December 30, 2021
I have acquired an old muzzleloader from my 92-year-old mom since Dad passed away. He worked for Pan American Airlines and took a position in Afghanistan in 1957 to set up a maintenance base in Kandahar and Kabul to train Afghans on servicing their planes. Mom, my sister and I went for 2 years; I was five at the time. In 1958, Dad acquired this gun in a Kandahar bazaar, trading a Remington 511 Scoremaster .22 and $100 cash. He was told it belonged to an Afghan of the Kochi tribe. There is a lot of inlay, and I don’t know if it is ivory or bone. I’m guessing it’s handmade as there are no numbers or identification. Can you shed any light and estimate its value?
-D.W. via Email
This one is a bit of a poser; it exhibits some conflicting features. For example, the stock style with the hump behind the lockplate is a feature seen in varying configurations on Persian, Turkish, Indian and Afghan guns. Because of the slender buttstock, I’m going with the latter — to a point. The decoration is overdone and a bit on the crude side, too. It was built around a percussion lock, though the photos are not well enough defined to tell me the lock’s origin. The triggerguard is a bit atypical for Afghan guns, and the very short barrel with cannon-turned muzzle is bothersome. Decorative materials are primarily bone and mother-of-pearl, and really not all that well-done. It would help a great deal to see the piece in person, however, as the photos appear to indicate the workmanship is cruder than the norm. It looks to have been crafted more for show than use. I’m going to take a shot and opine that it is a piece made to be sold to tourists, which was a very common practice in the area where your father obtained it. Value-wise, I would guess it’s worth in the $275 to $500 range, primarily as a decorator piece.
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