The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas
Exhibits and Artifacts FAQs - Buying Texas Ranger Antiques

Common Fake "Texas Ranger" Belt Buckle

Before You Buy: Texas Ranger Antiques

Alleged "Texas Ranger" antiques often show up on EBay, in antique stores, at auctions and at gun show tables. Each year the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame receives many requests to confirm authenticity.

Most alleged Texas Ranger artifacts are sold on hearsay, questionable affidavits and unqualified "expert" opinions. "Looks right" or "looks old" is not proof.

It is often impossible to verify Texas Ranger ownership because:

(1) Until the mid-1930s each Ranger supplied most of their own equipment. What little State documentation that exists is limited -- such as an entry on a ledger for "revolver"or "rifle" but no serial number.

(2) Most post-1935 Texas DPS records documenting the assignment of equipment have been lost or destroyed. Badges were not/are not seerial numbered.

We strongly advise against buying something you know little about, in haste, from an unfamiliar seller without a written guarantee and right of return. A few suggestions before you buy:

  1. Learn about the type of antique (firearm, badge, knife, etc.) and research any Ranger associated with it before buying. Visit museums, look at historic photos, read books and become a scholar.

  2. Insist that the seller provide a written and signed description of the item and guarantee of authenticity with a right of return. If they refuse, we strongly recommend that you walk away.

  3. Verify the seller's address and his/her phone number before you buy. Dealers/sellers on the Internet and at gun shows vanish or hide behing anonymous user names, PO Boxes, email acounts and questionable phone numbers.

  4. Examine and research all documentation and related materials before buying. "Ill show it to you after the sale" is a clue to walk away.

  5. Verify any documentation from a museum or a gallery with that institution. Why? Computer printers and scanners make it very easy to create fake documents and letterhead.  

  6. Affidavits are of no value unless they are from a verifiable first-hand witness. A grand-daughter's statement that "My grandmother told my father that she remembered seeing Ranger Smith fifty years ago wearing a badge that she described as being like this one" is completely worthless.

  7. Research affidavits from live and deceased persons carefully. Contact living perons and discuss the affidavit. Research whether an affidavit from a deceased person is plausible. We have seen forged affidavits bearing dates and signatures after the death of person who allegedly signed them! Dead men don't sign documents.

  8. View any "experts" promoted by or paid by the seller or auctioneer with strong skepticism. Especially if they conveniently appear at auctions and gun shows.

Will a Museum Authenticate or Appraise?

If their time permits, it is ethical for professional museum staff members to examine items, share their observations and suggest sources to help you make your own informed decision. The positions usually responsible for this are the Collections Manager, Curator or Director. Ask about their training and experience with the type of artifact in question.

Reputable museums do not issue letters of authentication or appraise.
They may assist you by referencing price guides or assist in making you aware of channels to locate appraisers.

Act in Haste, Repent at Leisure

I bought it from this old guy at a Gun Show, didn't get his name . . .

I don't know anything about it, but the price was good . . .

The Expert at the table said . . .

He had a Xerox of an affidavit . . .

I just saw it on EBAY and the auction ends tomorrow at . . .

said I could bring it back -- funny, there is no name or address on this receipt . . .

The man at the show said he had worked at a museum . . .

The dealer said your museum could give me all the information after I bought it . . .

Looks like I got taken, can you help me get my money back?

The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas