Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 49: Historic Strahorn Deluxe Colt Lightning Baby Carbine

Auction Date: December 6, 2019

Exceptional, Rare, and Historic Deluxe Colt Lightning Slide Action Baby Carbine Factory Inscribed to Pioneer Carrie A. Strahorn from Her Husband Robert E. Strahorn, "Last of the Great Scouts"

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $25,000 - $42,500

Exceptional, Rare, and Historic Deluxe Colt Lightning Slide Action Baby Carbine Factory Inscribed to Pioneer Carrie A. Strahorn from Her Husband Robert E. Strahorn, "Last of the Great Scouts"

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Lightning
Type: Carbine
Gauge: 32 WCF
Barrel: 20 inch
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut checkered
Item Views: 1645
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 40
Class: Antique

This deluxe Colt Lighting Slide Action carbine was manufactured in 1888. It is one of the very rare Colt Lightning Baby carbines chambered for the .32 CLMR cartridge (.32 W.C.F) and has a special order, fancy grain walnut stock and forearm with checkering panels and a high polish "piano" finish. The left side of the frame is factory inscribed: "Carrie A. Strahorn/1888/Christmas/from/R.E.S." in old English letters indicating the rifle was given to her by her husband Robert E. Strahorn. Robert Edmund Strahorn (1852-1944), called "Pard" by his wife, was a war correspondent, publicist, and propagandist working with the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Denver News, the Rocky Mountain News, and Union Pacific Railroad. He was an important correspondent during the Great Sioux War of 1876 giving important accounts of the various battles he witnessed and was nearby when Custer and his men were killed. Strahorn actually participated in Colonel Joseph J. Reynolds' charge on the Powder River village on March 17, 1876, and reportedly screamed so loud during the charge that his voice never fully recovered. General George Cook said, "Strahorn worked as well with his rifle as with his pen." His writing helped shape public perception of the West in the late 19th century and encouraged settlement that remains relevant today. He married Carrie Adell Green "Dell" Strahorn (1852-1925) on September 19, 1877. One of the conditions for him accepting Jay Gould's offer of a position with the Union Pacific Railroad shortly after the marriage was that Mrs. Strahorn would be allowed to accompany him wherever he should go, and the two travelled throughout the West along with Hawaii and Alaska by stage, train, steamboat, horseback, and pack train. Mrs. Strahorn recorded their adventures and published them in the two volume set "Fifteen Thousand Miles by Stage" in 1911 which includes artwork by their friend and beloved western artist Charles Marion Russell. The dedication reads "This book is lovingly dedicated to my dear husband Robert E. Strahorn whose constant chum and companion it has been my greatest joy to be for more than thirty years in the conquering of the wilderness." The Stahorns were influential in the development and settlement of the West, and Mr. Strahorn was the founder of the North Coast Railroad and one of the founders and trustees of the College of Idaho. They both died in San Francisco. She preceded him, and upon her death he wrote, "Here intervened the first real crushing, heartrending sorrow of my life, the sudden death of my deeply loved, superb wife, who had been my inseparable companion, my greatest inspiration and staunchest support for nearly fifty years. The earth, which at times seemed only dangerously slipping before, was now indeed gone from under. How attempt to picture the glory surrounding, permeating, and emitting from such angelic womankind?" Upon his death, his Oakland Tribune's obituary was headlined "Empire Builder." He along with "Buffalo Bill" Cody and "Captain Jack" Crawford were known as the "Old Scouts." Given the other two both died in 1917, Strahorn was the "Last of the Old Scouts." For more information look into the writings of the Strahorns as well as "Robert E. Strahorn, Propagandist for the West" by Oliver Knight in "The Pacific Northwest Quarterly." The rifle has the Colt commercial blue finish on major components with fire blue loading gate and small components. The hammer is color casehardened. The 20 inch round lightweight barrel has the block carbine front sight and a carbine folding ladder rear sight graduated to 900 yards. A staple mounted saddle ring is located on the left side of the frame. The stock has a carbine style buttplate and is inlaid with a round silver plate on the underside near the end of the checkered panel on the wrist. The top of the barrel is roll-stamped: "COLT'S PT. F.A. MFG.CO. HARTFORD CT. U.S.A./ELLIOT'S PATENTS MAY 29. 1883. SEPT. 18. 1883." in two lines ahead of the rear sight. "32 Cal." is boldly stamped on the left side of the barrel just ahead of the frame. The Rampant Colt trademark usually roll-stamped on the left side of the frame is located on the right side. The serial number "30092" is stamped on the lower tang behind the trigger. A Lightning Side Action carbine chambered for the .32 CLMR cartridge and with deluxe, checkered stock and forearm is very rare. The combination of these rare features with a factory inscription make this Lightning carbine unique.

Rating Definition:

Excellent. The carbine is all original and retains close to 95% of the original high polish blue, niter blue and casehardened finish. Nearly all of the blue finish is present on the barrel and magazine. The barrel band has some minor high point wear. Finish wear on the frame is limited to high points and the usual scuff marks on the left side from contact with the saddle ring. The only finish loss on the lower tang is near the serial number. The bolt retains more than 90% of the blue finish. The buttplate has 85% of the blue finish with the normal wear on the toe and heel. The fire blue finish on the loading gate is faded but remains a strong 70%. The inscription on the left side of the frame and the Rampant Colt on the right side are both crisp. The barrel markings are sharp. The excellent deluxe, highly figured stock and forearm have very sharp checkering and retain 95% or more of the high polish piano finish. Wear is limited to a few scattered and fairly minor handling marks on the stock. This is both an extremely rare and extraordinary example of a deluxe, factory inscribed Colt Lighting Slide Action Baby carbine chambered in .32 CLMR made all the more desirable by its connection to an important couple of western adventurers.

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