The stock market may be down, but the market for sporting collectibles, fueled by inflation, the declining dollar and a growing hunger for the past, is booming. Collectors and dealers are snapping up rare books, prints, decoys, shotguns and fly rods as though they were wheeling in pork-belly futures. A sampling of the market:
Books. "Prices have gone up 200% or 300% in some trade Derrydale Press books, even higher in the deluxe editions," reports Colonel Henry A. Siegel of the Anglers' and Shooters' Bookshelf in Goshen, Conn. "The deluxe edition of Phair's Atlantic Salmon Fishing, one of 40, sold for $800 six or seven years ago. Now it's over $4,000. More people are beginning to appreciate quality books as a hedge against the falling dollar. The British have been doing this for a much longer time because they had monetary problems before we did."
Guns. Jay Hansen of Hansen & Company in Southport, Conn., collecting editor for Gun World, says, "There has been a solid increase every year for the last 10 years, and I see no slacking off whatsoever. A Holland and Holland royal grade side by side, full detachable side-locks, 12-gauge, 26-inch barrels, pre-World War II, basically new condition, fetches about $8,000 here or abroad, and that's double what it was five years ago.
"A very diversified group of people are doing the buying now, and many are not greatly interested in firearms per se but in marketable commodities. There are a lot more people who collect guns than you would think, but they don't like it known. In my town of 60,000, I know at least a dozen people who have 100 to 300 guns in their collection. A lot of show business people collect guns, primarily as an investment, but they don't want to talk about it. One who does talk a bit is Buddy Hackett, who collects Colts. Another is Mel Torm�."
Rods. "Within the past year, there has been a new groundswell of activity in the highest quality antique rods," says Martin Keane, a dealer in Bridgewater. Conn. "Last year, Bangor Leonard fly rods, made before 1881, sold for $800 to $1,200 each in normal condition. Now they're going for $1,200 to $2,400."
In the last year contemporary classic rods, such as those made by the late Everett Garrison, have moved from the $700 to $1,000 range, a bargain, as far as Keane is concerned. "In the entire collectible field—furniture, violins, watches, coins, stamps—a classic fishing rod is the only single commodity that you can buy for $1,000 and have the best in the world."
A RUN FOR YOUR MONEY
A series of strange little ads appeared in New York newspapers last week for something called "Rent-A-Jogger." For only $1.95, the ad promised, "Rent me and I will jog for you at least one mile each day (weather permitting) for the next year." Moreover, a customer gets a certificate suitable for framing, "attesting to the world that your jogger is securing for you the benefits of a healthful glow, extraordinary stamina, exciting muscle tone and a power-filled sense of total well-being."
Rent-A-Jogger is the idea of Harry Buonocore, a 45-year-old stockbroker from Queens, who is also the guy who runs for you. Believe it or not, within several days after the ads appeared, 322 people had sent in the $1.95 fee, which more than paid for the ads. Buonocore isn't going to run 322 miles a day. He's going to keep running his mile a day, and say he's done it just for you. And why would anyone pay him $1.95? Says Buonocore, " Bill Rodgers would cost a lot more."