Sunday, February 12, 2017

Hessney Gun Auction February 2017 - Part One (of two)

Over the past few years, I have found it more and more difficult to get a really good deal at a firearms auction (either in person or online), and I do mean one in which I have the high bid on a firearm and that bid is a good deal less than the value of the gun. Sure, I have gotten few decent deals, even one or two good ones but it has been becoming harder and harder to get them. Some bidders have been willing to pay what amounted to prices higher than actual available retail on some guns. I always figured that was due to the strong anti-gun sentiment in Albany and in Washington, DC. Either that or that the bidders had been bitten by the auction bug - that thing that makes you keep bidding just to win a bid. I realized many auctions back that the term win a bid is pure balderdash; I am guessing that long ago, a very shrewd auctioneer thought that one up to make folks feel good about bidding too much and it stuck because it made the idiot bidders feel like winners (kind of like the everyone gets a trophy thing).

Well, now we have less to worry about in DC since Donald Trump is president (or at least I am hopeful such is the case). I have been expecting the gun buying frenzy of the past few years to ease up a bit and it seemed maybe to have ben the case very recently. Retail ammo availability has increased and retail ammo prices have fallen at least a little bit in general. Some guns I have not seen available at local mon & pop firearms stores, like Ruger Mini 14's are suddenly on the shelves again. Yet, bidders on Saturday, February 11, 2017, were bidding like crazy inside the standing room only Hessney Auction Company, LTD rod & gun auction.

On Friday evening, when I went to the auction preview, I had my first clue that the place would be packed for Saturday's auction. There had to be triple the highest amount of cars in their parking lot that I have ever seen for a preview. After the preview, I headed to my hotel and checked in. Then I went across the street to enjoy a few ales at The Hotel Exchange bar. I enjoyed a few bottles of 2XIPA, by Southern Tier brewers, a NY local ale. I also had a couple of exceptionally sized shots of vodka. Then, as opposed to the last time I was at the same bar, while up that way for an auction, I headed back to my room before getting totally snockered. At the last auction, I was pretty darned hungover and wanted to avoid that this time. I promised myself though, that after the auction this Saturday, I would stop there for their steak special dinner that I had missed the last time (which was the first or maybe second time I ever stopped in that particular place).

Come Saturday morning, I had breakfast at the hotel consisting of bacon, more bacon and some bacon atop that along with a cinnamon raisin bagel and coffee - minus a hangover and that was indeed a good thing. Then I was off to the auction house. Wow what a line was there already just before 0800. That had to have been the longest line I'd seen for one of their auctions that early; usually there may be 10 people there by then. Being that I had registered on Friday night, I just bypassed the line and walked right inside. Of course, there was some dickhead grumbling about me cutting the line even though I had explained to those at the door that I was already registered and was headed to the head.

Potential bidders lined up in the cold waiting to get into
what was a standing room only fast and furious auction.
By the way, more folks were behind them on line.

Once inside, I got another chance to look around some more, this time mostly at ammo but also at just a few more guns. It usually takes an hour to hour and a half before the bidding starts on the firearms once the doors have opened. The additional guns I looked at were mostly those that would be auctioned off near the end of the firearms offerings. Those always go quickly (because by then Joe Hessney wants to get the day over) and often do so at decent to pretty lowball prices. I was interested in only about four or five of those lower end guns, all shotguns, that would be auctioned off near the end. I am happy I gave them all a good going over, two SXS shotguns on which I wanted to bid were not in a condition acceptable to me, I am surprised that one of them received a bid of more than $75 - more on that later.

The bidding started in the side room, as usual, on reloading equipment, accessories, archery gear, and other assorted things. Then it moved onto two snowmobiles outside the front door. Once they had been dispensed with, the gun auction commenced while the side room auction still was ongoing. I stepped into the side room in time to bid on items on table 3, that were being bid on as so many dollars apiece for as many items on that table that you wanted to take if you had the high bid. I was outbid but probably should have placed one more bid to make mine $20. I wanted to grab two jars of Pyrodex RS but the guy who outbid me because I hesitated to bid $20 apiece selected those two items from the table. (I know that is about the going price for it but if I order online the dealers charge shipping plus about a $30 additional fee for hazardous material shipping.) That was it for me back there, nothing else was of much interest to me and I did not want to miss my chance to bid on some guns in the concurrently running firearms auction in the main room, so back there I went.

Luckily, I had gotten what seems to be my reserved seat in the front row. Four out of five of the last times that I attended the preview the night before the auction, the only seat remaining in the first row was the same I got this time. I was right up front and thus got one last chance to see the offerings, fairly close-up, as they were being auctioned off. Since all items are sold "as is" sitting up front is a good thing because you may well be able to see any damage caused by a slippery fingered bidder who may have dropped something during the preview the night before or the morning of the auction. Besides being up front, seating was at a premium and every seat was filled and the room's sides and back lined with standing bidders as well. Once I got seated, I still had about another 10 to 15 minute wait; that was longer than usual or so it seemed to me. It also seemed that way to the lady sitting next to me who asked me if they would be starting soon.

There were still folks coming in from outside to register when I took this photo
during the preview on Saturday morning. When bidding began, every seat was
taken and it was standing room only along the sides and back.

The bidding finally commenced. In the beginning it may have seemed fast to someone unaccustomed to a live auction but it was nothing compared to what it would be near the end when Joe wants to get it over for the day. The better long arms are auctioned at first to about midway through all the gun listings. Pistols are intermixed in groups, as it goes along. Then the lower end stuff followed by art work, mounts, decoys and ammo. Ammo is always last. I was ready to bid fairly high on some guns, all long arms except for two truly excellent collectible pistols (since it is a true pain in the butt for me to get the pistol permit paperwork) a Browning Medalist and a Colt Police Positive (1st version). Both were in their original boxes. They went for way more than I was willing to bid though. I am getting ahead of myself though, since as I said, it was long guns first.

I bid on several of the long arms but once again, even though my high bids came close to the high bids on a few, I was nowhere near the high bid on many of them but yes I did have a couple high bids on guns. Now mind you, I research the guns on which I intend to bid well before the auction. A partial catalogue is available around a week or so beforehand and keeps growing until about two or three days prior to the auction when it is complete. I go through the list, pick out what I have an interest in and then run the make & model names or numbers through The Blue Book of Gun Values. That gives me a good idea, in most cases, of what something is worth but that is not good enough for me. On both new and used guns, I also check them through to see what they have been selling for, or at least for the asking prices. I may also check through my 2014 Standard catalog of Firearms and although somewhat outdated it still holds valuable detailed info about many, many firearms. That all gives me a better and more real time idea of their value. On new guns, I also run tem through to see what they retail for at my local gun store (LGS) - they give a total out the door price. Then I consider what I would bid and include in my calculations the 10% bidders premium (for cash or check) and/or the 13% bidder's premium (for credit card payments and too often I have paid that way) and the sales 7.5% tax rate for that area. If you don't calculate that into you bid beforehand - you can bid while thinking you are getting a good deal only to find, once those are added on, that you have screwed yourself in your eagerness to win a bid. I try to keep the total of my bid, the premium and the tax to what I consider a good overall or out the door price for any particular gun and I bid accordingly.

Being that the list and my commentary of some of the guns on which I bid is pretty long, I’ll do a part two for this post and list the guns there.
All the best,
Glenn B

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