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S.P. Fjestad's Lethal Blogging
  S.P. Fjestad is the author of the Blue Book of Gun Values, and has been following the firearms marketplace for nearly 30 years. Fjestad is also the publisher for several other firearms-related titles and he also serves as an editor for many of them. He attends several trade shows each year including the SHOT show, NASGW show, and the Tulsa Arms Show. He also serves on the NRA publication committee and writes “What’s It Worth” in Field & Stream, and “I Have This Old Gun” in the American Rifleman magazines.

In “Lethal Blogging,” Fjestad will report on several firearm-related subjects including news from trade shows, auction results, and other interesting subjects that arise in the gun industry. Check back regularly for information that many people outside of the gun industry might never hear about!
Snake Venom Epidemic Paralyzes Colt Collectors PART I   
Snake Venom Epidemic Paralyzes Colt Collectors PART II   
Snake Venom Epidemic Paralyzes Colt Collectors PART III   
June Commentary by Robert "Doc" Adelman   
Caliber of Carry, the Math by guest author Robert “Doc” Adelman   

Snake Venom Epidemic Paralyzes Colt Collectors PART I
8/26/2015

“If they get any hotter, they’ll be on fire!” is the way one Colt collector put it after being asked what he thought about the current Colt Snake gun marketplace. Colt’s seven deadly serpents include the Python, Diamondback, Cobra, Anaconda, King Cobra, Boa, and Viper. There haven’t been too many “lottery winners” over the last several years regarding major trademark collectible firearms, but Colt’s Snake guns continue to pack a potent venom for anyone who ventures too close to their poisonous attraction. What created this marketplace mayhem and madness initially, why have these revolvers changed so dramatically in price during the past four to five years, where’s all this extra demand coming from, and what are the demographics behind these recent buyers? Good questions, and here are the answers.

First of all, let’s establish where the marketplace is right now. Mint original 1950s standard production Pythons with 6 in. barrels, high polish Royal bluing, and matching number boxes and paperwork that had an original $125 MSR are now selling in excess of $18,000! As a comparison, a Colt SAA during that time period had the same MSR, but today’s value is under $3,000, and they’re not selling as well. Diamondbacks are also in high demand currently, especially those revolvers in smaller calibers, shorter barrel lengths, and nickel finish. Less than two years ago a major auction house sold a pair of consecutively numbered pair of Boas with 4 and 6 in. barrels for an unprecedented $14,160. A dealer polled for this article said he just sold a set of similar non-engraved Boas for over $30,000! Anacondas have at least doubled in value during the past five years, and both Cobra and King Cobra values have also increased significantly. Even the barely toxic Viper, which other snake family members consider their red-headed cousin and almost no one wanted a decade ago, has quadrupled in value since 2010.

One poor bastard in the final stages of this debilitating, snake venom induced disease was so delirious he actually submitted a winning auction bid of $41,026 (this isn’t a typo) for a NIB non-engraved stainless Colt Combat Python with 3 in. barrel before being pronounced certifiable. It was one of only 19 made for Harrison Carroll and longtime Colt dealer and author Carol Wilkerson in 2004. When contacting Carol after this item sold at Gunbroker.com, her text message came back quickly, “Amazing, huh? Someone is nuts. I sold those guns for just over $1,000 when new.”

How Snake guns have performed as investments

The following spreadsheet might surprise some of you when comparing historic and current values of Snake guns to other investments and commodities.

The above Snake Gun Performance Spreadsheet tells the story much better than any verbiage needed to explain it. Note that the prices of gold, silver, gasoline, and the Dow Jones Industrial averages have also been included for an investment comparison.

Between 1990-2000, the Python actually lost 18% of its value, while a 3rd Generation SAA went up from $975 to $2,795, a 187% increase! Yet, during the past 15 years the SAA has stayed about the same in value while the Python has skyrocketed from $625 to $18,000 – a blistering 2,780% increase!

As a comparison, during this time period gold increased 329%, silver gained 268%, and the Dow Jones came in with an anemic 69% increase, easily the worst performance of these charted investments. If gold had undergone the same percentage increase as the Python since 1960, the current spot price would be over $5,000 per ounce!

Even more shocking are the runaway prices on Pythons, Boas, and Cobras since 2010. The Python has gone from $2,150 to $18,000 (that’s no typo)!! Almost as crazy is the Special Edition Boa which has soared from $1,500 to $13,500, and the First Issue Cobra looks almost anemic compared to its other two slithering relatives, having only gone up from $550 to $2,750.

Are these prices here to stay? Having these historical facts in tabular form (and perhaps rubbing your crystal ball vigorously), you can draw your own conclusions regarding whether snake guns will continue their staggering investment performance pace. It also might not be a bad idea to have an anti-venom snake kit nearby when getting close to these seven deadly serpents!

To really understand these past and current economic marketplace dynamics, we need to briefly study the only two things that always control price in any free marketplace – supply and demand. Anything that’s currently being manufactured, including guns, guitars, and automobiles, is a commodity that’s price (not value) is determined by the interaction of supply and demand. Once any gun is discontinued, it may become collectible, and the value is controlled by demand since the supply is now fixed or actually decreasing slightly annually due to wear, damage, alterations, theft, etc. Usually when the supply of a certain major trademark/model is small, it takes only a minute change in demand to make quite a difference at increasing values. This is when the rarity factor really kicks in and produces a sizeable value increase. The larger the total supply of a discontinued gun in 98% or better original condition, the more demand it will take to affect its values.

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