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Can anyone tell me why Colt letters are so high priced?? This dosen't seem to me to promote Colt very much.......Henri
 

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For one reason, Colt's records go back to 1836.
It takes quite a bit of a persons time to dig out the info, and see to having the letter printed.

Colt people are union people, and they don't work for minimum wage.

By the time the info is found and the letter (on high-quality frame-able paper) is printed packaged and mailed, you're talking some hard cash time.

Another reason is, the idea is for Colt to make money, and this is a money-making proposition for Colt.

Lastly, (this is a straight business matter, not a slap at Colt) ONLY Colt has the info and they're providing the service as a favor to collectors.
Where else are you going to get the info?.

Very few other gun companies provide historical info. S&W does, and they and the other few all charge comparable prices.

[This message has been edited by dfariswheel (edited 07-30-2004).]
 

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Not so for S&W, there letters are only $ 30.
no matter how old the gun is or how much time it takes, most letters are answered in about two weeks and sometimes are two pages long but never more than $ 30.

They come on very nice antique letter head, high-quality paper, have much, much, more history about the gun than I've ever seen in a Colt letter, plus who, when, and where the gun was shipped, and of course are also fram-able.

Now that's what I call a REAL service to collectors.

Colt letter prices are not even close to being camparable to the S&W price, especially when you consider what info you get from S&W and what you get from Colt.

IP
 

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Roy Jinks owns the Smith & Wesson records, and has great personal knowledge of the guns about which he writes. He sets the price, which he chooses to keep inexpensive. When he passes the records on, the price will certainly be higher.

Much of what Roy provides in his letters to make them two pages long is just a summary of a particualr model, such as the .44 Magnum, where he describes the development and who got the first ones, etc.. The specific shipping information about a particular gun is just a few sentences at the end of the letter, which is about the same information as found in a Colt letter.

Colt letters used to be $10. I bought dozens at that price. If you think the letters are too high priced, do not buy them. While I would love to only pay $10 per letter, clearly the letters are worth a lot more. If you can authenticate a $7,500-$10,000 or more Colt revolver with a factory letter, how much is that worth? Colt gets $300 for the oldest letters for the most valuable guns. The cheapest letters are $75 for the "modern" guns.

I love to get the letters and find them worth the money. The Smith letters are a bargain just because Roy does not choose to charge what they are really worth.

[This message has been edited by JudgeColt (edited 07-31-2004).]
 

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JudgeColt,
I don't know where you got this info but it's my understanding that Roy does not "own" the S&W records and does not set the price for letters. S&W sets the price and the check is made out to S&W, even if you make out the check to Mr. Jinks the check still goes to S&W as Mr. Jinks still works for S&W. As far as the records go S&W owns the modern records and the older records are owned by the CV Museum in MA. The Summary of the particualr gun may not be to inportent to an advanced collector but worth it's weight in gold to someone just starting to collect, and of course it's interesting.

I may not be 100 % correct on this but it's the way I understand it after many years of collecting S&W's and sending for many, many, letters. If I'm wrong please let me know as I don't like handing out bad info, there's already enough of that floating around.

IP


<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JudgeColt:
Roy Jinks owns the Smith & Wesson records, and has great personal knowledge of the guns about which he writes. He sets the price, which he chooses to keep inexpensive. When he passes the records on, the price will certainly be higher.

Much of what Roy provides in his letters to make them two pages long is just a summary of a particualr model, such as the .44 Magnum, where he describes the development and who got the first ones, etc.. The specific shipping information about a particular gun is just a few sentences at the end of the letter, which is about the same information as found in a Colt letter.

Colt letters used to be $10. I bought dozens at that price. If you think the letters are too high priced, do not buy them. While I would love to only pay $10 per letter, clearly the letters are worth a lot more. If you can authenticate a $7,500-$10,000 or more Colt revolver with a factory letter, how much is that worth? Colt gets $300 for the oldest letters for the most valuable guns. The cheapest letters are $75 for the "modern" guns.

I love to get the letters and find them worth the money. The Smith letters are a bargain just because Roy does not choose to charge what they are really worth.

[This message has been edited by JudgeColt (edited 07-31-2004).]
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
 
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My understanding is that Roy does own some records, the CV Museum owns others and the S&W Collectors Assoc. owns (or at least paid) for some others that got away from S&W. The CV Museum records are not used to produce the letters. Roy is in physical possession of the files used to do the research for the letters so legal ownership is probably a moot point.
 

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Hi Kwill1911,
I think your understanding is somewhat correct, Roy does own some S&W records, and there are about 10 + S&W CA members that I know of that own some S&W records, in fact I own some, but if were talking about the records that the S&W letters are written from I believe the bulk of them are owned by S&W and the CV Museum.

The records that were recently purchased by the S&W CA are technically no longer owned by the S&W CA, they were given ( donated ) to the CV Museum so I guess technically they legally own them. There is also a very large group of S&W records owned by the Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts.

Interesting you should say that the records at the CVM are not used to produce the letters, more than once Roy has mentioned to me that no one was at the Museum on the week end and he would have to wait till Monday to check the records before he could give an answer. If the records at the CVM are not used for the letters do you know what there used for ?.

I agree legal ownership is a moot point, all I was trying to do was set the "record" straight from the standpoint that Roy does not own all the records, the bottom line is that S&W collectors have this info available to them, and at a very reasonable cost.

I.P.

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by kwill1911:
My understanding is that Roy does own some records, the CV Museum owns others and the S&W Collectors Assoc. owns (or at least paid) for some others that got away from S&W. The CV Museum records are not used to produce the letters. Roy is in physical possession of the files used to do the research for the letters so legal ownership is probably a moot point.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
 

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I got my information directly from Roy Jinks at the 2004 SHOT Show, where he was visiting with showgoers and selling signed copies of his last book.

After thanking him for the wonderful service he performs for collectors, I inquired about the mechanics of factory letters and Roy volunteered that he owns the records. I did not challenge him by asking if he owns ALL the records. I did not take his statement to mean that he owns "modern" records, whatever that might be, but that point was not addresssed. (We can argue about what records those might be.)

I would speculate that when computer recordkeeping began, the physical keeping of records (ledgers, etc.) ended. I could imagine that Roy could have "saved" those manual records from destruction when they were thrown out, perhaps at one of the ownership changes such as Bangor Punta to Lear Sigler to Tompkins, etc., and now owns them as treasure trove or the like.

I did get the impression that Roy runs the historical department exactly as he wants. I am quite sure that he sets the price of the letters.

The checks for letters are made out to Smith & Wesson because Roy is an employee of Smith & Wesson and he writes the letters as part of his job for which he presumably is paid a salary, with perhaps a commission as well.

I am a Colt guy with an interest in Smith & Wessons as well, and I was just repeating what I was told by Roy Jinks himself. If he is at the 2005 SHOT Show, I will ask him for clarification.



[This message has been edited by JudgeColt (edited 07-31-2004).]
 

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JudgeColt,
No need to carry it into 2005 for clarification, if Roy told you he owns them, he owns them, and no need to argue about anything, it's not that inportent. As I've said, I know a lot of S&W collectors that own S&W records, including myself, I do know what records are at CVM and that the ones bought by the S&W CA members were given to CVM because I was part of that, the records there are available for research by any S&W CA member, same for the records at the Du Bois Library, University of Massachusetts.

Again, bottom line is that they are aavailable for collectors for research at littel or no cost and at $ 30. a letter it's for sure is not a rip off. A big THANK YOU to S&W and Roy.

I am thinking of saying something nasty now about Colt and how they treate collectors but I wont. All I can say is they will never get $ 75., $ 100., and for sure never $ 300. from
me just to tell me a gun was shipped to Frank's Gun Shop in TX on 3/15/1895.
IP


<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JudgeColt:
I got my information directly from Roy Jinks at the 2004 SHOT Show, where he was visiting with showgoers and selling signed copies of his last book.

After thanking him for the wonderful service he performs for collectors, I inquired about the mechanics of factory letters and Roy volunteered that he owns the records. I did not challenge him by asking if he owns ALL the records. I did not take his statement to mean that he owns "modern" records, whatever that might be, but that point was not addresssed. (We can argue about what records those might be.)

I would speculate that when computer recordkeeping began, the physical keeping of records (ledgers, etc.) ended. I could imagine that Roy could have "saved" those manual records from destruction when they were thrown out, perhaps at one of the ownership changes such as Bangor Punta to Lear Sigler to Tompkins, etc., and now owns them as treasure trove or the like.

I did get the impression that Roy runs the historical department exactly as he wants. I am quite sure that he sets the price of the letters.

The checks for letters are made out to Smith & Wesson because Roy is an employee of Smith & Wesson and he writes the letters as part of his job for which he presumably is paid a salary, with perhaps a commission as well.

I am a Colt guy with an interest in Smith & Wessons as well, and I was just repeating what I was told by Roy Jinks himself. If he is at the 2005 SHOT Show, I will ask him for clarification.

[This message has been edited by JudgeColt (edited 07-31-2004).]
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
 

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Mr. Paine, come on! If you owned or were contemplating the purchase of a valuable Colt with odd features, having a factory letter confirming the odd features are original would be worth many times the cost of a letter. Verifying that the odd barrel length on a Model P is factory would add far more than $300 to the value of the gun. Because Colt knows that, the "value" of the letters sets their sale price.



[This message has been edited by JudgeColt (edited 08-02-2004).]
 

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Discussion Starter #12
WHEW!! Thanks for all the answers and comments. Looks like we might one day have to pay for a letter to verify the previous owner... I don't think I have anything in my safe worth a $300.00 letter.. Henri
 

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JudgeColt,
I agree 100 %, if a gun was valuable because it had special features or was owned by a special or famous person the money would be well spent for documentation.

The point I was trying to make was how Colt goes about taking advantage of collectors this way. I know a bit about research as I'm the Historian for the USRA and the SMH. S&W nor I charge by the importance of what we find, or how long it takes to do the research, the time it takes to do the research is most times the same whether it's a common gun or a important gun.

This would be like a drink of water, if a person really does not need it but was just thirsty Colt may charge $ 1.00 a bottle, but if it was a matter of life or death and the person was dying and a drink of water may save his life, Colt may now want $ 300. for the same bottle of water.

OK, OK, that may be an extreme, but to me that's taking advantage of the situation and in my book is not a nice thing to do to fellow gun enthusiast.

I know it's a business and Colt is starving, probably needs every nickel it can get, but that does not make it right.

I.P.

Mr. Paine, come on! If you owned or were contemplating the purchase of a valuable Colt with odd features, having a factory letter confirming the odd features are original would be worth many times the cost of a letter. Verifying that the odd barrel length on a Model P is factory would add far more than $300 to the value of the gun. Because Colt knows that, the "value" of the letters sets their sale price.
 

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Mr. Paine, I am glad to hear that you will not take advantage of a fellow fellow gun enthusiast. I take that to mean that you will not charge a fellow gun enthusiast market price for your best gun when you are selling it because, according to your logic, that would be taking advantage of a fellow gun enthusiast.

What a great guy you are! I am a fellow gun enthusiast. What do you have for sale? I am a little short right now, and can only afford to spend about ten percent of market for anything so it is nice to know there are people who will not take advantage of my economic situation.

Just kidding of course, with no offense intended. This issue is a little like seeing "wanted" advertisements seeking something, usually a scarce item, with the requirement that the price be "reasonable." What that usually means is that the seeker does not want to or cannot pay market price, which he or she thinks is "unreasonable." By definition, the market price is reasonable. To sell it for more or less is "unreasonable." By definition, the Colt letter market prices are reasonable, while, one could argue, the Smith & Wesson letter prices are unreasonable, since they are worth more than they cost.

You do not pay the stallion for how long it takes him. You pay him for knowing what to do and getting it done. When Colt knows what to do and how to get it done, that is what you pay for. I think I had better letter some more Smiths before their letter price is raised to its true value!
 
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Judge,

I agree with your logic/philosophy completely. In a free market system (defined as a willing seller and a willing buyer, in the absence of coercion) there can be no "unfair" or "unjust" price because the buyer can always walk away.

But I think Colt is being short-sighted in charging so much, taking so long and offering so little information. And the letters are often wrong! Assume they get 500 letter requests per month and the average price is $150. I think both estimates are high but, even so, that amounts to $900,000 in revenue per year. That's less than 1% of their total sales. Double the numbers and it is still pretty insignificant. Given the fair amount of ill-will and outright animosity they generate I think they would be better served to scale back the price, offer a better service and generate more brand loyalty. Colt really doesn't have much except strong brand equity--they've been mismanaged for years and their product quality varies widely. Look at the market share they have given away on all their products. But their brand is bulletproof, pardon the pun. Like Harley-Davidson or Gibson guitars, some day, someone will buy Colt through an LBO, move manufacturing to some place like Arizona and make it a strong competitor again. At least one can hope.
 

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Lively thread! With all this talk about factory letters, I figure I'd add one of my experiences with the "other brand" gun maker.

About 15 years ago I inherited a low serial number 3 screw Ruger Blackhawk. My fathers personal gun, unfired. This was when you could get the Blackhawk in any caliber you wanted as long as it was 44 mag. So I sent off a letter to Ruger asking about information on this specific gun. They provided me on company letter head, signed by a Ruger employee, description of gun with a little background, the date of manufacture, when it was shipped, where it was shipped, caliber etc, etc. Basically all of the info that Colt provides. Heck, they even sent me a new style empty box so that I might ship it back to them for a safety retrofit.

Oh yea, the cost of all this? Absolutely nothing!
 
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Ira,
Pardon my ignorance but what is the SMH? What types of guns do you research and provide info on? Thanks.
 

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Kwill1911,

SMH is the Society of Military Horologists, I've been doing there research for 12 years now. I guess most that have been around handguns for awhile know that the USRA
( United States Revolver Association ) is the oldest HandGun Association in the country, formed in 1900 and still going strong, am also the Assistant Editor of there publication, the US HandGunner magazine. I've been researching and organizing there archives for about 20 years now and probably will never get it all done, after all there's over 100 years of data to look over and many, many, many, thousands of shooters.

As far as types of "guns" researched, I
don't believe I said that I research guns, or at least I did not mean to imply that, the research I do is the history of the user, and he could have used any type of handgun, so it's not limited to a Mfg. or type but is limited to handguns only.

It's user or shooter research, in most of the Pre War and Post War shooting events up till the 1960's the shooter had to list the Gun used, the Ammo used, plus other info etc., etc. If the shooter shot in an event I will have info on him and the equipment he used, once I have the name of the person,( it could be on a Medal that he won, or engraved on a gun ) I can search his whole shooting career, from the day he started shooting to the day he stopped, once I have the name, I search for the years he shot, sometimes a 20 to 30 year span, from that point I can do a search as to what guns he used in the different events over the years, what ammo he used, medals he won, and the scores he shot in every event.

Some collectors like to have this type of info, the history of the persons shooting career, especially if they have the gun and/or the shooting medals in there collection.

At this time there is no cost for the info or research time, maybe next year if I find that the shooter used a Colt, I'll charge
$ 50.00 per request. Only kidding Judge, I would never do that to my fellow gun enthusiast.

I P

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by kwill1911:
Ira,
Pardon my ignorance but what is the SMH? What types of guns do you research and provide info on? Thanks.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
 

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Mr. Judge,
I'm sure you may have been kidding but, you are correct, I was in the retail gun business full time for 40 years, and those that know me know that I've never charged "market price" for anything I've sold. It didn't matter if it was a new gun or a collectors item, I always discounted a good percentage
( at least 20 % ) below the so called "market value".

Sorry I cant help you out with any Colts you may be looking for as I'm retired now and don't have much of anything for sale in the Colt line. In fact I don't have any "store stock" left, I sold it all, but will be selling off my personal S&W spur trigger collection and of course they will be priced below the market value. If your interested in such things let me know and I'll show you what kind of a "deal" I can do.

In my other "job" as Historian of USRA and the SMH I don't charge anything, how's that for a "deal", I'm only to happy to help other collectors with info they cant get anywhere else, as I have most of the records from 1900 on up to the current date at my disposal and it's no big deal for me to look up the info. It's my way of giving something back to my fellow Shooting and Gun Collecting enthusiast.

If you or anyone else needs help in researching the history of a shooter and the guns and ammo that they used let me know, I'll show you what "free" means.

I P


[This message has been edited by Ira Paine (edited 08-04-2004).]
 
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Ever seen a clock like this? It is the perfect product of a bureaucratic mind--completely logical--and almost impossible to read. It is from Kelly AFB.

[This message has been edited by kwill1911 (edited 08-05-2004).]
 
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