Forever linked to the American West, the Colt Single Action Army Revolver is arguably the most famous American revolver of all time. But the most famed American revolver was also marketed overseas. Entering foreign markets required chambering the American design in foreign cartridges. Cartridges such as .450, .455 and .476 catered to British customers, and SAAs chambered in these cartridges have become highly sought after by collectors. The .476 cartridge was the largest caliber Colt offered in SAA factory production. To accommodate the rim size of the cartridge, the standard frame had to be cut to achieve more cylinder space. This is the first .476 SAA we have had the honor to catalog, and knowledgeable collectors have easily rated this SAA the finest known in this caliber. Also known as the Enfield Mark III Ball cartridge, the .476 was introduced in 1881 and phased out in 1887 but continued to be produced at the Woolrich Arsenal until March 1893 and the Dum Dum ammunition factory in India until 1918. The cartridge was used for a short time in British service before being replaced by .455 Webley Mark I. This is an exceedingly rare caliber to find in Colt model revolvers of the era, especially those in the United States. The authors of the groundbreaking book “A Study of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver” count the .476 caliber among the “twelve known calibers that Colt manufactured in the standard SA which had a total production of less than 161 revolvers. All but one of those twelve calibers were sold primarily to the domestic trade. The low return percentage (less than 4% known) of .476 caliber Single Actions to the United States has deprived many of this country’s collectors from owning this interesting variation” (page 53). As Colt author David Brown put it, “The .476 guns are extremely rare, and only a few of the 161 standard frame pieces have returned to the United States” (“The 36 Calibers of the Colt Single Action Army,” page 34). The first known shipment of .476 SAAs to Colt’s London Agency occurred in October 1885. This shipment was for one hundred SAAs chambered in .476. Over the next few years Colt shipped an additional sixty one standard frame revolvers in this caliber to London. This .476 SAA was part of the sixty-one units that made it to England after the first initial shipment of one hundred. The accompanying factory letter confirms the 7 ½ inch barrel in .476 caliber and blue finish. The stocks are not listed, a common indication for standard walnut, which this revolver is wearing. There was no mention of the high front sight, which is most certainly factory. The letter also states the revolver was part of an April 30, 1891 shipment of six guns delivered to Colt’s London Agency, London, England. A second revolver (no. 140118) that was also part of this shipment is pictured in "The Official Record Colt Single Action Army Revolver 1873-1895" on page 378. Includes two photographs of the original purchase order dated April 13, 1891. The barrel has the one-line Pall Mall, London address on top and “476-CAL” on the left side. The left side of the frame has the standard two-line patent dates marking followed by an encircled Rampant Colt. London proofs appear on the underside of the barrel and behind each cylinder flute. The matching serial number appears on the frame, trigger guard and back strap. The presentation oak case features a brass plaque on the exterior of the lid inscribed, “QUEEN’S WESTR VOLS:/L.Co. PRIZE MEETING/1893/1ST PRIZE WON BY/CAPT. R.T. JONES.” The interior of the case lid has a Colt London label. The case contains a cartridge block holding seven Eley cartridges and two casings, two flat head screwdrivers, cleaning rod with attachment, “L” shaped screwdriver, Dixon & Son oiler, case key, hammer spring, and hammer. Provenance: The Gerald Fox Collection; The John Malloy Collection; The George S. Lewis Jr Collection; Property of a Gentleman
Exceptionally fine, retaining 80% plus bright original high polish blue finish with thinning to brown on the balance. The hammer and frame retain 85% original case colors. the grip is fine with a number of dings and scratches. Mechanically excellent. The case is very fine with minor handling/storage marks and some typical high spot wear on the lining. The Colt London label is legible. A real crown jewel in Colt collecting, this presentation cased Colt London black powder Single Action Army Revolver in exceptionally rare .476 caliber is worthy of the finest public or private collections. It will certainly make a grand statement even in the most advanced collection.
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