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Selling: May 6, 2017

Lot 2619: 1938 Service Ace Conversion Kit, Factory Engraved & Documented

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Extremely Rare and Highly Impressive Factory Documented "B" Engraved and Presentation Cased Pre-War Colt Service Model Ace .22-45 Conversion Unit, Originally Shipped to Marshall Field & Company with Letter
Estimated Price: $22,500 - $35,000
Serial #1938 Service Ace Conversion Kit, Factory Engraved & Documented ManufacturerNone ModelNone
TypeOther Gauge22 LR Catalog Page290
Barrel4 7/8 Inch Round FinishBlue Grip
Stock ClassOther RatingSee Condition
DescriptionAccording to the included factory letter, this conversion kit was "Grade B" engraved at the factory and shipped to Marshall Field & Company of Chicago, Illinois on November 9, 1938, as a single item on the "Loan Account". The letter additionally notes that while the unit was originally just on loan, the company successfully made an offer to buy the unit in October of the following year. While the exact circumstances are undocumented, Colt is known to have produced especially fancy variations on their basic goods to catch the public eye and drive sales, and the counter at Marshall Field (then one of the top retailers in the nation) would be an ideal place for such a display. R.L. Wilson's "Book of Colt Firearms" notes only four known factory engraved conversion units. Outfitted with a blade front and adjustable notch rear sight, the slide bears the two line address/patent markings on the left side, the serial number ahead of the rear sight and the Service Model Ace logo and nomenclature on the right. The rest of the surface is nearly covered in fine engraving, primarily Colt's signature punch-dot backed scrollwork, with the rear of the slide lightly textured to reduce glare and a zig-zag border around the face of the barrel bushing. In total the kit includes the slide, floating chamber barrel, ejector, slide stop, recoil spring with guide and plug, and a two-tone Service Model magazine, all of which fits in a fine pre-war Colt factory walnut case with gold painted Colt "snake" logo on the lid and a seafoam green velvet lined French cut interior, as well as the included Colt "black" box. The case was offered in the factory catalog of the era for a price of $3.50. A larger case for the gun and conversion unit sold for $7.50. Among collectors this is one of only 2 known conversion units with this type of case. The other unit is plain. This unique Colt set has been on display at the Buffalo Bill Historical Museum in Cody, WY and is pictured in the book "Colt and its Collectors."

ConditionExceptionally fine, with 85% plus slightly faded original blue finish, showing some light handling marks overall. Some minor rubbing is present on the barrel lug and the extractor, possibly from light use. The case shows a few minor dings, and the box is excellent. Nearly unique, this may in fact be the best pre-war Colt Service Ace conversion unit out there in terms of decoration, condition, and history; we have not seen its equal, and do not expect to see it surpassed.
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