The last Dallas Safari Club Exposition was a great return to the US for a show, after several years away. The DSC moves to Atlanta next year while the convention centre is re-built.
It must be almost a decade since I last did a show. I was not exhibiting my own services this time, rather I was helping Westley Richards set up and deliver a presence there, with some beautiful modern and vintage rifles and shotguns on display and plenty of new and existing customers with whom to touch base.
There was a good showing from British manufacturers, with Purdey, Holland & Holland, Westley Richards, Rigby, Longthorne, Beesley and Boss all making their presence felt.
What is encouraging is that all seemed to be taking orders for new guns and rifles. For many, the American shows are seen as a public relations exercise, rather than an outright selling opportunity but Rigby turned over $100,000 in sales through the till over the four days, with art, accessories and orders. They even sold a Land Rover!
Holt's had their roving representative, Simon Reinhold stalking the aisles and making new friends, getting over the message that Americans buying at Holt's can get the sale concluded efficiently and the export arranged without fuss or delay.
As always, the American dealers had a huge display of quality British guns and rifles. What I can never work out, however, is how some of them put the ticket prices on them that they do. It may be to do with the fact that a lot of the stuf on display is consigend and the sellers are overly optimistic about value (or greedy depending on your point of view).
I saw a 28-bore boxlock with two sets of damascus barrels, that I sold about five years ago, for £6,000, for sale on one of the tables for $29,000!
Still, in terms of qualitity, the US beats the UK hands down. Americans have been buying British guns since the end of the Second World war and a lot of our best stuff is now in the States.
The quality of taxidermy on show is always mind blowing. There seems no limit to the ambition and expertise that can be employed on making ever more impressive displays. There is even a company making 100% fake replicas of your trophy animals. They are incredibly realistic.
Professional hunters and outfitters from all over the world were there selling hunts of every imaginable kind. One of my friends booked an elephant hunt in Botswana in May and invited me to come along, which will be fun.
We last hunted there with Grant Albers back in 2007, when the Okavango Delta was still open to hunting. It will be nice to get out with Grant again, where he will be hosting us for Richard Peake Safaris, who operate from Maun. We hear tales of big bulls coming out of the Delta to raid crops planted by the villagers on the perimeter.
Along with the daily exhibition, there were some interesting and enjoyable evening events, including a party hosted by Rigby and a dinner and drinks evening at Dallas Zoo, with a private viweing of a comprenensive display of African art from the early 20th century. and a related lecture by a Professor of Art on the subject of his four favourite game animal painters of the period.
I got back to England ready for a rest but the teams from all the British firms were already gearing up to attend Safari Club International in Nevada. No doubt that will be another round of brisk businness and renewed acquaintances. If you have never been to an American show, I heartily recommend a visit, there is nothing else on earth quite like them.
Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )