The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas
Exhibits and Artifacts FAQs - Buying Texas Ranger Antiques

 Commonly seen Fake
"Texas Ranger" Belt Buckle

Frequently Asked Questions: Buying Texas Ranger Antiques

Alleged "Texas Ranger" antiques often show up on EBay, in antique stores, at auctions and at gun show tables. The Texas Ranger Hall of Fame receives many requests to confirm the authenticity of these items.

Most of these alleged Texas Ranger artifacts are outright fakes or lack solid evidence of Ranger ownership. They are sold on hearsay, questionable affidavits or unqualified "expert" opinions.

Even if the item is old or of the correct age, it is often impossible to verify Texas Ranger ownership because:

(1) Until the mid-1930s each Ranger supplied most of their own equipment. The little State documentation that exists is limited -- such as an entry on a ledger for "revolver"or "rifle" but no serial number.

(2) Many Post-1935 Texas DPS records documenting the assignment of firearms and equipment have been lost or destroyed. What is your advice on buying?
  1. Learn about the type of antique (firearm, badge, knife, etc.) and research any Ranger associated with it before buying. Visit museums, look at historic photos, read books and become a scholar. We strongly advise against buying something you know little about, from an unfamiliar seller without a written guarantee.
  2. Insist that the seller provide a written, signed and witnessed description of the item and its history and a guarantee of authenticity with right of return. If they refuse, strongly consider walking away.
  3. Verify the seller's address and his/her phone number before you buy. Dealers/sellers on the Internet and at gun shows often vanish.
  4. A few words about documentation: Examine all documentation and related materials before buying. "Ill show you after the sale" is a cue to walk away. If the documentation came from a museum or a library, verify it with that institution. Why? Computer printers and scanners make it easy to create forged documents.  Never, never, never buy based on an unverified photocopy of an affidavit or documentation.
  5. A few words about affidavits: They are of no value unless they can be verified -- by contacting the Texas Ranger who executed it, a close family member or witness. Again, Computer printers and scanners make it easy to create forged documents.
  6. A few words about "experts": View any "expert" offered by the seller with skepticism. Their objective is to sell you their item and they will do whatever they can to make it as attractive as possible. Sellers sometimes pay "experts" for favorable opinions. Some may be qualified, others are not -- but all work for the seller, not the buyer.

    How do you judge an "expert"? Ask about their formal training, where they work or worked, demand references and ask where they can be contacted after the sale. Then call and verify the credentials they have given you with their references or institutions. Most reputable museums prohibit their staff from personal buying or selling in their field.

    Be especially wary of "experts" who conveniently "pass by" when you visit a gun show table or shop. Be wary of persons frantically competing against you, only to drop out at the end. These are old tricks.

  7. Finally, avoid current design badges; they are illegal under Texas law -- whether real or a fake.

Will a Museum Authenticate or Appraise?

Staff members will usually examine items, share their observations and may suggest sources to help you make your own informed decision. For reasons of liability, reputable nonprofit museums do not issue letters of authentication or appraise.

We recommend that you ask any person with whom you consult about their training and experience with such artifacts and the sources they consult. The positions usually responsible for collections research are the Collections Manager, Curator or Director.

No reputable museum will appraise (state a value). They may assist you by referencing price guides or assist in making you aware of channels to locate appraisers.

Museum employees are not allowed to appraise or authenticate as a "side business" due to conflicts of interest.

Act in Haste, Repent at Leisure

I bought it from this old guy at a Gun Show, didn't get his name . . .

I don't know anything about it, but the price was good . . .

The Expert at the table said . . .

He had a Xerox of an affidavit . . .

I just saw it on EBAY and the auction ends tomorrow at . . .

said I could bring it back -- funny, no name and address on this receipt . . .

The man at the show said he had worked at a museum . . .

The dealer said your museum could give me all the information later on . . .

Looks like I got taken, can you help me get my money back?

The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum in Waco, Texas