Colt Single Action & Holster, ca. 1885

Value (2006) | $25,000 Retail

GUEST:
It was my great-grandfather's. It's kind of an artifact of the Old West. He was a sheriff and police chief in Crawford, Nebraska.

APPRAISER:
I noticed this photograph here; it says that he was the first police chief in 1885.

GUEST:
About 1885, don't know the exact date.

APPRAISER:
Okay.

GUEST:
This is a picture of him here in his uniform, and with his badge and then here he is in the same studio posed with his family and his badge. Behind them is my grandfather, who used to tell me lurid tales of law enforcement in the Wild West.

APPRAISER:
Wow.

GUEST:
But my grandmother would always say: "Don't believe a word of it."

APPRAISER:
(laughing) Well, we have a Colt factory-engraved single action.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm. .

APPRAISER:
45 caliber, 5 1/2-inch barrel. It's got quite a bit of finish in the protected areas. You can see the blue. It was originally all blue in finish.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
When we see engraved guns, we like to see all the finish. For an historical weapon, we like to see use, and this shows a lot of use, without any abuse. It also comes with the original holster. The gun appears to be engraved by Helfricht, who was a Colt engraver at the turn of the century. The great thing about it is you've got a factory letter on the gun.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
And it shows, by serial number, the caliber, the barrel length-- which is 5 1/2-- blue, it shows rubber grips, and it does say it was factory engraved.

GUEST:
Is it easy to get those letters?

APPRAISER:
Yeah. The archivists do... A couple hundred bucks, you contact them, it takes a few months, but it's... especially for something this special.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
It was shipped to Hartley & Graham in New York, 1885. And we noticed in the letter it calls hard rubber grips, and it has custom pearl grips on it at the moment. Hartley & Graham was a retailer, so these grips fit perfectly, and they have your great-grandfather's initials on the base of the right grip. On the other grip, they have a beautiful steer head. So it's our belief that Colt shipped them the gun, and they replaced the grips at the time before they sold it. When your grandfather received it, this is how he received it.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
Now, there's damage in the grips. There's damage there, and it does detract from it.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
But the most important thing is you have family document, and you have Colt document. It's what everything needs to be perfect. So it's this machine engraving that's... That's hand engraving.

GUEST:
Oh, hand engraved.

APPRAISER:
Do you have an idea what you think it might be worth?

GUEST:
Oh, I only have a very rough idea. A few hundred dollars, maybe.

APPRAISER:
Uh-huh. Well, we could sell it in our gallery for $25,000.

GUEST:
You're kidding.

APPRAISER:
No, I'm serious.

GUEST:
That's hard to believe.

APPRAISER (chuckling): It's a great thing.

GUEST:
That's awesome.

APPRAISER:
Very few engraved single actions.

GUEST:
$25,000?

APPRAISER:
Yeah.

GUEST:
Wow. I'm stunned.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Witherell's
Sacramento, California
Appraised value (2006)
$25,000 Retail
Event
Tucson, AZ (June 17, 2006)
Period
19th Century
Material
Metal

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