1861 Colt Navy presentation
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Old 08-24-2010, 08:40 PM   #1
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Default 1861 Colt Navy presentation

Hi everyone,

Doing some research for a non-internet savvy friend. They have an 1861 Colt Navy, in what appears to be its original presentation box, with the person's name and the year (1871) engraved on the top. It's pretty richly decorated (a scene of ships on the sea is engraved on the barrel). The person's name and "With Compliment of the Colt MFG Co. Dec 1, 1871" is engraved on the handle.

We're in contact with Colt to see what, if any, information they may have on the weapon. Does any one here have any idea where I might start to get information on what such a piece would be worth? It's in good shape, might need a little bit of oil attention. The nickel plating is fine, but under the firing hammer has a tiny bit of rust starting to appear.

Anyway, thanks for the help. I'm totally new here and know next to nothing about guns, but I thought maybe you might be able to help him (and thereby, me! ) out with a direction to go.

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Old 08-25-2010, 01:24 AM   #2
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You have already done the first step- Contacting Colt for verification of authenticity. Without intending to, I have made a few folks angry at me here and other forums, by pointing out inconvenient matters- like their original ball and cap revolver would not be marked "Black Powder Only" (when they first made them, there was ONLY black powder) or a "captured Nazi" pistol marked "Made in West Germany" There have been thousands of reproductions, including many "presentation" arms. Colt will be the Gold Standard in determining what is theirs, and what ain't.

Your next most important step is in the treatment of the gun. Go find a good golf club (I would suggest a 3 iron) and whack anybody in the head that wants to "clean up" the gun. A drop of oil on a rust spot, wipe with a soft clean cotton cloth- otherwise, leave it alone. What the average person calls "Crud" collectors call "patina".

How much is it worth? Whatever it will bring at sale. It is not possible to place a price on a one of a kind item, other than what like items have sold for. Once you get the info from Colt, there are some nationally (and internationally) reognized experts on antique firearms, and Colts. It would be worthwhile to seek their counsel. The NRA may be able to offer some suggestions, as may the Cody Firearms Museum. Have not heard from him in a while, but Jim Supica was well thought of in this field.

Or I'll be glad to send you $50 for it if you pay the shipping.

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Old 08-25-2010, 01:31 AM   #3
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Thanks for the information! Is there anything, picture-wise, we could post to help clear up any problems with the counterfeits / reproductions? It had evidently been in their family for quite a long time, so it doesn't seem like it would be some kind of knock-off, but who knows?

I'll post a few of the pictures we snapped of it to send to Colt for them to get a better handle on what we had here, in case anyone is interested or could help in putting a back-story together on it. EDIT: Hmm, sorry, not sure how to shrink those down to just thumbnails rather than giant full size images...

img_0533.jpg   img_0535.jpg   img_0531.jpg  
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Old 08-25-2010, 03:55 PM   #4
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Got an update from Colt today!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Colt
I can tell from the pictures you have sent that this appears to be a blackpowder conversion model, possibly of the 1861 Navy revolver. We do not have records available on the conversion models so we cannot offer research services on this. But, I will say that the gun does look like it could have been factory done. It appears to have maybe a Silver plated finish and the inscription on the backstrap looks good as well. I would strongly consider having this gun evaluated and authenticated by a reputable appraiser. If you let me know where you are located, I can suggest some people that you could consider for this type of assistance. It is a very nice looking piece.
I guess the next step to have someone who can actually see it in person take a look at it. It's a shame, though, as we were hoping to learn some more of the story behind it (like why, exactly, it was given to him).

If anyone else has any thoughts or questions about it, please let me know. I'll pass them along and see what we can get figured out. This is kind of fun, almost like having a treasure and trying to find the map for it.
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Old 09-22-2010, 09:59 PM   #5
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Have you heard anything back from Colt yet?

This is a Conversion piece, Made to fire Metallic Cartridges rather than Ball & cap. It appears to be in great condition, Don't be surprised if Colt has nothing on it, most of their early records were lost in a fire back in the day.

As for a back story, You may start researching the name on the grip back strap.

Ha Ha...I should have read your above post closer.

TJB

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Old 09-22-2010, 10:05 PM   #6
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It's beautiful. I suggest the Colt Collectors Association for further information. I believe there's a nominal fee to join, but it will be well worth it.

Please keep us informed.

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Old 09-24-2010, 01:17 AM   #7
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Hi everyone!

I should have updated this post sooner, but thanks for the replies. This has been fun to dig into as we have the time.

Colt, as you mentioned above, didn't have any records on this particular gun, sadly. They did say that the conversion the gun underwent was most likely factory-done.

We've learned enough about the value that it's now in a safe deposit box rather than in a living room cedar chest.

One question I've had and not gotten a clear answer on. The gun's serial number is "1". Would the serial numbers have been changed when the conversion was done? That's what one source led me to believe, while others seems to indicate that it would be illegal to have done something like that. I'm just curious if, since it was a presentation gun, was it perhaps the first one off the line and they saved it and others back to give to people in the future (given that this wasn't presented till 1871)? Or did the "engraved" pieces have their own numbering system, or the converted 1861s?

Anywho, we're still tossing around the idea of selling it. It really does seem to have a value of whatever anyone would be willing to pay for it, but we're in no rush either. If anyone has any questions, or would like to see a picture of some specific aspect of the gun in a picture, just post here and I'll try to get it taken care of soon!

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Old 09-24-2010, 01:36 AM   #8
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Have you checked out the Colt Collectors Association yet? Welcome to The Colt Collectors Association official web site

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Old 09-24-2010, 01:44 AM   #9
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Yup, on your recommendation I just went over and signed up on their forums. I'll have to take a look in the next couple of days to see if joining the association would be worth our while or not! Thanks for the pointing in the right direction!

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Old 09-24-2010, 01:59 AM   #10
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I hope it helps, that's a special revolver.

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