Both of these revolvers are attributed to U.S. Deputy Marshals in Oklahoma who were members of the Collins family. Each includes a leather holster, U.S. Deputy Marshal style badge, and factory letter. The factory letter identifies the first revolver as in .38-40 with a 4 3/4 inch barrel, nickel finish, factory engraving, and pearl grips and list it as the sole gun of this type in a shipment to Roberts, Sanford & Taylor Co. in Sherman, Texas, on July 6, 1899. Sherman is just 18 miles south of Colbert, Oklahoma. The revolver is one of less than 60 identified in the factory records as factory engraved (see page 266-267 of "The Book of Colt Firearms" by Wilson), and fewer still would have gone to Texas and the Oklahoma Territory. Adding further to this revolver's rarity is its inscription and attribution to Deputy U.S. Marshals. The revolver is lightly inscribed "Colbert Okla" on the bottom of the barrel and "George Collins" on the back strap and is listed as having been the personal side arm of three generations of the Collins family in Oklahoma, all U.S. Deputy Marshals: Dan Collins (1837-1921), Charlie Collins (1885-1969), and George Collins (1909-1982). The engraving consists primarily of scroll engraving with beaded backgrounds accented by wavy line motifs and fan patterns and was almost certainly executed by Colt chief engraver Cuno A. Helfricht. The top of the barrel is roll-stamped with the two-line legend: "COLT'S PT. F.A. MFG. CO./HARTFORD, CT.U.S.A." "38 W.C.F." is roll-stamped in an engraved banner on the left of the barrel. The two-line patent markings and Rampant Colt trademark enclosed in a double circle are roll-stamped on the left side of the frame. The assembly number "882" is stamped on the inside of the loading gate. The serial number "186043" is stamped on the bottom of the frame, trigger guard and back strap. All of the visible serial numbers match. The serial number on the trigger guard is enclosed in a banner. The pearl grips have brass Rampant Colt medallions, and the right grip features a raised relief carved steer head. The back of the right grip has "320369" along with "GILL/SUDDERTH." Our research found that there was a well-respected hog breeder in Leonard, Texas, who was active c. 1920-1950. The brown, leather, double loop holster has scroll tooling and silver tack accents. A "DEPUTY/U.S./MARSHAL" star shaped badge with scroll accents and "LAS&SCO" (Los Angeles Stamp & Stationery Company, 1935-1964) marked on the back is also included. The revolver is also accompanied by a folder of documentation pertaining to the revolver's history, mainly in the form of letters and transcripts of conversions with George C. Collins of Grand Prairie, Texas. They indicate he was given the revolver by his father. For example, a letter from 1981 he wrote: "I do not know just when the gun came into my father's possession, but I would assume it was around 1900, when he was a young man. When I became Deputy Sheriff in 1939 my father gave me this gun. I had it nickeled and the pearl handles were taken from an old gun at a gun repair shop and put on this gun. Perhaps the name Gill Sudderth was the owner of the gun from which the grips were taken. I am not familiar with that name. I came from a long line of peace officers. My grandfather was an Indian Territory Marshall, before Oklahoma became a state. I had an uncle who was killed in line of duty (ambushed) while a Marshal about 1900. Since statehood in Okla. my father was a Deputy Marshal for a while and I recall 8 uncles and cousins who have been peace officers in various capacities, Sheriff, Deputies, and State Police. Four died in line of duty. I worked as an officer in several capacities, Chief Deputy, Fingerprints, Investigator, Deputy U.S. Marshal for Security of P.O.W. at Denison Dam and Lake Texoma. I was appointed to, but rejected jobs as Border Patrol, Mexican Border, Okla. Dept. of Public Safety, Bureau of Identification in Washington, D.C. and Border Patrol on Canadian Border. I retired from police work in 1945 with the U.S. Corps of Engineers. I went into construction of airports, highways, streets, and bridges throughout Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. I retired in 1973." In additional letters and conversations in the 1980s, he identifies his father as Charlie H. Collins (1885-1969) born at Colbert, Indian Territory, and indicates he became a Deputy U.S. Marshal during a strike in 1920 on the M.K.T. and Frisco Railroads and worked in coordination with the Texas Rangers to protect the bridge over the Red River from being blown up. "Dad used the gun you now have on this tour of duty. It was a well known fact that Marshals, Rangers, and Railroad detectives were all crack shots and always on the job. There was a lot of target practice, both day and night, so any one in hearing range was reminded that the threat wouldn't be carried out without a good gun battle." After the incident, his father was offered permanent lawman work but instead returned to ranching and farming. He also provides more information on his own career noting he was also born at Colbert, graduated from Durant with a degree in Psychology and Education, and taught school for four years before working construction and traveling around also working with the Seattle Police and L.A. Police. During this period, he studied fingerprints and secret operations and graduated from the Institute of Applied Science and the Secret Service Institute in 1934. He was chief deputy sheriff in Durant, Oklahoma, and handled the fingerprints and files and then got commissioned as a Deputy U.S. Marshal since he had been working closely with the U.S. Marshal. "I was making a lot of arrests that turned to the Feds. I arrested an FBI Agent and a case was made and he pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe. I never had any close encounters, as such, even tho I arrested some rather interesting people, hijackers, murderers, and just about an kind you can name. I never wore a gun only on special occasions usually the surprise element worked." Later in the letter he notes: "As to the gun you now have. I had it nickeled at Olathe, Kansas, but my name and address were stenciled on by a free lance engraver who came into the sheriff's officer. When it was nickeled it has the original pearl handles, but later a car thief whom I had arrested attempted to disarm me, I tapped him on the head with the gun butt and the handles disintegrated. I took it to a gun shop in Denison and a pair of steer head pearls were taken from an old gun and placed on mine. I then sold the gun to the gun dealer in about 1945 or 46." He added that his grandfather Dan H. Collins (1837-1921) "worked as a U.S. Indian Marshal in Southeastern Indian Territory during the day of the James Brothers, the Younger Brothers, the Daltons and the Starrs. When Okla. became a state in 1907, he hung up his guns and devoted his time to his farming and stock raising." He took prisoners to Fort Smith to "Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker.
Good with patches of refinished nickel remaining in some of the protected areas and otherwise silver-gray patina, some light pitting, mostly distinct engraving and markings, and mild overall wear. The period replacement grips are very good and have a minor chip on the upper left, faint cracks near the heel on the right, and nice steer head carving. Mechanically fine. The holster is also fine and has moderate rub wear.
The factory letter identifies this revolver as a "Special Target Bisley Model" in .45 caliber with a 7 1/2 inch barrel blue finish, and rubber grips when it was one of a pair shipped to Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co. in Chicago on March 2, 1898. It has a shortened barrel, replacement blade and notch sights, a modified top strap, "(BISLEY MODEL) 45 COLT" on the left side of the barrel, the one-line address on top, the two-line patent marking and encircled Rampant Colt trademark on the left, assembly number "79" on the loading gate, and matching serial numbers on the frame, trigger guard, and back strap. The inside of the grips have "I.T./USM" and "BEN COLLINS," and the left grip is also dated "1900." It is accompanied by a dark leather, single loop holster weaved with dark red and green leather straps and fitted with a "DEPUTY/U.S./MARSHAL" badge marked on the back with "LAS&SCO" (Los Angeles Stamp & Stationary Company, 1935-1964). The included notes state that the revolver is one of 97 Flat Top Bisley revolvers in .45 Colt and belonged to Indian Policeman and Deputy U.S. Marshal Benjamin Carter Collins (1875-1906) of the Indian Territory/Oklahoma. He was the brother of Dan Collins who owned the other revolver in this lot. A binder of information on Collins accompanies the revolver. James B. Miller (aka Killer Miller and Killing Jim Miller) ambushed and killed Collins on August 1, 1906, in revenge for the shooting and paralyzation of Port Pruitt by Collins in 1903. After being struck by buckshot, Collins reportedly fired off his four shots before being hit again in the face. Two years later, Miller killed legendary lawman Pat Garrett. Miller was lynched alongside three other men accused in the killings of Collins and former Deputy U.S. Marshal Gus Bobbit in Ada, Oklahoma, on April 19, 1909, and prints of the lynching are in the document file. Two of his nephews were also shot and killed in the line of duty in Oklahoma: Patrolman Jim Keirsey of the Seminole Police Department on November 7, 1929, and Deputy William Keirsey of the Carter County Sheriff's Department on December 10, 1930.
Good as period modified (shortened barrel, grooved frame) with the look of a revolver that saw heavy use by a lawmen in the West, including dark patina overall with mild pitting. The grips are good and have distinct checkering and mild handling wear. Mechanically fine. The holster is very good with mild wear from use and storage. This is a fascinating pair of revolvers from the Collins family of lawmen in Oklahoma. Both identified as owned by brothers who were Deputy U.S. Marshals in Oklahoma, and the first which was also used and inscribed by Deputy U.S. Marshals Charlie and George Collins from the subsequent generations of Collins family lawmen.
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