Pre98 Antiques Military Firearms Collecting Outlook for 2020

As we close the book on a very active 2019 it’s time for our annual look back and forward to review the events of the past year and what we expect to occur this year.

2019 was a record-breaking year

This was a great year of opportunities for advanced collectors as a lot of old “boomer” collections were liquidated in the first half of the year and some rare and high condition items came to the market that are rarely seen.  We experienced record-breaking monthly sales right through July, the pace of selling was so hot there was no let-up until late in the month when things just slowed down considerably.  There is always a summer slump until Labor Day when business gradually builds back up during the fall but this year the market stayed relatively quiet through October into early November and this was the case with all other dealers as well.  The reasons for this slowdown are not well understood, perhaps everyone was just burned out from all the frenzied buying earlier in the year or perhaps everyone took a pause due to the unsettled political and economic outlook of the late summer.    Strong favorable trade winds returned in Mid November and this past December was frenetic and record-breaking.  All things considered, 2019 was a record year for us here at pre98.

2020 will be strong but unsettled. 

We have been in this market for over 30 years and based upon what we are seeing we can tell you what we believe is likely to happen this year.

Firstly,  we do not anticipate there to be as many old collections liquidating this year.  There was a confluence of events last year that put a glut of guns and collections on the market and we just do not see any evidence that trend will continue, if it was we would already be seeing it in the pipeline and in upcoming auctions and that just has not happened.    While we expect the oversupply in average condition military collectible guns to continue well into 2020  (which is a boon for average collectors) we expect demand to far outstrip supply in the rare/premium-grade artifacts that we specialize in.  It will take all of our tradecraft to ferret out a steady supply of top tier museum-grade inventory for our clients’ insatiable appetites.

Secondly, you should expect sales to continue to be very strong; more collectors are entering the market than leaving.  In popular culture movies like “1917”, all the documentaries seen on the history channel and other venues will continue to capture the public’s imagination with 20th-century military history.  These stories capture one’s imagination;  History Sells Guns!  Just as our past helps us to sells guns, current events will from time to time this year will probably make for a bit of a choppy ride in sales.  We have the uncertainties of a Presidential election year, and suddenly a new war to deal with.  These things will distract from time to time this year and may or may not slow interest and affect sales however these pauses tend to be fairly short in duration when and if they occur.

Continuing and new trends, gun shows at least as far as collector grade guns are concerned are continuing their steady march into irrelevance.  The largest 2 shows are still doing very well, Tulsa and the Show of Shows but let’s face it the rest of the shows are just very sketchy low-end affairs full of gun show losers; you players have better things to do on your weekends.  Brick and mortar shops are also becoming a thing of the past; we are in the ascendance of the very experienced online master dealers with many decades of tradecraft and long contact lists on our smartphones….

Brett & I look forward to serving you this coming year.