I understand the concept of “provenance” — I sometimes call it “touching history”, in that when one can establish through an object some kind of lineage which can take one back in time, it’s always interesting.  It’s why people continue to brave all the hassle and potential ills of going to Egypt, just to see and stand next to the Sphinx and the Pyramids.

I get all that.  I’ve spoken how it felt to show the kids a church in Austria which had been built in 937AD, or going to a pub somewhere in southern Germany which had first served beer in 1256AD (and smelled like it — Daughter:  “Eeewwww do you think they’ve cleaned the floors since then?”).

Those are all Good Things, and that kind of provenance is wonderful.

Much less wonderful is this nonsense:

The pistol used by the late Sir Sean Connery in the first ever James Bond movie – the 1962 classic Dr. No – has sold at auction for $256,000 (£190,000).

Now granted, the James Bond movies brought the old Walther PP/PPK back from the dead — it was never that great a pistol, despite being the sidearm of several European police departments — but… a quarter-million for a studio prop?

I don’ theenk so, Scooter.

I’ve never understood “collectibles” when applied to movie rubbish — Judy Garland’s Wizard of Oz  shoes fetched some ungodly amount of money a while back (can’t be bothered to look it up) — and I’ve always considered this kind of thing to be akin to the groupie syndrome.  I mean, who wouldn’t pay a boatload of money for Sonny Corleone’s bullet-riddled and (fake-)blood-drenched shirt from The Godfather, as somebody apparently did back in 2003?

Well, I wouldn’t, for starters, nor for any piece of make-believe “heritage”.  Lord knows I love guns, but emptying out the old bank account for a piece of historical gunnery — even for Frank James’s Remington revolver?  Nuh-uh.

And coming back to the Bond thing:  Ian Fleming was a fine writer, but he didn’t know shit about guns.  I think his original Bond gun was a Beretta .22 pistol, later “upgraded” to the .25 ACP and finally to a Walther  (.32 ACP, not the .380 ACP as in the movie prop), as though this was the very apogee of weaponry a spy should use.  Hell, even back in the late 1950s, those guns were already in disfavor as sidearms.

As the expression / cliche goes:  A fool and his money are soon parted.  And this is just the latest proof of the thing.


  1. Kim,

    Ian Fleming’s not the only one. The British government bought 3,300 PPs to issue as personal protective weapons to the Ulster Defense Regiment in the 70’s. Something’s better than nothing, I guess:

    Forgotten Weapons L66A1

  2. Don’t forget that his Beretta has skeletonized grips and a sawn down barrel, for what it’s worth. And to that sawn down barrel he somehow added a silencer which made it difficult to remove from his chamois leather shoulder holster. Apparently it snagged and almost got him killed as a plot point in one of the books. Which then necessitated his “upgrade” to the PPK. Note his second choice was a .38 snub which he turned down. In one book he carried a Ruger single action. 44 mag in the glove box of his car.

    Yes, I’ve been re-reading some of the books lately.

  3. In Dr. No M said that the .32 PPK was like ” a brick thrown through a plate glass window”. Pretty handy I guess if you need to break a window but if that’s your only purpose in carrying a gun the brick would be cheaper and easier to use.

  4. Cheer up, as people who pay that kind of money for something like that Walther will not miss the money at all. At a recent auction held near me in New Hampshire people paid a lot of money for the guns at auction. I can appreciate the collector who spends his own money to own a particular firearm, more power to them. It turns out there are a lot of people in a position to do so. At least one other person thought Bond’s gun was worth almost that much, and bailed out a few thousand dollars shy of the sale price.

    Then of course, after the owner dies the widow says “get rid of all these guns!” And the cycle continues.

    I wonder if a young person today would pay much for that gun in the future having no connection with Bond and the culture of 007?

  5. The collectibles market, whether it’s movie stuff, stamps, or old toys, is where the idea that a free market will behave logically breaks down…or one of the wheres, anyway.

    I’m a comic book collector in remission. *shrug* The ideas that Action Comics #1 is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars is silly…but sometimes we humans need some silly.

    So far as I can see, it doesn’t hurt anybody (at least anybody who isn’t going to find some other way of making himself miserable), and sometimes a rare find will make some poor slob rich.

    1. That’s why I wonder about the value of these collectible items. For example a Model T ford is of no interest to a person my age, (70) as it was not part of their experience growing up. Now 60s and 70s muscle cars currently sell for lots of money, but will an 18 year old today give a hoot about a 1970 Chevelle? I don’t think so.

      As for comic books I had the very first Marvel Fantastic Four and Spiderman comics for years until I threw them away. I liked them a lot more than Superman. Stan Lee was a refreshing change from DC comics. Nobody thought of collecting them at the time, least of all yours truly. Ah well.

      Will there always be a market for a two digit serial number 1911? Probably, but will it have the same interest or value as it does now? I sure don’t know.

      1. I watched the Bennie Baby ™ market go crazy in the ’90’s, and warned a number of my female friends top avoid it like the plague. In particular, I told them “The ‘book value’ of a particular doll is what it might fetch if sold by a dealer at a big show in New York or LA. Furthermore, the ‘rarity’ of most of these dolls is an illusion; since the fad hit, at least half the production run of any particular doll has gone into plastic and been stashed in a closet until the price rises. The only really rare ones are a handful that were produced and sold out before the craze hit. The bottom will drop out from under the market in a few years and at that point your collection will be worth about as much as used chewing gum”

        One or two listened.

        ‘Investing’ in collectables is a mug’s game, with the possible exception of coins and stamps, and even with those you’d do better in the stock market.

    2. My son and I started collecting comic back in the late 80’s. Currently have 1000+ bagged and boarded and boxed and don’t know what to do with them. I’ve long lost interest in them and wish them gone. Yeah, the “Death of Superman” series in the lot.

      1. My advice is do one of two things; either give them to somebody who has just been bitten by the ‘bug’, or stick them in a closet until the next rttound of ‘comic book’ fever hits. I’ve lived through three or four.

    3. I disagree. It’s just the opposite. The collectibles market, is one place where the free market shines.

      What is a collectible worth? Whatever someone is able and willing to pay for it.

      Two people come to an agreement on the price of an object. One walks away with a lot of money and the other walks away with an object that he thought was worth it. Both are happy – or happy enough. As long as he’s spending his own money, and there is no fraud involved, then what you or I think about it is completely irrelevant.

  6. I notice that in the linked article one of the old promotional pictures shows Bond holding a PPK and the other picture shows him holding a PP. I wonder if they even know for sure which gun was actually used for most of the filming. I wouldn’t trust the word of even the movie prop company that provided the guns.

  7. Hmpffffff. I’ve never even given it any thought, Kim. But… what gun of that period would a real spy choose? Other than the 38 snubbies… what was available for discrete concealed carry?

    I don’t do pocket pistols… but if I had to do it today I suppose it would be something like that new little Sig in 9mm…P365?

  8. Here’s my famous gun story. Sixty-five years ago when I was ten, I was at Frank W. Boykin’s hunting lodge in south Alabama. During the evening he took out a pair of single action six guns with holsters and told me that these were Jesse James’ personal guns. Now old “Uncle” Frank was a politician, D, in congress from the thirties to the sixties and not adverse to hyperbole ( with three letters hypocrisy came up and it could fit.). I was very skeptical about this but in politeness I didn’t demur. I only recently discovered that he really did own Jesse James guns.
    Sorry Uncle Frank, I was learning at an early age to take anything a politician says with a grain of salt. Betting this way has paid dividends throughout my life.

  9. $256,000 for a “weenie” weapon. What can you do with it? You’ll have to keep it locked away somewhere, you dare not take it down and pass it around to your buddies for fear they’ll smear it up with their buffalo wing grease, and you dare not use it for it’s intended purpose or someone will try to relieve you of even more of your money.

    When I think of the whiskey that money could buy; two or three years worth, at least! It’s enough to make a grown man weep, I tell ya!

    1. Or use it to buy a modern concealed carry piece, and use the remainder to buy a shit-ton of ammo. (Well, you used to be able to buy a shit-ton of ammo with that much money.)

  10. That’s one of those things where I look at my wife and say “I wish I had the money to buy that.”

    And then I add “I wouldn’t buy it, I just wish I had that much money.”

    I’m always careful not to add “I’d buy an old sports car with it.”

  11. It could be worse. Somebody could, for instance, buy Obama’s old high school basketball jersey for $192,000, breaking the record for high school jerseys, which was set by LeBron James (who was actually a good player in high school.)

    But that would never happen, right? Right?

  12. In the collector world the concept of Provenance has much more to do with being able to trace the ownership of a particular piece so to avoid clever forgeries and duplicates. Do they have enough paperwork and proof that this particular piece of Movie prop was actually used during the filming? Is there paperwork that goes along with it that shows the prop dept log of firearms checkout on that date along with script notes showing when which scenes were shot when and are those the scenes that made the final cut? It’s the documentation along with the purchase history that adds the value, otherwise you wind up with 31 of the original 25 917’s showing up at a concourse.

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