Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3195: Engraved Antique Black Powder Colt Single Action Army Revolver

Auction Date: May 16, 2021

Historic Factory Engraved Antique Black Powder Colt Single Action Army Revolver Documented as Purchased by The Dalton Gang with Pearl Grips and Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $95,000 - $160,000

Historic Factory Engraved Antique Black Powder Colt Single Action Army Revolver Documented as Purchased by The Dalton Gang with Pearl Grips and Factory Letter

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: 1506
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 113
Class: Antique

Rock Island Auction Company is pleased to offer this historic factory engraved Colt Single Action purchased in a special order of 10 by the Dalton Gang for use at the famed Coffeyville, Kansas double bank robbery. Accompanied by a letter from world famous author and Colt firearms expert R.L. Wilson in which he writes "documentation on outlaw or lawmen Colts from the 19th Century are rarely as specific or comprehensive as proven in the present documenting letter. Historians, collectors and students of firearms and the American West can look upon the historic set of 10 Colt Single Action Army revolvers sent from the factory to the attention of one 'A.E. Williams' as participants in one of the most famous bank robberies in American history-carried out by the bold and daring Dalton Gang." Further he states "it is entirely possible that with additional research the identity can be established of which member of the Dalton Gang carried this revolver, serial number 147311 as one of his pair of deluxe Colt Single Actions that fateful day. Whether it was Emmett or Grat Dalton, or Dick Broadwell or Bill Power- one can be certain that it was one of these four. Manufactured in 1892. This factory engraved Colt Single Action Army revolver is directly attributed to the famous Dalton Gang and was one of 10 the gang purchased shortly before their last criminal endeavor, the famous "Coffeyville Raid" in which the gang planned to rob two banks at the same time in the Dalton's hometown of Coffeyville, Kansas. The ten were shipped on August 18, 1892, sold to a A.E. Williams and shipped to Simmons Hardware in St. Louis, Missouri. It is known that serial number 147,305 was at the Gene Autry Museum and authenticated as one of the ten shipped, and believed to have belonged to Emmett Dalton, serial number 147,307, had been on loan since 1960 in a Museum in Coffeyville, Kansas also in the shipment. All 10 were factory engraved, 5 1/2 inch barrel, 45 caliber, blue finished and pearl gripped. Much information comes from an article in the June 1995 "The Gun Report" written by Bill Gerber who had obtained serial number 147,306 which he learned was also in the August 18, 1892 shipment of 10 revolvers. Gerber did a great amount of research into these revolvers. 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 as being a special order. Also with a short time for the gang to get the guns it 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 the rifle has been pictured with the bodies of the 4 gang members killed that day. There are also documents showing the sale of the Dalton's property and among the items listed are Colt revolvers. Interesting enough Grat, Emmett and Bob Dalton served on the right side of the law prior to becoming criminals, serving as Deputy Marshalls. 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 (Grat, 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 home town 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 4 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. The alley where they tied the horses became known as "Alley of Death" and the event made the small town of Coffeyville, Kansas forever 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. The sides of the top strap are decorated with a wavy zigzag line and dot design, a shell design is on the recoil shield and loading gate, simple line and dot designs on the back strap, rear edge of the cylinder and trigger guard, and geometric designs adorn the cylinder flats between the flutes. The left side of the frame is marked with the two line, three patent dates followed by the circled Rampant Colt and the matching serial number is marked on the bottom of the frame, trigger guard and back strap. The revolver is fitted with smooth two-piece pearl grips. The accompanying factory letter verifies the caliber, barrel length, blue finish, factory engraving with grips as "Not Listed" and that it was sold to A.E. Williams as 1 of 10 and shipped to Simmons Hardware Company, St. Louis, Missouri on August 10, 1892. After reading the facts, this is undoubtedly one of the Colt Single Action Army revolvers purchased by the Daltons and was in one of the gang's holsters the day of the famous "Coffeyville Raid". Provenance: The Gateway Collection

Rating Definition:

Fine with most of refinished blue finish remaining showing a small amount of minor pitting under the finish on the cylinder. The frame and hammer show most of the vivid case colors. The grips are very fine with a moderate chip on the right heel. The engraving and markings are crisp and clear. The action is excellent. The evidence of this revolvers authenticity leaves very little doubt as to the historic significance. A super addition and historic center piece to any Colt collection.

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