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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently came into possession of a Colt Model 1908, serial # 135XXX (manufactured in 1942) that was issued to a general officer during WWII. As shown in the photo below, I also have one magazine and what I believe to be the original issued leather holster. The pistol was issued to Wallace Copeland “Cope” Philoon (1883-1970), who retired as a U.S. Army Major General in 1945. General Philoon graduated from Bowdoin College in 1905, and then attended West Point, graduating in 1909. He was captain of the football team at both schools. The person who owned the pistol before me acquired it directly from General Philoon, and in the 43+ years that he had it he put no more than 15 rounds through it. I don’t know how often General Philoon used it, but from anecdotal evidence it sounds like the answer is rarely if ever.

When it comes to evaluating firearms, I’m a complete novice, so I was hoping to get some impressions form the forum members here. Given the photos I’ve attached, is it possible to come up with a rough estimate of what this pistol is worth?

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I confirm wonderwhippest's estimate - that's about what I have seen for general officer's 1908's. Very, very nice by the way!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks guys, I very much appreciate your feedback. Based on some limited internet research I did before making my first post, I was only expecting a value in the range of $1,500 to $2,000, so hearing $4,500 to $5,000 is a nice surprise.

How important is it to have a detailed provenance on the pistol in order to support such a price? I have no reason to doubt the information that I was provided by the person I acquired the pistol from, and a connection between General Philoon and that person is easily established, but as of right now it’s all verbal. Would an affidavit from the previous owner, who was a party to both transactions since General Philoon owned the pistol, be helpful?

I’ve learned of some books by John W. Brunner on these guns (The Colt Pocket Hammerless Automatic Pistols, and The Colt Pocket Hammerless Automatic Pistols II), but they are very pricey ($250 and up on Amazon), and I seriously doubt that my local library has them. According to descriptions of the books, they contain detailed lists of general officers’ pistols matched with serial numbers. If anyone has access to these books, I would be interested in finding out if they link General Philoon to the pistol that I have.

Finally, as you can see from the photos in my first post, there are some surface blemishes on the pistol. Should I be concerned about these? Should they be removed (if possible), and if so what’s the best way to do that?
 

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Tampering with the finish would be disasterous. Do not even think about it. Provenance is only important if from a notable officer.
For a fact, you are much more knowledgeable than I am on these matters but with out some type of proof or provenance, issue records or what not, isn't it just a 1908 Government marked Colt??
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Any gov. marked 1908 is quite valuable. They are rare.
Would you recommend getting an affadavit anyway? It would be quite easy for me to do.

Also, might your friend who collects these pistols have a copy of, or access to, the Brunner volumes that supposedly have a list by serial numbers and names of the pistols that were issued to GOs?
 

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A notarized statement wouldn't hurt, but it wouldn't mean much since it concerned an obscure officer. We are not aware of the book you mentioned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
A notarized statement wouldn't hurt, but it wouldn't mean much since it concerned an obscure officer. We are not aware of the book you mentioned.
The Brunner books are here:

http://www.amazon.com/Colt-Pocket-H...id=1362334812&sr=1-6&keywords=John+W.+Brunner

and here:

http://www.amazon.com/Colt-Pocket-H...id=1362334812&sr=1-3&keywords=John+W.+Brunner

I found a much less expensive alternative that I ordered yesterday:

http://www.amazon.com/Colt-U-S-General-Officers-Pistol/dp/0917218426/ref=rec_dp_0

Thank you for your assistance. How many of the U.S Property Colts does your collector friend have?
 

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No. He is elderly and is getting ready to dispose of his collection. He will auction them on one of the high end auction sites such as Julia 's. He will probably sell them one at a time so as not to flood the market.
 

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Kind of fun to look at:



WALLACE COPELAND PHILOON, of the Class of 1905; Overseer of the College; Brigadier General in the United States Army; a graduate of West Point with distinguished service in China, the Philippines, Panama, at present in command of Fort McClellan, Alabama, one of the most important training camps in the country; ranking officer of hundreds of Bowdoin men now in the Army; a modest, firm, intelligent officer who serves without fear and without reproach.
Honoris Causa, MASTER OF SCIENCE
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
WALLACE COPELAND PHILOON, of the Class of 1905; Overseer of the College; Brigadier General in the United States Army; a graduate of West Point with distinguished service in China, the Philippines, Panama, at present in command of Fort McClellan, Alabama, one of the most important training camps in the country; ranking officer of hundreds of Bowdoin men now in the Army; a modest, firm, intelligent officer who serves without fear and without reproach.
Honoris Causa, MASTER OF SCIENCE
That brief biography was written when General Philoon was awarded an honorary degree from Bowdoin College in 1944. He was an Overseer (Trustee) of Bowdoin until, I believe, 1960. His son Wallace Copeland Philoon, Jr. was born in Beijing, China, also went to Bowdoin (class of 1945), then earned a Masters and Doctorate in Chemical Engineering from MIT before teaching Chemical Engineering at the University of Tulsa. He passed away in July of last year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I happen to own Brunner's book... and looked up the info on General Philoon.
I sent you a PM...
Hi Val- I would PM you back, but I don't have enough posts yet to do that. Does the Brunner book match names to serial numbers? Is there a specific mention of General Philoon?

Today I received the book that I ordered (The Colt U.S. General Officers' Pistol), and while it has incomplete lists of serial numbers that were part of the general officer issue program, it does not match the pistols with specific officers. These lists are based in large part on reserach that John Brunner did, so I'm wondering if your book has any better info. The copyright date for my book is 1989. The author estimates that he has no more than 50% of the serial numbers for the 1908 380 ACP models that were issued to general officers.

Thanks for your offer of assistance.
 

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And if you don't keep us posted on what you find out, I will personally hunt you down and egg your car.
 
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