My Account | Cart  | Log In
  Blue Book on FaceBook   Blue Book on Twitter   Blue Book on YouTube   Blue Book on InstaGram
Products ▼ FFL Solutions Company ▼ Information & Services ▼ Subscriptions ▼

Remembering R. L. Wilson

The late R.L. "Larry" Wilson (left) and the Blue Book of Gun Values author/publisher, S.P. Fjestad (right), shown holding one of Larry's biggest literary projects – the two volume set of Magnificent Colts which he co-authored with the late Robert M. Lee.
  Recapping/recounting the swashbuckling life and times of R.L. Wilson is a daunting/near-impossible task for those of us fortunate enough to have known Larry well. There were so many chapters in his Book of Life, and this is not intended to be a medium to explore or explain them. The following posts reflect what The Professor meant to his friends, colleagues, and family, and how much he impacted our lives. To find out a comprehensive listing of Larry's achievements throughout the decades, please visit and click on "Author".

In September of 1997, R.L. Wilson, photo journalist Dennis Adler, Luigi Chinetti Jr. (Luigi Sr. won Le Mans during 1949 in a Ferrari), and myself departed on a landmark trip to Italy. Our first stop was Maranello, and we were given access to the entire Ferrari factory, plus allowed to take a few laps on the famous Fiorano race track in a new Ferrari with paddle-shifting.

After that, we went to Brescia for an extensive tour of the sprawling Beretta complex, whose history dates back to 1526. Being the official group photographer, I sent everyone a large scrapbook with all the images after we got back. On December 29th, 1997, Larry sent me a very nice thank you letter. His last sentence was "That's what life's all about, in the long term – enjoying what is a relatively brief moment on this fabulous earth!" No one understood this better than Larry.

Publisher's note: If you would like to contribute a post for the late R.L. Wilson, please email it to Images would also be very much appreciated.
A Select Bibliography of R. L. Wilson   
R.L. Wilson & Defeat of Jesse James Days   
An Appreciation   
R. L. “Larry” Wilson, Mentor and Friend   
Memories of a Literary Legend Part I   

Memories of a Literary Legend Part II

The late Robert M. Lee bestowed upon him the apropos nickname of "The Professor", and it fit perfectly since Larry looked, talked, dressed, and acted like a tenured professor from a major Ivy League college. Many people upon meeting Larry for the first time were taken back by his appearance and demeanor, mainly because he didn't fit their particular stereotype of a gun collector, dealer, or writer. When meeting new people, Larry always quickly diffused any preconceived notions of him by utilizing his vast knowledge on an almost endless variety of subjects coupled with being an adventurous world-class traveler. How many times did I watch Larry Wilson enter a new conversation and within no more than three sentences, The Professor could "tunnel" into with his new acquaintance and find some common interest/bond between them plus establish a quick geographical tie-in as well. This immediately made these first time listeners feel at ease/comfortable and opened them up for the serious dialogue that always followed. Larry deserves major accolades for that kind of amazing "immediate/direct hookup" for many of his critical contacts he met in this manner. Equally noteworthy was his seemingly computer-assisted memory recall that was capable of pulling up most of the info/intel from decades old conversations, and in many cases, even minute details and interesting anecdotes. This perhaps fascinated me more than any other thing when now remembering Mr. Wilson.

Larry was even capable of inventing new words that seemed to define the person/subject better than what's in Websters. A couple of "Larryisms" include "Demorats", his take on members of the Democratic Party, and "Hitlery", his perfect pseudonym for Mrs. Clinton! One last trait of The Professor – even though he despised the New York Times, he read it religiously everyday to find out what the “Demorats” might be doing to dismantle the 2nd Amendment, and as such, became a beacon for the rest of us.

Photo by Christopher T. Wilson

In 1982, I took over the Blue Book of Gun Values, which at the time, was only in its 2nd edition, and struggling. The following year, I needed to go out to Las Vegas for both the SHOT and Antique Arms Shows to get up-to-date information and prices on not only new guns, but also older manufacture and antiques. This is when I met R.L. Wilson for the first time - at the Antique Arms Show at the Old Sahara Hotel. He was standing up behind his tables wearing his trademark garb with his typical spread of high quality books, and he was exactly what I expected. We hit it off immediately and our professional relationship continued to blossom from that point.

Larry's Magnum Opus was The Book of Colt Firearms, originally published in 1971 and to this day, easily remains the best and most important firearms book ever published. With over 1 million words of text, every one typed in by Larry on an IBM Selectric typewriter. It was referred to as the "Sutherland book" for years, but as Larry accurately pointed out in his introduction to the 2nd edition, "Sutherland wrote the checks, and I wrote the book".

The article continues in Part III

You must be logged in and have a blog handle to post comments. Click on Log In to login or click on My Account to create a blog handle. Both links are available at the top right of every page.

Our Value Guides Other Products Subscriptions Information Services
Current Value Guides
Deluxe Value Guides
Previous Value Guides
Special Offers
Black Powder
Colt Engraving
Access My Subscription
Purchase/Renew Subscription
Lookup My Model
Removed Manufacturer List
Firearm Grading
Press Releases
Privacy Policy
Affiliate Program
Appraisals & Evaluations

Blue Book's Top Ten
S.P. Fjestad's Lethal Blogging
The Armed Librarian by Charles Priore
Remembering R.L. Wilson
Find this page helpful? Please click the g+1 button to let Google know!
  ©2017 Blue Book Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.