Rock Island Action Company is extremely excited to offer to the gun collecting fraternity the genesis of the legendary etched panel Frontier Six Shooter Peacemaker. New York distributor J. P. Moore’s Sons, a staunch Colt ally, marketed the idea of associating “Frontier Six Shooter” with .44 WCF and etching the name to the barrel. Colt agreed, and the rest as they say is history. The SAA in this caliber was forever linked as the “Frontier Model” and added to its iconic Wild West image, especially when paired with another legendary Western icon, the Winchester Model 1873 Rifle, which used the same cartridge. This historic SAA is a must have for the serious SAA collector, and its condition alone makes it worthy of the finest private or public collections. This crown jewel of Colt SAAs was manufactured in 1878, the introductory year of the now legendary .44 WCF etched panel to the SAA line, and as noted by the esteemed late Colt collector Greg Lampe in his article “The Birth of the Colt ‘Frontier Six Shooter’” published as the cover story to the March 2010 issue of The Gun Report, this is one of the first shipped “Colt Frontier Six Shooter” etched barrel panel SAAs. As confirmed by the accompanying factory letter, this SAA was part of a February 18, 1878 shipment of 50 guns to J.P. Moore’s Sons of New York City. The first production SAA revolvers chambered in .44 WCF were shipped to Colt’s London Agency in May 1877 and the first domestically shipped SAAs chambered in .44 WCF went to J.P. Moore’s Sons on November 30, 1877, but as noted in “The Official Record of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver 1873-1895,” “The first production runs of .44-40 caliber revolvers featured plain barrels without the familiar etched caliber panel….J.P. Moore’s Sons originated the idea of the etched panel as an aid to help their advertising. As a result, they received the first .44-40 caliber revolvers with etched barrels on February 6, 1878. All or most of the .44-40 caliber revolvers received by J.P. Moore’s Sons after February 6 were fitted with etched barrels. The remaining barrels from the first production run of .44-40 barrels along with the early barrels from circa 1872-1873 were utilized on revolvers purchased by other distributors. When this backlog of barrels was expended, all barrels on .44-40 caliber revolvers were etched until circa 1889-1890. At this time, the etched caliber line was changed to a roll die” (page 337). This revolver was part of the February 18, 1878 shipment of 50 guns delivered to J.P. Moore’s Son, only days after the New York distributor received its initial etched panel .44 WCF SAAs received on February 6 (25 guns). As noted in “The Official Record of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver 1873-1895,” “The first Frontier revolvers definitely with etched barrels was the shipment to J.P. Moore’s Sons on February 6. Twenty-five revolvers were in the order. Moore’s Sons received 100 more Frontier revolvers on February 18” (page 72). The February 18 shipment thus consisted of some of the first etched panel .44 WCF SAAs to leave the Colt factory with this SAA certainly standing as the finest known example of the earliest shipped etched panel .44 WCF revolvers. The condition of this revolver cannot be overstated as it remains in exceptional condition with an outstanding crisp etched panel. The factory letter also confirms the blue finish and .44-40 chambering with barrel length and type of stocks “not listed,” a common indication of 7 1/2 inches and walnut as these were standard issued features. The revolver is fitted with a 7 1/2 inch barrel and varnished walnut stocks. The legendary “COLT FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER” etched panel measures 2 1/4 inches in length as is correct for early examples. Around serial number 75000 the etched panel changed to 2 1/2 inches. Moreover, the shallow panel is consistent with early examples. The first panels were shallower in depth when compared to later production examples. Due to the shallowness only a limited number of etched panels have survived. The early barrel has the shallow seven grooves and lands with gain twist rifling which was left over from Colt's .44 S&W American caliber production which were used up on early .44 WCF SAAs. The top of the barrel has the early block style one-line Hartford address, and the left side of the frame has the three-line patent dates marking. “44 CF” is stamped on the left trigger guard shoulder, and “44” in small font is stamped on the underside of the barrel head of the cylinder pin. The full serial number matches on the frame, trigger guard, and back strap, and the matching partial serial number “1421” is on the cylinder. The ejector housing and grip were not removed out of respect for the high condition, but these numbers are noted as matching in Lampe’s aforementioned article. According to Greg Lampe the revolver “came from a family in Morristown, NJ in the mid-1980s and has since resided quietly in a private collection until early 2009 when [Lampe] had the opportunity to purchase it from Herb Glass, Jr.” The revolver is pictured and identified in the cover story “The Birth of the Colt ‘Frontier Six Shooter’” to the March 2010 issue of "The Gun Report" and Don and Carol Wilkerson and Kathleen Hoyt’s “The Official Record of the Colt Single Action Army Revolver 1873-1895” on page 73. Provenance: The Greg Lampe Collection
Excellent with 95% bright original high polish blue finish remaining and flaking turned brown on the balance. The grip straps retain 85% plus original blue finish with thinning on the balance. The etched panel is crisp with all of the bright original blue finish remaining in the lettering. The cylinder chambers retain nearly all original blue finish. The frame and hammer retain 97% plus vivid original case colors. The grip is also excellent with minimal high edge wear, some minor handling marks, and most of the original varnish remaining. Mechanically excellent. As one of the first etched panel Colt Frontier Six Shooter SAAs, this exceptional revolver is worthy of the finest collections. It is among the earliest and finest examples known of the acid etched panel Colt SAAs. Certainly the finest example of its type we have ever offered at auction!
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