Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1151: Factory Engraved Gold & Silver Colt Single Action Army

Auction Date: May 14, 2022

Highly Desirable Documented Montana Sold Factory Engraved, Gold and Silver Plated First Generation Colt Single Action Army Revolver with Double Raised Relief Steer Head Carved Grips and Factory Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $30,000 - $50,000

Highly Desirable Documented Montana Sold Factory Engraved, Gold and Silver Plated First Generation Colt Single Action Army Revolver with Double Raised Relief Steer Head Carved Grips and Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Single Action Army
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 38 WCF
Barrel: 4 3/4 inch round
Finish: silver/gold
Grip: antique ivory
Item Views: 720
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 130
Class: Curio & Relic Handgun

Very few Colt Single Action Army revolvers from the historic pre-World War II era were plated in gold or silver let alone gold and silver. Research by Ullom into the Colt records published in the Winter 2007 issue of "The Rampant Colt" found just 39 Single Action Army revolvers with dual gold and silver plating. Very few Colts also have double carved grips like this one. The included factory letter lists this revolver in .38-40 with a 4 3/4 inch barrel, silver and gold finish, grips of "Ivory with carved steer head motif on both sides," and as sold to H.F. Moeller Cash Store of Butte, Montana, and shipped to Simmons Hardware Company in St. Louis, Missouri, as one of a pair in this configuration on May 28, 1913. The factory letter remarks note that although the shipping records did not note the revolver was engraved, the production book has the notation "engraved" for this serial number. We could not locate H. F. Moeller of Butte, Montana, as owning a store. He may have been the purchaser through a store. Henry F. Moeller was a well-known citizen in Butte, Montana, in the early 20th century and worked for The Brunswick-Balke-Collender Company supplying, building, and maintaining pool and billiards tables, bowling alleys, and related items throughout Montana and was also one of the founders of Butte's fire department. He died in 1921. The engraving is the style associated with Colt in the early 20th century when Master Engraver Cuno Helfricht was the lead engraver and engraved other icons such as the famous "Bull Moose" Single Action Army ordered for Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. R.L. Wilson on page 444 of "The Book of Colt Engraving Volume 1" noted that "it is probably that most of the post 1910 pieces came directly from Helfricht's own hand..." The engraving consists of broad scrolls with punched backgrounds using larger circles than earlier eras on the sides of the barrel and frame, stars on the top of the barrel and sides of the frame at the breech, some lined floral patterns, and wavy line and dot accents on the ejector housing, cylinder, frame, and grip straps. The ejector, cylinder, cylinder pin, hammer, and trigger are gold plated over silver (gilt silver), and the barrel, frame, and grip straps are silver plated. The "one-piece" style grips have raised relief steer heads and are bonded to a wood space. The barrel has a blade front sight, the two-line address on top, and the "38 W.C.F." caliber marking in an engraved banner on the left. The frame has the patent marking in a banner on the left followed by the Rampant Colt trademark in a circle. The left side of the trigger guard has the triangular "VP" proof and a "1." The full serial number, "327159," is marked on the frame, trigger guard, and back strap. "U" is marked on both sides of the back strap at the heel. The assembly number, "763," is marked on the loading gate and rear of the frame. "41" is marked on the bottom of the barrel by the cylinder pin. "7159" is marked on the underside of the ejector housing, the barrel under the ejector housing at the breech, and rear of the cylinder, and "7159" and what looks to be an arrow is marked in black permanent marker on the right side of the front grip strap. The added 4 partial serial numbers likely indicate factory refinishing per R.L. Wilson on page 451 of "The Book of Colt Engraving Volume 1".

Rating Definition:

Fine as period refinished with 85% plus silver plating remaining and exhibiting attractive aged patina, 60% bright gold plating remaining strongest in the protected areas (especially the sides of the hammer and cylinder flutes), mostly crisp engraving with some areas faded, and generally minor overall wear. The grips are very fine and have distinct carving, attractive natural tones, contrasting grain, some minor age cracks at the butt, and mild handling wear. Mechanically excellent. This is an attractive First Generation Colt Single Action Army with a rare combination of gold and silver finish, factory engraving, and double carved grips. The grips alone would have been expensive but particularly fitting for a man from Montana, a state well-known for cattle ranching.

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