Published: April 6, 2021
Cowan’s recently announced that 2021 would mark a new era for the firm in the field of historic arms and armor with the appointment of Tim Carey. Carey has 40 years of experience in the field of sporting arms under his belt, most recently at Griffin & Howe at Hudson Farms in Andover, N.J. We reached out to this industry veteran to see what he is doing first and where he wants to take the department.
Congratulations on your new role at Cowan’s/Hindman. How have you hit the ground running?
Good question! I can say I have been very busy assembling a team with the best people in the business along with traveling to five cities in my first month appraising some outstanding collections. With our association to Hindman Auctions, we have 13 regional offices throughout the United States and are fielding inquiries from collectors across the country. Joining the team at Cowan’s is consulting senior specialist Tim Prince, a veteran Antiques Roadshow appraiser and long-time Cowan’s associate, and consulting senior specialist Ashley Hlebinsky, former curator of the Cody Firearms Museum. Tucker Etonyer joins us as cataloger from Cordier Auctions. Rounding out the team is Emma Fulmer, our department coordinator and A.T.F. compliance officer, and Joe Moran, the senior field representative and long-time Cowan’s all-star.
Will the department’s emphasis change?
The department is still headed in the same direction with the additional emphasis on traditional European and English sporting and field shotguns and rifles. My time as an appraiser at Griffin and Howe, and as a sales associate of James Purdey and Sons, brings a new area of expertise to the Cowan’s Historical Arms department.
The field of antique arms is pretty broad. What is your own personal area of interest and expertise?
Having managed a very large sporting goods store that catered to shooting enthusiasts in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 25 years, I saw many of the historic firearms that traveled out west: think old Colt revolvers and Winchester rifles. We also catered to the sizeable Bay-area duck hunting community, so shotguns became something of a specialty for me. When I left the Bay area to work at Griffin and Howe – one of the oldest fine arms dealers in the United States – I was exposed to the top end of sporting arms. In my time at Griffin and Howe, I regularly appraised arms made by industry legends such as Holland and Holland, David McKay Brown, John Rigby and Westley Richards, so I guess I have a broad range of interests.
What got you into the field to begin with?
In 1979, I moved from New Jersey to San Francisco because a friend of mine was out there and he encouraged me to make the move. I got a job at a large outdoor store that sold Army and Navy surplus and we did a lot of stuff with firearms. Part of the job was buying and selling old and new products and I got hooked.
Do you have a memory you can share about one of the items from that area of specialization that you’ve handled in your career?
While working on the West Coast, I was always excited to see an old Colt revolver come in the door. Every historic firearm has a story to tell to those who are willing to listen. Once when I removed the hand grips off an old Colt, I found the last will and testament of the owner written on rolled up paper. On another occasion I found a $5 dollar gold coin wrapped in a piece of paper labeled “Burying Money.” It is this type of discovery that keeps this category interesting.
Your first sale on May 25-26 will feature Charlie Hinton’s collection. Tell us a little about his collection and some of the highlights we can expect to see during the sale?
We met Charlie briefly on our visit, but I feel I got to know him through the variety, level of condition and care at which the collection had been maintained. I was blown away at the quality and quantity of the collection. Charlie had been most active in the 1970s-80s and was well-known to the collecting crowd of those years. More recently though, he had pretty much stopped collecting and was largely unknown to the contemporary world of dealers and collectors.
Frankly, seeing a collection like Charlie’s never gets old. Charlie had a very strong focus on Winchester lever-action rifles, and weapons from World War I and II, but he also collected vintage Colt and other revolvers, along with accoutrements from the Civil and Indian Wars period. It’s a great collection and we feel privileged to bring it to auction.
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