Caveat emptor by all means
Back in 1982, New Orleans area collector Robert Melancon got a tip from a fellow enthusiast that an esteemed local antique shop had a beautiful and historic firearm up for grabs. The early 19th Century Kentucky long rifle, engraved with information about the former owner, became his after trading the shop $18,000 worth of other antique guns and Melancon and his wife Linda spent decades on the trail of discovering the rifle’s backstory.
Then, last November, the FBI came calling and raided the couple’s home, recovering the gun for the rightful owner and returning it in a very public ceremony last week. It turns out that the gun, the only one in existence with a provenance that ties it to the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, was stolen and from an area museum, maybe as far back as the 1960s, and is worth upwards today of $650,000.
The rub? The museum that it was donated to in 1884 by the original owner’s grandson only found that it was missing and where it was from a historical article on the piece and Melancon, who has been extremely open about the piece for decades.
He is reportedly “heartbroken,” but glad to see it go back to the museum.