum. Many of our members are people who buy and sell guns, routinely, on web auction sites like GunBroker and these same members can best advise you of how to present your gun on such a web auction to maximize your profit. In fact many of our Forum Members may even be bidding on your Thunderer when you list it for sell.
BTW, shipping may not be an issue if the Thunderer is older than 1896. It can be shipped directly by you as an antique. If it is more modern, you should ship it through a FFL gun dealer in your area to a dealer ((either Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) or a Curio and Relic (C&R) Licensed person)). I hope this helps.
 

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Gentlemen - thank you so much for your advice! Being a female, totally non gun person, I gladly welcome all comments.I am going to try to post some photos here in a minute and according to the Colt letter the gun was shipped April 11, 1896 - does that make it an antique?
 

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Here are a few pics - had the gun checked by a gunsmith - it is working, has good action, bore bright with good groves and lands - not that anyone is going to shoot it! Engraving has been confirmed to be done by Cuno Helricht.
 

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Randy - thank you for your message, advice and offer. This was my Dad's gun and I think he'd roll over in his grave if he thought I just sent it off on consignment. I'm actually nervous to send it to an auction house!
 

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A functional, non engraved 1877 Thunderer will usually bring somewhere between $500 to $1500. Because your gun was factory engraved by a well known artist, I think you could easily double that top number. If it was my gun and I wanted to sell it, I would post it on Gunbroker or one of the other web sites with an appropriate reserve. If it does not make the reserve, then you don't sell it. Also, this way you don't have to release possession of the gun until you have certified funds in hand. On the other hand, that gun will likely appreciate in value quite a bit over the next few years. If you don't really need the money at the moment, it would be a great "investment" until such time as you decide to sell it. Whatever you decide, good luck!
 

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Airdog: I only own one of these double action models, but I own several engraved single action Colts. The gun definitely appears to be a 'factory original' engraved Thunderer. The engraving pattern is typical of Helfricht. I am right in line with area51guy at $3000. If it were in better condition (less loss of plating and less pitting), I could foresee even $4500 on an auction where a few people were heavily interested in owning it. Area51 guy's suggestion of how to go about selling the gun on Gun Broker sounds very reasonable.
As you can probably see, I am not adding much to what has already been stated. I just wanted to let you know that there is some good agreement between two members on this forum and I certainly will not be bidding on this gun when you try to sell it since I do not collect these Colts. Good luck!! Do not hesitate to ask other questions or seek clarification.
 

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I'm going to say that it's probably a $3500 to $4000 item and the engraving and finish look right as rain to me. Having the factory paperwork that says "factory engraved" "yes" will be a plus because most collectors like for special features to "letter". Also, depending to whom or where it was shipped can add some value also.

If you know the history of the gun that could be important and helpful too for a collector.

I love to see guns like this come out of the brush!
 

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Gentlemen - thank you so much for your advice! Being a female, totally non gun person, I gladly welcome all comments.I am going to try to post some photos here in a minute and according to the Colt letter the gun was shipped April 11, 1896 - does that make it an antique?
Any piece produced in 1898 or earlier is an antique. No license required.
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That's one of the nicest ones I've seen in a long time. Are the pearl grips mentioned in the letter as well?
I feel like this gun would be somewhere between $3500-$4500 easily.
 

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The colt letter does state it was factory engraved but does not mention the grips - I have been told they are factory original.I do have the history of the original owner - My photos aren't the best - taken with my phone on the back patio. Would it be recommended to have professional ones done if I was to list it on GunBroker? Also does anyone know, since it's an antique, do I have to declare its a gun when shipping?
 

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And again thanks to all who have offered information - the site does not let me respond to private messages yet but I will when I have enough posts to do so.
 

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I believe good pictures and a lot of them certainly helps online auctions realize a higher realized price.

I've shipped antique guns via priority mail before and just wrapped them up good in bubble wrap and insured them and my local post office has never asked me what I was shipping.

Oh.....and to what dealer did the 1877 go ?
 

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You may be able to get a forum member/seller to list the gun for you for a reasonable % of sale. I think it could be a good investment for an inexperienced seller. The seller has a good reputation on GB, has followers that watch their auctions, knows how to show gun in best light, take professional photos, you may find if someone would list for 15 - 20% of gun sale, it would draw that much more, they also can handle shipping and transfer.
 

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I am glad that some of the more expert members on the Forum think your Thunderer might bring up to $4500. As tjmolil pointed out, people who bid on these auctions (like myself) are a bit leery of sellers who have no record of past sales. There are lots of con artists who run fake auctions, even on Gun Broker.
If you do decide to sell the gun on a site like Gun Broker, you should probably consider doing something like what tjmolil suggested. I would certainly be more willing to bid on a gun from a well known seller than from someone who has no sales record. Hopefully you will get many contacts from Colt Forum members about your gun. Maybe some will be willing to do the listing and selling.
Even then, make sure you check with some other Forum members who will be willing to 'stand up for' the reputation of that person. Approach this carefully.
 

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The colt letter does state it was factory engraved but does not mention the grips - I have been told they are factory original.I do have the history of the original owner - My photos aren't the best - taken with my phone on the back patio. Would it be recommended to have professional ones done if I was to list it on GunBroker? Also does anyone know, since it's an antique, do I have to declare its a gun when shipping?
That's not uncommon. With that beautiful engraving I'm also betting the grips are factory. Does it say "Type of stocks: - Not Listed"?
I've seen letters before that say this and they have either ivory or mother of pearl. Usually if the stocks are walnut or hard rubber the letter says this.
 

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I've bought from Gunbroker and from Forum members (several forums). In general, I feel better (better assured) buying from Forum members. However, I have not been burned by using either method.

I recommend going through a FFL, just to cover yourself, even though it is an antique. I get certified funds of some sort (keep copies of all e-mails).

BTW: I have several Thunderers and Lightnings, and I would say $4500 is a good estimate and might even be a little low, with engraving and pearls. I would say that a working Thunderer would start at $1000 to $1500.

Good luck!
 
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