The Colt Single Action Army Revolver is one of the most iconic historical firearms and is forever connected to the American West. Its legacy as a working man's gun in rough circumstances has made them particularly desirable for collectors, and the limited factory engraved guns especially so, especially if they feature other rare and distinctive features. This revolver features beautiful factory engraving, it has a special order factory silver plated finish, it features Rampant Colt medallion pearl grips carved with a steer head on the right panel, and it is factory documented as being shipped to Kansas. It is easy to imagine this SAA being the prized sidearm belonging to a wealthy rancher. In fact, this revolver is factory documented as being sold to J.H. McAdams who was a part of the Kansas State Board of Agriculture, a poultry specialist at Kansas State Agricultural College, and a livestock farmer. It has been estimated that only around 4,500 or .012% of the total First Generation Colt Single Action Army Revolvers manufactured were engraved. Factory silver-plating and engraving is without a doubt an extremely rare combination, and the addition of the steer head carving on the right grip makes this an exceptionally rare piece. The accompanying factory letter confirms the 4 3/4 inch barrel in .44-40 caliber, silver plating, and level 3 factory engraving. Although the type of stocks are not listed, the pearl grips are most certainly period. The letter also states the revolver was sold to J.H. McAdams (address unavailable) and shipped on July 22, 1916 to Blish, Mize & Silliman Hardware Co. of Atchison, Kansas, which remains "one of the oldest and most successful wholesale hardware distributors" in the nation today. This shipment was for two guns. The level 3 engraving consists mostly of scrollwork on a punch dot background along with zig zag line and dot motifs and star and fan patterns consistent with the work of the famed Cuno Helfricht shop. Helfricht spent his nearly 50 year career exclusively with the Colt firm (1871-1921). During his tenure with Colt, Helfricht saw the transition from percussion to cartridge firearms and a rapidly growing market for engraved firearms. At the height of the firearm engraving fad, Helfricht oversaw a shop of six engravers. The barrel has the two-line Hartford legend on the top and "COLT FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER .44-40" on the left side. The left side of the frame has the two-line patent dates marking followed by a Rampant Colt. The left side of the trigger guard has the Colt factory triangle proof and the number "1." The matching serial number appears on the frame, trigger guard, and back strap. The revolver wears a set of Rampant Colt medallion pearl grips featuring checking on the left panel and a relief carved steer head with a checkered design below it on the right panel. Includes an unmarked leather hostler rig.
Very fine as showing authentic use and care received out on the unfolding landscape of the American central plains. It retains 80% period replacement silver with a smooth gray patina on the balance. The engraving is crisp. The well-worn grips show great character for an authentic working man's gun sold to a respected member of Kansas agriculture community. The action functions but is missing the half cock notch. The holster rig is very good as it too shows authentic use and wear. As a factory engraved, silver plated SAA, this Peacemaker is a true rarity in Colt collecting. Its history forever linked to the American heartland west of the Mississippi.