Richard Nixon was a bit whitebread, to say the least. Whereas saxophonist Bill Clinton would appreciate the irony of gun rights groups remembering him for the AWB, Nixon knew his way around an accordion and only laughed when he saw other people laughing. It’s kinda funny, then, that President Nixon’s name became attached to a gilded gun created by Browning to commemorate their 2,0000,000 shotgun. Tricky Dicky would no more appreciate the sheer magnificence of this colossally kitsch firearm—resplendent with foliate scrolls entwined with Phoenix and Griffins and a bust of John Browning—than he would Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Maybe that’s why Nixon turned-up his nose at the gun, according to the “he should really try and get out amongst ordinary people more” archivist at auction house jamesdjulia.com . . .
The story of this milestone legendary shotgun is well known. Originally intended for presentation to President Nixon in 1970 by Senator Bennett, who would in turn give it to the Smithsonian for permanent residency with the John M. Browning Memorial. Ultimately, Nixon declined the presentation and the gun was returned to Browning Arms. The gun resided in the Browning archive vaults for 15 years and in 1985, Browning gave the gun to the National Shooting Sports Foundation for display and promotional use.
Ultimately the gun was auctioned at the 8th Annual Shot Show in Houston, Texas. The auction was held as a sealed bid with minimum bid being $20,000. When all said and done, the gun was purchased for $50,001.00, the clever bid of the additional $1.00 broke the tie of multiple $50,000 bids.
Maybe not so clever. After 26 years in a private collector’s vault, the unfired gun’s predicted to fetch between $50,000 – $70,000 at auction (including gold-inlaid shells). That’s not exactly a stellar ROI. (Don’t forget: JJ takes his pounds of flesh.) That same $50k invested in a proper Purdey would be worth, uh, more.
In fact, investing in firearms is a bit of a mug’s game. Buy what you love and you’ll never be disappointed. And be careful. As Richard Nixon said, “once you get into this great stream of history, you can’t get out.”