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Colt Bisley circa 1900

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by MtnSpur, Apr 25, 2011.

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  1. MtnSpur

    MtnSpur Member

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    Ok so my wife and I stumble across an old pawn shop last saturday. It was about 12:45pm and he was closing at 1PM. This place was floor to ceiling stuff w/ old revolvers both blackpowder and cartridge behind the counter. I spy what looks like an old Colt. Am able to examine it "briefly" and the man says it's a 1900 Colt Bisley 44-40. Looked in surprisingly good shape but he was anxious to close shop so I didn't get to look at serial number, etc. Thinking about calling today and see if I can get more info (the place is a good hour away). Anything I need to concentrate on? Besides some obvious holster wear the action was tight, cylinder and hammer timed right and the loading gate was original and tight. I've always been on the prowl for a Bisley, could I have stumbled upon a hidden treasure? There were no pitting or rust issues.
     
  2. thralldad

    thralldad Member

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    I love those. Where is it?
     
  3. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Make sure it's a Colt and not a Uberti/Beretta clone being sold as one. Finding a real first generation Bisley in a pawn shop IN Texas for a bargain price is suspicious.

    Serial number for 1900 should be 192000-202999 and are rated for smokeless powder. There were only 6,803 Bisleys ever made in .44-40. Numbers previous to this are NOT smokeless powder rated (per R.L. Wilson). All Bisleys after No. 161,376 had "BISLEY MODEL" with the caliber stamped on the left side of the barrel, so a 1900 model SHOULD have this.

    $2000-3000 would be the right price range at 50% condition based on recent auction sales. The target model with adjustable rear sight is considerably rarer as only 78 were made. (There is a refinished one selling at Simpson's for $2300--a minty target model will be considerably more, like $6-8000)

    Make sure the serial numbers match the frame, trigger guard and grip strap, the loading gate should have a 3 digit # as well.

    Hope the info helps and good luck!
     
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2011
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    +1

    Also make sure it isn't a Uberti frame with a real, old Colt marked barrel screwed in it.
    They fit quite nicely!

    rc
     
  5. MtnSpur

    MtnSpur Member

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    The gentleman that owns/runs the shop is the real deal so I'm thinking this is legit. Thank you Rob and RC I will definitely be paying very close attention to all your advice. I have to horse trade some (thinking he may very well make a deal with my DWM .30 Luger w/shoulder holster) so we'll definitely be making the drive to see what transpires. Been thinking about this alllllll weekend and my wife knows it too :what:

    I'd tell ya where the shop is located but then I'd have ta hunt ya down and (well ya know the deal) :neener:

    Mtn
     
  6. MtnSpur

    MtnSpur Member

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    Update

    I've discussed my intent with the owner of the shop and he's agreeable to us working out some sort of trade w/$$ option on his Bisley and my DWM Luger so that's the good news. I need to research the Luger a bit more but it appears to be a circa 1920 DWM .30 cal. The down side is that the barrel serial number and frame serial number are mismatched. From what I gather this is not unusual as some Lugers were reworked due to exportation laws. The frame carries a very low serial number of 4xxx. I'm not nearly versed enough on Lugers. I will say the finish, internals and grips are in very good condition. At least the door has been opened :)
     
  7. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Those Lugers are among the least desireable as collectors items, though they shoot well, so a trade for a Bisley in decent shape would be much to your advantage, depending of course on the "boot" involved. But the SAA world is a jungle, so it behooves anyone involved to be both knowledgeable and careful.

    Jim
     
  8. MtnSpur

    MtnSpur Member

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    The .30 DWM Luger

    This is the 1920 Commercial DWM Luger that I was previously referring to when using it as "some barter room" for the Bisley. The DWM on the TOP is clearly marked. Serial number on frame is 4*49 with all matching last 2 digits on all parts that would be stamped. The 3 7/8" barrel is not a matching serial number. It is Crown and N stamped. On frame, under serial number is a small scripted "n" stamped.
    Side plate unmarked. Safety marked in German "GESCHERT". The pictures will reflect no rust or pitting, bore is bright. Magazine is unmarked. leather shoulder holder seems period.

    Have no idea how much I should price it at in the deal (Simpson collector has one priced at $1875 with matched barrel which seems um high?). Suggestions or thoughts gratefully appreciated.

    DWMLeftSide800x446.gif
    DWMLeftwmag800x449.gif
    DWMRightSide800x435.gif
    DWMRearView800x449.gif
    DWMUnderMarks800x449.gif
    DWMTop800x446.gif
    DWMSholderHolster2800x449.gif
    DWMSholderHolster800x449.gif
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2011
  9. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    I would seriously suspect you indeed have a police weapon, reworked after WW1. Made by DWM in 1917 (I'm not sure there were any 'commercial' guns made in 1917) parts replaced (sideplate, barrel) during its service life (but not-renumbered by the factory --you'd see 2 date stamps on the top) previous to capture. The holster is unusual, I'd love to hear the 'capture' story on this one. The wood bottom magazine is period correct.

    I'd say you have at least a $1500 pistol based on what's for sale @ Simpsons right now.

    4*49 n is the actual serial number. Crown N means it's been proofed for smokeless powder, also a suggests that it's a German made barrel.

    As to whether it was a 9mm converted to 30 Luger post WW1, I am unsure.
     
  10. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    While the holster leather (pebblegrain) screams "German" the Germans didn't use snaps and the workmanship (rivets) suggests "made locally" for or BY a GI.

    Concealed weapons didn't get confiscated by higher ups and a lot of GI's hid their treasures this way.

    See if there are any markings on the back of the holster, if it's a 'real deal' issued holster it should have markings of some kind.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2011
  11. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    The pictures are worthless, far too dark to show any markings, even the manufcturer's mark on the toggle. I fail to understand why folks go to the trouble to take pictures and don't review them before posting.

    Jim
     
  12. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Uhhhh...maybe, adjust your Screen Contrast?
     
  13. MtnSpur

    MtnSpur Member

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    I'm certainly not an expert photographer but the pics were sufficient to get an idea of what I have and with my comments on markings did the intended job. I thank Dr Rob for his assistance as I now have a better understanding of this Luger and can, at the very least, discuss it with the individual I'm dealing with.
     
  14. MtnSpur

    MtnSpur Member

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    There are no markings that I can discern and this holster may very well be a custom job made for the weapon. The underside shows some hand stitching crudely done in 2 places. Right now I'm tearting it as a throw-in to the deal for the Bisley and certainly won't be a deal maker or breaker. We have no liberation history at all Rob. My father-in-law was a collector of everything and a hand written little notebook he carried with him states he bought this Luger at a garage sale many many years ago. I certainly appreciate your time, advice and knowledge. You are certainly a valuable asset to THR.

    Best Regards and I'll keep you posted on how this transaction plays out :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2011
  15. MtnSpur

    MtnSpur Member

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    The transaction didn't pan out for a number of reasons. I wanted to re-examine the Bisley and found that it was a .38-40 not a .44-40 as I was originally told. The serial numbers were matching and placed the manufacturing date at 1899. The kicker is in her past someone had renickeled her and not done a very good job and the markings were almost obliterated on the barrel,frame and gate. The hammer was wobbly and the trigger pull had a "grind" to it. An arrangement didn't, in my best interests, seem possible and as they say if something looks too good to be true it usually is. Remember that my initial look at this Bisley was very brief
    This said I cannot thank Dr. Rob, RC and others enough for their contributions, insight and thoughtfulness on this process.

    Mtn
     
  16. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    Well hang onto that Luger, it's certainly an interesting piece.
     
  17. thralldad

    thralldad Member

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    That's too bad, I wish it had worked out for you!
     
  18. MtnSpur

    MtnSpur Member

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    In a way it did. The man has old Colts in the backroom in cases that he doesn't display, many priced 3500-9000 and up from the late 1800's to the early 1900's. My impression, "not so fine" pieces were "kinda" displayed behind the counters, in holsters, as decor :uhoh: . He's a collector and the pawn shop is a sideline methinks.
    I managed to pick up a fine 1968 Colt Trooper in excellent condition other than the original wood was missing and had Pachmyrs on her. Some things are just meant to be. This was a gun shop in the same town that I would not normally have frequented but definitely will now. One of the friendly places where old friends come in just to shoot the bull kinda place :) Made me feel right at home.
     
  19. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Ain't that great!
    Sure not like the Cabala's Gun Library is it!!

    I plucked a 4 1/2" S&W 1950 Target .44 Special out of the back of a store in a little town in KS like that.

    It is a combination furniture store, hardware store, & gun shop sorta place.
    Five or six old guys were setting around a wood stove in the back, drinking coffee and bullsxxxing when I walked in and inquired about guns.

    The owner had forgot the combination to his gun safe, so he had to call in his 96 year old mother to open it for him!!

    rc
     
  20. MtnSpur

    MtnSpur Member

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    Now THAT is just precious. 96 and can remember a safe combo? Betcha she could shoot too :)
     
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