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1884 Colt Single Action .45

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by wdematt, Jun 30, 2017.

  1. wdematt

    wdematt New Member

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    I inherited this gun and have tried to do some basic research online, including requesting confirmation from Colt of it's authenticity based on the serial number. It was originally owned by an ancestor and has found its way to me through the years. I have been told that there are photos of my ancestor with the gun floating around and I am trying to locate them currently.

    I believe it is an 1884 Colt .45 Single Action Army revolver. All the serial numbers match and the gun appears to have all of its parts (spring works, barrel rolls, hammer cocks, etc). As a novice, it's hard for me to give opinions on condition, but I have attached a few pictures and am happy to answer any questions that I can. I can say that it has been in a closet for the past 40+ years and there has been no amateur or professional restoration of the gun during that time period.

    Thanks in advance!
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

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    By the SN list, 114444 was made in 1885.
     

  3. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    This looks to me like a "First Generation" Colt Single Action Army revolver. It is stamped "U.S." - a Government Property mark, and being such it is very likely a former Cavalry side arm. As such - it is a black powder only cartridge - NO MODERN made ammunition should be fired in it at all.

    Who knows exactly how it came into civilian hands? If only these old revolvers could talk - I bet there would be a great story. Just about all of the 7 1/2" barreled Cavalry revolvers in Federal inventory by 1900 were converted to a shorter 5" barrel - so that makes yours even the more rare.

    Your revolver is in pretty darn good condition compared to most of the others like it that I've seen. The finish is very good - but very dry. It needs a careful cleaning and oiling with a very soft cotton cloth to help preserve the metal. Keep ALL of the oil away from the wooden stocks. The interior of the revolver may also need a good cleaning and oiling - but don't do this yourself. Take it to a GOOD gunsmith, and explain the age and rarity of this revolver just to make sure he doesn't have the 18 year old in the back room do anything to it. Besides a couple of slightly buggered screw heads your revolver looks to be in very good condition. It doesn't look like it have been fired very much at all.

    As far as value - I would have it PROFESSIONALY appraised (And don't take it to 'Joe Collector") and (again if it were mine) I would have it insured. I suspect your revolver will be in the several thousand dollar range.
     
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  4. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    And for goodness sake, don't you nor anyone else do any restoration other than cleaning and light oil. to do so would drop the value drastically. Unless there is something I don't see my estimate of value would be in the low 5 digest. but then again, what do I know
     
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  5. sharps4590

    sharps4590 Well-Known Member

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    s Jim and RJ said DO NOT TOUCH THAT COLT and by all means have it professionally appraised. I'm pretty certain those are inspector cartouche's on the grips and as Jim pointed out it is stamped "US". Either your date or Alpo's, whichever is correct, assuredly puts it in early 1st Gen. range. I don't know what it's actually worth but certainly it is significant. Wow wde.....you hit the mother lode and to have it be a family heirloom...it doesn't get much better.
     
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  6. wdematt

    wdematt New Member

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    Thanks for all the responses guys (especially those of you who put so much time into your reply) - lots of info and very helpful. Once I have a professional give his opinion I'll check back in and share the info.

    I'm surprised to hear it might actually have value! The other items my grandmother wanted me to have were a candy dish full of candy corn and a collection of owl figurines.
     
  7. sharps4590

    sharps4590 Well-Known Member

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    This morning I was browsing a gun dealer's web site who I occasionally purchase from. He has quality stuff. I noticed a 1st Gen. SAA a bit older than yours and in about the same condition and he had $4,200 on it.
     
  8. gvw3

    gvw3 Well-Known Member Supporting Member

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    I would guess that gun on the low end would go for $2500. I have seen them at that price but not as nice as yours.
     
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  9. jim brady

    jim brady Well-Known Member

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    I've seen First Generation Colt SAAs with VERY poor or zero finish sell for $1700 - and these looked like they were used as claw hammers. I expect this one to sell for at least double that.
     
  10. Rick Bowles

    Rick Bowles New Member

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    First let me say that you need much better images. The cartouche on the Left side of the grip is marked with the “FH” (Capt. Frank Heath) under the date “1884”. Right side of the grip should have the “DFC” (David F. Clark) sub-inspector cartouche. You'll also find the “DFC” sub-inspector initials stamped above the serial number on the bottom of the frame. If... and this is a big if, your SAA is whole and unmolested it could be worth $4,500 to $6,500.00. Most Cavalry Model Colt revolvers were cut to 5-1/2" "Artillery" length during the rehab recalls of 1893 and 1900-1903. There is a reason this SAA "missed the cut". The first thing you MUST do is contact John Kopec http://www.johnakopec.com/ for a letter of authentication. It will not bring it's full value without a Kopec letter. I've attached an example of a very historic SAA Kopec letter.
     

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  11. wdematt

    wdematt New Member

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    Rick,
    I knew the pictures were pretty terrible and I apologize, my phone camera was all I had available. I can say with certainty the gun is in better condition than the pics portray.

    After some reading, I, too, came to the conclusion that I needed Mr. Kopec'S opinion. After speaking with him, I can report the revolver is on its way to be inspected.

    I'll follow up with what I learn.

    Thanks everyone!
     
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  12. Rick Bowles

    Rick Bowles New Member

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    Good for you. It's pricey but it's money well spent. Without a Kopec letter prospective buyers would wonder why your Cavalry Colt doesn't have one. Please post some new images and the Kopec letter when it comes.

    Here's the kind of letter you're hoping for. Taylor SAA12.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 7, 2017
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  13. wdematt

    wdematt New Member

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    Rick, I wanted to update you on some research I have been doing regarding the revolver. When I received the gun, I was told it belonged to my great great grandfather. After much research online, I discovered that my great great grandfather, *name redacted*, was the armorer for the City of *location redacted* police force in 1890 (I'm not sure when his tenure began and ended, but he was listed as a clerk in the 1880 census and an armorer for the state troops in the 1890, 1900, 1910 and 1920 censuses).

    I have not yet received my Colt factory letter or my info from Mr. Kopec (he is inspecting the gun this week), but I would assume my great great grandfather's position allowed him access to this gun - maybe it was issued to the state militia or sold directly to the state troopers or City of *redacted* police force? I seem to remember reading somewhere recently that guns issued to state militias were much more likely not to have been part of the rehab calls in 1893 and 1900-1903.

    Hopefully Mr. Kopec is able to unearth some information that corroborates any part of that story.

    I'll keep the thread updated just in case anyone is interested.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  14. Rick Bowles

    Rick Bowles New Member

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    It sounds like your Cavalry Model Army Colt may indeed have been a militia revolver but I'm guessing it will prove to be a NY Militia gun. Kopec's book list (p.79) serial numbers of 126 NY Militia guns including 114443, the consecutive number to your 114444, as well as 114450. To save you some money I strongly recommend you cancel your Colt Factory letter if possible. As you can see below, Colt letters on military guns are notoriously absent any useful information.
    The revolvers were turned over to the government inspector at the Colt plant. After inspection they were sent to Springfield Arsenal for dispersement. I'm checking with a friend who has the Springfield Research Service books. If there is more info on 114444 it will be in the SRS books.

    Taylor SAA11.jpg
     
  15. Big Mak

    Big Mak Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the updates! I hope it is the real deal! I love happy endings to historical items!