Holt's Stands Firm

90% sold in March, July building.

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Auctions & Markets|June 2024

Holt's auction house, firmly settled in Norfolk, with no London trip every three months to hold sales, as they once did, is still attracting international attention from private and trade buyers all over the globe.

Established by Nick Holt in the late 1990s, Holt's rapidly became the premier name in gun auctions in the UK. since then, Holt's has established a worldwide network of agents and procures guns from every continent to feature in their sales, which take place in March, July and December every year. They have reduced from four sales to three in recent years and this has taken off some of the pressure and allowed better lead-in time for the staff.

The first day concentrated on antique firearms.

In addition to the main sale, which takes place over two days, there is a Sealed Bids Auction, which allows customers to bid on-line or by post. The lots in this auction are generally the 'bargain basement' items that require a bit of work, may be useful as spares or lack the value necessary to justify time in the live auction room.

Holt's told me fifteen years ago they never wanted to be 'gun snobs' and appreciate that enthusiasm for our firearms heritage and shooting sports spans the economic geography of the country. It is, therefore possible to buy a working firearm for a few pounds, discover a battered case with an obscure trade label or pick up a battle scarred Fairbairn Sykes fighting knife if you have time to sift through the piles and racks and shelves in the Sealed Bids display rooms.

 It is easy to go the gun equivalent of 'snow blind' when walking past so many items on display. I find it helps to make a shortlist of interesting items from teh on-line catalogue before leaving home.

Then, when I get to the room, I can make sure I pick out everything I knew I was interested in and look at it properly. Only after I have done so do I walk around and pick out random things that catch my eye. Sometimes a gun jums off the rack that is outside of my usual aree of interest and stimulates a need or suggests itself as a solution to a problem.

The sealed bids sale had close to 5,000 lots on sale.

Holt's print a catalogue for every sale but they also put everything on-line. The lots build up gradually over the months leading up to the sale, which is aclever way of getting people to return to the site every few days to see what has been uploaded recently.

Increasingly, Holt's sell to bidders from overseas who have never seen the guns they are bidding on. This was far less common twenty years ago but today, internet shopping is the norm for many people. It is not without its risks when contemplating a century old firearm but that does not seem to deter people.

A visit to Holt's every three months is essential if you want to know what is going on in the sector.

Holt's are now regularly posting sales figures of over 2.2 million pounds per sale and shifting thousands of guns and rifles a year. The current legal difficulties experienced by British shooters are certainly contributing to this. Police firearms departments are very slow to issue licence applications and the onerous medical certification and security demands made on normal people are added barriers.

As a result, many people are giving-up and selling thier guns. Added to that is 'natural wastage'. Gun collectors are generally older men. As they reach their dotage or head for the great hunting ground in the sky, their collections appear for sale, to be discovered by another generation.

Th sale featured a lot of Dickson guns this spring.

As well as guns and rifles, there is always an impressive display of ephemera, from huge animal taxidermy trophies to advertising boards and catalogues, historically interesting pictures and sculptures and old military hardware, edged weapons, luggage and clothing.

Anyone from outside these shores contemplating a visit to the UK should put Sandringham on the map when planning thier trip, A visit to Holt's to view the pre-sale display is a must for any shooting enthusiast, especially one with an interest in vintage British guns and rifles.

Holt's next sale is in July 2024. I'll be there, will you?

Interesting taxidermy is always on offer.

Published by Vintage Guns Ltd on (modified )

Auctions & Markets|June 2024

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