Shooting for high returns
It isn’t often that you encounter a piece of valuable investment art that can double as home security. Classic English shotguns offer a high return on investment but that doesn’t mean they should be confined to display cases.
Take one look at a stunningly engraved James Purdey & Sons 12- bore side- by- side shotgun and you may believe that it belongs in a gallery but these sturdy, well balanced arms have a reputation for being some of the best sporting guns ever manufactured. “These are guns to be used and enjoyed. Even the most ornate Purdeys with top- end gold work are still used for shooting and we very much regard our guns to be useable high- end artworks,” head of gun sales at James Purdey and Sons, Ian Andrews says. “Properly maintained guns also last a really long time, even with regular use. I have seen 120 year- old guns that fire just as well now as they did when they were made,” he adds. Bennie Laubscher, director of B. W. Laubscher & Associates adds that the majority of his clients are also shooting enthusiasts, who often take these investments out for hunts or clay shoots, in spite of their age. “A well maintained gun can withstand many years of regular use without devaluing at all and I think it is important to understand that this is one investment that you can enjoy for as long as you own it,” Laubscher says. “On the second- hand market you can get hold of a shotgun that was manufactured 70 or 80 years ago. Their barrels and firing mechanisms are usually in immaculate condition and you could reasonably expect to be able to take these out for shooting. In fact, many of the Purdeys in the secondhand market right now, were made somewhere between the First and Second World War, and they are still in fantastic condition for normal sport use,” Laubscher says. Considered one of South Africa’s foremost Purdey experts, Laubscher is a dealer in high- end and rare firearms, as well as an accomplished gunsmith. While returns on investment are steady on the international market, their growth is not generally considered massive, with investors generally seeing their guns’ value increase by around 3- 5 per cent a year. The South African market can be a completely different experience, however. Laubscher contends that the market for high- end classic shotguns has a lot of potential in South Africa, with some buyers seeing their investments grow substantially. “I have seen the value of shotguns grow by 30 or 40 per cent, in some cases as much as 100 per cent over the course of a year. That is not to say that every high- end shotgun will increase in value. I also wouldn’t necessarily recommend
every Purdey that makes its way onto the market to a client as an investment. Not just shotguns, but rifles too fetch a good price in the market. I recently sold a Purdey small calibre double rifle for R850 000. It naturally depends on the exchange rate and then it absolutely depends on what the collectors in the market are looking for at that moment,” Laubscher says. “It is quite an exclusive market and demand is always going to outweigh the supply. This has done a lot for the guns’ investment value. When South African collectors want to sell some of the guns in their collections, a buyer can usually be found very quickly,” he adds. Buying right however, is the tricky part. “There aren’t many people who really know what to look for in a gun. In South Africa I think there are about two other real experts. The engraving is one thing, certainly, but there are also finer things to look at such as the quality of the firing mechanisms. Most people aren’t able to identify these fine points but that is where the trust- relationship that I built with my clients is important, when I sell them a gun that I consider to be a good investment,” Laubscher says.