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Seeking advice regarding appraisal/sale of historic Colt Revolver

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by Greybeard, Oct 8, 2004.

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  1. Greybeard

    Greybeard Member

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    While in law office earlier this week, the boss man asked me to look at a couple of old revolvers that he has been in possession of for around 7 years. He said the guy who gave 'em to him did so because he owed him money, but then left town without ever paying his bill or retrieving the guns. So, hey, my lawyer friend (who is not necessarily a gun nut like some of us) now considers them "his" and wanted to learn more about their value.

    In the bag with the 2 revolver was a photocopy from the "Seventeenth Edition Blue Book of Gun Values" by S.P. Fjestad. On page 332 there are handwritten arrows pointing to "Holster Model No. 5 - also known as Texas Paterson" and :what: "Walker Model Revolver". :D The markings and features on both of these guns are rather consistent with the rest of the text. However, under text describing both guns, there is a caution regarding "fakes".

    I took both of the guns to the oldest gunsmith in our little/big area today and after his inspection, he concluded that he saw nothing to indicate the guns were not authentic. And that a Colt collector might well be willing to pay the prices shown - which, on either of those two pistols, even on the lowest end, is more than I have ever paid for a new vehicle! In the 50% range, the Walker Colt is valued at more than what I paid for my house!

    I realize that the value of anything is what someone (who has the money) is willing to pay. But, the questions are

    (1) What are some options to get the guns appraised by a "real old Colt" expert (preferably in the DFW area), and

    (2) What might be the best options for getting such "for sale" guns to the attention of those with possible interest (and the ability to buy) ?

    Big Tulsa gun show? Internet auction sites I looked at today just don't seem to contain many items of this possible value ... :( :confused:

    Your comments are encouraged and will be appreciated.
     
  2. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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  3. Burt Blade

    Burt Blade Member

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    The Patterson and Walker Colts are quite rare and valuable. Only 1100 Walkers were made (only 100 of them "commercial" guns), and most of the 1100 did not survive. Those pistols should be appraised by an expert, one who is capable of spotting a fake.

    I am a bit suspicious that someone would have one of each, and just walk away from them as you describe. I am especailly suspicious due to the availability of modern replicas, which could reasonably be altered to hide their modern origin from the casual collector.
     
  4. Trebor

    Trebor Member

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    Get ahold of Jim Supica of Old Towne Station. He's an expert on older guns, especially Smiths, and if he can't help you, he should be able to reccomend someone who can.
     
  5. Greybeard

    Greybeard Member

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    Thanks for the prompt responses, guys.

    In the meantime, I came across some history on 'em here http://www.tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/view/CC/lnc1.html and elsewhere. It's rather interstering to me that after Colt's first company went belly-up shortly after producing the Patersons, the Walkers were made in a factory owned by a guy by the name of Eli Whitney ...
     
  6. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

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    Considering there has been some fraud in the past perpetrated by so called Colt experts out there, the first thing you should do is splurge for some Colt factory research if avialable.....

    WildgoslowAlaska
     
  7. Wiley

    Wiley Member

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    If your lawyer friend wants to sell them and they are authentic, contact an auction house such as Christie's or (the other one who's name escapes me).

    Both of those auction houses have experts on staff that will authenticate and value and handle the sale.

    Also, a letter to Colt with the serial number(s) might turn up something.
     
  8. Greybeard

    Greybeard Member

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    Again, thanks for the comments. I forwarded link to this thread to lawyer friend, so he can contemplate the possibilities thus far.

    The Wife suggested I tell him they are confirmed "fakes", but that we could maybe scrape up $200 to give him for 'em anyway... ;)

    Buddy just suggested that Dallas Arms Collectors Assn. (sponsor of Market Hall gun show November 27 and 28) has likely got at least one member with significant old-Colt expertise. And with the pistolas having such Texas roots, the eventual buyer(s) might very well reside in Dallas ...

    Colt "Archive Services" (http://www.colt.com/CMCI/historical.asp) indicates "standard" letters available back to 1849 to 1851 or so models, but at least a phone call likely in order next week.
     
  9. Sylvilagus Aquaticus

    Sylvilagus Aquaticus Member

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    Hiya Greybeard...

    Getting the letters could take awhile, on the order of up to a year, if the serial numbers are accurate, genuine, and the files are intact for that range at the plant. Seems to me that some were destroyed (fire, maybe, or was that Merwyn or Smith?) but it might be a good way to prove provenance.

    Ummm...what condition are these in? How is the patina on them? Barrel lands and grooves? Is it modern rifling or is it consistent with the old style you expect to find in a 150 year old Colt?

    Remember, Navy Arms got lots of folks started cranking out these items about 1953. A quick check of proof marks would be a fast place to start- check with George Madis' books and also check for any Italian proof marks, as Uberti and maybe Pedersoli made a lot of these as repros. Do keep in mind that there has been a tremendous amount of fraud in the collectible Colt market over the years. I have a good and trusted friend who is well-connected in the rare and provenanced firearm circles and I'll be glad to send you his contact information if you'd like it; he's not exactly local, but he is in East Texas.

    Your idea of checking with the Dallas Collectors group is a splendid one. You might consider sending photos of the pistols and proof marks/cartouches to Southeby's and Christies if they do prove to be genuine, unless the owner wishes to make a fine donation to either the TSRA or NRA museum.

    Regards,
    Rabbit.
     
  10. Kilroy

    Kilroy Member

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    Appraisals can also offer the chance to sell them, at an accordingly low appraisal price. Or, if paying for the appraisal on a percentage, you'll find out they are worth more then you thought.

    Make sure they are authentic, as there are some fabulous fakes out there.

    I recently saw a LeMat revolver at a gun shop in Portland. While a beautiful antique, I did recognize the "work" on it as the maker leaves a significant mark only recognizable to those of us that have seen the mark before. Not near as high a worth as the owner thinks.

    Caveat Emptor...
     
  11. BluesBear

    BluesBear member

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    PM me.
    I can put in contact with a member of the Colt Collectors Association who is is well respected for his "authentication service" of 19th Century Colt Revolvers.

    I wish I had this information earlier, I just saw him last week.
     
  12. schromf

    schromf Member

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    Having just been through a drill similar to this, I would say the odds are they are reproductions. Especially cause there are two guns.

    If they are the real deal, I would make sure they are not "hot", I know there are idiots in this world, but anyone who would leave $100,000 plus worth of guns sounds extremely suspicious.

    Of the three I just ran across 2 were reproductions for sure. The third was I think the real deal, I think, but it had been poorly repaired, and the overall condition wasn't any better.

    I still haven't quite figured out what it actually is, 60+ caliber, maybe a knock off of a duelling pistol. Very interesting silver work originally. My thoughts are Portugal or Spain, but Turkey would be another reasonable asumption. Definately smooth bore, and I didn't consider it safe to fire. I was considering getting a magnifying glass on it to look harder for proof marks.

    Stranger things have happened though, I know one of the gunshops I frequent had and old rifle walk in the door, out of the blue. They told the young man that they couldn't accuratly apparise it, or afford it and suggested he contact the Cody Museum in Wyoming. The museum bought it, and its in the display now, so it yes it can happen.
     
  13. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Member

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    If your friend has an authentic Walker in 50% condition you already know that the value is well over $100K.

    The collectors of these pistols are very serious people. To add another example to the known world of Walkers would cause quite a stir!

    Any chance you could post a picture just so your fellow gun nuts could drool over such a find??
     
  14. Greybeard

    Greybeard Member

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    Whew, quite a few replies since I've had a chance to get back to computer.

    I did take a few photos with disposable 35mm camera. They should be ready to processed and ready to pick up - if that section of Wally World is still open this time of night on a Sunday. I'm going to roll that way right now and see. Then, not being much of a 'puter guru, I'll see if I can get 'em scanned.
     
  15. Greybeard

    Greybeard Member

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    Paterson Colt?

    OK, got the 16-year old to help me out with the pixes.

    Markings:

    Top of barrel: PATENT ARMS MG. CO. PATERSON N J COLT S PT.

    "433" on wedge, bottom of grip, cylinder, frame just in front of trigger and on bottom of barrel.

    "COLT" and "1837" on cylinder as well as engraving of stagecoach holdup scene.

    Gunsmith said hammer spring broken. To my old eyes, it looks like around 12 groves of rifling.
     

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    Last edited: Oct 10, 2004
  16. Greybeard

    Greybeard Member

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    Walker Colt?

    Markings:

    Top of barrel: ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW YORK CITY

    Right side of barrel: "A COMPANY 50"

    Cylinder: COLT and 1847 MODEL U.S.M.R. and PATENT N' 428 Rest of cylinder engraved with Indians/Mounted soldiers battling.

    Similar to on gun above, "428" stamped 4 more times along bottom of frame.

    Old eyes (and brain) not functioning well tonight, but there appears to be 5 or 6 shallow groves of rifling. Pivot pin missing for ramrod.
     

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  17. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    After comparing the pictures you posted of an alleged Colt “Texas†Paterson and a 1847 Walker revolver against pictures of unquestionably original guns I have concluded that the one pictured by you on this forum are not genuine, but skillfully faked copies. The ones you have are similar to the respective Colt models, but not exactly the same at several key points.

    Since my comparison was made picture-to-picture, and there is a possibility (though remote) that hand-made parts were substituted for the original ones over the years, I would suggest that you obtain a second opinion based on an actual examination of the guns. However for the time being you should consider them to be counterfeits until proven otherwise.
     
  18. Greybeard

    Greybeard Member

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    Thanks for the input Fuff. I've got another sit-down session scheduled tomorrow at law office, so good, bad, or indifferent, we'll check in on this thread.
     
  19. Coltdriver

    Coltdriver Member

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    Aw shucks and just as I was hoping to see an incredible treasure right here on the board.

    Well they are at least worth figuring out as to authenticity.

    Greybeard I hope it pans your way.
     
  20. Tharg

    Tharg Member

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    hehe

    My dad bought some of those navy arms guns... two of em - one i can't find rounds for.. and one i did.

    I did something wrong to the .36 i think - it don't move right no more and we kinda hurt something i'm sure.... heheheh but we had a fun time loading it, etc etc... gives ya appreciation for what they had to "do back then"

    Always thought it would be neat to have the both of them "loaded on display" and the .50 muzzle "loaded on display" too... since i'm fairly certain a armed robber familiar w/ modern arms prolly wouldn't consider em dangerous till he was being shot w/ em... <rofl> but I don't know how long you can leave em "loaded" w/o wondering if the gunpowder is still good etc etc...

    Shame if yer friend didn't find some diamonds in the rough - i always will wonder what our nextdoor neighbor (very good friends w/ my family) has hidden away that could very well be worth huge amounts of cash... (weapon wise) it wouldn't suprise me considering he reloaded for years w/ all the stuff (really need to ask his wife if she still has that reloading gear...) oh well - i digress

    J/Tharg!

    ps - lived in Denton county for many many years =) hehe
     
  21. Matt G

    Matt G Moderator Emeritus

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    Moving this one to the Harley Nolan Institute forum.
     
  22. jefnvk

    jefnvk Member

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    Just remember, there are people that don't consider guns their lives. Could be very well that they were his grandpa's guns, and he died not telling anyone else what they really were.

    I heard a story a while back from a friend that works in a big gun store. Seems a guy brought in an 'old revolver'. Him and his brothers were cleaning out their grandmother's attic, and his brothers told him to take it, because it wasn't worth anything. Turns out, it was a Colt Peacemaker.. To make it even better, he had family that lived out west in the 1800's by the name or Earp :what: The guy told him to get in contact with Colt, but I never heard if the gun was traced to him or not.
     
  23. Johnny Guest

    Johnny Guest Moderator Emeritus

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    Interesting topic . . .

    Some good images of a Walker revolver in typical not-cleaned-up condition can be found at - -
    http://www.collectorsfirearms.com/c1170.htm

    Another:
    http://www.collectorsfirearms.com/c1172.htm


    Greybeard, the image of the "Walker" you put up is interesting. That revolver has a problem with the trigger guard/front strap - - It could be a blacksmith-built replacement.

    Also, the cylinder is clearly NOT an original Walker cylinder. The cylinder lock bolt cuts in the Walker and First Model Dragoon were oval or circular, and they are clearly rectangular on this one. Also, there's something about the way the cylinder doesn't come near up in line with the top of the barrel - - Can't tell about the lower line. IF the revolver started out life as an authentic Walker, the cylinder has been replaced. The image is not clear enough for me to see if the cylinder is rebated or not - - There appears to be a line around the circumference ahead of the lock cuts. If the area forward of that is a larger diameter than behind it, then the cylinder came from an 1860 Army, or a copy. If the cylinder is the same diameter the entire length, then it probably came from a Second or Third Model Dragoon.

    DO NOT despair, though - - It could still be authentic. There was an amazing amount of adaptation and modification performed by frontier gun smiths, utilizing scavenged and cannibalized parts from junk pile guns. In the 1860s, this was not a super rare collector's piece to someone out on the ragged edge of civilization - - It may well have been the difference between having a clunky old, poorly repaired sidearm and having none at all.

    Good luck in your quest for information.

    Best,
    Johnny
     
  24. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Reminds me of the little store with a pair of percussion revolvers on the wall that I visited as a college student in the 60s. Full of magazine articles on Navy Arms, et al, I commented sagely:
    "That's a nice looking pair of antiqued Walker repros you have there."
    The owner replied:
    "Well, ONE of them is."

    From pictures, yours vs the old Haven & Belden book...
    Your Walker's cylinder bolt notches look like rectangles with rounded ends, this is similar to the first one shown in H&B although others have very oval, almost round, notches.
    Not a 2nd Dragoon cylinder, those are shorter.
    Trigger guard is wrong shape, might have been bent over a Mexican's head and straightened.
    Loading lever does not look like those in H&B.
    A Company 50 should appear in more places on gun.
    428 is not a number that would be expected on a Walker, unless a later remarking for some militia.

    I can't tell much about the Patterson, there were so many little variations in a new design of gun that no two in H&B look the same.
    However, they all have the receiver screw heads on the right side of the frame. Your picture looks like the screw ends are on the right side... or is so fuzzy I can't see the heads and slots.
    433 is in the serial number range of Pattersons.

    CAUTION:
    I am NOT a Colt collector or expert, just another strange keyboard on the Net. Keep looking for a reliable expert. There was a case in the 70s when an elderly man walked into a gun show here with an unidentified old pistol in a paper bag. A real and undoubted Patterson.
     
  25. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    I have looked over the pictures as well as I can given the lack of quality, and I think it is pretty safe to say that Greybeard should not quit his day job. There are several signs on the Paterson that I have seen before on fakes, quite likely from the same source, and there are also indications on the Walker that also point in that direction.

    Naturally, I am willing to listen to anyone who has seen the pistols and has another opinion, but I think the guns are fakes and the leaving of the paper with them was a clever ploy.

    Sometimes stuff that seems too good to be true really is too good to be true.

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2004
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