my prize winning 45 smoothbore saa

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by reinhard, Jun 28, 2010.

  1. oneshot onekill

    oneshot onekill New Member

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    Man, I gotta tell ya after reading the Colt Letter and the highlighted section in the Colt Encyclopedia there's DEFINITELY something "fishy" about this SAA. The letter states "blue" finish. The gun should be blue... No exceptions that I know of! If it were sent to London to be nickeled it would NOT say "blue". Also, the Colt Encyclopedia states "rubber" grips. It has definitely been changed from it's original configuration and that really hurts the collector value.

    Even if your information is correct, there is no corroboration in the known text books and that leaves too many questions and speculation.

    Sorry man... I hate to go back on what I said earlier but I didn't have all of the information and wanted to tell you this ASAP so hopefully you can get this figured out.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
  2. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    I'm curious as to just what the "Colt Encyclopedia" being referenced is.
    Who published it, and when? I see other reference in it to Doc Carver, Buffalo Bill and Annie Oakley, all members of the Wild West Show at that time. It's almost seems as if it is "suggesting" that these guns belonged to them but doesn't come right out and claim it. If it could be attributed to Cody it may be worth the price paid but it will take more than being listed in some "Encyclopedia" of unknown provenance.
    I would be suspicious that these guns were fancied up by some London entrepreneur hoping to cash in on the popularity of the Wild West Show that was touring Europe at the time. (Kind of like the "action figures" that follow movie releases today.) This would add value, but I don't think all that much.
    This needs a lot more research. I might suggest you also post over on the Colt Forum, there's a good number of experts there.
  3. oneshot onekill

    oneshot onekill New Member

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    For those interested, here's something I found on a website for Julia Auctions. This pistol is in their archives:

    "1523AB. *COLT NICKEL SINMGLE ACTION REVOLVER WITH SHOULDER STOCK; POSSIBLE BUFFALO BILL COLLECTION. Ser. 128863. Cal. 45 smooth bore, 7 1/2” barrel. This lot accompanied by an original factory letter that the finish was blue, that it was shipped to the Colts Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company the London Agency; 14 Pal Mal London, England October 10th, 1889. It was at this very time that Buffalo Bill was just across the channel at his Wild West show and at about this same time of the famous Paris International Exposition. Buffalo Bill was purchased a number of Colt smooth bore revolvers from the Colt manufacturing company. He and some of the other “expert shots” who performed at the time usually used shot and thus smooth bore pistols so they could not miss! It is believed the pistol may have been made for Buffalo Bill because of his frequent usage of this type of weapon and because of the near proximity and the time that it was delivered. However, the Paris Exposition was also taking place at the same time and it is known that Colt prepared a wide array of firearms that were shipped to their London office for use in display at the Paris Exposition. The Information on this serial number exists in the Colt Peacemaker Encyclopedia, Vol. 2 on page 350 and 410 by Keith Cochran and specifically states “128,863 7 1/2.45 smooth bore, nickel finish, rubber grips, British proof marks, extended hammer screw for shoulder stock, shipped London Agency, October 10th 1889, Buffalo Bill was in Paris at this time for the Paris International Exposition.” This gun retains British proof marks on the barrel and cylinder with nickel finish. The finish is definitely factory quality and was applied after the proof marks. The shoulder stock has been modified by adding a walnut plate and grinding the buttplate flush with the sides of the stock. The case is modern and has been made to accept the gun, shoulder stock and cartridges. Owner has put together a number of other items with this lot which include a Paris 1889 Exposition medal with the name Rafael Arenas, an article by Buffalo Bill from Colliers Weekly, April 13th, 1901 and a Buffalo Bill’s sweepstake dime novel. CONDITION. The revolver appears to be unused and almost of all the nickel remains. The stock retains most of its nickel except on the sides of the buttplate where it has been ground to brass. The case and other articles are in fine condition. 4-41826 (20,000-25,000)"

    So maybe there is some provenance here. Still scares me.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
  4. oneshot onekill

    oneshot onekill New Member

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    By the way, Just thought I'd share... here's my most recent "Colt" acquisition. Not quite as romantic as an SAA but it's quite rare and may actually be "unfired":
    [​IMG]
    It's a Model 1905. It was the first Semi Automatic Model that Colt ever made in 45 ACP. This one is possibly the best one in existance.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
  5. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    One-one,

    Good research!
    I'm with you, possible, maybe even plausible. Or just happenstance? Definitely sounds like the "assembly of artifacts" was done not too many years ago.
    I noticed that Julia was very careful not to make any claims that couldn't be verified. Is it worth 4 modern engraved SAA's + $4,000? I guess it depends on how much it rings your chimes.

    BTW: Did the archive have a "Values Received" section? If so, did it sell and for how much? (and when)
  6. oldcruiser

    oldcruiser New Member

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    To help shed a little more light.

    At that period in time Colt had two manufacturing facilities, one in the USA and the London location (established 1853). The London factory resulted, in part, due to the overwhelming response the Colt Exhibition of 1851 received at the London Crystal Exposition Palace. The London factory was opened nearly two years prior to Colt's completion of their new USA facility in NH.

    The London Agency was the distributor for the London factory. The factory did produce firearms, e.g. London Navy Models, etc., and also received shipments from the USA.

    Shipments of completed revolvers from the USA would ship to Colt's London factory. Once there, they would be made ready. Made ready would involve inspection, GB proofing, caliber adjustments if required, e.g. Eley, etc., special finishes, basically made ready for shipment to, or to fill orders from, the London Agency.

    One interesting item involves the Model 1860 trigger guard. Colt USA produced the 1860 with a brass trigger guard. Colt London would replace the trigger guard with blued steel due to the fact the British customers thought the brass looked out of place. Colt was in business to make and sell firearms.

    Colt USA letters reflect what processes (think build sheet) were completed, and to whom the piece was shipped to (distributor). Colt London would in turn have a build sheet listing what had been done to the imported item. It was not uncommon for a Colt USA revolver to be sent to Colt London and then be worked on again prior to their shipping to their distributor (London Agency) for customer sale as ordered. As far as the rubber versus wooden grips, that could have transpired at the London agency upon customer sale and inspection.

    Not all shoulder stocks were made by Colt USA or Colt London. Shoulder stocks were often made by other vendors for Colt. (I have seen shoulder stocks that sold for much more than the revolvers they were with.) The same holds true for wooden presentation boxes.

    The pics appear to show a nice piece from the period, and should bear further inspection and research. The dollar amount invested seems fair enough, based only at seeing the pics. If the revolver, shoulder stock, and presentation case are all Colt manufactured, the trades he has invested may very well be worthwhile.
  7. oneshot onekill

    oneshot onekill New Member

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    That's great information oldcruiser! Now I'd have to ask if there is any way to get the London "Build Sheet" to validate the changes made to the pistol? Without such documentation the time and reasoning behind the changes are still speculation and value is difficult to ascertain. All in all I think it's an extremely interesting SAA and I really want to believe the history but I've been stung one too many times to be so trusting.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
  8. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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    I don't know about Colt, but S&W's main agent in that time period was M.W.Robinson in NYC,NY. Many guns sent to Robinson's were "embellished" by the distributor with pearl grips, engraving, etc. These embelishments are not considered "factory" by collectors and will not letter as such. Although two identical guns engraved by Nimschke may be identical in quality, there is a fairly large difference in value depending on whether the factory commissioned the work or it was commissioned by the distributor.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2010
  9. oneshot onekill

    oneshot onekill New Member

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    I dug around their site but was unable to find the actual selling price. The auction estimate was $20,000-$25,000 if I read it correctly.
  10. reinhard

    reinhard Member

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    ;;;;;;
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2011
  11. muddober

    muddober Active Member

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    one shot: What do mean not as romantic? Your auto is as cool as it gets and the condition. OMG

    Ron
  12. muddober

    muddober Active Member

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    Reinhard: The Colt is a 3.5 inch and has two a two line address on top of the barrel. The ejector end piece has been skeletonized to go over the cylinder retaining pin. Who ever made up the gun did an excellent job. It is a first year second generation gun.

    Your 44-40 is really cool I like the hammer and the cut around the cylinder especially.

    Are you familar with a Grover Improved Number Five?

    Ron

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  13. oneshot onekill

    oneshot onekill New Member

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    I guess what I meant was the SAA has a very storied history and a huge following while the 1905 sort of slips through the cracks in history. When asked about rare 45ACP pistols most will recognize the 45 Luger or even the Savage 1907 but I rarely hear mention of the true "father" of the 1911.
    When I first got this 1905 I was so excited and wanted to show it to the guys that hang out at a local gun shop. Literally NO ONE knew what it was or how lucky they were to be able to fondle it. One guy even asked if it was an old "Colt Copy" of some sort. Anyway, that's all I meant. Thanks for appreciating it!

    John
  14. reinhard

    reinhard Member

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  15. macrylinda1

    macrylinda1 New Member

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    if you mean that the gun is refinished from bleu to chrome than i have to say that you are possibly may be wrong,the gun was chromed in london because of the milky color you had when colt did the chroming,the gun is listed in the colt encyclopidia as chromed and this is still the original finsish the gun has still al markings very sharp ,tommorow i wil post detailled pics of the gun
    taken in daylite and as a i can assure u the gun is not in the us at this moment

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