Nowergup antique gun collector’s arsenal to go under the hammer

Leo Laden with a flint lock 12 gauge shotgun from New Zealand. Picture: Martin Kennealey d473588
Leo Laden with a flint lock 12 gauge shotgun from New Zealand. Picture: Martin Kennealey d473588

IT is a sad day for antique gun collector Leo Laden of Nowergup.

More than 300 lots of his military collection go under the hammer at McKenzies Auctioneers in Claremont at 6pm.

“Do you know how that is making me feel after collecting for all these years?” the 79-year-old said.

“I was 14 when I got my first dagger, a 100-year-old Kukri, with my own pocket money.”

The former psychiatrist and RAF medical officer has been forced to sell 100 of his 200 guns after police said he would have to increase his security at his Nowergup property where he has run his Antique Arms and Armour Museum of WA.

“Those I’m selling you don’t need a licence for,” he said.

“They’re muzzle loaders, the ones you stick gun powder down the barrel.”

Dr Laden’s troubles started in April this year when he received a police inspection, the fifth in 40 years as a militaria dealer.

“They told me my security wasn’t good enough,” he said.

“I had a 400-year-old English Civil War musket* – a monster of a thing – I got from a castle in England.

“They said ‘you can’t have it on the wall; you might frighten someone’.

“I would have had to spend tens of thousands of dollars of security if I continued as a dealer.

“Up till this year’s inspection, there was no problem at all.”

The “very next day” he and his late wife Daphne received news that she had terminal cancer.

They had just returned from the national muzzle loading championships in Adelaide.

They had also over the years been part of world championships, Dr Laden talking part in nine of them.

He said in previous years when he was pictured in the Wanneroo Times, parents would bring their youngsters to his museum and he would take them through the history pertaining to pieces in the collection.

Now there is a sadness that it will not be happening again.

“I would let them feel the guns,” he said.

“Now you’re not allowed to let someone touch a gun they haven’t got a licence for.”

* Dr Laden’s English Civil War gun won’t be in tonight’s auction. He sold it to a fellow dealer and friend for $20,000.

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