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Belgium 1960 Army Colt??

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Crawdad1, Sep 24, 2013.

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  1. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
  2. 72coupe

    72coupe Member

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    I had a very nice Centennial in 1967. It came in a walnut case with accessories.

    I shot it so much that everything on it that could be loose was loose.
     
  3. Dframe

    Dframe Member

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    A friend of mine has one of these and they are EXCELLENT quality.
     
  4. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Member

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    These are very nice revolvers, with a pedigree going back to the 1800's. They are called Centare's in Europe and Centennials in the USA, as they hit the market here in 1960, 100 years after the 1860 came out.

    They are regarded as the most precise copy of the Colts made, and there is some argument by collectors for the proposal that they were licensed by Colt to build these in the 1800's and that the modern production ones are a direct continuation of that production. There is an equal argument made by other collectors that this is nonsense, and that they are simply a modern (and very authentic) reproduction, and that claims of direct descent from Colt's licensing scheme is simply marketing. In any event, there is one thing that is generally agreed on and that is that they are definately closer to the originals than are the Italian copies (which include any of the modern Colt replicas, which are Italian in origin)

    I've been collecting them for a while, and have about a dozen now. There are several different variations, and they are of interest to a growing group of collectors. In Eurpoe they are very keenly sought after. Prices reflect this, and any of them are worth more than any Italian copy of equal condition. They often approach Second Generation Colt's in price, and are considered better shooters. They are most definately a step better than the Signature Series "Colts" (which aren't).


    They shoot well, although if you want to shoot one I suggest buying one that's already been shot, leaving pristine ones for collectors.


    Willie

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    Last edited: Sep 24, 2013
  5. zimmerstutzen

    zimmerstutzen Member

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    Centenniel's bring a premium on the on-line auctions too.
     
  6. wap41

    wap41 Member

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    The early ones made in the 60's are very good quality the later ones are not as good quality.great shooters.
     
  7. pohill

    pohill Member

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    Check this out. Read the Statement Of Significance.

    http://museumvictoria.com.au/collections/items/389226/revolver-colt-brevete-belgium-1850s

    From "Henri Mangeot GUNMAKER TO THE COURT IN BRUSSELS" (I can't post a link to the site)

    "In 1849, Samuel Colt had obtained a 14 year Belgian patent for his revolver. This patent also
    covered the ratchet-wheel ramrod and Colt continued to prosecute every unauthorized
    counterfeit or variants thereof. As a consequence, Mangeot and Comblain were under
    pressure to avoid a trial."

    From what I can find, Colt only licensed the 1849 and 1851 to Belgian gunmakers, not the 1860.

    Are the screws and nipple threads metric or American?
     
  8. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Member

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  9. pohill

    pohill Member

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    Yep, been to that site many times. I like Belgian guns a lot. I've just never seen a Colt-Belgian license for the 1860.
     
  10. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Member

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    ^^ Yup.

    I'm in the collectors group that thinks the link between Sam Colt and these is pretty tenuous... but... there is a corporate connection between the original license holders for the earlier Colt designs and the manufacturer of the Centaure's, so... <sigh>.. folks will believe what they want to believe when it suits 'em to do so.

    Here's a pretty decent one for sale, along with a typical letter from Germany describing it in the context of it's variation.


    http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=366241863


    Willie


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  11. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Connection or not, the couple of antique Colt "brevete" Belgian revolvers I have seen are not anywhere near true copies of Colts in appearance, though they would be quite functional and would infringe Colt patents if not made under license. AFAIK, the only Belgian "repros" that could be called that were made in the 1950's and 1960's and are no longer made or imported.

    Jim
     
  12. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Member

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    ^^ The OP's question has nothing to do with Belgian brevete revolvers, and it's well established that the Centaure's and Centennials (same revolvers, marketed to Europe under one name and the USA under another) began production in 1960 and ended about 1972. Take a look at the link I provided, which is the definitive one for the manufacturer being discussed. It's interesting, and updated regularly.


    Willie

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  13. pohill

    pohill Member

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    I think the Belgian Centaures can stand by themselves, like the Ruger Old Army and the Santa Barbara Remingtons, without a questionable link to the original Colts. If the Belgians had a license agreement with Colt for the 1860, it should have surfaced by now.
     
  14. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Member

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    ^^ I'd agree 100%. Note that it's only recently that the claim has been made, it was not made when they were being manufactured. I think it's just internet marketing and grasping at straws. And I collect them, so I have every vested interest in having them be as valuable as possible.... ;-)


    Now: Having shot and handled every sort of 1860 from originals, to cheap generic Navy Arms (probably ASM ones), to Pietta, to Uberti, to Second Gen Colts, and the Centaure's, the Centaure (or Centennial) is the pick of the litter for fit, finish, shootability, and trueness to the original Colt contours. Even there there are some small things that I can see from 10 feet away that distinguish it from an original. Still... they are excellent and a step up from any of the Italian ones.


    Willie

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  15. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    Great information guys!!! I'm reading where this Belgium made revolver uses hard steels and closer tolerances than the Italians did or do currently, is this correct? And wasn't original Colt machinery sent over to Belgium during the 1800's and used by Centennial Arms to build this Colt? I also read where this revolver uses standard (American) threads, and parts, even nipples are hard to come by.
     
  16. pohill

    pohill Member

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    I've handled one but never owned or fired one. It seems that they all need some kind of work out of the box but that's no big deal. I'm guessing the threads are metric.
    I recently sold a Santa Barbara Remington New Model. I fired it a few times - great gun, but so are the Ubertis and Piettas.
    My favorites are the Signature Series Colts. Doesn't matter if they can "letter" from Colt or not (for $300). I think the 2nd Generation Colts are very authentic but I like the 3rd Generations.
    If the Belgian Centaures are as well made as some of the Belgian originals I have (or had), they'll be around a long time, in great shape.

    It's possible that they had some machinery once used for the 1851 Brevettes hidden away, but keep in mind, the 1860s were never made by the Belgians, so I'm guessing they'd have to start from scratch for the Centaures.
     
  17. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    And, is $795.00 a good price for this Colt?
     
  18. pohill

    pohill Member

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    I guess if you want one bad enough but it seems pretty high even for that gun.
    That's 3 decent Piettas or Ubertis.
     
  19. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    I agree Pohill 100%!! My Signature Series 1860 Army is a great shooter!!! And I can get spare parts for her anywhere but this Colt may be a little tough to get parts for.
     
  20. ivankerley

    ivankerley Member

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    excellent website for these, very interesting
    beautiful revolvers 'cept for the cylinder engraving, little perplexed by it, the non engraved looks good though
    Gene
     
  21. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    That Colt is more expensive then what I paid for my 2nd generation 'F' series '51 Navy or any of my 3rd Generation Signature Series Colts. Another thing is they said on those web-sites (The North South Skirmish Society)that only "Original" Colt parts will fit these revolvers. Another case for providence to the original line?
     
  22. pohill

    pohill Member

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    I think it depends on what parts they're talking about. I have originals - Colt 1851 .36, Whitney .36, Remington New Model .44 - and repro parts will fit with some fitting, but the screws and nipples are all American threads. So we're back to the Centaure question about the threads.
     
  23. Crawdad1

    Crawdad1 Member

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    Here is some interesting information on these Colts;

    Here is some additional info regarding the Centaur story and the story of the Colt Army M 1860 of licensed Belgian (Colt brevete) production.
    Sam Colt came to Belgium in 1853 to negotiate licensing deals with local manufacturers/gun smiths. in April 1853 a licensing agreement could be reached with "Union d'Armes de Liège". This was a group of 7 Belgian gun manufacturers/gun smiths, namely Ancion & Co., Collette, Darrdoy, Drissur & Co., Hanquet, Petry and the Pirlot brothers. To symbolize their alliance with Colt their selected the sign of a centaur with a rifle, kind of close to the Colt sign. This centaur was placed as a trademark on the frame of their Colt Army license pistol.
    Since 1853 Unie d'Armes manufactured various models of Colt C&B revolvers under that license. 1960 they re-started producing the Colt Army 1860 using the old blueprints and the old machinery. Instead of the original Colt barrel marking - ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW YORK US AMERICA - the Centaur barrels sport the marking - 1960 NEW MODEL ARMY CENTENNIAL TRADE MARK. This was to document the re-start of production of the Colt Army 1860. As mentioned somewhere else various barrel lengths, steels, cylinder configurations of the 1860 Army were made.
    The Centaur is obviously closer the the original as 2nd or 3rd generation Colts. They are identical to the original except for the modern steel used. It is estimated that up to some 60,000 model 1960 were made. Manufacturing was discontiued in the 1970s but the company stayed in business as a gun dealer. It is not known, however, if they are still around today.
    Union d' Armes/Centaur is said to having been the only Colt licensed manufacturer of Colt spare parts in the World.

    I don't know if I helping or hurting someone, but it would seem that if someone runs across one of these Colts they could be better informed as to what they are looking at.
    I have done some searches recently on auction sites and it looks like these Centennials are being listed at a higher price then the 2nd Generation 'F" Series Colts, the black box ones, and the 3rd Generation Signature Series Colts. But their listed prices are about equal to or a little less than the initial 'C' Series Colts, the brown (wood grain) boxed Colts.

    Interesting!!!
     
  24. Willie Sutton

    Willie Sutton Member

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    "1960 they re-started producing the Colt Army 1860 using the old blueprints and the old machinery"


    This story has been repeated on the internet for years, but there has never been any primary reference material to draw on, or confirmation of to from any reliable source.

    There were no such claims made when these were actually being manufactured and sold. It seems, with all due respect, to be a modern myth.

    There IS, to be sure, a continuation of the same corporate chain of manufacturers as they expanded and contracted for 100 years in Belgium from the original licensed manufacturers and the firm that actually manufactuired the Centaure, so... like Colt's Second Generation, they are certainly made by a corporation that at one time held and used Colt patents under license to produce revolvers. That's an interesting enough bit of trivia to stand on it's own merits.

    And that's from someone who loves these, collects them, and studies them in detail. There are frame contours that are not perfectly identical to the original Colts, or to any of the older Belgian Colt copies.

    The nipples are SAE threads, BTW.


    "I'm reading where this Belgium made revolver uses hard steels and closer tolerances than the Italians did or do currently, is this correct?"

    Well, the arbor lengths are set correctly, which is a huge improvement. Timing, fit, finish, wood quality is all far better than any of the Italian repros.


    "And wasn't original Colt machinery sent over to Belgium during the 1800's and used by Centennial Arms to build this Colt?"

    Since the best machine tools in the world were at that time made in England, that's unlikely. And "Centennial Arms" is the US firm that imported them into the USA, not the manufacturer. They were not marked "Centennial Arms" for sale outside of the USA.


    "I also read where this revolver uses standard (American) threads, and parts, even nipples are hard to come by"


    True. I order my nipples from Germany, from the guy that runs the website that I linked above.



    "And, is $795.00 a good price for this Colt?"

    No, it's high unless it's new in the original box and has some other unique characteristic. A rarely shot one in good condition without the box is worth about $350, which places it fair and square within a small amount of where Uberti's are listed. They are far nicer than any Uberti.


    Willie

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    Last edited: Sep 25, 2013
  25. pohill

    pohill Member

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    If they never produced the 1860s back in the 1860s, how would they have blueprints? Machinery maybe...
    I've never seen an 1860 Brevette - several 1851s, though.
    And why would they have produced cap and ball 1860s when cartridges were becoming the rage?
    There's the myth that the 2nd Generation Colts were produced on Colt machinery that sat idle for a hundred years or so, but that's been disproven.
    Anyhoo, it really makes no difference to me. They're good guns and, like I said, they can stand on their own.
     
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