Cowan's Firearm Experts, Jack Lewis and Joe Moran, Featured on WMKV's Everybody's Planning Hour with Host, Lew Gatch
Gatch, Lewis and Moran Discuss the Value of WWII Items:
Gatch: Is WWII too recent to be of value?
Moran: No, that’s actually the hottest thing out there right now, Lew, is WWII. On our website that’s probably the number one request we get is WWII when people do search funs.
Gatch: Ok, when you say hottest, what items in WWII?
Moran: Well the uniforms – that could mean American uniforms, or German uniforms – and then the guns, the fighting knives from WWII are really popular right now, and then photographs from WWII, those are also very popular.
Gatch: So, when you say fighting knives from WWII, you’re telling me that soldiers were issued knives?
Lewis: No, they were not. They were issued bayonets and knives that they carried, but in the South Pacific for some unknown reason our hard-fighting marines over there had a problem trying to find knives, so many custom knife makers in the United States would make knives and just mail them to different units, and now these knives are becoming collectible. For an example: Schelgle knives were made by a blacksmith up in an upper part of Michigan.
Gatch: How do you spell that?
Moran: I believe its Schelgle: s-c-h-e-l-g-l-e. It’s something like that, but very popular knife-maker, Lew.
Gatch: How big is the knife?
Lewis: They can be anywhere from 10-15 inches in overall length.
Gatch: And are they fixed blade?
Lewis: Yeah, they are fixed blade...They don’t fold.
Gatch: And how do you carry them?
Lewis: They would carry them under their waist band or in a leather sheath that maybe the soldier would have fashioned himself, or some type of thing. Most of the makers made a leather sheath with them, and they’d have a little thong where they would go onto your belt or a belt loop.
Gatch: And are they blades on both sides?
Lewis: The blade is single edge or it’s actually double-edge – it may be hollow ground.
Gatch: What’s hollow ground mean?
Lewis: Hollow ground means its ground like a "V" all the way around both sides so you got one sharp edge but its ground from both sides to give it that pyramid point...
Gatch: Ok, and what type of steel are we talking here?
Lewis: Any type of carbon steel or mostly a heat-treated steel. Most of these were hand-hammered over anvils. They would be heated and then they would hammer them out and then once they got them hammered out to the correct configuration that they like, then they would grind the blades down for a sharp edge, and some of them can have a blood fuller and some of them may not.
Gatch: And these were issued and the government bought them for the soldiers?
Lewis: These were given to the soldiers… These guys needed material... These were things that were made by these custom makers across the United States. Another famous one is Randall from Springfield, MA. But the Schelgle knives, one of the Schelgle fighting knives, I’ve seen them bring $25,000.
Gatch: Come on.
Lewis: It’s a fact.
Lewis Answers Questions for Caller, Jim, Concerning Rifles
Jim: Ok. I’ve got a question on a….well I’ve got three rifles, actually. They’re what they call a Colt Lightning. And one of them is a 4440 and the other two are 22 long rifle and the manufacturer date has been verified by Colt manufacturing is 1898 on the 4440, and I have a 22 that was done in 1900, and one that was done in 1901. They’re in pretty good condition. And I still shoot the 4440, matter of fact, I just shoot cowboy loads in it because I don’t want to have the thing blow up on me with regular shells. I was just wondering if in fact you had any information that might be of value on something like that.
Lewis: Round barrel or octagonal barrel?
Lewis: That’s what I thought. Standard rifle.
Jim: I’ve got an octagonal 22 and a round barrel 22.
Lewis: Ok, now let’s talk about the 4400 in the rifle first.
Jim: Yes, sir.
Lewis: What is the finish like on it?
Jim: It’s worn, but it’s a silver, dark silver color. And there’s no rust on it. The barrel is perfect clean and I’ve kept it inside all the time where its not been exposed at all to weather, and the wood on it is very very good.
Lewis: So the barrel in the magazine too pretty much is a gray to a brown?
Jim: Yeah, it’s just a grayish silver color. It’s pretty, matter of fact, I know it’s worn and old but it has a good patina to it. It’s just really a nice looking piece.
Lewis: Probably at auction I would estimate that between 8 and 12 hundred dollars. What’s the two 22’s like?
Jim: They’re very good. They look like almost new...
Lewis: Okay, now the octagonal barrel you believe its almost brand new, meaning that it has 98-99 [%] of the original blue finish.
Jim: Yes, sir.
Lewis: Case-hardened hammer?
Jim: Yes sir.
Lewis: And case-hardened trigger?
Jim: Yes, sir.
Lewis: And is it just plain wood or is it checkered?
Jim: Well, it’s plain wood. Now the hand slide on these sometimes, what I been told, they break easy. They’re very thin. Now it looks like these have two different wood pieces where the slide is, and I assume that maybe along the way somewhere, they’ve been replaced.
Lewis: Well, that’s very possible. The 22’s generally have a smooth hand guard, unless they’re very fancy and then they’ll have a checkered hand guard and a checkered pistol grip or a checkered straight grip…
Jim: No. These are pretty plain.
Lewis: And you got the hard rubber butt plate on it?
Lewis: With the Colt logo on the back of it?
Jim: Yes sir.
Lewis: The 22 octagonal barrel, if it has 98-99 [[[%]]] of the blue, that could do anywhere between 18 and 22 hundred dollars. How about the round barrel one?
Jim: It’s very good too.
Lewis: It’s very rare to find…
Jim: They’re about the same.
Lewis: You’re about in the same boat. Octagonals are always more desirable than round, but round is generally more rare.
Jim: Well, I’ve got them. I didn’t know, never had them appraised and I just keep them here in my gun safe and that, and I just didn’t want to go out and sell them to somebody, you know, just for whatever, but they’re a keeper, so to speak and I’ll probably give them to my kids...
Lewis: Ok. What’d you pay for them?
Jim: Uh, you would ask that. Around 5 to 600 dollars apiece.
Lewis: You did fine with your investment, then.
Jim: Yeah, I done good, but I did better on the 4440. I paid $16 for it about 40 years ago.
Lewis: That’s wonderful.
Lewis and Gatch Discuss Gun Barrels
Lewis: You know, when I look at Winchesters as a whole, octagonal barrels are preferred over round barrels... [Round barrels] just fall down a little bit value-wise, but in most cases a round barrel is probably rarer than the octagonal barrel.
Gatch: But historically, I would think, if I see something octagonal, it’s probably an older gun.
Lewis: Well, not necessarily, because the very first earliest 73 Winchester rifles are round barrel rather than octagonal and then they went to octagonal.
Gatch: So, how do you make a gun barrel?
Lewis: A gun barrel is made from tubing. In those days basically what they did was they made a tube and once they got the tube to a certain point then they would deep hole bore it and then they would individually using an indexing head would cut the rifling on it. Nowadays what they do is they’re hand-hammered forged around a mandril and just kind of extruded out. And they can just extrude it out to any length you want.
Gatch: And what kind of steel do you have in barrels?
Lewis: It’s a carbon steel. It’s pretty much a good carbon steel.
Lewis and Gatch Discuss the Spring Firearms Sale on April 29, 2009
Gatch: All right. Let’s talk about this auction on the 29th now. What is the most interesting piece – you talked about two rifles, a savage and a Winchester, right?
Gatch: All right, where did the Savage come from and what is the story behind that?
Lewis: The Savage was made by Savage Arms Company. That particular rifle was actually made in 1916 for John Dodge and it is a 99 Savage Rifle and it’s caliber is 253,000 and it’s a takedown rifle, pistol grip deluxe and the carving in the buttstock and forearm is of the highest quality . It’s just unbelievable the workmanship this engraver accomplished on this rifle. It is deep-relief engraved and it has some unbelievable gold figures in it, and they’re raised gold figures and beautifully detailed. On the left side of the receiver are two tigers, and they look like they’re crawling right at you, they’re in the attack mode…
Gatch: Ok, if I come out, I can come out and inspect these items before the sale, right?
Lewis: Mhm, you certainly can.
Gatch: Can I pick them up?
Lewis: The two gold guns will be behind glass – in glass cases and, but most of the merchandise can be handled.