Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1500: Colt Government Model Semi-Automatic Pistol

Auction Date: May 15, 2021

Documented, Historic, Inscribed Colt Government Model Semi-Automatic Pistol Ordered by Colt President William C. Skinner for His Son Roberts Skinner During His World War I Service with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $7,500 - $12,000

Documented, Historic, Inscribed Colt Government Model Semi-Automatic Pistol Ordered by Colt President William C. Skinner for His Son Roberts Skinner During His World War I Service with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Government
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 5 inch round
Finish: blue
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 870
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 340
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun

Manufactured in in 1918, this pistol is what is sometimes called a "commercial issue" as it was ordered for a military officer, likely before they were issued a Model 1911 by the military. These pistols represented the cutting edge of firearms technology and were highly sought after by military personnel and civilians alike. This pistol was individually shipped to Colonel William C. Skinner (1855-1922), who became a colonel while serving on the staff of the 54th Governor of Connecticut who was in office from 1889 to 1893. In 1906, Skinner was elected to serve as vice president of Colt's Manufacturing Company, and three years later was elected president of the company, where he served until 1911. In 1916, Skinner returned to the company as president, serving until 1921 when he resigned to serve as the head of the board of directors. Skinner is credited with anticipating the end of World War I and implementing a diversification program at Colt which kept the company in business even with the lack of large military contracts. The pistol was ordered for and is inscribed to William's son, Roberts Keney Skinner (1886-1963). The following lot is a pistol that was ordered by Skinner, prior to this one, that was possibly retained for himself. Roberts got his name from his mother's maiden name and is listed as a corporal in 2nd Platoon, B Company, 101st Machine Gun Battalion, 26th Infantry Division in "History of the 101st Machine Gun Battalion" by 1st Lieutenant Philip S. Wainwright and others. The 101st, along with the rest of the 26th Division, arrived in France on 21 September 1917 and was present for many of the major actions late in World War I, including The Marne Campaign, Battle of Saint-Mihiel, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. By the time of the armistice on 11 November 1918, the 26th Division had spent 210 of their 417 days in Europe in combat. The included factory letter confirms the configuration of this pistol, with the inscription and grips not listed, as well as shipment to Col. W.C. Skinner, Sergeant (possibly a factory error) Robt. K. Skinner, Colt Patent Firearms on 10 September 1918. The inscription on the right side of the slide "ROBERTS KENEY SKINNER/101st Machine Gun Battalion/26th Division, U.S.A." appears to have been added after the pistol left the factory. It is unclear whether this inscription was added and then the pistol shipped to France or if it was intended as a welcome home gift from father to son. The roll mark on the left of the slide appears to have some letters that were worn when applied at the factory and were not fully impressed. The pistol otherwise has the standard markings and features of a mid-production Colt Government Model pistol, and is fitted with a pair of checkered diamond pattern grips and an unmarked two-tone magazine.

Rating Definition:

Very fine, retains 80% of the original blue finish with the balance having thinned to a smooth grey patina, primarily in the form of holster and grip type wear which may have been acquired in the trenches of the Western Front. The grips are also very fine with a few scattered light handling marks and crisp checkering. Mechanically excellent. An exceptional example of a documented Colt Government Model pistol that combines rich Colt and U.S. military history!

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