Rare Colt 1903 WWI US Navy Contract Pistol

Discussion in 'Curio & Relic Discussion' started by BigBeerBellyMan, Jan 23, 2011.

  1. BigBeerBellyMan

    BigBeerBellyMan New Member

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    SN is #257406.

    The history behind this particular firearm is it was issued to my great grandfather in 1917 during his time as a Navy officer in WWI. It was then passed down to my grandfather, and kept locked in the back of a safe for many years until he passed away. It was recently rediscovered while cleaning out the safe two years ago.

    Here's some general information on these rare Colt 1903's taken from http://www.coltautos.com/mmnavy.htm:

    "World War I Navy Colt Model M .32 ACP - From the beginning of production until WWI, there was only one significant military order for the Model M. It was a 200 gun shipment ranging in serial number from 227226 to 260924 on September 29, 1917 to the U.S. Navy Yard, Washington, DC...These pistols had no special government ordnance, inspectors or acceptance markings applied at the factory."

    I checked the serial number on the gun with this list of serial numbers of the 200 Navy contract pistols and it is indeed on that list.

    Any ideas as to how much something like this is worth?

    Thanks!
    -Ryan
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 23, 2011
  2. BigBeerBellyMan

    BigBeerBellyMan New Member

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    More photos.
     

    Attached Files:


  3. superc

    superc Member

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    See page 232 of "Colt Pocket Hammerless Automatic Pistols II," by J.W. Brunner. That # does appear on that page.
     
  4. ScottG

    ScottG New Member

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    I'd say, priceless for you. Unless you're planning to insure it, the dollar value shouldn't mean anything. Your personal family history value is far, far superior.
     
  5. BigBeerBellyMan

    BigBeerBellyMan New Member

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    Ha well yea, it's definitely a great family treasure which I was fortunate to inherit...but I'm no gun collector and anything that could potentially help pay for my college tuition takes top priority at this point in my life. Besides, I'd much rather the firearm be in the hands of someone who knows how to preserve and take care of it. I have no experience with these kinds of things. :rolleyes:

    -Ryan
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  6. Reinhard

    Reinhard New Member Supporter

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    Hi Ryan,the value is somewhere around $750 for the pistol and $300 for the holster,only the fourth type with the frame marked U.S PROPERTY is a scarce one ,your guns serial acording to the Flayderman guide is from the third type,great gun and holster ,it's a Colt and I like it
    it's a family heirloom and when times go by you might regret selling it ,but if you must I am sure you will find a good home for the old gal
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  7. superc

    superc Member

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    I kind of agree with ScottG. You will never have another great grandfather. Your children (someday, and their children too) will never know him. What a neat gift to them if you pull a copy of his service record (FOIA to St, Louis Mil Records Center) and put the records and his pistol in a bank vault or a (real, not one of the sheet metal gun cabinets) safe and let them pass it on to their kids.

    In any case the gun seems to have possibly been reblued. That's a shame. For a historic weapon rebluing often hurts value. I therefore doubt you will get four years of college out of your inheritance. Maybe a semester or two. Still though, it is a rare find and one of the only two from that batch located since 1917. In as much as the word of your acquisition seems to have spread (already) well beyond this website, I wouldn't worry too much about it. If they want it, they will contact you. Altrernatively you can consignment sale it through one of the collector specialist dealers hanging out on gunbroker.com.

    Reinhard, that's not accurate. Reread the post or read Brunner's book. This apparently really is a rarity. One of only two surviving examples known from the sale to USN in 1917 which was also the first sale of Colt 1803s to the US military. Quite simply they hadn't thought of marking them differently yet and military inspection stamps for .32s and 380s were decades away. This probably has a lot to do with their rarity as few 32 owners check the serial #s and given the lack of distinctive markings few would suspect there might be something unusual about the gun. This one is much scarcer than one of the PDNY marked detective pistols or the Shanghai Municipal Police variants. Granted, as a shooter, $750 would be a fair price, but now that he knows what he has BBbelly guy would be foolish to sell it as a shooter. That's be like converting a working Mercedes or a BMW in fair/good condition into a gypsy cab. :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  8. Reinhard

    Reinhard New Member Supporter

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    could be done with cold blue,....just don't leave the gun seated in the holster for too long,it can cause corrosion on you gun
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2011
  9. BigBeerBellyMan

    BigBeerBellyMan New Member

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    How can you tell it has been reblued? A friend of mine, who is an experienced gun collector himself, took a good look at it in person and one of the first things he noticed was that it appeared to have original bluing. These pictures were taken by my dad, and I don't think he wiped all the oil from the surface of the gun before he took the photos, which can cause odd waves and colors when reflecting light. The finish on the gun is darker when viewed in real life, and it also appears more uniform throughout, though still with some wear and tear obviously. Could it be due to the flash on the camera maybe? I dunno. I'm not an expert.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
  10. TheOldMan

    TheOldMan New Member

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    I think it's due to the fact that the frame and slide appear to be two different colors. The frame appears (to me at least) as original blueing (which is now the typical plum color that occurs with age). The slide looks much fresher... Oil will not make blueing look any deeper. Your dad's pictures are very good and after looking at them again, I believe the slide has been refinished. This is just my opinion but I do restoration work on the side. Still a very nice piece though.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
  11. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Yep, Type III, my guess is $500 and $650 with the holster.

    If you have any documentation, original box or manual to support the providence it could go higher.
     
  12. M14sRock

    M14sRock New Member

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    A beautiful piece of history.

    However it looks to have been re-blued to me as well. If you look closely you can see what look like scratches that have been blued over. Colt would not have allowed it to leave the factory like that.

    Your second pic shows the scratches on the slide, which are indicative of it having been sanded at some point. Also, the "crispness" around the numbers and edges is gone. Look at the first two pics in the link you provided and you will see the "crispness" that I'm talking about. But pics never tell the whole story, and I'd love to see it in person.

    The value is in the history behind it, and the fact that it is one of two left standing from the original Navy contract.

    I'm jealous, and covet your Colt. I've owned a bunch over the years, but never any that could be traced back to anything as cool as yours.