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Know your vintage stag grips

The price of vintage stag grips is either too little or too much.  Too little if Iím not the lucky buyer, and too much if I am, huh!

Thatís a joke, with one larger point being that old stags are tricky to buy or sell because thereís some common perception of value problems that afflict niche collectables.   In a market this narrow however Iíd say the pricing problem can be defined even more acutely. 

Thing is, thereís not a lot of information out there describing whatís great antique stag and whatís not.  With no buyers guide, retail prices for antique sets end up being set by todayís prices for the underlying commodity (Sambar antler) as experienced by some prominent players in the industry (Eagle GripsÖ). 

Thatís not without a certain rationale, particularly in the absence of a better pricing mechanism.  But what you then encounter is retailers asking top dollar prices of say $350 for what are otherwise mediocre grip sets. 

I wonít be going out on a limb here by saying people should pay for quality.  I just donít think quality has been very properly defined as it pertains to old stag grips.  So here some thoughts on that:

Best Grade, Exhibition Vintage

Sambar Stag, probably of 50ís or 60ís vintage.  This set shows full coverage of knurly, popcorn beading.  Exquisite bookmatch.  Grips have a natural yellow cream color.  A set like this canít be very easily provided by todayís dealers.  They are worth every penny of whatever it is thatís the prevailing MSRP for new Sambar stag grips.  Probably a little bit more. 


Barky, contemporary

This set is somewhat like the set above, but perhaps a bit newer and not as mellow.  Nice set with some knurly beading.  A lot of times you pay for bark. 


Smooth, contemporary

This is a very nice set of grips, but represents the change weíve seen as the old world antler supply was used up.  Note that panels are somewhat smooth.  This probably represents the typical cut of Indian Sambar stag now, as for one reason or another we donít often see new single action panels with popcorn beading. 


Smooth, contemporary

Also smooth and imported relatively recently (say, since 1990).  In my mind this is a set thatís not all that remarkable, and Iíd dismiss a top dollar price.  With this example we can note, some advanced stag lovers have resisted Elk antler because it lacks yellow hue.  My sense is this is the predominant color of most Sambar coming from India these days.  Itís a muted white/grey/light tea, but not all that yellow.














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