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Old September 3, 2014, 03:17 PM   #1
mallens67
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Looking for help: Colt SAA 38 special matching numbers

The unfortunate passing of a friend of the family and was given this firearm to try to sell for the family.
Here are the details, I can post some pics if requested.
It has never been fired and appears that it hasn't from my untrained eyes.
Grips - ivory with staghorn pattern - not sure if they are original
COLT _ Letter already sent with fee for information about the gun.
Serial numbers - all match 128769 on trigger guard and frame
Barrel says on the side COLT SINGLE ACTION ARM .38 SPECIAL
On the top of the barrel COLT SFPTA MFG CO HARTFORD CT USA

The one thing about the gun that concerns me is the conditioning. For a gun that I suspect is old, it is in practically new condition.

Any help on the gun, I would appreciate it.
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Old September 3, 2014, 03:36 PM   #2
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That serial # dates to 1889 if there is no A suffix following the number.

In which case, it was a black powder gun in another caliber that has been converted to .38 Special at a later date, and refinished.

Pics would help.


And are you sure the COLT SFPTA MFG CO HARTFORD CT USA

isn't COLT PT F.A. MFG CO HARTFORD CT USA?

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Last edited by rcmodel; September 3, 2014 at 03:55 PM.
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Old September 3, 2014, 04:29 PM   #3
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Attached are some pics of the gun.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_1840.jpg (125.5 KB, 48 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_1846.jpg (121.4 KB, 41 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_1842.jpg (73.0 KB, 48 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_1845.jpg (114.0 KB, 47 views)
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Old September 3, 2014, 04:31 PM   #4
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After WWII, Colt decided there was never going to be any market for the SAA, and sold off all their remaining parts to places like Numrich. Many owners of SAA Colts in odd calibers bought barrels and cylinders in .38 Special and converted their old guns to that caliber. (There were also a few parts in .357 also, but most were .38 Special.)

Needless to say, by doing that, they decreased the value of those guns, often significantly. Today, a SAA in .32 S&W or .44 Russian would be highly sought, where the same gun converted to .38 Special has minimal value.

In addition, the gun pictured has been heavily polished and refinished, decreasing its value still further.

Jim
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Old September 3, 2014, 04:32 PM   #5
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Here is another photo - better clarity.
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File Type: jpg IMG_1843.jpg (110.1 KB, 39 views)
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Old September 3, 2014, 04:35 PM   #6
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Does that mean that this gun was never made back in the day when colt made them.
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Old September 3, 2014, 04:59 PM   #7
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They need to call colt and pony up for the verification/letter.. There were an extremely low number of 1st gen 38 Specials built. (Some say 25) They purportedly only went to prominent people of the time. So it could be a extremely rare jewel or a fake.
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Old September 3, 2014, 05:09 PM   #8
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We have ponied up for the letter. The history of this gun is it has been in the family for 3 generations and the widow doesn't want it in the house. The family did well, they don't need to invest or try to pawn fakes.

As mentioned, we are going to get the letter. I heard that you can also call and for an extra $50, they will discuss it over the phone.

Not sure if it is worth the extra $50 to find out that soon unless you think that it may be real. While the pics were just with an iphone, the gun looks like it is brand new, something doesn't seem right with the condition it is in.
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Old September 3, 2014, 05:14 PM   #9
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RCModel
Yes it is COLT PT F.A. MFG CO HARTFORD CT USA?

My mistake
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Old September 3, 2014, 05:15 PM   #10
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Those grips look plastic instead of stag or ivory, ivory would have yellowed with age no matter how stored. The gun looks reblued to me, but a very good job preserving the contours and stampings. I wish I had it. It is worth the letter anyway as even if I and Jim K are right it is still worth more than $1500, at least.
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Old September 3, 2014, 05:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
There were an extremely low number of 1st gen 38 Specials built.
According to the serial number, the gun was made about 10 years before the .38 Special was invented.

rc
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Old September 3, 2014, 05:45 PM   #12
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Post a picture of the address stamp and other markings you found.

Three digit assembly number should be on the loading gate and should match the assembly number under the right grip on the frame.




Quote:
According to the serial number, the gun was made about 10 years before the .38 Special was invented.
Certainly a good tip off...

Last edited by tarosean; September 3, 2014 at 06:01 PM.
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Old September 3, 2014, 06:02 PM   #13
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Thanks for the help all, I appreciate the education on the COLT SAA and help with this situation.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_1856.jpg (81.8 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_1857.jpg (90.4 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_1850.jpg (75.8 KB, 22 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_1853.jpg (65.3 KB, 21 views)
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Old September 3, 2014, 06:04 PM   #14
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When I researched the 38 special round, it appears that it was created after the gun was made.
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Old September 3, 2014, 06:11 PM   #15
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More shots - didn't find any numbers when I removed the grip
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Old September 3, 2014, 06:12 PM   #16
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Here are the photos
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File Type: jpg IMG_1848.jpg (116.0 KB, 32 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_1851.jpg (99.4 KB, 17 views)
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Old September 3, 2014, 06:15 PM   #17
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The grips feel like they are made of plastic, if you look in the top of the pic you may see the raised lettering that says "Point Up" - doubt they would do this back in the 1800s.
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Old September 3, 2014, 07:22 PM   #18
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Plastic imitation stag grips for sure.


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Old September 3, 2014, 08:04 PM   #19
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A parts gun with a poor refinish job and no grips (plastic doesn't count) but is still a SAA. Maybe $900 as a shooter. That would be my top dollar.
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Old September 3, 2014, 08:45 PM   #20
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The format of the wording on the barrel indicate it (the barrel) was made after World War Two. Also the original finish was color case-hardened frame and hammer, with the rest of the parts being blued.

This is an excellent example of a post-war rebuild, either done by a private gunsmith or possibly (but unlikely) done at the Colt factory. Most of the value as a collectable is gone, but the remaining value is around $800 to $1100 depending on who wants it.
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Old September 3, 2014, 08:59 PM   #21
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That gun would fetch $1500 in Mexifornia.
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Old September 4, 2014, 11:45 AM   #22
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Quote:
They need to call colt and pony up for the verification/letter.
That's a complete waste of money that further eats into what will not be a lot of profit.

It's a blackpowder era Colt that was fitted with new parts and converted to .38Spl. Then it was refinished. Whoever did the work did a good job but the collector value is lost forever. It's obviously a much later cylinder but the full hot salt blue finish and white sided hammer are not period correct. The grips are obviously Franzite fake stag. The sixgun is probably worth $1000-$1200 at the absolute most. It's still in good shape, seemingly escaping the 700lb gorilla refinishers that over-polish all the parts separately and would be a good candidate for a restoration.
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Old September 4, 2014, 12:31 PM   #23
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Regardless... fake or no fake, it is still a nice revolver and probably a lot of fun to shoot. It does have a history - too bad nobody really knows it! So it's a conversion and could have been refinished - no big deal.

I have a Pietta 1873 and people say, "'oh, that's not a REAL Colt"... so I guess it's supposed to be less nice or less fun to shoot... not so!
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Old September 4, 2014, 12:58 PM   #24
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Howdy

I'll just add a couple of statistics from Kuhnhuasen.

Agree, SN 128769 was produced in 1889.

Colt first chambered the SAA for 38 Special in 1930.

There were only 27 of them made; 25 standard models and 2 Bisleys.

A very rare chambering for a 1st Gen, but it appears this one has been modified from the original caliber.

Take heart, I have a very nice 1st Gen Bisley chambered for 44 Special. It was refinished and rechambered some time in the past. Doesn't mean I don't like the gun.
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Old September 4, 2014, 01:09 PM   #25
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Quote:
Regardless... fake or no fake, it is still a nice revolver and probably a lot of fun to shoot. It does have a history - too bad nobody really knows it! So it's a conversion and could have been refinished - no big deal.
It's not a fake, it's a real Colt. It's just not original. I'm sure it would be lots of fun to shoot and I'd probably buy it if the price was right. However, it certainly is a "big deal", because the OP is looking to sell the gun for a third party, not "shoot and enjoy". Values of 1st generation Colt's vary widely and condition is everything. In this case, the modifications and refinishing that was done eliminated every bit of collector value. How much would depend on how bad it was to begin with.
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