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Colt Bankers Special Authentication

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by Harry Paget Flashman, Nov 25, 2011.

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  1. Harry Paget Flashman

    Harry Paget Flashman Member

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    I am bidding on a "Colt Bankers Special .38 Revolver" at gunbroker.com. Here: http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=262117630

    I was very enthusiastic and put in a very high reserve bid. But at second glance of the write up and pictures I have some questions about its authenticity. I have bought from the the seller before and he is a stand-up guy. I have queried him via PM and this is the mail so far:


    -----Original Message-----
    From: Dxxx Xxxxxxs <[email protected]>
    To: dxxxxxxx1 <[email protected]>
    Sent: Fri, Nov 25, 2011 12:54 am
    Subject: FW: GunBroker.com Bid Confirmation for Item 262117630


    Xxxxx,

    I put a big reserve bid on this revolver but have some questions after scrutinizing the pictures and reading the description. Please bear with me. Your gun is attachment 1. Others I have Googled are 2 through 7. I am sure hoping this is a Bankers Special but the cylinder release knob below the barrel looks wrong, the front sight looks more like a Detective Special than the typical half moon sight, the "Bankers" over "Special" rollmark lacks symmetry...it seems that the "S" extends a tad too far to the right and from what I can tell from the gunbroker picture the barrel could have been milled and restamped. All in all it sure looks more like a Police Positive than a Bankers Special. I own a modified Police Positive snubby, it is in attachment 8. You can see the placement of the Colt Rampant Pony in your gun and mine seems a little closer than compared to the Bankers.

    Colt Bankers Special's were made only from 1928 to 1933 in the square butt and from 1934 to 1943 in the round butt version I believe. The serial number of 92346 would make it a 1914 manufacture for only a Detective Special or Police Positive Special. That serial number would make it a 1917 if it began life as a Police Positive. I believe all Bankers Specials range from 177000 to 406725, sharing numbers with the Police Positive from 1928 to 1943.

    By way of identification these were made only in 2" with a few 4" models reported to have been special ordered. Would you please confirm the barrel length is either 2½" or 2"? Also the 2½" barrel was only in the Police Positive I think and then only for .32 caliber. The cylinder length should be 1.25" for the .38 S&W (.38NP) and .22 version. If the cylinder is 1 5/8" it is not a Banker as those were PPS, DS and other .38 Special sized cylinders. Does it chamber .38 S&W or .38 Special? Does it have a checkered trigger face? That also may be an identification guide but I haven't done all the research on it. On the right side of the barrel does it say "COLTS PT.F.A. MFG CO. HARTFORD, CT. USA" over "PAT'D AUG 5, 1884, JULY 4, 1905, OCT 5 1926"?

    Sorry if I am being a PITA but that front sight and barrel length just set me to searching and then after hours or Googling I came up with these other questions. I have no real expertise in these guns but sure love working crossword puzzles and solving mysteries. As an aside I have a high reserve that covers the Blue Book value of this revolver even though it might bring $1000+ if it is an authentic Banker. Alas, there are fakes out there. I am sure hoping this is not the case and is the result of too much turkey today and over-imagining. It is a nice looking revolver and I want to win it regardless but not for the reserve price I bid if it does pan out to be ringer. If I am mistaken, I apologize. Just trying to sort this out because I really want a Banker.

    Thanks - Xxxx"

    His response was:

    "I dont know anything really about them as so little is written. I picked it up at the Hoffman estates cabellas for ($XXX). The cylinder measures exactly 1 1/4 and barrel is stamped Bankers 38 special which of course would be too long to fit in this cylinder. There is a littel mum like stamp on left side of receiver so if this predates a true bankers spl, it may have been returned to factory. Cabelas did not try and pass off fake banker model , not at that price and was simply tagged 38 colt snub nose. finish is all factory and barrel stamps, I have had them looked at by two other colt guys, and they thought it was factory. When i get back tommorrow, will add your notes and close up of the mum like stamp as well. thanks, Xxxx

    "Thanks. That cylinder length confirms a .38 S&W cartidge. The low serial number pre-dating the Bankers Special and 2½" barrel length are sort of problematic too. - Xxxx"(me)
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't include the attachments but #1 is his Bankers Special, #2-7 are generic Bankers Special from Google and #8 is a Colt Police Positive I own modified to Snubby.

    To me the keys things that stand out are the serial number, front sight (looks more DS than the BS's half moon style, the knurled knob on the cylinder pin, the misaligned letters in the name and the ".38" has an "8" which seems dissimilar in that the top portion is smaller than the lower.

    I would appreciate any help in ID-ing this as the real thing or a knock-off.
     
  2. boatingboy

    boatingboy Member

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    You can also post the question on www.coltforums.com
     
  3. Harry Paget Flashman

    Harry Paget Flashman Member

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    Thanks.
     
  4. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Colt first cataloged the Bankers Special in 1928, and production continued until the World War Two period. They were serial numbered in the same series as the regular .38 Police Positive, with the starting number in the 177,000 range.

    The black, molded, hard-rubber stocks are correct for a Police Positive .38 made in 1917, but by 1928 Police Positive and Bankers Special revolvers sported checkered walnut stocks with a nickel plated "pony" logo at the top. If the stocks that are on it are original to the gun they should be serial numbered to the frame on the inside.

    The photographs are not sharp enough on my monitor to comment further, but from what I can see this one looks like a regular .38 Police Positive with a chopped and re-stamped barrel.
     
  5. gyvel

    gyvel Member

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    Serial numbers generally are a good indicator of date of manufacture with Colts. My opinion would be that, if the s/n doesn't jive, it isn't a Banker's Special. These barrels are easy enough to change, and it wouldn't be unheard of for someone who had a Banker's barrel on hand to have it installed on a PP frame. The front sight is definitely of later vintage than an early PP or Banker's, but that could have been soldered on at a later date.

    There was a time (pre-collector mania), when a Banker's Special (or an older Police Positive for that matter) wasn't a particularly desirable gun due to the calibre, .38 Special being the preferred.

    Personally, I would ask the seller to cancel your bid.
     
  6. Harry Paget Flashman

    Harry Paget Flashman Member

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    Thank you both. That sort of confirms my suspicions. Wouldn't mind owing the revolver but not at the price I bid. Hope I can work something out.
     
  7. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    I don’t question the seller’s honesty, nor for that matter the store that sold him the revolver; but it was posted for sale as a Banker’s Special. The serial number and hard rubber stocks seem to make it clear that it isn’t what it was represented to be. Under the circumstances I can’t see why you should be held to your bid, unless the seller can prove what he says he’s selling really is what he claims.
     
  8. Harry Paget Flashman

    Harry Paget Flashman Member

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    Thank you for your assistance. Based on your information I sent the seller an email asking to be released from my bid. I would have been doing the happy feet dance if I'd won the real thing for $650.
     
  9. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Not if I got to the seller first... :evil:

    In the future if you come on something, and what the "something" is, questionable, start a thread asking for information before you place a bid. ;)
     
  10. Harry Paget Flashman

    Harry Paget Flashman Member

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    But I saw "Bankers Special" and "Started at $450.00" and my canine chase instinct kicked in. In those situations it is "do", not "think". You can even omit the comma.
     
  11. Harry Paget Flashman

    Harry Paget Flashman Member

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    Final note. The seller released all bidders from their bids and redescribed it based on information received. The guy was a real gentleman about it as I have found most sellers there to be.
     
  12. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    One other small point...

    The pics of this gun are blurry in the ad. This is always a bad sign. At best they do not care enough to post clear accurate pics, at worst there is something that they hope a buyer will miss. Avoid guns with blurry pics. There will always be another good gun available.

    tipoc
     
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