The accompanying factory letter confirms the 4 3/4 inch barrel in .45 caliber, blue finish and factory engraving and as typical the type of stocks are not listed which usually indicated walnut. The revolver was shipped to Hartley & Graham of New York City on August 21, 1886. The engraving is consistent with patterns from renowned Colt Master Engraver Cuno A. Helfricht and his shop. Floral scrollwork on a punch dot background adorns the sides of the barrel and frame. Zig zag line borders and zig zag line and dot motifs are featured throughout. Fan patterns decorate the recoil shield and loading gate. Radiating lines and stars are featured on the cylinder between the flutes. The addition of the stars makes for an unusual engraving pattern not typically seen in Helfricht's designs. For reference see SAA nos. 121331 and 129367 that feature similar Helfricht attributed engraved patterns as identified by R.L. Wilson in "The Colt Engraving Cook, Volume I" on pages 412 and 413. The top of the barrel has the two-line Hartford address, the left side of the frame has the three-line patent dates marking, and the left side of the trigger guard is stamped "45 CAL." The right grip panel features a relief carved steer head, most likely supplied by Hartley & Graham. Matching serial numbers are on the frame, trigger guard and back strap. Number "4" assembly number on loading gate and bottom of frame under the trigger guard. Estimates have placed only 2,500 1st Generation Colt SAAs of the 357,800 manufactured as factory engraved. Factory engraved Single Action revolvers are rare and highly desirable. No SAA collection can be considered complete without a Helfricht shop embellished arm. Helfricht spent his nearly 50 year career exclusively with the Colt firm (1871-1921), seeing the transition from percussion to cartridge revolvers and eventually automatic pistols, and his successor's included famed Colt engravers Wilbur Glahn and William Gough.
Fine, retaining 40% plus original blue finish with a smooth brown-gray patina on the balance. Slight patterns of original case colors remain on the frame, otherwise faded to a silver gray. The engraving is crisp. The highly attractive grips are very fine with some minor handling marks, slight chipping at the top (left panel) and crisp carving. Mechanically excellent. A rare and highly desirable factory engraved black powder Colt Single Action Army revolver that is a must have for the serious Colt collector.
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