Aim high when selling antique and vintage firearms

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today's antiques.scott davisGunpowder was invented back in A.D. 142 in China and it changed the world. Actually, it took about 1,300 more years for man to figure out how to use it in the form of a weapon. First came cannons, which appeared around 1350 and then by the year 1400 the first handguns began to appear in Italy.

By the 1500s, wheel-lock guns were finding their way to America and by the 1600s, flint-lock guns were being made here. By the mid-1800s, the first guns not to require a ramrod appeared. That made firing and reloading much faster and deadlier. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that modern bullet-firing guns were introduced with semi-automatic and automatic weapons coming along quickly thereafter.

Many people have guns stored away that once belonged to their parents or grandparents but don’t know how to use the weapons, if they are safe or what to do with them.

There is demand by collectors for all firearms, and record prices are being paid for anything unusual or rare. If you’re not using the guns and rifles you have, it’s a great time to get rid of them. The greatest interest is in military firearms from the Revolutionary and Civil wars and World War II.

However, there are several other desirable guns, including dueling pistols, custom-decorated presentation pistols and other fancy firearms and high-grade hunting weapons. On the less desirable end are BB guns, varmint rifles, plain shotguns, Saturday night specials, and the like. American made guns usually command more money than similar ones manufactured overseas. Names like Colt, Winchester and Smith & Wesson will always be in high demand.

It is legal for you to sell any firearm made before 1898 without any sort of permit or license. Guns made post-1898 must be sold through a federal firearms licensed dealer. You may transport any firearm legally locally provided it is kept in the trunk and unloaded.  If you have ammunition, it must be kept separately in a locked glove compartment.

You’ll get the best money and advice on pre-1898 guns from an antiques dealer.  Most new guns should be brought to a gun dealer. You’ll find that either will likely be willing to purchase outright or consign your unwanted weapons.

Scott Davis operates Rhode Island Antiques Mall, 345 Fountain St., Pawtucket. Contact him at (401) 475-3400 or

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