Addicted: I believe your pricing is a little on the low side relative to market. Generally pricing follows the decades; i.e. 1900's, 1910's; 1920's; 1930's etc. Pricing increases substantially below 1920 and I have seen prices paid as high as $1000 for early 1900's catalogs. The 1910-1920 range usually are in the $150 to $250 range with some exceptions. The 1920's get more complex with the small catalogs generally bringing a premium of around $100 or there abouts and the Arm of Law and Order catalogs (A70-x series running up to about $100 each. The 1930's run in the $40-$75 range generally. The 1940 catalog (full catalog, not fold out is nearly impossible to get. Expect to pay big bucks. The 1941 catalog is the last pre-war catalog and it generally runs in the $50-$100 range. The 1950's are a mix with the red 1956 catalog being the most desired and the first "real catalog" in the post war period. It has traditionally sold for around $50 although you can find them for less sometimes. (Some collectors have told me that the "1956" catalog was actually used between 1955 and 1957. trivia) The early 50's stuff varies alot in price and are a fold out although the handgun handbooks show the full Colt line; they are just hard to date for the most part. The fold outs from 1963-1968 run in the $20 range usually. The early 1960's catalogs run about $20 or there abouts. The 1969 and 1970 catalogs are usually around $10-$15 each. These are commonly available. The 1972 catalog is common and about $10-$15. The 1973 catalog is uncommon and runs from $15-$30 each. After 1973, the catalogs run $5-$10 typically and pricing after 1980 is usually in the same range.
The 1971 catalog is a fold out as there was no real catalog that year. Prices vary from $20 and up on that one depending on availability at the time.
Another tough year is a true 1993 catalog. I have been told that they were serialized (numbered) and only issued to dealers in very limited numbers.
Prices vary a lot based on condition and my summary pricing assumes Excellent to mint condition. Excellent to me is nearly perfect except for a smug or two or a little writing.
It is fun to collect all of them. You can throw as much money at the early catalogs as the guns of the period. Pre-1900 catalogs (if authentic) are very expensive.
I could go on an on about this topic as I find it fun to buy them, look at them, and generally build a collection. I believe JudgeColt has a substantial collection.
In the older days, you could only buy at gunshows and through classified ads such as in Gun List. Ebay has turned into THE market place for Colt Catalogs. This auction has revolutionized the market into truly an international market for gun memorabilia. On Ebay you will find a couple buyers who really pay high dollars for the pre-war catalogs. One collector in paricular is a doctor and I can not compete with him. If he wants a certain catalog, he buys it PERIOD. I have "beat" him a couple of times, but I suspect it has been because he was occupied during the closing minutes as in "working". I find it amazing that he even watchs the closing bidding... I suspect he manages his schedule at times to accomadate his catalog buying. I feel certain that some of the folks on this forum also sell, but the user names are different. I would love to hear who here sells and who buys (or both). Sorry if I got long winded on this topic.
Kevin, you beat me on a couple of eBay Colt catalogs today, so you are not so bad off! I bid on them when they seemed likely to go under market. You still got a couple of good deals. If I did not already have at least one copy of the ones that were up today, I would have bidden more. You probably already had bid more, but it only took a dollar more to beat my best bid.
22-rimfire, nice summary! I have paid prices all over the map for catalogs and literature of all kinds, but I agree with your ranges.
One thing we should tell neophyte catalog collectors is how to determine the year of the 1929, 1930 and 1931 catalogs that are undated on the title page or elsewhere. At the top of Page 2 is a statement, "Ninety-_____ years of Colt Fire Arms Manufacture." Since Colt began in 1836, if the figure at the top of Page 2 is 93, it is a 1929 catalog. If it is 94, the catalog is a 1930, and if it is a 95, it is a 1931 catalog of course. 1932 and later catalogs are all dated on the title page. I have sent dozens of e-mails to catalog sellers who do not offer a date, or, if they say, for example, 1930, I ask them how they arrived at that date. Under that circumstance, most say they base it on the date of an accompanying price list. Of course, price lists can be a year or more off, and may not even be original to the particular catalog. One guy said he looked through eBay and based his statement of year on the fact that his catalog looked like one up on eBay! From 1929 through 1941, all the catalogs look the same, and only vary in the color of the cover lettering.
JudgeColt: I forgot all about those 30's and the 41 catalog that closed this evening on ebay. I would have been there at least "observing" as I have more than one of each of those already. I don't want to be a hawg.
I do tend to buy those 1956 catalogs frequently. If they are under market and in good condition, I bid on them almost invariably unless the seller is from over seas. I'm a gluttant for those pretty red ones! Oops... guess the price just went up!
I'm sure you've seen my bidding there if you pay attention as I know you do.
I personally think the catalogs are a reasonably good investment in the collector arena. People find it easier to come up with $100 than the hundreds it costs for the actual guns. I believe the 1970's catalogs are underpriced in general and continue to pick one up every now and then just to add to the stack.
Eventally, the supply will dry up somewhat and you are already seeing that now with the 1920's catalogs. The prices are gradually going up on those. The pre-1920 catalogs are always expensive from my way of thinking, but if you want a particular year, you have to pay the price!
That seller Silk really has nice stuff as does the Fisher guy in California (forget his first name). You pay for them though if you want the nice ones for the most part.
A few years ago no body wanted the Arm of Law & Order catalogs (A70 up to 10th edition). Now the pricing reflects their value more.
Judge, have you ever figured out the years based on the edition on the A70's? I have found that they are all over the place and I never know for sure if the price list if included is correct for the catalog. I honestly think Colt used the same catalogs for the next year until they ran out before issuing a new version and just put in a different price list.
22-rimfire, I would mention, and you have probably discovered, that some of your favored red 1956 catalogs have new prices glued over the old prices for magazines. I think that supports the idea that the same basic catalog was used for more than one year.
I too have been trying to figure out the years of the A70 series. At my office is a "work sheet" where I have tried to fit each one I have in the proper year based on models shown and the like. I do not recall just what I have concluded at this point.
The price lists can often be off a year or two, and some are certainly not original to the catalogs they are now with.
While the catalogs may be a good investment, I actually have been paying less for many of them since I discovered eBay than I did many times before when a literature dealer would have them, or I would find them at a gun show. I also see them vary in price a lot. I recently bought a fair early 1930s catalog (I did not even find out the year before bidding and I do not have it yet) for $6!
I have always been a literature nut, and saved all kinds of brochures, for cars, trucks, farm machinery, guns, etc.. I have one of those red 1956 catalogs I got from Colt for $.25 back when they were new! I too really enjoy them.
My experience started with catalogs when a friend showed me a copy of the 1941 Colt catalog in the mid to late 1980's. I thought it waa beautiful! My interest was ignited and I started picking up a few catalogs from time to time at shows at first. My goal was one of each and the purpose was pretty much to research the various models. Photo copies were just fine with me at the time. There was no thought of making money on them and there still is little consideration for that now. At that time, I didn't have a copy of Wilson's Colt bible; that changed. It is also the time when I got divorced and there were some significant hobby changes. I made a point of asking for catalogs at gun shops and picking up the current catalogs for free at the time. I would have never considered picking up a handful.... couldn't imagine someone selling stuff that was free advertising from the middle 1980's.
Once catalogs started selling on Ebay, the price dropped like a rock and some of the regular folks that sold at gun shows gradually got pushed out of the market as their pricing was too high and they probably had too much money invested in them at that time. For example, the "1956" catalog was invariably about $50-$75 at gun shows or from a few of the folks that sold them via Shotgun News, Gun List, or simply published mailers. I keep track of what I paid for a particular catalog and have also paid prices that vary widely since I started getting interested.
My interest actually started in the early 1960's, when I was still pretty young and started sending post cards to the gun companies for their catalogs. They were great mail and I scoped them out very carefully. But handguns were not an interest at the time. So, Colt and S&W were not even close to the top of the list in terms of interest. I still chuckle about the mailing I got from Colt to become a dealer when I was maybe 8 or 10. They wanted store photos etc.
Currently reading Elmer Keith's book "Hell I was there" and am thoroughly enjoying the snapshot of history that he provides. The catalogs and other advertising also provide a more formal snapshot of history. Anyway, the catalogs are fun.
Thank you for the revelation regarding the '29, '30, and '31 catalogs, Judge. I have a small, eclectic accumulation that began when I didn't have enough money to buy a Colt - so an old catalog or flyer helped to scratch the itch. Now I should sit down and do an inventory, as I bought three at a show this weekend, and already had two! I scrounge the shows and find that most of my catalogs come from people who don't really know their value - "just some Colt paper" - and who are willing to negotiate /forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif.
I would love it if someone would put together a complete list of catalogs, with codes.
We probably should move this catalog discussion somewhere else, but, since it started here, it continues here.
I mentioned my A70-series worksheet. I have reveiewed it and can report the following.
My first A70-seires catalog may be 1925, which year designation I backed into as I shall explain. The 1924 catalog, which I do not have, is probably A70-2nd, which I also shall explain. (Why would Colt not start with A70 and forget the extension? Who knows with Colt?)
I believe the A70-4th, which has a green/gray cover, is 1925, based on the fact that the Army Sepcial shown has rubber stocks, which means it is Pre-1926 when it was first shipped with wood stocks. Its "4th" is two numbers under what I am quite sure (A70-6th) is a 1926 catalog, and I believe the extension numbers went by twos, as I will illustrate below.
I believe A70-6th, which has a green/gray cover, is 1926, based on the fact that the Army Special shown has wood stocks, which means it is Post-1925 when it was first shipped with wood stocks. The Camp Perry is NOT shown. My A70-6th has a June 1926 price list with it.
I believe A70-8th, which has a brown cover, is 1927, based on the fact that it shows the Woodsman, a 1927 introduction. It also shows the Camp Perry, which was introduced in 1926, but did not reach full produciton until 1927.
I believe A70-10th, which has a brown cover, is 1928, based on the fact that it shows the Detective Special, a 1927 introduction that reached full production in 1928.
A question to me is, are there odd-numbered A70 issues? I have never seen one, but I do not claim to be an expert in these matters. All of mine go up by even-numbered twos.
Another question is, would 1924, which I not have, be A70-2nd? I have a couple of 1923 catalogs, which have an A-68-R code number. I have a 1922 catalog that has an A-64-2D code number, which means an extension gap of four per year in that series, not two, as in the A70-series.
I deduce that 1924 would therefore be A70-2nd, but, I am sure of NONE of this. It could be that there were mid-year catalogs that used up the "A-66" sequence between the 1922 A-64 and the 1923 A-68 extensions, but who knows? These are more Colt mysteries.
Can anyone add some verified series numbers, or some different series numbers, and years, to the above list?
1920, 1921, 1922, 1923 are all the small ones. I have several of each of these.
My catalog collection for the 1920's (A-70 series) includes the following:
(edited line out)
So, there are odd numbered editions. I just had to look at my list before I responded. I have not looked at them in a while. But will dig them out go through them carefully. The price sheets don't seem to fit. For a while I thought the edition corresponded directly to the year, such as A-70-5th=1925, but I on't believe that anymore since the catalogs seemed to have started with the last small catalog year. I will dig into these when I have time and report my findings. Thank you Judge Colt for your comments. They are helpful and I am certainly no expert on these catalogs. No body I have talked to on the subject really know any more than us. But we have the tools to figure things out somewhat.
Most repro's are marked as repro's. Look at the price and if the same thing is posted in the past by the same seller. You really have to watch out for the pre-1900 reproductions. But, sometimes since they are cheap they are okay for information only.
Most repros are a different size relative to the original too.
22-rimfire, you can add to our knowledge base by comparing the models shown in the various catalogs. I suspect that the odd-numbered issues maybe a half year earlier or a half year later than the even-numbered issues. Relating the models shown in each of your nearly complete A70-series catalogs would be helpful in figuring out whether that is true.
It is strange that I have never run onto anything but even-numbered extensions in years of looking. It did not make sense to me that there would be only even extensions, but, having never seen anything else, I had to assume that was possible.
If we all share our information, maybe we can figure this out! I look forward to learning more.