Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 181: Bob Dalton's Factory Engraved Colt Single Action Army Revolver

Auction Date: September 11, 2020

Documented Historic Factory Engraved Black Powder Colt Single Action Army Revolver From the Personal Property of Bob Dalton Documented to Have Been Taken From His Dead Body After the Famous Coffeyville Raid Accompanied by an Unprecedented Amount of Documentation

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $350,000 - $550,000

Documented Historic Factory Engraved Black Powder Colt Single Action Army Revolver From the Personal Property of Bob Dalton Documented to Have Been Taken From His Dead Body After the Famous Coffeyville Raid Accompanied by an Unprecedented Amount of Documentation

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Single Action Army
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 45 Long Colt
Barrel: 5 1/2 inch round
Finish: blue/casehardened
Grip: pearl
Item Views: 7006
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 178
Class: Antique

Rock Island Auction Company is excited and proud to present this astonishing revolver, its extraordinary pedigree, documentation, its beauty and condition, the Bob Dalton Colt Single Action Army. The Dalton Gang is now considered one of the last of the notable frontier outlaw gangs that stalked the lawless American West. According to Emmett Dalton, the raid on Coffeyville and its audacious simultaneous two bank hold up was Bob Dalton's attempt to one-up the reputation of Jesse James and the James & Younger Gang. Having this sense of history as part of their grand plan, specially engraved revolvers were purchased by the Dalton Gang from the Colt factory to not only out do the James & Younger Gang but to do so in flamboyant style. Accompanied by a letter from world famous author and Colt firearms expert R.L. Wilson in which he writes: “for more than 60 years the writer has been a keen collector and student of the American West and of historic and fine firearms. In all that period he has yet to encounter a treasure trove such as the saga of the Dalton Gang Colt Single Action Army Revolvers." Further Wilson writes, “The documentation of serial number 147307 as one of the pair of Bob Dalton’s Colt Single Actions carried on that fateful and historic day is in a classification of it’s own in the annals of firearms used by outlaws and lawmen in the Wild West." This revolver is accompanied by extensive documentation including a Colt factory letter, articles in periodicals, affidavits, death records, sales receipts from the sale of the Dalton's property, an original copy of the Elmira Daily Advertiser, from Elmira, N.Y. dated Thursday October 6, 1892, a copy of Frank Latta's "Dalton Gang Days," and a copy of Emmett Dalton's "Beyond the Law." Three notarized affidavits are as follows: One is from Edwin B. Neale and states that Bert Read loaned this revolver number 147307 to the Dalton Museum around 1960. The two discussed the gun around 1960 and Mr. Neale was told that the gun was purchased at the auction held to sell the possessions taken from the Daltons that were killed during the bank robberies in Coffeyville, Kansas on October 5, 1892. The gun was purchased by Read's father H.W. Read who owned H.W. Read's Department Store. A sign was made up to be displayed with the gun in the museum showing the owners as Mr. Bert Read and John Read Neale, and the sign also accompanies this revolver. The gun was displayed at the Dalton defenders Museum until the fall of 1991. The second affidavit is from Barbara Read Neale the granddaughter of H.W. Read, daughter of Joe Read and niece of Bert Read who inherited the gun when H.W. Read died and also states the gun was on display until the fall of 1991 when it was removed by John Read Neale for personal reasons. The third affidavit is from Maurine Read the wife of Joe Read which states that the gun was inherited by Bert Read and gives a brief history of the H.W. Read's Department Store which was founded in 1872 and was still operating in 1892 the time of the infamous Dalton raid. All three identify the gun by serial number and explain the reason for the gun being left to John Read Neale because he was the last male heir to have the name "Read" in his name. There is also a notarized history of the revolver and explains that the gun was purchased at the auction selling the Dalton possessions by a W.H. Clark who bought the gun for H.W. Read. A copy of the original probate court record lists 4 items sold at that auction including "1 colt 45 Revolver" to Clark. There is a copy of part of the page from the Coffeyville Journal January 12, 1893 listing a number of items sold at the auction including "Bob's revolver to W.H. Clark" for $31.00. There is a copy of the original Affidavit of Death for Robert Dalton which lists personal items taken from him after his death, which among the items lists "six shooters". There is a receipt acknowledging receipt of "Bob Dalton's Gun" by John R. Neale from the Coffeyville Historical Society Dalton Defenders Museum on September 23, 1991 which was authorized by the Board of Directors of the Society. There is a copy of the Affidavit of Death for Richard Broadwell. Two photos of the four dead gang members laid out for public viewing, one with Bob's Winchester lying across he and his brother Grat and two photos of the C.M. Condon Bank. There is an article written by Bill Gerber in the June 1995 addition of "The Gun Report" who did a lot of research into the Dalton revolvers. He had traded a mint cased Texas Paterson for an engraved, pearl gripped 45 caliber, 5 1/2 inch barrel black powder single action serial number 147,307. After the trade, he was told by the previous owner that it was consecutively serial numbered to the Emmett Dalton gun which was pictured in R.L. Wilson's book "The Peacemakers" that was on display at the Gene Autry Museum. He also learned of this revolver which was on loan at the time to the Coffeyville museum. Three of the ten, serial number 147,305, 147,306 and this revolver 147,307, have been identified and authenticated as being in the Dalton's possession and part of a 10 revolver shipment sold to an A.E. Williams and shipped to Simmons Hardware company in St. Louis, Missouri, on August 18, 1892. Several revolvers in the order were consecutively serial numbered. Knowing that Colt did not engrave a bunch of consecutively serial numbered guns and ship them to various dealers lends credence to the shipment being a special order. Also with a short time for the gang to get the guns he is logical to think it was planned. One can conclude that since the guns were sold to an individual and not a wholesaler that it was no accident that the guns ended up in the hands of the Dalton Gang. Very few outlaws in the day were known to carry fancy gripped engraved revolvers let alone a pair, (10 guns, 5 gang members). It was risky business in those days to stock 10 factory engraved, pearl gripped revolvers for sale to the general public, which would probably mean that A.E. Williams had a specific buyer in mind. Williams may have even been an alias or possibly an agent for the Daltons. The shipment date didn't leave the gang much lead time on the Coffeyville Raid; however, it is interesting to note that Bob's rifle was shipped from the Winchester factory on August 27, 9 days later than the Colt shipment and only 39 days ahead of the raid, and as noted above, the rifle has been pictured with the bodies of the four gang members killed that day. Interesting enough Grat, Emmett and Bob Dalton served on the right side of the law prior to becoming criminals, serving as deputy marshals. Emmett worked as a member of some of his brothers posses, but for the most part he earned a living as a cowboy on the Bar X Bar Ranch near the Pawnee Agency. Working there he met two of the gang's future members and met future gang members working at nearby ranches. The gang made a living from robbing trains before planning the famous "Coffeyville Raid" which proved to be the gang's Waterloo. Around 9:30 am five members of the Dalton Gang (Grant, Emmett, and Bob Dalton, Bill Power and Dick Broadwell) rode into Coffeyville, Kansas with the plan of making outlaw history by robbing two banks at the same time. The plan was doomed from the beginning. The hitching post where they intended to tie the horses had been torn down because of road work, and they were forced to tie the horses in a nearby alley, which proved to be a fatal mistake. Since Coffeyville was the Dalton's hometown, two of the Dalton's wore fake beards and wigs to disguise their identity, however they were immediately recognized by townspeople as they crossed the town plaza and split up to enter the First National Bank and The C.M. Condon Bank. People also watched from the front windows of the banks and saw the gang pulling their guns. Someone on the street hollered "The bank is being robbed", and citizens quickly armed themselves and began taking up firing positions. The ensuing gun battle lasted less than 15 minutes, and when the smoke settled, four citizens lay dead, three gang members were dead in the alley (Grat and Bob Dalton and Bill Power), Dick Broadway was found dead along the road about a half mile out of town, and Emmett was captured and survived despite having received 23 gunshot wounds. The alley where they tied the horses became know as "Alley of Death", and the event made the small town of Coffeyville, Kansas, famous. Emmett Dalton was sent to prison, was paroled in 1907 and died in 1937. The revolver is decorated with floral scroll and punch dot engraving on the barrel and frame. A scallop and dot design border the one line address on top of the barrel and the "45 Colt" on the left side is in a banner

Rating Definition:

Extremely fine. The revolver retains 40% plus bright original blue finish, concentrated mainly on the bottom of the barrel, protected areas of the ejector housing, cylinder flutes and forward area of the trigger guard. There is a smooth brown patina on the balance. The frame shows half of the original case colors in the protected areas with a smooth brown patina on the balance. The grips are excellent with a very small chip on the right toe. The markings and engraving remain crisp and clear. The action is excellent. A piece of history that may not come to public auction again for many years, if ever again. Writer believes this to be the finest original documented Outlaw Colt Single Action Army revolver to be offered at auction! Provenance: The Gateway Collection.

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