WY: Colt Exhibit-Colt and his .45 highlight display

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Dec 25, 2002
the city
Colt's factories in New Jersey

NJ? Man, that was a different time!


Colt and his .45 highlight display
Gazette Wyoming Bureau

CODY, Wyo. - More than 800 Colt firearms and hundreds of accessories will be on display at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in an event the curator calls "the most historically significant exhibit of Colt firearms during the past 100 years."

"Colt: The Legacy of a Legend" opens at the museum Friday and runs through early October.

The event will explore the history and artistry of the world's most famous firearms and the life and times of their creator, Samuel Colt.

"Sam Colt made his name and his guns international legends," said Warren Newman, interim curator of the Cody Firearms Museum. "They still are, more than 140 years after his death."

About 100 people from the Colt Collectors Association, other private collectors and several museums contributed pieces for the exhibit, ranging from classic early revolvers and embellished firearms to early machine guns and the modern M-16.

"These pieces are invaluable," Newman said. "There's no way to put a price on them. They will be a wonderful centerpiece for the entire exhibition."

The exhibit tells the story of Samuel Colt and his idea for the world's first reliable revolving-cylinder handgun. Colt saw the principle at work in a ship's capstan as a young sailor and carved models for his gun from blocks of wood.

Museum officials say the exhibit is designed to interest a broad range of visitors, including firearms enthusiasts, Western history buffs, students of the American industrial revolution, collectors and "anyone who appreciates the fine arts."

The display will feature models from throughout Colt's history, including a mint-condition Army revolver created for Col. William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody in 1889 and several original glass balls made to be tossed up in the air for sharpshooting demonstrations during performances of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

One section of the exhibit looks behind the scenes of the Colt factories and examines their social conditions and principles of mass production later emulated by Henry Ford and other industrial giants.

"Colt's factories in New Jersey and Connecticut were more than mere workplaces," Newman said. "These were communities of people, rather than just jobs. They provided well-paid workers with a sense of belonging to a worthy endeavor."

Newman said the most "unexpected" theme of the exhibit is the phenomenon of the collector and his collections.

"Sometimes considered compulsive behavior, collecting is a nearly universal activity," Newman said. "Almost everyone collects something. The impulse is diversely motivated by the desire to acquire, the profit motive, the pursuit of knowledge, a fascination with history and the excitement of discovery."
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