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 The Hidden Value of Arms Collecting
  In a period of economic uncertainty, alternative assets can provide diversification, stability, and handsome returns for
the savvy investor. Consider Goldman Sachs’ May 2023
Family Office Investment Insights Report, where 38% of the family offices surveyed revealed that they’d allocated capital
to collectibles as part of their investment strategy. Across all respondents, 71% reported that “passion” was their primary driver in acquiring collectible assets, while 39% indicated their purchase was due to the potential to generate returns that are “uncorrelated to the rest of their portfolio”. In short, collectibles are fun and offer an investment platform that’s untethered from conventional market trends.
In recent years, high-value collectibles like fine art, classic cars, and vintage timepieces have been outperforming traditional investments and show no sign of losing momentum. Rare firearms have experienced similar uptrends, and that’s no
4 surprise given how the most desirable firearm classes share
many of the same traits as other investment-grade collectibles. Scarcity, tangibility, artistry, historic significance, popular appeal, and strong market demand have all contributed to substantial appreciation across the fine arms genre.
Fine Arms Collecting on the Rise
Online bidding options have given the fine arms market a global reach, leading to an expanding contingent of collectors, investors, arms enthusiasts, museums, and historic societies actively competing for the scarcest examples available. Surging demand is reflected in the numbers. Rock Island Auction Company, the industry leader in fine arms collecting since 2003, has seen its average annual sales double since 2015 and break the $100 million barrier for the second year in a row in 2022. Nine of Rock Island Auction Company’s top 20 bestselling
firearms have passed the podium in the last two years alone.In that same period, more than 120 lots achieved six-figure price tags or higher, with four of those items surpassing the million- dollar mark. Guns linked to monumental names such as Ulysses S. Grant and Napoleon Bonaparte top Rock Island Auction Company's list of recent seven-figure firearms, but history is far from the only factor driving unparalleled growth in the genre. Of the 50 most expensive guns to sell at the auction house, only 12 belonged to well-known political or cultural figures.
Like the rest of the decorative arts field, vintage firearms
are valued for their rarity, style, condition, provenance, and aesthetic. The latter factor, artistry, will be readily familiar to investors of other high-end collectible classes. Firearm examples engraved by master craftsman like Louis D. Nimschke or designed by Versailles artistic director Nicolas-Noël Boutet reside in the world’s most prestigious museums and command ever-more impressive auction prices.

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