Lot #203
Lot #205

Lot 204: Montana Pioneer's Colt Single Action Army Revolver

Auction Location: Rock Island, IL

Auction Date: May 13, 2022

Lot 204: Montana Pioneer's Colt Single Action Army Revolver

Auction Location: Rock Island, IL

Auction Date: May 13, 2022

Estimated Price: $25,000 - $50,000
Price Realized:

Historic, Documented, Factory Individually Shipped to Montana Pioneer and Gunsmith Charles Morrell, Colt Black Powder Single Action Army Revolver with Rare W.B. Ten Eyck of Montana Money Belt/Holster Rig and Factory Letter

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Single Action Army
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 38 LC
Barrel: 7 1/2 inch round
Finish: blue/casehardened
Grip: pearl
Stock:
Item Views: 1982
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 152
Class: Antique
Description:

Offered here is a great piece of Montana history that letters to a true pioneering legend: gunsmith Charles Morrell, who played an "active part in Montana territorial days." Documented Montana shipped guns are difficult to discover. Finding one that is individually shipped to a noted Montana legend is nearly impossible. Adding to the rarity and desirability is that this SAA comes with an SAA holster rig made by one of Montana Territory's most noted and sought after saddleries: W.B. Ten Eyck. The accompanying factory letter lists this revolver with a 7 ½ inch barrel in .38 Colt caliber and blue finish with stocks not listed when sold to Charles T. Morrell of Missoula County, Montana and shipped to A.L. Babcock Hardware, Billings, Montana, on March 30, 1894. This was a single gun shipment. Charles T. Morrell (?-1940) grew up as the youngest of 5 children in New York State. His father was killed at the Battle of Antietam in the Civil War. His sister, Nan, moved from New York to Helena, Montana, after marrying a builder. Nan wrote to Charles explaining Montana would be a great place for him to start a business. Taking his sister’s advice Charles moved to Montana in 1886 or 1889, just before the territory was admitted to the Union. A gunsmith by trade, Charles established his gun shop in Helena, and by 1895 he had gained the reputation as "the best gunsmith in Helena.” Based on the advertisements he took out in local newspapers Charles seemed to shy away from his local celebrity status, choosing instead to promote himself simply as a "practical gun and locksmith" and "manufacturer of and dealer in guns." He is credited as manufacturing the first gun in Montana. In his obituary it was reported that Charles "recalled that guns from his shop had been used by many possemen in hunting down desperadoes of that era, and that in some instances he had ridden with the posses." In the same obituary he was fondly remembered as "a veteran of Montana's turbulent territorial days." Charles moved out of the center of town and into the unsettled northwest area of Helena now known as Seeley Lake in 1894, the same year he purchased this SAA that would have offered him protection in the untamed wilds of Montana whether it be man or beast. He bought land near a creek that today bears his name. A mountain peak, lake and waterfall are also named after him. Today the five mile Morrell Falls National Recreation Trail is one of the most popular of the Seeley Lake Ranger District trials. Charles remained at his homestead until 1910 when his wife, Laura, died and thereafter returned to Helena. In 1912, he remarried. He became land commissioner in western Montana in 1902 and served for several years. Information on Charles Morrell is included. Charles Morrell’s SAA has standard factory markings consisting of the one-line Hartford address and “38 COLT” on the barrel and the two-line patent dates followed by a circled Rampant Colt on the left side of the frame as well as matching serial numbers on the frame, trigger guard, and back strap. The revolver wears two-piece smooth pearl grips. The assembly number “745” is marked on the loading gate. Includes a period original holster rig by W.B. Ten Eyck, a Montana saddle shop known for exceptional quality. The front of the Mexican loop pattern holster is marked “W.B. TEN EYCK” above “Billings MT” in script, all in a cartouche. The W.B. Ten Eyck cartouche is repeated on the belt tongue. The leather cartridge money belt measures 43 ¼ inches long and 3 ¾ inches wide. It is not hard to imagine Charles Morrell picking up this SAA at A.L Babcock Hardware in Billings and walking over to W.B. Ten Eyck’s shop to purchase this holster rig for his 7 ½ inch SAA. Before dying from a gunshot wound in 1929 in Billings, W.B. Ten Eyck created some of the most distinctive holsters and saddles west of the Mississippi. Leather work by W.B. Ten Eyck is highly prized and extremely rare with very few examples even in the most advanced public or private collections.

Rating Definition:

Very good as showing great authentic working gun character for an SAA used by pioneer gunsmith Charles Morrell out in the harsh Montana environment, proudly displaying a smooth gray patina with 40% original blue finish overall retained in the sheltered areas, especially on and around the ejector rod housing, 15% original blue on the back strap and 20% original blue on the trigger guard and slight patterns of original case colors. The fine pearl grips show similar frontier issue character with a repair and a few chips. Mechanically excellent. The frontier issued holster rig is very good showing some professional period repairs, typical age cracking, legible W.B. Ten Eyck markings and overall tight stitching. Do not miss your chance to acquire a frontier issued, individual shipped black powder SAA factory documented as belonging to Montana pioneer and gunsmith Charles Morrell complete with an incredibly rare and matching Montana holster rig by W.B. Ten Eyck. This is quite possibly a one time opportunity for the Colt or western frontier collector looking for a black powder authentic pioneer memorabilia.



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