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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  GENERAL TOPICS  |  The Shootin' Range (Moderators: Marshal Halloway, Texas Lawdog)  |  Topic: Colt Authentication? 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Doc Sunrise
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« on: May 23, 2006, 08:22:16 pm »


I picked up a beautiful Colt Single Action Army built in 1899 from an Estate sale.  From serial numbers matching and correct period parts, and the tons of cr--stuff that was inside, along with 3 gunsmiths and 2 antique firearms dealers I believe it is a true gun.  Colt Archives information jives with it, but I am curious as to whom should I go to really authenticate it? 

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St. George
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« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2006, 11:37:33 pm »

If your serial numbers all match - they'll give you the year of manufacture in several places - The 'Blue Book', and the Dixie Gun Works Catalogs have that listing.

If you want to know where it was originally shipped, and what finish it originally had, along with what grips and the length of barrel - Colt will be able to provide that documentation - for $100 or maybe more, by now.

Colt can 'really' authenticate it.

The antique gun dealers and the gunsmiths can't.

Vaya,

Scouts Out!

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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2006, 01:07:04 am »

WOW ....$100 bucks or more now ... "who do thet think they am ? ...Andy by God Jackson" !  Grin

I paid them $25 for a Search on my 1860 Army back in 1983... Holly euro inflation Batman !

have you tried here... http://www.armscollectors.com/srs.htm

not as good as the Colt letter of authenticity, but may help....

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Marshal Will Wingam
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2006, 01:18:46 am »

To a collector, a letter of authenticity from Colt is worth way more than the $100 or whatever they charge these days. They will tell you when it was made, where it was shipped, the finish, the caliber, the barrel length and how many were in the shipment from the factory. It takes a couple months to get the letter back, but it's worth the wait. The one I had done didn't mention what kind of grips is had, so presumably the wooden ones were standard those days and not noteworthy. If engraved or nickel plated, that would be mentioned, also. The historian told me that a shipment consisted of all identical guns so if it was in a shipment of 12, they would all have been identical.

Colt: 800-962-2658

The historian used to be Beverly Haines, but that may be different, now.
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St. George
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2006, 02:25:56 am »

A Colt 'Letter' definitely adds to the gun's value.

A little-known fact is that if 'you' buy a Colt that's been previously 'Lettered' by the owner - for a fee - Colt will re-letter it to you.

I have no idea what they'd charge.

Springfield Research Service has no Colt Shipping Records - nor do any other resources, as they're proprietary to Colt.

The Serial Number lists are to be found in a number of places, though - but all they do is give the range and the serial number that began that year, so you either extrapolate the approximate month - or you're satisfied just knowing the year.

Vaya,

Scouts Out!

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Chance
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2006, 02:38:42 am »

I believe the Factory Letter for a Colt SAA is now $300 and up. If it turns out to have been made for Bat Masterson or the likes the fee is increased.
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Doc Sunrise
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« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2006, 04:41:17 am »

OK, here is the scoop!  Colt charged me $150 and gave the info over the phone with the letter to follow.  All of the information they had jives with the gun.  It is a 45 Colt SAA with 7 1/2" barrel in Blue, no stocks listed so it is presumed to be standard, which should have been Colt's black rubber without eagles.  It was shipped to Hartley & Graham's in New York on July 22, 1899, and it was 1 of 15.  It has Black Powder rifling and a Black Powder front sight with the "V" rear sight, and the rampant colt has a full circle around it.  According to Huhnhausen's Colt Shop Manual and the Blue Book the ejector rod and tube, hammer and hammer knurling, hand and bolt, sights, caliber, length, grips, and markings are all period correct for a pre-1900 Transition SAA.  My final question is there appears to be 4 numbers on the cylinder where the last number matches the last number of the serial #, but the other numbers do not, and there is the letter P on the opposite side, and then the letters K and B and some other stamping on the ratchet side of the cylinder, do these numbers typically match up to other numbers on the gun and do the letters represent anything?

Also, a side note for St. George.  I also took the opportunity to ask for the relettering of my Colt Black Powder collection of 11 guns, which they did find the serial number under special numbers.  Even though they all have the same number the charge is going to be $75 per gun.  They said the research will take up to 100 days, but they do not charge until then.  Thanks for the advice!
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Chance
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« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2006, 07:32:59 am »

The four numbers on the cylinder should be the last four digits of the serial number. If they are not then the cylinder is probably from another pistol. The letters are Inspector's marks.
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« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2006, 07:33:59 am »

Fellows,  I meant no disrespect to Colt or collectors ,that was the reason for the   Grin grin.
I've collected for over 40 years, and have letters for my Colts. I was just commenting on the huge price change in the insuring years. Embarrassed
My mentioned 1860 Army had not been lettered to my knowledge, prior to my ownership 1983 to present.
I found it was one of a "lot of 900 guns", bought by contract by the State of Illinois, for the 13th. ILL. Cavalry.
Another , was "one of 300" purchased by Iowa for the 5th. Iowa Cavalry.
I have one of a group issued to the 5th. NY Volunteer Cavalry.
I have letters for a Colt 51 Navy & a 1911.
These letters from Colt were $25 each for the research, back in the days of under a dollar gas..... Cry


the "who do thet think they am "? ...Andy by God Jackson" !  reference , was a line from a movie, I always thought funny.

The Springfield Research Service reference was only to help ,
that's way I said "not as good as the Colt letter of authenticity, but may help....... sorry if I offended....

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Big Hext
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« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2006, 08:58:12 am »

Howdy all,

Good advice here..
Let me add another caution to buyers.  There are some pretty good fabricators of falsified guns out there.  As the value for Colts has risen, so has the sophistication and investment of Colt forgers.  We are seeing more and more Colts with letters showing up, and the guns are wrong. 
For someone with the skills, parts and equipment, the cost of a letter is minor and it creates the illusion of authenticity.  They use the letter to create a gun that matches the description.

Caveat emptor!  Watch it guys.. it is really tough to see a guy bring in a gun or guns, that are taken in as a debt or payment, or bought as an heirloom to be passed down and have to tell them that their gun is probably not right.  We have seen bogus Colts, Winchesters and Sharps with letters.

Adios,

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St. George
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« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2006, 09:22:58 am »

There's a 'dealer' in antique arms nearby.

Years back - he wound up with a couple of pallets of old, high-rag-content paper from a defunct printing firm somewhere, so he decided that he 'needed' a few 'old' typewriters to go along - as well as some steel-tipped pen points and ink.

An equally 'enterprising' buddy of his got the correct printing done for Letterheads of different firearms manufacturers and eras and suddenly -  voila'  - they were in the 'authentication' business.

His 'prey' were the folks in the disposable income - instant gratification - too busy to research crowd - Doctors, Lawyers, Air Force senior Officer's wives seeking presents - and so on and so forth, as well as the 'true believers' who 'just know' that the piece is 'good' - because they've seen it in a book, somewhere.
Folks that were never going to really 'look', as long as they could buy, and impulse buying was being counted on.

He even did some 'capture documents' and DCM sales receipts - providing a very nice one to an M1911A1 that a buddy of mine had traded that was a dufflebag bring-back and was most definitely 'not' a Government-sold piece.

And this is just 'one' guy...

There are 'many' more out there.

My advice:

Buy a 'good' reference library on those guns that are of interest to you and don't just set it there to look at the pretty pictures, but read it thoroughly.

Get to know a couple of 'serious' collectors and ask for their help and ask to look at their pieces.
If  you're serious - they'll be happy to help.

Buy from respected dealers - from Estate Sales and such - but buy with some 'authority' - and you get that from knowledge and familiarity with the subject.

Like I said - this is 'one' guy - 'authenticating'.

There are a few close-by who are actively 'building' - and they're not limited to the scope of antique weaponry - but they're even doing Enfield rifles, Webley revolvers along with the M1A1 Carbines and the more 'desireable' of the M1's and other military-issued weapons.

But that's another story...

In short - if there's more money to be made by adding a piece of paper or some markings to the item - or in removing some markings from same - it gets done.

Don't let it get 'done' to you...

Good Luck.

Vaya,

Scouts Out!







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"It Wasn't Cowboys and Ponies - It Was Horses and Men.
It Wasn't Schoolboys and Ladies - It Was Cowtowns and Sin..."
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Cas City Forum Hall & CAS-L  |  GENERAL TOPICS  |  The Shootin' Range (Moderators: Marshal Halloway, Texas Lawdog)  |  Topic: Colt Authentication? « previous next »
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