Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1220: Virginia Surplus U.S. Ainsworth Colt Cavalry Model Revolver

Auction Date: December 5, 2020

Historic, Documented Ainsworth Inspected Nickel Plated "Virginia Surplus" U.S. Colt Cavalry Model Single Action Army Revolver with Gold Seal Kopec Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $30,000 - $55,000

Historic, Documented Ainsworth Inspected Nickel Plated "Virginia Surplus" U.S. Colt Cavalry Model Single Action Army Revolver with Gold Seal Kopec Letter

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Single Action Army
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 45 LC
Barrel: 7 1/2 inch round
Finish: nickel
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 1485
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 184
Class: Antique

Manufactured in 1874. This revolver was inspected by Orville W. Ainsworth and is stamped with his distinctive "A" sub-inspectors mark on the bottom of the barrel, below the serial number on the trigger guard, on the cylinder and on the top of the back strap. The top of the barrel is marked with the one-line address and the left side of the frame is marked with the two-line, two patent dates followed by "US". There is a "P" on the bottom of the barrel ahead of the cylinder pin and on the cylinder. The matching serial number is marked on the bottom of the frame, trigger guard and back strap, and the partial serial number "2387" is marked on the bottom of the barrel under the ejector housing and on the cylinder. Standard blade front and frame notch rear sights, "bulls-eye" ejector rod head and fitted with a smooth one piece walnut grip with an "A" on the bottom left side and faint cartouche on the lower left side. The revolver has a full nickel plating. These nickel plated Cavalry Models were plated for issuance to Indian Scouts, special order "officers" revolvers, surplus militia revolvers sold back to Colt or nickeled by commercial businesses and U.S. Navy revolvers. Graham, Moore and Kopec's "A Story of The Colt Single Action Army Revolver" identifies the largest single block of nickeled Cavalry revolvers as occurring in the 11800 through the 14230 serial number range, all manufactured in 1874 and all inspected by Ainsworth (see Chapter X). This information is retold in Fenn and Kopec’s “Cavalry & Artillery Revolvers…a Continuing Study” as well as listing this example by serial number as part of a group of revolvers purchased by the State of Virginia and immediately sold and nickel plated through an arms dealer (page 21). Additional details come from the accompanying gold seal Kopec letter. This revolver was part of a group of 2,307 units issued to the State of Virginia in July 1874, but because the State of Virginia was facing financial troubles, the governor decided to immediately sell the brand new Cavalry Models on the commercial market through the arms dealer Herman Boker. Kopec concluded that Boker nickel plated the majority of the revolvers in order to avoid confusion with government issued examples. These nickel plated revolvers are found in the 12000-through the early 14000 serial number range (also see “A Story of The Colt Single Action Army Revolver", Chapter VIII). Kopec also states that this revolver was formerly from the famed Colt collection of singer Mel Torme and was noted as attributed to notorious outlaw Cole Younger. The name “Cole Younger” and the date “1875” are hand marked on the grip channel. As Kopec points out in the letter, “We naturally could not attest to the authenticity of this inscription, however it does appear to be a very old contemporarily applied inscription and the date ‘1875’ would conform perfectly with the chain of events which transpired immediately after these revolvers were sold to Herman Boker.”

Rating Definition:

Very fine. The revolver retains at least 80% original nickel plating with scattered flaking and wear. The grip is fine with a chip on the left toe, some wear on the lower edges and a few minor dents and dings. The cartouche is lightly visible. The markings remain clear and crisp. The action is excellent. This is an exceptionally documented U.S. nickel plated Ainsworth inspected Cavalry. Provenance: The Corner Stone Collection.

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