Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Hessney Rod & Gun Auction, October 2012

As I already mentioned, in one of my recent posts, I took a drive up to Geneva, NY this past weekend to attend the Hessney Auction Company Rod and Gun Auction on Saturday. I headed out on the road at about 1:45 in the afternoon. Nope, I was not an early starter, I had things to do before I left. They included some chores in the house, going to the local county police department to pick up a purchase document for a pistol (I had one already but wanted another just in case) and some other few things that needed doing.


I was hoping that my departure hour would have been early enough to avoid Friday afternoon rush hour traffic but as you can see from the pics, both on the highway and on the city streets I had to drive through in the Bronx to get from one highway to another, I hit heavy traffic. It took me about 6 hours and 45 minutes to get to Horseheads, NY, and that was about 50 miles short of my final destination on a trip of 302 or so miles total. I decided to stay overnight at Horseheads because they have a motel 6 in that town. I see no reason to cough up big bucks just to sleep in a place that is fancier. They even had free Wi-Fi so that kept me busy making some last minute checks on the auction catalog to see if I had missed anything on which I might want to bid.

Come Saturday morning, I was out of bed at about 0530. I showered up and packed my stuff, then headed outside to the car. It was dark outside and cold too. I did not stay outside long. I packed my stuff into the trunk and started the car up, left it running and ran back inside because the thermometer on my dash said it was only 26 degrees outside. I waited about 10 minutes before heading out and by then the heat was just starting to blow nicely. That is a good thing about small cars, they heat up quickly. I stopped at a McDonald's, grabbed an OJ, a coffee and a couple of sausage biscuits, the absolutely greasiest ones I have ever gotten but I wolfed them down nonetheless. The I was off, headed north at about 0630.


I guess I got to the auction house at about 0730 or so. There was one guy there ahead of me waiting outside. There were also a few folks inside, setting up and two people in a roach coach (they have pretty good food and are really pretty clean) setting up right outside the entrance to the auction house. Shortly after that others started to arrive. I met Joe Hessney, he runs the show, reintroduced myself to him (I had met him in April or May at a previous auction there) and asked when they would open the doors. he said at about 0815 -once all his staff had arrived. he was right on the money because that is right about when they opened. I went in and registered and was assigned number 87; last time I was there I had 77. Then I took a look around at what was being offered up for bids. Too bad I did not drive all the way up on Friday, in that case I would have been able to attend a preview on Friday night. It would up okay for me though, I had enough time to see all of the guns on which I planned to bid, many other guns too and some other firearms related and non-firearms related items.


I also took a quick spin outside the auction house where they had a tent set up with 4 old cars under it. There was a 1950 Ford, a 1938 Chevy, a 1940 Business Coupe (I think a Chevy) and a 1954 Buick with a claimed 12,000 original miles on it. Too bad, I did not see them get auctioned off, I was busy inside doing my preview of the guns. I also missed a good deal of auctioning of hunting and fishing and some shooting gear that was auctioned off first beginning at 0930 The cars went up for bids at 1000. These were some pretty nice cars. Sadly, the one I liked best is the one of which I got the lousiest pictures, it was still covered with frost when I started to snap away.

After taking the photos of the cars, I headed back inside and it was time to start bidding on guns at about 1030. I had a seat in the second row, center, so I would hear everything the auctioneer said (even when his mike would fail which it did a few times for a few seconds each time) and I would get another fairly close look at anything I wanted to bid on.

The first item up for bids, in this portion of the auction was. a Ruger No.1 in 45-70 Government, with was a Weaver 4x scope sling. Bidding, in the early stages of these auctions may seem swift to those who have not attended a few similar auctions before but to me it seemed to drag on a bit. I guess that was for a couple of reasons. First off, I would not be bidding until item #8 came up. Secondly, and probably the thing that had most to do with making it seem slow to me, was the fact that the auctioneer, at this point of the auction, gave more time for bidding or at least kept hawking longer trying to get higher bids for each item offered. This could be, in part, due to the fact that virtually all of the firearms offered early in the auction are in very good to shape. Later on, when the auctioneer speeds up his spiel and gives the bidders less time many of the items up for sale by that point are often less in less desirable condition than those in the beginning of the auction. Of course, he gets faster as time runs out, so it would make sense to them to have the less desirable things go when they cannot devote enough time to them to try and get the bids a little higher. Such was the case at this auction as with other I have attended. Not complaining - just saying.

When item #8 came up for bids, I was ready to bid. It was a Savage Model 99R in .358 Remington, It was in excellent condition as I had seen during the auction preview. I was ready to bid up to a certain amount but the bidding on it was very swift and the amount up to which I had decided to bid was surpassed rapidly so I wound up not placing a bid on it. It sold for $775, which was about $350 more than I had planned on bidding. I did not bid again until item #20 came up. It was a Sig Sauer P-220 in .45 ACP, as new in the box. For some reason, this semi-auto pistol was listed, in the auction catalog, as a double action revolver; brain farts happen. It was also listed “as new in box’. I must say that that part of the description was spot on. I bid on it but the bidding surpassed my top bid of about $450 by a single bid. It sold for $475.

The next few items up for bidding, that were of interest to me, were all Savage Axis rifles in various calibers.. There were five of these rifles all with stainless steel barrels and black synthetic stocks and all had scope already , mounted. They were all in like new condition and were all listed in the catalog as being unfired. A quick look at each during the preview showed that to be a bunch of hooey. Each and every one of them had fouling in the barrel and a quick swab of the muzzle or breech on each, with the finger tip of the white cloth gloves I had been wearing during the preview, showed a good amount of carbon fouling. Nope, I do not normally wear white cloth gloves, it was a requirement for anyone handling the firearms during the auction preview and the gloves were supplied by the auction house. When you realize that some of the guns auctioned off were originally bought for as much as $15,000 to $20,000, you can understand why.

As for those savage rifles, despite previously having been fired as far as I could tell, they were in excellent to virtually new condition. I was willing to bid up to $250 on the first one up for bids. It was in .308 caliber and would make a fine hunting rifle. I based all of my bid limits on information I had gleaned from the 2012 Standard Catalog of Firearms. The Savage Axis in .308 sold for $300. I was disappointed. The next two of the Savage Axis rifles also sold for $300 each. The fourth one up for bidding, in .22-250 sold for $350. The fifth and final one up for bidding was in 30-06 Springfield. It too came with the 3x9 scope. It too seemed to have been fired before but was also in almost new condition. Like the others it came with the original box and papers. The bidding had stalled at $275 for a moment. So, I bid $300 on it, fifty more than I had planned. (I bid higher than I wanted to spend as a calculated risk, to try to get the bidding up so someone would spend then and not on other items I wanted later.) Right after I bid, the bidding picked up again, there were another four bids and it sold at the highest price of all of them - $450. The final price would also include a 10% (on cash sales) or 13% (on credit or payments by check) buyer’s premium (that is how the auction house makes money) plus sales tax of 7.50%. The total would be: $532.13. These rifles sell for less than that brand new, at an online dealer. ‘Buy It Now’  prices at GunBroker.com are at about $400 to $425. Granted, you would have to pay an FFL and shipping, which would probably add about another $25 for the FFL and $25 for shipping; so say - $475 on the high end. And that is for a brand new rifle.

A note on the items listed as “unfired" that seemed to me to have  been fired before. When I saw them at the preview, I noted all of those so listed (that I examined) to be in excellent condition but also noted that, in my opinion, some of them had definitely been fired before. My guess is that maybe when some of these come into the auction house, they are indeed unfired, but that someone who works there takes them out to either test them or have some fun with them. I think the latter because I think the owner of the auction house must not know about it. Otherwise, I doubt very much he would list them as unfired and then leave obvious evidence, in the way of fouling, in the barrels and actions. It  is beyond reason for them to list guns as “unfired” when fouling is evident . They would be putting their reputation, and thus their business, on the line. Yes, they do indeed have an excellent reputation. As for the fouling, when it is there, and it is not always in every gun listed as “unfired – some are clean as a whistle - it always appears, to me, to be very fresh. Sometimes there is a bit of oil mixed in with it. So, it seems the guns have been cleaned, or still had gunk from the factory in them, then fired and left dirty. This really makes me suspect that someone, who is an employee of the auction house, is firing them unknown to the owner of the auction house. I could be wrong but that is my theory right now.

A few really interesting shotguns were auctioned off shortly after those Savage rifles. They were both Kriegoff K-80 12 gauges. One of them had Suhi scroll engraving work and a 32” CT/CT, T/S barrel and a 34”Uns CT/TS barrel with titanium choke tubes. The gun also had an adjustable comb and an aluminum hard case. The auctioneer had the original receipt for this piece. New, it had been purchased for $15,000. This one was in excellent condition. The bidding on it was pretty fast and steady right from the outset. It shot up quickly and sold for $7,250. It must be nice to have money to invest or just spend like that because that shotgun certainly was either an investment or a rich man’s toy.

The next item on which I had wanted to bid was #45, a Colt Detective Special. It sold for $350. I never bid on it and I think that the top bid was way too high. While examining it during the preview, I noted that there was a large patch in the barrel that seemed to be pitted by rust. Although otherwise nice, it was not the gun for me. The very next item up for bid was a Smith & Wesson Model 19-2, chromed .357 revolver, with a 2.5” barrel. It was listed “as new”. It was in truly excellent condition but was probably not new, at least as I saw it. There was an obvious cylinder ring; otherwise though, it looked almost new. I wanted that one and had planned on bidding up to $450. I wound up going as high as $500 on it but a guy, who I am pretty sure was a dealer, outbid me at $525. I only bid as high as I did, again hoping to bid him up. Had I gotten the high bid though, I would have been happy paying the $500 plus the 10% buyer’s premium and sales tax; it was a  very nice piece. I have been looking for a revolver to add to my collection and that could have been it had the bidding stopped there. As luck would have it, I do not have it. After bidding on the S&W, I waited through another 19 auctions until item #65 came up before I bid again.
 
 
That item was a Marlin XS7 rifle in .308 caliber. It was listed as unfired in the box. As I said above, not all of the firearms they list as “unfired” appear to have been fired. This one actually looked unfired. It was in excellent condition, virtually new and in the box but without papers (there may have been a manual too but these thing sometimes have a way of getting stuck to the fingers of previewers). Well, I decided to bid on it. It also seemed that one of the same people, who had bid on the Savage Axis rifles and who had the high bid on at least two and I think three of them, also decided to bid on it. I realized it was the same person because of her rather distinctive voice. I started the bidding at $100, someone else bid $125 and the same lady, who had bid of the Savage Axis rifles, came in with a bid of $150. I think that after the first three bids, it was down to just she and I bidding on it. I started the bidding at $100 and it quickly went up in increments of $25. As it turned out, I fell in with a bid of $225, thus when she placed the next bid she was at $250. It was decision time again, should I go another $25. I did and that is where the bidding ended, at $275. That was good for me because while I had wanted one of these rifles for a while now, I certainly was not willing to bid any higher on this one. I wound up paying $325.19, in total, with the buyer’s premium and sales tax added. That was not great but not terrible either when you consider these are selling for between $320 and $399 new (through online dealers) and I would have to add at least $25 for shipping and $25 for an FFL fee plus whatever would be the cost of shipping insurance, probably a few bucks more. Working at the low end of that range, a new one would have cost me around $375 a $50.19 difference over the one I bid on. So, while not a super great buy, it was okay. At least I did not pay more than it was worth retail as some had done with the Savage Axis rifles and I am happy the lady bidding against me on the Marlin had not decided to overbid again like she had on those others.

I bid on several other firearms. I am not going to detail the condition of each or tell how the bidding went on each; that would add pages to this already long blog post. I will write in detail about the one more gun that I bought but as for the others on which I bid, I will simply list them all and the amount for which they sold; suffice it to say that I did not have the high bid on any of those. I bid: $500 on #91, a Bushmaster XM-15 E2S carbine, it sold for $775; $400 on #118 a Winchester 71 Deluxe rifle in .348 Win caliber, it sold for $1,900; $350 for a Winchester 9422 XTR in .22 S, L & LR, it sold for $525; $150 for #140 a Mauser Model 1910 pocket pistol in 6.35mm (25 Auto) and it sold for $200; $250 n #150 a Savage-Anschutz Match 64 in 22LR that sold for $425; $325 for #152 a Remington 513T Matchmaster that sold for $350 (to the same guy who got the S&W model 19-2 that I had bid on earlier). I have been kicking myself in the butt over not going higher on that one, it was in pristine condition but I had set a limit of $350 for my bid on it and the other guy happened to wind up at that amount as the bidding went on. I also bid: $250 on #186 a Remington Gamemaster, model 141, in .35 Rem, it went for $450; $150 on #227 a Mitchell Mauser48, 8mm Mauser, with the complete kit, it went for $500. Soon after that, the bidding got to the rifles on the left side of the room as you faced forward. Al the others, so far had either been up front or on the right side. We were now getting to a mixture of those that were in pretty rough to very good condition whereas the ones that had come before were mostly in good to excellent condition. Among those, I bid: $125 on a Remington 581-S, it sold for $150; $225 on a Norinco Type 56 SKS that sold for $275.
 
 
I then placed a few bids on item #313. It was a Winchester Model 37, 12 gauge, shotgun. The dealer tried to start the bidding at $150 but he dropped it down, rapidly (bidding was in high gear by then), to an asking bid of $25 but had no takers. He asked if anyone had any interest. I blurted out "ten dollars"! Too bad that as soon as I bid, a few others joined in where none had shown interest before then. Maybe shills, maybe not, probably just others thinking, 'hey - he bid, that gun must be worth something so we have to bid now too'. I wound up with the high bid at $80 and that was a fair price. This is an old piece, no serial number, that is pitted all over the exterior of the receiver and near the breech end of the barrel. The bores are clean, no rust at all that I could see and the action operates. Total cost, with buyer’s premium and tax: $94.60. I saw one selling on GunBroker.com for $399.99 (in much better condition) and saw a quote, from The Blue Book of Gun Values, listing them at $80 in 60% condition (this one is better than that but maybe not by much). It probably would have cost me about $130 had I purchased it online with shipping and FFL transfer fee included. I am going to see if it shoots and if so I will have some fun with it not caring about the surface pitting on the barrel and receiver. That was it for bidding on firearms for me and close to the end for everyone because the last firearm up for bids was #351.

After the guns, there were still a large number of lots to auction off. These things included items like duck and goose decoys, wildlife prints, mounted whitetail deer and moose heads, militaria – including a sword cataloged as a Tiffany Saber that sold for $1,500 (and in my estimation was not an original Tiffany because the pommel was brass and not iron - but I am no sword expert by a longshot), and lots of ammunition and firearms accessories like scopes.

I bid on: a hand colored set of three numbered and signed duck prints on which I had the high bid of $25; a pair of sun/wind/rain goggles, with two lenses - one green and one dark gray like sunglasses - with ballistic protection, in the box, at $10;  a French made pillow case, circa WWI, showing both the US and French flags on which I had the high bid of $10; several boxes of ammunition that I did not have the high bids on; two post ban (yes NYS still has a hi-cap mag ban) Beretta magazines for 92 series 9mm pistols at only $29.56 total for both, tax and premium included. (They were a steal for factory made Italian Beretta magazines that look as if they were never used.).y last bid was for a box of 50 rounds of PMC .45 Auto that I got for $17.73 (an average price online for inexpensive 45 ammo without shipping added). That last one for me was item #690 out of 707 although the bidding stopped at #699B. That was because items listed in the catalog after that were all of the vehicles that had been auctioned off earlier in the day.  I stayed right up until the last item was sold.
 
Somewhere in all of that, I took a couple of breaks. Once or twice to stretch and to grab a bottle of water out of my car and once to grab something to eat from the truck outside the auction house entrance. I put down a pretty good Italian sausage on a long roll, smothered with raw onion and mustard. Not bad at all.

Once the auction had ended, I paid up at the counter, paying in cash to avoid the extra 3% for credit card and check purchases. I loaded up all the non-firearms items into my car; they had been handed to me right after I bid on each. Then went back inside, to a side room where they had the guns waiting for the buyers, and gave my receipt to one of the ladies handling the paperwork and NICS checks. I filled out the required ATF paperwork and had to wait about 10 to 15 minutes for my NICS check to be completed. I passed the check, brought my receipt to another person, got my guns, checked the serial number of the Marlin to make sure it was correct, looked for a serial number on the Winchester just to make sure they did not miss one, and then loaded the guns into my trunk. I was about to hop into my car when I saw Joe Hessney come outside I walked over to shake his hand and say goodbye until the next time I can get up that way. He is a gentleman and a nice guy; I hope to get to know him better – maybe over a cold beer someday. We talked for a little bit and then it was time for me to get going. The trip home was overly long, overly tiring and broken up by two stops. One for me to grab a quick bit to eat and the other for me to make a quick stop at a Wal-Mart in Middletown, NY to pick up a couple of boxes of .308 ammo for my new Marlin XS7. I have not fired it yet, I need to get a scope for it. That should be soon as I am thinking of taking this gun on my deer hunt in November. More on that in a future post.
 
All in all, it was one heck of a fun trip. I love the auction thing and this time, as opposed to the first time I attended a Hessney Rod & Gun auction, last spring, I stayed away from making impulse bids on items I had not previewed. I also spent a lot less than when at that other auction although I had about 2K with me, this time, and was willing to spend every penny of it had the prices been right on items I had in my sights. As it was, I was outbid on several of them but I am happy with what I got.

By the way, in case you are interested, their next auction is on Saturday, Octber 27. It is an estate auction. They have another Rod & Gun Auction coming up on Saturday December 8th and there are a few other auctions between those two. I wish they were not so far from my home, I would be a frequent bidder.

All the best,
Glenn B

1 comment:

Orla David said...

I am an auction lover. So every news related to the Gun auction makes me very happy.