(806) 244-4453 Fax

Curios And Relics: Firearms You Can Find At Auction

Monday, January 20th, 2020
gun and antique firearm collection and auction tips

Those who attend gun and firearm auctions are typically looking to add to their collection. Some of the items that can be found at these events include curios and relics. Although most do not function, some are still in working order.

What are curio and relics at gun auctions?

Curio/relic guns and firearms sold at these auctions are at least fifty years old or have historic significance. Significance can be relative, but the idea to remember is that the law treats curios and relics differently. Because they are collectible and many do not function, there is a special federal license that buyers can obtain to own them.

Like all guns and firearms, curios and relics are regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This federal agency has a few criteria for this class of guns.

  1. They must have been manufactured at least fifty years ago, but they cannot be replicas.
  2. The firearm should be certified by the curator of a municipal, state, or federal museum that shows curios or relics of this nature in their exhibits.
  3. They can be considered curios or relics if their value is in part or substantially derived from their status of being rare, novel, or bizarre OR if they are associated with a historical event, period, or person.

Why do people enjoy curio and relic guns?

There are many reasons why people enjoy collecting these pieces. Some think they are cool, while others enjoy using older guns that still work. Because some relic guns are so reliable, collectors use them for target shooting and hunting. For museums, getting interesting curios or rare pieces can bring more value to their exhibits and attract more visitors.

What is found more at auctions?

Given the nature of curios, there are more relic firearms at auction. For example, rifles known as Yugo M48s are common relics owned by enthusiasts. They are copies of the Gewehr 98, a rifle that was used by the German forces from before World War I to the end of World War II. Today, the copies are used for home defense, hunting, and target shooting, but they aren’t worth much at auction.

From that same time frame, a curio piece like a Mauser K98 with markings from the Third Reich with ownership records would be a curio, given its history as well as provenance. This type of gun would go for much more money at auction. Most curios AND relics are in the first category, which is great for bidders because they can get a good deal on collectibles.

Tips for bidding on relics and curios at gun auctions

When you go to a gun auction that offers curios and relics, you need to pay attention to quality. There will probably be a lot of pieces that aren’t in amazing shape. Although this is expected, you still need to be aware of the condition of each piece. Be sure to stick to your budget as well and make sure you understand the rules of the auction house.

Want to learn more about gun auctions?

If you are interested in learning more about bidding on guns at an auction, contact High Plains Auctioneers today. We provide a large variety of events throughout the year. You can reach us at (806) 244-6776 or Send Us an email to learn more.