Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 485: Early Production Colt Lightweight Commander Pistol in .38 Super

Auction Date: September 10, 2021

Documented Pacific Military Intelligence Chief Attributed Early Pre-Production Colt Lightweight Commander Semi-Automatic Pistol in .38 Super with Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $4,500 - $7,000

Documented Pacific Military Intelligence Chief Attributed Early Pre-Production Colt Lightweight Commander Semi-Automatic Pistol in .38 Super with Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Commander
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 38 super auto
Barrel: 4 1/4 inch round
Finish: blue/black anodized
Grip: carved
Item Views: 812
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 336
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun
Bore Condition: -

Manufactured in 1949, this is an exceptionally scarce example of one of the first 65 Colt Lightweight Commander pistols that was manufactured. These first 65 pistols were serial numbered 001-0065, not having the "LW" suffix or "CLW" prefix that are seen on later production examples. These early pistols appear to have mostly been sent out as samples by Colt to prominent figures in military intelligence and federal policing, investigation, and intelligence organizations, likely to gain feedback on the pistols and their desirability before ramping up full production. This pistol, like an example previously sold here at RIA (serial number 0023), was sent to a military intelligence figure. Initially this pistol was sold to J.M. Dinken Co. in New York (like the other example), before being shipped to Colonel H.E. Pulliam of Public Safety Division by way of the postmaster of APO 500 in San Francisco on 10 October 1949. This information is listed in the included factory letter which also confirms the current configuration (grips and finish not listed). A private firearm registration form from the Provost Marshal of the Metropolitan Tokyo Area dated 1951 shows the pistol wound up in the hands of a Major Ralph J. Rinalducci as a "gift from manufacturer". The form lists the pistol by serial number and states that Major Rinalducci's organization was G-2, GHQ, FEC, or Military Intelligence, General Headquarters, Far East Command. Another document gives further information on Rinalducci stating that prior to World War II he was an attorney and police academy instructor, as well as the author of various articles regarding criminal law, modern police methods, and intelligence operations. During the war he spent his entire career involved in military intelligence including a 20 year tour of duty in Japan as the Chief of Special Intelligence Activities, Military Intelligence Section, General Headquarters, Far East Command, serving under General Douglas MacArthur. During his career he was awarded numerous commendations and citations, including several Legions of Merit. The pistol itself is marked with "COLT", "SUPER .38/AUTOMATIC", and the Rampant Colt on the left of the slide, with the Colt address on the right. The right of the frame has the early production serial number "0054" and the trigger guard is marked "5/VP" and "7" on the left and right respectively. It is fitted with blade and notch sights, serrated ring hammer, serrated trigger, short grip safety, a pair of grips masterfully carved with Japanese dragons which were very likely acquired during his 20 years in Japan, and a Colt .38 Super marked full blue magazine. Provenance: The Dr. Robert Azar Collection

Rating Definition:

Excellent, retains 98% plus of the original blue and black anodized finishes with some scattered light handling marks. The grips are also excellent with minimal handling marks and crisp carving. Mechanically excellent.

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