Page 141 - Auction84-Book1
P. 141

   LOT 268
Extraordinary Factory Engraved, Silver Plated First Generation Colt Single Action Army Revolver with Ram’s Head Carved Pearl Grips and Historically Documented to the Last Navajo Chief Henry Chee Dodge with Extensive Documentation - Serial no. 304456, 44-40 WCF cal., 4 3/4 inch round bbl., silver finish, pearl grips. 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 high condition examples particularly desirable for collectors, and the limited factory engraved guns especially so, especially if they feature other
rare and distinctive features. Those with historical connections to known figures of the American West are consistently among the most collectible and valuable firearms. This beautiful revolver checks off all the boxes: it is in incredibly high condition, it features beautiful factory engraving, it has a special order factory silver plated finish, it features special ordered pearl grips carved with a special long horned ram’s head on the right panel, and it has documented provenance linking it to a historically significant Navajo leader, the last Navajo Chief, who helped his people transition from the difficult and painful years of the 19th century following their persecution, forced displacement, and internment by the U.S. government and into an independent nation in the late 19th century and early 20th century. 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 special ram’s head carving on the right grip makes this an exceptionally rare piece. The carving was special ordered and particularly relevant to the last Navajo chief that owned this beautiful Colt.
This beautiful First Generation Colt Single Action Army has high coverage scroll, wavy line, and floral engraving, a “Nimschke star” on top ahead of the two-line address, “COLT FRONTIER SIX SHOOTER” on the left side of the barrel, the two-line patent marking in a banner followed by the encircled Rampant Colt trademark on the left side of the frame, the matching full serial number on the frame and grip frame, the number in a banner on the trigger guard, “4456” on the rear face of the cylinder and back of the grips, “U” on the right side rear of the frame and both sides at the heel, silver plated primary finish and nicely contrasting niter blue screws, and beautiful pearl grip with a very distinctive ram’s head design carved on the right panel. The latter is almost certainly one of a
kind, and the factory engraving would have been executed by Colt Master Engraver Cuno Helfricht. The factory letter lists this revolver in .44-40, with a 4 3/4 inch barrel, silver finish, pearl grips with a ram’s head carved with “extra long horns,” and factory engraving. It was sold to Edward Hart of Gallup, Territory of New Mexico, and shipped to Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Company in Chicago on December 12, 1907. In the included document file, Edward Hart is identified as a hardware merchant in Gallup. Thus he was
likely ordering the revolver for his client. The included October 8, 1990, letter from Jon B. Bonnell of Scottsdale, Arizona, states that he was given the revolver by Thomas H. Dodge (1899-1988) who was the eldest son of Henry Chee Dodge. He states, “This revolver was originally given to Tom’s mother by Chee sometime around 1910-1912, Tom said he could remember the occasion, Chee was away from home a lot then and he thought
she needed some ‘moral’ support. After Tom’s wife, Vivian died in 1977, Tom gave the revolver to me.”The document file includes multiple secondary sources discussing the life of Henry Chee Dodge (b. 1857 or 1860 and d. 1947), often known as Chee Dodge or “Mister Interpreter” (Hastlin Adilts’a’ii).
Chee Dodge was one of the most influential Navajo leaders of the late 19th and early 20th century as a U.S. government appointed head chief of the Navajo and the first chairman of the Navajo Nation tribal council. His linguistic abilities helped him bridge the gap between the Navajo and the U.S. government, and he is credited with helping guide the Navajo Nation back to a path of self-determination and cooperation with the federal government. His specific ancestry has been a subject of debate over the years. His father is said to have either been Mexican silversmith Juan Anaya/Cocinas (particularly fitting given the silver plating on the revolver) or Henry L. Dodge. Anaya is said to have been captured by the Navajo when he was ten and was later killed while trying to recover stolen horses c. 1861.

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