Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1230: Documented Factory Helfricht Shop Engraved Colt SAA Revolver

Auction Date: September 9, 2017

Spectacular Documented Factory Cuno Helfricht Shop Deluxe Engraved Black Powder Colt Etched Panel Frontier Six Shooter Single Action Army Revolver with Factory Documented Relief Carved Ox Head Pearl Grips

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $50,000 - $75,000

Spectacular Documented Factory Cuno Helfricht Shop Deluxe Engraved Black Powder Colt Etched Panel Frontier Six Shooter Single Action Army Revolver with Factory Documented Relief Carved Ox Head Pearl Grips

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Frontier Six Shooter
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44-40
Barrel: 5 1/2 inch round
Finish: nickel
Grip: pearl
Item Views: 7818
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 138
Class: Antique

Rock Island Auction Company is proud to offer this fresh to the market factory documented black powder Colt Single Action Army revolver that was factory engraved by Cuno Helfricht’s shop. The accompanying factory letter confirms the caliber, barrel length, finish, carved ox head pearl grips and factory engraving. It was shipped on August 23, 1888, to Western Arms & Cartridge Co., which had dealer locations in Chicago and East Alton, Illinois. This is the finest Cuno Helfricht shop engraved example of a Single Action Army revolver that we have offered in recent memory. We challenge you to find a better example. Cuno Helfricht spent his nearly 50 year career exclusively with the Colt firm (1871-1921). During his tenure with Colt, Helfricht saw the transition from percussion to cartridge firearms and a rapidly growing market for engraved firearms. At the height of the firearm engraving fad, Helfricht oversaw a shop of six engravers. By the turn of the century, experts believe that Helfricht did most of the work himself with the help from one to two assistants. Helfricht's successor's included famed Colt engravers Wilbur Glahn and William Gough. This example features Helfricht shop craftsmanship at its best. The deluxe engraving, which exhibits 90% coverage, consists of floral scrollwork on a punch dot background accented with various late 19th century motifs. The craftsmanship on the barrel alone is enough to elicit admiration. The scrollwork stretches nearly the entire length of the barrel. The muzzle is accented with a line and dot band. The stamped one-line Hartford address is inside a well-executed engraved ornate panel. Note that the etched “COLT FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER” etched panel has been lowered from its typical location to accommodate the scrollwork. No detail was overlooked! The panel is also stylized with scallop edges. The ejector rod housing has a wavy zig zag motif on top and light scrollwork on the underside at the rear. The frame has the three-line patent date marking on the left side and rarely seen engraved arched panels situated under the recoil shields. The left recoil shield has a beautifully executed floral blossom. The attention to detail is superb. Besides the scrollwork between the flutes, the cylinder has a highly stylized band consisting of wavy lines and scallops at the rear. The trigger guard serial number is inside a banner. The back strap has a zig zag line border accented with scrollwork and the initials “C.P.T.F.H.” in script. Unfortunately, the name has been lost to history. We will return to the provenance later. The trigger guard has “44 CAL” and the Colt factory verified proof on the left side and the Colt rework/return “&” stamped on the right side. The hammer and trigger are later production replacements which were probably added at the time of the factory rework and the bottom of the loading gate has an added assembly number “1” on the bottom. Matching serial number are found on the frame, trigger guard and back strap. The highly attractive pearl grips feature a relief carved ox head on the right panel. The back of the grips are hand marked in pencil “J.S. Confer/Mason City Iowa/March 23 1899” (right panel) and “A.T. [illegible]/Maquoketa/1897” (left panel). ). J.S. Confer is listed as a sheriff from Mason City in the “Iowa Official Register” published in 1901. Comes with an open top D&G Co. leather holster marked “408 45 7 ½ NS.” According to the consignor, this revolver has been in a single family for almost 100 years. As professed by family legend, “the revolver was carried by a sheriff out west, circa 1899” and a letter of provenance explains how the revolver passed through the family.

Rating Definition:

Extremely fine. The revolver retains 90% plus original nickel finish showing some areas of flaking (cylinder and back strap) with exposed metal turned to a smooth dark brown patina. The etched panel is excellent. The engraving is crisp. The grips are very fine showing minor surface chipping near the tops and a couple minor chips missing near the bottom. The ox head is crisp. Mechanically excellent. The holster is fair with all stitching missing. This is a high conditioned, factory documented factory Helfricht shop deluxe engraved antique Colt Frontier Six Shooter Single Action Army revolver with etched panel and ox head carved pearl grips that would be nearly impossible to improve upon. A true one-of-a-kind sidearm that would make a great centerpiece to even the most advanced Single Action Army revolver collections.

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