Fair Trade

John Milewski re­ports from the lat­est, and pos­si­bly great­est, Kemp­ton Park Arms Fair

Airgun World - - Contents -

John Milewski is at the Kemp­ton Park Arms Fair with ev­ery­thing air­gun

It wasn’t that long ago when air­gun col­lec­tors would travel long dis­tances to at­tend an arms or mil­i­taria fair, where one or two spe­cial­ist air­gun deal­ers might be in at­ten­dance. If you were lucky, some of the firearms deal­ers might have the odd air ri­fle or pis­tol and oc­ca­sion­ally, bar­gains could be found. Well, air­gun col­lect­ing has fi­nally come of age and at Kemp­ton Park Arms Fair, you will find any­thing from an elas­tic-pow­ered, rub­ber band gun or Gat-style pis­tol, to a butt and ball reser­voir an­tique pneu­matic – and, I has­ten to add, ev­ery­thing in be­tween be­ing of­fered by count­less sell­ers.


The most re­cent Kemp­ton fair at­tracted buy­ers from far and wide. I even bumped into a very en­thu­si­as­tic Dutch col­lec­tor whilst mak­ing my way around. Zuke Van In­gen ex­plained this was not his first time at Kemp­ton be­cause he tries to make the jour­ney across the Chan­nel for at least two of the four fairs held an­nu­ally. Zuke found out about the fairs from Face­book groups and var­i­ous on-line fo­rums, and was look­ing for pre-war We­b­leys when I first spoke with him. When we met up later in the day, Zuke had sourced a 1st Series We­b­ley Ser­vice and was look­ing at a boxed Haenel 28, which he also bought. He felt the event was even bet­ter than he had ex­pected, and the qual­ity of items was fan­tas­tic. There was plenty to choose from and he couldn’t ask for more from the or­gan­is­ers, Peter and Liz Bin­field.

Other col­lec­tors I chat­ted with had the im­pres­sion of a well-or­gan­ised and im­pres­sive event, where the peo­ple were friendly, as was the ban­ter. More than one col­lec­tor men­tioned to me that the event was a great op­por­tu­nity for col­lec­tors who use on-line fo­rums to meet up in per­son and talk about old air­guns, and I agree with this 100%. I met up with sev­eral col­lec­tors with whom I had ex­changed emails and mes­sages with be­fore and it was a

plea­sure to dis­cuss our mu­tual in­ter­ests face to face.


As to the air­guns on dis­play, a rack of Gif­fard ri­fles had been placed to the side of one spe­cial­ist dealer’s dis­play and you could choose from a se­lec­tion of what is usu­ally a ‘hard to find’ air­gun. The same dealer also had ball reser­voir pneu­mat­ics for sale, which were precharged by a pump and gen­er­ated enough power to hunt deer some 200 or more years ago. To­day’s PCPs work on sim­i­lar prin­ci­ples, demon­strat­ing that the tech­nol­ogy is not as new as some might think.

As a long-term We­b­ley en­thu­si­ast, I was drawn to a fine We­b­ley Jaguar Air Ri­fle Pack from the 1960s. The kit came in a very dis­tinc­tive or­ange box, which safely held the air ri­fle along with its ac­ces­sories, and still had its outer We­b­ley marked box, that had pro­tected the in­ner box very well over the decades. These kits are very rare in such good con­di­tion, but some of the orig­i­nal con­tents ap­peared to be miss­ing, so I de­cided against in­vest­ing the £300-plus ask­ing price into what was prob­a­bly the most ex­pen­sive Jaguar I have ever come across.


We­b­ley Jaguar and Ju­nior air ri­fles were orig­i­nally sup­plied with a gummed on warn­ing la­bel across the cock­ing slot, which of­fered com­mon sense safety ad­vice to the orig­i­nal pur­chaser. Many may not have owned an air­gun be­fore and the la­bel’s lo­ca­tion drew the eye to the warn­ing just in case the pur­chaser de­cided to use the ri­fle be­fore read­ing the in­struc­tions. One such ri­fle with la­bel in­tact, which sug­gested it had never been cocked or fired was on dis­play at Kemp­ton. Gra­ham, the seller ex­plained that one per­son had tried to cock the ri­fle with­out ask­ing and he stopped him tear­ing the la­bel just in time. Need­less to say, the per­son had no in­ten­tion of buy­ing, but the sit­u­a­tion does demon­strate sim­ple arms fair eti­quette; please ask be­fore han­dling an old air­gun – it is all too easy to dam­age a frag­ile la­bel or com­po­nent.


BSA spe­cial­ist, Andy Lake, is a reg­u­lar at­tendee at Kemp­ton and has at­tended the fairs ever since they started. He was hop­ing some­thing quirky or un­usual would catch his eye and had al­ready fi­nalised two pre­ar­ranged deals by the time we met up for a chat. Andy keeps com­ing back to Kemp­ton due to the tremen­dous ar­ray of air­guns on of­fer and ad­mit­ted find­ing the huge se­lec­tion hard to get his head around. Nev­er­the­less, whether he can af­ford them or not, Andy re­gards this fair as the ‘go to place for air­gun col­lec­tors and en­thu­si­asts’. Andy is an­other on-line fo­rum mem­ber and would like to see in­di­vid­u­als wear­ing name tags in fu­ture be­cause he felt he prob­a­bly walked straight past on-line friends with­out re­al­is­ing who they were. This is per­haps some­thing for on-line fo­rums to con­sider?

I walked away from the fair with some old leaflets and ad­ver­tis­ing, so did not spend a for­tune, much to my wife’s re­lief. I get as much plea­sure from ephe­mera as I do from old air­guns, so was very con­tent with my new ad­di­tions, which all helps with re­search prior to draft­ing fu­ture ar­ti­cles. See you at the next Kemp­ton arms fair!

A typ­i­cal se­lec­tion of We­b­ley air ri­fles.

This old We­b­ley air ri­fle had never been shot and still re­tained its orig­i­nal gummed safety la­bel. Show reg­u­lar, Andy Lake, ex­am­ines a BSA Stan­dard. It wasn’t just old air­guns at Kemp­ton – more mod­ern CO2 pis­tols were also be­ing of­fered to sale.

Zuke Van In­gen trav­elled all the way from Hol­land and came away with a huge se­lec­tion of air­guns, in­clud­ing this boxed Haenel 28 air pis­tol. All set up and wait­ing for the crowds just be­fore open­ing time!

Where else would you find a rack of early Gif­fard Car­bonic Gas guns?

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