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Auction Date: September 11, 2016

Lot 3078: Colt - Single Action Army

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Documented Historic First Generation Colt Single Action Army Revolver Owned by the "King of the Cowboys" and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Performer Buck Taylor with Factory Letter
Estimated Price: $15,000 - $25,000
Item Views 243 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Colt - Single Action Army ManufacturerColt ModelSingle Action Army
TypeRevolver Gauge45 Long Colt Catalog Page44
Barrel5 1/2 Inch Round FinishNickel GripAntique Ivory
Stock ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionOffered here is a first generation Colt Single Action Army Revolver once owned by the "King of the Cowboys" and Buffalo Bill's Wild West performer Buck Taylor (1857-1924). Its nickel finish with niter blue head screws, cylinder pin latch and cylinder pin and two piece grip makes this flashy revolver the ideal Wild West show sidearm for a cowboy showman like Texas native Buck Taylor. He was, in the words of a contemporary admirer, "a sterling performer who gave his all, and a disciplined and well-behaved gentleman,…credited with improving the image of cowboys from the realm of rogues to a noble knight of the plains. To his credit, Taylor's traditions of respectability as the original 'King of the Cow-Boys' were later carried on by successors the likes of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers." Taylor was one of Buffalo Bill's performers for nearly ten years. He was described as Buffalo Bill's most talented horsemen. Standing over 6 feet tall, Taylor dazzled audiences with his riding and lassoing skills, advertised as being able to bring a steer to the ground by the horns or tail and tie him singlehanded. He performed before European royalty during the first European tour taken by Buffalo Bill's Wild West show in 1887. At the opening performance, it was reported that "his exertions were rewarded with unlimited applause." Within two weeks after arriving in England, he suffered a broken leg due to a riding accident. The legend of Buck Taylor was in immortalized in several period dime novels such as "Buck Taylor, King of the Cowboys," "The Wild Star Riders," "Buck Taylor, The Saddle King," "The Lasso King's League," and "The Cowboy Clan." It has been said that Prentiss Ingraham's "Buck Taylor, King of the Cowboys" was the first dime novel to have a cowboy hero. In 1894, Taylor established his own show, and later retired in Pennsylvania where he died at the age of 67. The book "Story of the Wild West and Campfire Chats" (1888) by Buffalo Bill, which is included, is an account of the thrilling adventures of Western pioneers as told by Buffalo Bill and is filled with tales of bravery, heroism, sorrow and thrills out on the Western frontier and includes a description of the Wild West show European tour. The book features an illustration of Buck Taylor mastering "an eruptive mustang." "The part of the entertainment most novel to Londoners was undoubtedly the riding of the 'bucking' horses," wrote Buffalo Bill. This well documented firearm was pictured and described in Robert Lee and R.L. Wilson's book "The Art of the Gun, Magnificent Colts: Selections from the Robert M. Lee Collection," Vol. II, pages 344 and 345. The description states that the revolver remained in the Taylor family for decades. More details pertaining to the provenance is provided in an accompany letter written by Wilson. He writes that the revolver was kept in the Taylor family for decades, passing to Buck Taylor's niece, Francis Taylor Hoffmeister, and then to Francis' grand nephew, Zimmie B. Houser. The family ownership of the revolver is validated by a notarized letter from Zimmie B. Houser. According to Wilson, "[T]his is the only known Buck Taylor Colt Single Action, or other documented Buck Taylor firearm." Wilson's letter also provides the Colt factory shipping ledger information for this revolver that confirms the barrel length, caliber, nickel plating, and grip. The revolver was shipped to Lee, Clark, Anderson Hardware Co. of Omaha, Nebraska, on October 26, 1896. The barrel has the single line Hartford address marking on top and "45 COLT" on the left side. The frame has the two line, three patent date marking with a circled Rampant Colt on the left side. Matching serial number on the frame and grip straps with the assembly number "894" on the loading gate. The revolver is equipped with the standard blade front and square notch rear sights. Research pertaining to Buck Taylor and the documents mentioned above are all kept in an included custom "book" box. The factory letter confirms the caliber, barrel length, finish and type of stocks. The revolver was shipped to Lee Clark Andreesen Hardware Co. of Omaha, Nebraska, on October 26, 1896.

ConditionVery fine as period replated, possibly by factory. The revolver retains 90% nickel finish showing loss concentrated on the cylinder and frame. The small components retain 95% nitre blue finish. The grips are also very fine showing a few minor handling marks with very attractive coloring and grain pattern. Mechanically excellent. This Colt Single Action Army revolver documented to Buffalo Bill's Wild West performer "King of the Cowboys" Buck Taylor is sure to be the envy of American Western memorabilia and Colt collectors. In the words of R.L. Wilson, "The Buck Taylor Colt No. 167520 is worthy of the finest museum or private collection." Provenance: Robert M. Lee Collection.
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