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Fri Mar 29 2013 12:26:01

Julia's Rare Dodge Rifles Auction Shows Firearms Market Strength

By: Julia Wilkinson

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Two rare John Dodge guns recently sold for a total of $477,250 in a March 11th and 12th James D. Julia auction, which realized a combined total of over $13,000,000. According to Julia's, the Dodge pieces, which came from the estate of renowned collector Wes Adams, were the highlights and featured lot of the
March aucton: a one-of-a-kind Gold-Engraved 86 Take Down made for John F. Dodge, estimated at $175,000-$275,000, which sold for $333,500.00; and a Savage 1899, which went for $143,750.00.

Wes Adams's Collection of Rare Winchesters and Savages was featured in the final session of the March 11th Auction. All totaled, the three sessions of the Adams Collection garnered nearly $14 million dollars.

"It was in fact a series of guns; two guns by two separate manufacturers that were built on the order of John Dodge, who was one of the Dodge boys, or the Dodge brothers, that founded the Dodge automobile company in 1912-1913," said Wes Dillon, Department Head of Julia's Rare Firearms and Military Division. That was when these two guns were made, in commemoration of that, said Dillon.

This was at the time the Dodge brothers separated themselves from Henry Ford; "They were essentially subcontractors and stockholders in the Ford Motor Company," explained Dillon.

The firearms market in general across all categories is as strong as its ever been, said Dillon. But, he noted, "Firearms is such a broad-based topic." So firearms could be 15th to 16th century, "real true genesis of the type items, or they could be 20th or 21st century; more technically advanced items," he said. And they could have historic, artistic, or sporting significance.

"Obviously because of the political climate and the economic climate, there is a great demand that's being unleashed right now," Dillon said. 'There's a lot of liquidity on the sidelines; there's a lot of money that's being held in savings accounts, that aren't paying anything. CD's that aren't paying any interest at all. And so high-quality, investment-grade tangible assets, including collectible firearms, have been a safe haven and a very profitable instrument for putting capital to work."

The Dodge firearms come with the colorful backstory of the two red-haired Dodge brothers, who, according to Dillon, grew exploring the fields and waters along the St. Joseph River in Detroit, and puttering around their father’s small foundry and machine shop, absorbing the skills and workings of all things mechanical. They later became very familiar with the mechanics of marine steam engines, and "opportunities to hone their skills in design and machining in the transportation industry would come from designing and patenting improvements in bicycles and their components."

Their first major automotive customer was Ransom E. Olds, who hired the duo in 1901 to produce engines and transmissions for his new curved-dash Oldsmobile, making the Dodges major players in the automotive industry.

Later they were approached by Henry Ford, became chassis producers, and gleaning shares of Ford stock worth $10,000, making them 10-percent stockholders in the new Ford Motor Company.

But later, "fearing their total dependence on one customer and largely because he was Henry Ford, the Dodges terminated their contract effective August 1914. When they finally closed their relationship with Ford after years of court battles over negotiated obligations, they had earned $5.4 million in dividends and $1.7 million in profits, which combined with the sale of the 10% holdings in stock produced a return of $32 million on their initial 1903 investment of $10,000 in parts and cash," according to Dillon.

One of the Great American Success Stories, and no doubt a reason these two special firearms commanded such high prices.

Are you interested in firearms or militaria? If so, what are your own experiences with selling them and how do you see the demand? Share your story here!

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