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Navy Arms 1960 numbered box set - is anyone familiar with this?

Discussion in 'Blackpowder' started by Ivory, Apr 20, 2018.

  1. Ivory

    Ivory Member

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    I had this posted on another forum and it was suggested in that forum for me to post it here in this forum in the hopes of gaining more knowledge from all of you. I am certainly no expert by any means, but I sure think this is an interesting find. Here is a copy of my post...

    Please do bear with me as I am new in both this forum and in collecting these. I was recently at an auction and fell in love with this set. I won the auction and after days of researching what I could find both in your forum and online I think I have a basic understanding of what I now own. Subsequently, I think I have also caught the bug and want to grow my collection. But for now I would like to pick your brains and see what you can tell me. I am not having much of any luck finding information about these numbered boxed sets online. I put the photos in a public album on Flickr and will post that link below.

    - 7 1/2" octagon barrel.
    - Looks like a replica of the Colt 1851.
    - The date code XVI shows this is 1960.
    - Proof marks on the right side (provisional Gardone proof consisting of a star surrounded by eight lands and grooves over a coat of arms featuring a hammer and anvil and crossed bayoneted rifles, and the star surrounded by eight lands and grooves over the capital letters PN which is the first black powder proof for Gardone and Brescia) along with Made In Italy and the G.U. initials (Gregorelli & Uberti).
    - Navy Arms Co on top of the barrel.
    - Left side marked Navy Arms Co.
    - Bottom of the barrel is marked with the same two proof marks as the right side.
    - Underside is marked with 3545, which is also the same numbers marked on the paper, the box, and the tool. The tool is also marked with the numbers 55 just like the cylinder.
    - Cylinder has the same proof marks, and the numbers 55 are on the side that faces the hammer.
    - Powder flask is marked Navy Arms Co. and Made In Italy, and has "Colts Patent" on the front in the image.
    - The caps container is unopened.
    - Can't find a serial number. Unless it is the 3545?
    - Gun appears unfired.

    Here is the album. Hope you can see the photos this way. https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157692664573182
    I also included a photo of the other flask that came with the auction win, and put it next to the flask from the case to show a size comparison.

    Thanks in advance for any knowledge you can share.
     
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  2. LonesomePigeon

    LonesomePigeon Member

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    Hi, welcome to the forum. Your gun is a replica of the .36 caliber Colt 1851 Navy, made in Italy by Gregorelli & Uberti and imported by Navy Arms. It's the first mass produced replica(along with the Gregorelli & Uberti .36 caliber Griswold & Gunnison replica made at the same time) that started the whole replica revolver craze. 3545 would be the serial number and 55 is an assembly number used to keep the parts together during the manufacturing process.
    These are fairly rare revolvers because Gregorelli & Uberti were partners for only a short time before Uberti went off on his own. I have never seen one with a case and accessories numbered to the gun. You made a great find, in my opinion. Do you intend to shoot the gun?
     
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  3. Fingers McGee

    Fingers McGee Member

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    Congrats on a rare find.
     
  4. Ivory

    Ivory Member

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    Hi LonesomePigeon, and thanks for the welcome. I had no plans on shooting this gun. Even when looking at it at the auction I wanted it just to collect it because I liked it. I didn't think about the 55 being an assembly number but it makes sense. Then the mold size matches the cylinder. This set sure has me searching without much turning up.

    Thanks Fingers McGee :) Have you seen any of these numbered sets from Navy Arms before?
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  5. 44 Dave

    44 Dave Member

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    I have a Uberti 1969 built 1860 Army that also has the build #55.
     
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  6. Fingers McGee

    Fingers McGee Member

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    Probably did back in the day. I wasn't 'rich' enough to buy any of them back then. If I recall correctly, cased sets like this one only ran around $150.00. Importers and C&B retailers have been selling cased sets off and on since yours was made. EMF did up until a few years ago and Dixie Gun Works still does. They want $525 to $625 for them now. Even Cabelas sold five or six different cased sets for a while in the early 90s. I have an 1860 set from then and had a 3rd Model Dragoon/Baby Dragoon double cased set for a while.
     
  7. expat_alaska

    expat_alaska Member

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    Welcome to the forum, ivory! When I referred you to this site I figured you would not be disappointed. There are many folks here on THR with knowledge in many areas, and none of them are afraid to help out in some way.

    IMO, Fingers is very much a go-to guy as he seems to specialize in cased sets, but the others here offer their $.02 worth, all with very good intentions with their experiences. I am sure you do not have a one-of-a-kind cased set as there are probably a few sitting in someone's possession who, unknowingly, think they might have an ACW pistol without even looking at all of the Italian markings, or have no idea what they are looking at.

    Me? Count me out as one who has any knowledge about cased sets. I am just a Pietta 1851 Navy "type" guy who likes to mix and match parts to create various replicas of historic correctness, disregarding the Italian marks.

    I have purchased a few Hampel's oak cases for my Navies a while back, but they are not compartmentalized like your English case nor the French cases.

    Glad you found us!

    Jim (sourdough)
     
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  8. Ivory

    Ivory Member

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    My find surely pales in comparison to some of the amazing collections you all have. I realize that the likelihood of this set being one in a million is highly unlikely. I have yet to find another one like it online, or even any mention of one, which is why I am hoping to find more information through other collectors and researchers. I'm now digging through old gun magazines and print ads. Maybe that will turn something up.

    My husband always says I have a knack for finding the oddest things. I think I should include him in that as well.
     
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  9. Fingers McGee

    Fingers McGee Member

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    It may not be one in a million; but it could very well be one in a thousand. Gregorelli & Uberti didn't make all that many '51 Navies in 1960, and one in a factory cased set would be ultra rare.
     
  10. Jwhardin1969

    Jwhardin1969 Member

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    Have a similar 1851. With same date code. And the case appears identical.

    Does anyone have info on these engraved ones? 20181229_140014.jpg 20181229_135714.jpg 20181229_140100.jpg 20181229_135755.jpg 20181229_135855.jpg 20181229_140027.jpg 20181229_135932.jpg
     
  11. Ephraim Kibbey

    Ephraim Kibbey Member

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    My earliest Navy Arms catalog/price list is from January of 1989.
    It lists the 1851 Navy Yank in .36 caliber as PRC051 for $125.00 and the single cased set as SDC051 for $199.
    A double cased set was DDC051 for $325.
    My next Navy Arms Catalog with a price list is for January of 1996.
    The revolver is $155, the single cased set is $280 and the double set is $455.
    Neither price list has engraving as an option for revolvers but does have it for some rifles.

    My earliest EMF price list is from 1975 and has a "Brass 1851 Navy Engr. Cylinder .36" as PER104D for $60 retail and $39.90 wholesale.
    Note that EMF was importing mostly from Armi San Marco not Uberti but it may help with relative engraving costs.
    It lists a "Brass 1851 Navy .36 Cal. Fully Engraved" as PER104E for $90 retail and $44.90 wholesale.
    A case hardened 1851 with engraved cylinder was $105 retail and 54.90 wholesale.
    The C/H version is listed with silver trim for $115 retail and $59.90 wholesale but there is no listing for a fully engraved one.
    PER104C was an engraved cylinder brass framed 1851 in a cased set for $115 retail and $85 wholesale.
    A fully engraved cased set was available for the same retail price.
    The C/H version cased was $125 retail and $85 wholesale but no price is listed for an engraved version.
     
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  12. expat_alaska

    expat_alaska Member

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    Jwhardin1969,

    Welcome to the forum! We know you are new here so be patient with the comments.

    That is a very nice engraved repro Italian 1851 Navy marked Navy Arms Co., and was probably done as a commemorative by some company in the 1970's. I have a few problems with it, and I am no expert.

    I have never seen a Navy Arms pistol marked as Navy Arms "CO." Navy Arms always had the company name attached to the place of import, normally Ridgefield New Jersey.

    I see no manufacturer date code nor any Italian proof marks on the right side of the frame, nor proof marks on the right side of the barrel lug. The supposed date marking below the "Made In Italy" is not a date stamp.

    The serial number of your pistol is E43, with the E stamped over another numeral in a much larger and different font, and much deeper. Colt serial numbers, and even repro Colt serial numbers, were all numeric. No alpha characters.

    As I have stated, I truly believe what you have is a commemorative, with the gold lines on the cylinder and the muzzle. I would be very curious to know who created it. It is not anywhere close to the pistol that the OP Ivory posted about.

    I hope I did not ruffle any feathers.

    Regards,

    Jim
     
  13. Ephraim Kibbey

    Ephraim Kibbey Member

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    I just bought a 1970's Navy Arms catalog on Ebay with engraved percussion revolvers on the cover. I will report back when it arrives!!!
     
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  14. LonesomePigeon

    LonesomePigeon Member

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    Very nice revolver, Jwhardin1969. The first photo clearly shows "MADE IN ITALY/G.U." on the right side barrel lug so it is definitely a Gregorelli & Uberti 1851 Navy repro made in the late 1950's to early 1960's. The "E" in the serial number "E43" most likely stands for "engraved" so it is probably the 43rd engraved 1851 Navy repro they made. In my opinion the engraving is definitely high quality hand engraving and not stamped. The finish on the frame appears to be what they call "coin finish".
     
  15. expat_alaska

    expat_alaska Member

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    Thanks for your post, LP, but I have mixed feelings about this one.

    The first picture definitely shows "MADE IN ITALY" but the font has serifs and is a different size and style. The "G.U" is there under that but seems to be missing the period after the "U" .

    There are no proof marks (to indicate a complete pistol from the factory) on the frame, the barrel, or the cylinder. It has "NAVY ARMS CO." on top of the barrel instead of the left side of the frame.

    I am seriously thinking that this might be a one-off made for Val Forgett, all done in Italy from parts.

    Cased-1851001.jpg

    G-U-G-G.jpg

    Ivory's pistol is one that was meant to sell as a completed pistol.

    I need to ask you what a "coin finish" is, what it looks like, and who calls it that. I have been a coin collector since the 70's, there are many grades of "finishes".

    You folks have a good night and Happy New Year to you all!

    Regards,

    Jim
     
  16. arcticap

    arcticap Member

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    I had trouble pinpointing a crystal clear definition for a coin finish as it relates to guns.
    But if you take several different definitions together and put them in context, then it becomes more clear what it can mean.

    For instance:

    1. "... a coin finish is a term that can mean anything from polished metal to French Grey, depending on who is the maker and how they term it.

    To me, I like a coin finish, much more durable, shows off any engraving better and always looks good...." [Post #26]--->>> http://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=261775&page=all

    2. "Coin-finish generally refers to a high-polish finish, bright steel on the receiver of a break-open gun. Other action-body finishes could be casehardened, blued or French-gray (a chemical-finish, dull gray steel color). Coin-finish, when appearing typically on a modern, high grade Italian shotgun shows off the exquisite and delicate engraving better than other finishes. The term is sometimes used (incorrectly) by people dealing in old guns to describe the finish on a well-worn gun’s receiver when all the original case-hardening colors have worn or have been polished off."--->>> http://www.hallowellco.com/coin_finish.htm

    3. "But color case wasn't the only prestigious finish. Way back in the day, an alternative was the coin finish. Now, to really be a true coin finish, it was just plain polished case hardened steel. They color case hardened those mild steel parts, then polished off the color to make a "coin finish". It was still hardened, and still somewhat resistant to rusting, but that's how they did it. Today they usually don't case harden the part anyway, so they use a silver nitride process, which actually does harden the surface, then polish it, just like in the old days. It's not a plating. The coin surface is still hardened steel, that's been polished."
    Seems to make sense to me - SKB always had a good coin finish that lasted - IIRC, they were of the silver nitride finish [Post #2]--->>> https://www.thehighroad.org/index.php?threads/coin-finish-what-is-it.529798/

    4. And then there's the Westley Richards version of the coin finish which is to have the gun engraved and then sent for case hardening
    before deciding whether to have the color case hardening polished off or not. That's compared to the less expensive method of leaving
    it much more bright and shiny, instead of leaving a more grey tone to the steel. [See Photos]--->>> https://www.theexplora.com/case-hardening-or-coin-finish-on-guns-rifles/

    5. Here's photos of a $14,000 engraved shotgun with a French greyed and plasma hardened coin finish:--->>> https://www.csmcspecials.com/product_p/24466.htm

    When in doubt, refer back to #1.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
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  17. LonesomePigeon

    LonesomePigeon Member

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    Here is where I saw the term "coin finish", it is an early Uberti, not Gregorelli & Uberti, but done in a similar style.
    https://www.simpsonltd.com/products/c30105

    expat_Alaska, good catch on the fonts. My guess is that they are hand engraved but they are the same markings and same locations as would appear on a standard non-engraved G.U. Original factory engraved Colt's occasionally had hand engraved barrel address and/or "COLT'S PATENT" markings. As to it being a one-of for Val Forgett, it could be but I have seen several hand engraved G.U.'s and early Uberti's. They all have the Navy Arms markings as best I can remember so I am pretty sure it was something they sold to the public as well. Very early G.U.'s did not have any proofmarks or datecodes.
     
  18. Ephraim Kibbey

    Ephraim Kibbey Member

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    I just opened the Navy Arms Catalog with engraved revolvers on its cover.
    Inside the front cover, it is copyrighted 1972 by "Service Armament Co., Inc." Navy Arms parent company.

    Page 3 describes 3 grades of hand gun engraving and the costs as follows:

    GRADE "A" ENGRAVING
    Grade "A" pattern of engraving is a delicate classic scroll emphasizing some of the more positive lines on a weapon. It gives it that little extra something that sets off any weapon in making it a conversation piece or the highlight of a collection.
    Price $70.00 Plus price of gun.

    GRADE "B" ENGRAVING
    Grade "B" engraving is an extension of Grade A giving a more ornate classic pattern with the gun being richly endowed with about 40% overall coverage with delicate scrolls. This definitely will enhance any firearm and make it an outstanding and desirable piece.
    Price $90.00 Plus price of gun.

    GRADE "C" ENGRAVING
    Grade "C" engraving is by far the most extensive beautiful scroll work ever put on a hand gun. We consider the artists who engrave Navy Arms products among the finest in the world and a Grade C engraved hand gun is truly a tribute to the gunmakers art and will become a classic in its own time. The guns shown also have gold line work which offsets the engraving when the gun is blued giving a highlight to the more significant areas of the weapon. The Grade C engraved guns become the focal point of any collection no matter how extensive it may be. We reserve Grade C guns for custom order only.
    Price $130.00 Plus price of gun.
    LINE GOLD INLAY $25.00 EXTRA

    Gun Engraving

    Navy Arms has a full staff of engravers who have passed their art from generation to generation. This is a trade to be admired since from the beginning class of students possibly 2% or 3% complete the course and become master engravers. We are proud to bring you a selection of our fine replicas and engraved models, but must caution you to remember that our more elaborate guns are on custom order only and are not generally in stock. It takes a full month for a man to create a gun with the type C engraving that you see on this page.


    On pages 32 and 33, engraving prices for rifles are listed as follows (it is not clear whether these include the price of the rifle or not) :

    .22 CALIBER MODEL 66
    Grade A Engraving $150.00 Grade B Engraving $250.00 Grade C Engraving $500.00 Presentation Gun Engraving $650.00

    .38 CALIBER MODEL 66 LEVER ACTION
    Grade A Engraving $150.00 Grade B Engraving $250.00 Grade C Engraving $500.00


    Sadly the engraving in the photos is hard to see and only the left sides are pictured so none of the lettering is visible. The triangular engraved motifs on the cylinder are visible on several of the guns while other Colts have the traditional scenes.

    One 1972 dollar is worth six 2018 dollars according to an internet calculator so the Grade C engraving with Gold inlay on the set above would cost over $700 today if you could find someone to do it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
  19. Jwhardin1969

    Jwhardin1969 Member

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    Thanks for all the information guys, really enjoy learning about these early Navy Arms.

    Ivory's original post caught my attention as the case is identical to my case and it appears to be a complete numbered cased set (first one I have seen numbered).

    As OP Ivory pics show, the early GU did not have Ridgefield, NJ on barrel, highest S/N I have seen without address on barrel is 4292 with Date Code XVII (1961). NAVY Arms address was Bogota, NJ at the time these were produced (another reason they would not have Ridgefield on them. Pic below from Dennis Adlers book showing Navy Arms Ad from 1960.

    20181230_221639.jpg

    20181230_221652.jpg

    Seems the Ridgefield, NJ marking shows up about the time when Uberti was the sole supplier (Gregorelli no longer involved). Earliest I have seen with Ridgefield is XX (1964). Hoping you guys can bring those dates closer together.

    Date code on frames - S/N 1350 is highest I have seen without date code on frame. Also note no proof markings either. Sold by River Junction (pics still on their site).
    Screenshot_20181229-130618.png

    Close up of E43 marking....someone thought it may have been overstamped, but does not look like it with this better pic.

    20190101_195824.jpg

    Also note the proof marks are around the Navy Arms Co on frame. Also note the Navy Arms Co appears to be hand cut with remnants of guide lines visible.

    Zoom Navy Arms side frame.jpg

    20190101_195622.jpg


    Gold work is part of class C engraving (someone posted that earlier) and I can confirm have read/seen that many times.
    20190101_195737.jpg

    20190101_195750.jpg
    See next post...ran out of room here....
     

    Attached Files:

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  20. Jwhardin1969

    Jwhardin1969 Member

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    Date code on bbl:


    20190101_195901.jpg
    Engraving detail...

    20190101_195643.jpg 20190101_200133.jpg

    20190101_200206.jpg

    Figure in wood grips...
    20190101_200152.jpg

    20190101_200214.jpg

    Have pics of S/N E2 to follow....
     
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  21. LonesomePigeon

    LonesomePigeon Member

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    Jwhardin1969, fantastic engraving. Regarding the serial numbers, I have one in the 5xxx range that has the "NAVY ARMS CO." barrel address. Looking forward to pics of s/n E2.
     
  22. forward observer

    forward observer Member

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    Just thought I would add a bit to this thread. I have two Antonio Zoli made reproductions--an 1863 Remington contract musket (commonly and erroneously referred to as the Zouave by the Italians) and an 1855 Springfield pistol/Carbine (the big single shot horse pistol with a detachable shoulder stock)---both with a date code of XX9 for 1973--yes, it should be XXIX, but I found some alternate date code charts that show that evidently some Italian companies started using a digit for the last two Roman numerals from 1971 to 1973--go figure.

    Anyway, both were imported and sold by Navy Arms. They have "Antonio Zoli-Italy" stamped on the top of the barrel and "Navy Arms Co." stamped on the side of the barrel--plus also again on the lock plate under the American Eagle. Zoli used the exact same lock plate and hammer for both models. Of course the lock plate on the original 1855 Springfield pistol/carbine incorporated the Maynard priming system, but the Italians didn't bother try to model this at that time.

    The bottom line is that even as late as 1973, Navy Arms was importing at least some Italian made replicas with no US address on them.

    Cheers
     
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