Follow the Stories | Tucson, Arizona (2007)
The Law of the Wild West
Jack from Tucson brought in an extremely rare specimen from the history of frontier law enforcement. Appraiser Brad Witherell called the 19th-century Colt revolver "an icon of the American West."
The revolver is a Colt .45-caliber, single-action, factory hand-engraved revolver with a 5 1/2-inch barrel and blue finish. Witherell said the gun is in such good condition that it likely is still functional, though it uses only black-powder cartridges and should no longer be fired.
The gun originally belonged to Jack's great-grandfather, shown here in uniform. He was sheriff, and later the first police chief, of Crawford, Nebraska, in the late 1880s.
Jack also has a Colt factory letter certifying the revolver's authenticity and detailing its original specifications. It states that the gun was shipped to a retailer, Hartley & Graham, in New York City on July 11, 1885.
Though the letter indicates that the revolver was shipped with rubber grips, also known as stocks, it was later fitted with custom pearl grips bearing the owner's initials on one side, and a steer head on the other.
Jack's great-grandfather, wearing his badge, together with his family, in a studio portrait, circa 1885.
Witherell (right) said only about 1 percent of Colt single-action revolvers were ever hand-engraved by the factory. And while the gun has lost much of its original blue finish and has some other minor damage, its rarity combined with such well-documented provenance shoot its retail value up to $25,000. Watch the full appraisal in our ROADSHOW Archive
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