Alleged "Texas Ranger" antiques often
show up on EBay, in antique stores, at auctions and at gun show tables.
The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame receives many requests to confirm the
authenticity of these items.
Most of these alleged Texas Ranger artifacts are outright fakes or
lack solid evidence of Ranger ownership. They are sold on hearsay, questionable
affidavits or unqualified "expert" opinions.
Even if the item is old or of the correct age, it is often impossible
to verify Texas Ranger ownership because:
(1) Until the mid-1930s each Ranger supplied most of their own equipment.
The little State documentation that exists is limited -- such as an entry
on a ledger for "revolver"or "rifle" but no serial
(2) Many Post-1935 Texas DPS records documenting the assignment of firearms
and equipment have been lost or destroyed.
What is your advice on buying?
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. We
strongly advise against buying something you know little about, from
an unfamiliar seller without a written guarantee.
Insist that the seller provide a written, signed and
witnessed description of the item and its history and a guarantee
of authenticity with right of return. If they refuse, strongly consider
Verify the seller's address and his/her phone number before
you buy. Dealers/sellers on the Internet and at gun shows often vanish.
A few words about documentation: Examine
all documentation and related materials before buying. "Ill
show you after the sale" is a cue to walk away. If the documentation
came from a museum or a library, verify it with that institution. Why?
Computer printers and scanners make it easy to create forged documents.
Never, never, never buy based
on an unverified photocopy of an affidavit or documentation.
A few words about affidavits: They are
of no value unless they can be verified -- by contacting the Texas Ranger
who executed it, a close family member or witness. Again, Computer printers
and scanners make it easy to create forged documents.
A few words about "experts": View
any "expert" offered by the seller
with skepticism. Their objective is to sell you their item and they
will do whatever they can to make it as attractive as possible. Sellers
sometimes pay "experts" for favorable opinions. Some may be
qualified, others are not -- but all work for the seller, not the buyer.
How do you judge an "expert"? Ask about their formal training,
where they work or worked, demand references and ask where they can
be contacted after the sale. Then call and verify the credentials they
have given you with their references or institutions. Most reputable
museums prohibit their staff from personal buying or selling in their
Be especially wary of "experts" who conveniently "pass
by" when you visit a gun show table or shop. Be wary of persons
frantically competing against you, only to drop out at the end. These
are old tricks.
Finally, avoid current design badges; they are illegal under Texas
law -- whether real or a fake.
Will a Museum Authenticate or Appraise?
Staff members will usually examine items, share their
observations and may suggest sources to help you make your own informed
decision. For reasons of liability, reputable nonprofit museums do
not issue letters of authentication or appraise.
We recommend that you ask
any person with whom you consult about their training and experience with such
artifacts and the sources they consult. The positions usually responsible for
collections research are the Collections Manager, Curator or Director.
No reputable museum will appraise(state
a value). They may assist you by referencing price guides or assist in making
you aware of channels to locate appraisers.
Museum employees are not allowed
to appraise or authenticate as a "side
to conflicts of interest.
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 . . .
He said I could bring it back -- funny, no
name and 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 later
on . . .
Looks like I got taken, can you help me get my money