Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 450: U.S. Springfield Armory Assembled Colt Model 1911 Display Board

Auction Date: May 14, 2021

Rare Documented U.S. Springfield Armory Assembled Colt Model 1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol Display Board

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $6,500 - $11,000

Rare Documented U.S. Springfield Armory Assembled Colt Model 1911 Semi-Automatic Pistol Display Board

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1911
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 45 ACP
Barrel: 5 inch round
Finish: bright
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 1237
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 314
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun

This display board was assembled by Springfield Armory during their lead up to manufacturing the Model 1911 pistol at the armory. The agreement was made in a letter dated 21 April 1911, in which Colt's president, Charles Robinson outlined the requirements for the armory to produce the pistol. The first of these being that Colt be paid $2.00 per pistol produced, with which they would imburse John Browning for the use of his patents. The second being that Springfield Armory not begin production until after Colt had produced and delivered 50,000 Model 1911s. The last requirement was that the armory would only produce 33 1/3% of the total requirements of the Ordnance Department, while Colt produced the other 66 2/3% under contract. Several letters between Robinson and the Chief of Ordnance follower, clarifying the terms, and on 8 May 1911 the terms were agreed upon. On 22nd of April before the terms had been agreed the Chief of Ordnance sent a letter to the commanding officer of the armory informing him of the pending agreement and to come up with an estimate of cost based on the production of 1,000 pistol. This request was answered with an estimate of $7.50 per pistol after the initial setup, which did not include the $2.00 per pistol for Colt which had been agreed upon. On 20 June 1911 the Chief of Ordnance requested a display board be prepared showing all of the component parts of the Model 1911, which was not completed and shipped until 8 May 1912. A second board was requested on 29 August 1912 and was completed on 8 November 1912. It is believed that these two boards were made up using Colt manufactured parts, as Springfield Armory had not yet begun production. These two display boards are documented in the Armory's annual operations reports of the fiscal years 1912 and 1913, and are discussed on p. 187 of "U.S. Military Automatic Pistols 1894-1920" by Meadows where this example is pictured. It is not entirely clear which of the two requested boards this is, though the "DEC 16 1911" date marked on the ejector may suggest it is the first. Other various parts are marked "MODEL 1911" including the slide, frame, trigger, hammer, grip safety, thumb safety, slide stop, and hammer strut (marked "1911 MODEL"). The front end of the slide is marked "N", and each side of the sear is marked "M". All of the parts are finished in the white. Provenance: The Dr. Robert Azar Collection

Rating Definition:

Very fine, with the component parts showing mostly a crisp in the white finish with a few scattered patches of darker grey or brown patina and all components appearing to be present. The case is fine with some mild wear, minor dings and scratches scattered throughout, and a patch of adhesive residue on the lid. This is an incredibly rare piece of the developmental history of the iconic Model 1911 pistol that will enhance even the most extensive Colt automatic or U.S. military arms collections!

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