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Monday, April 14, 2014

Incomparable Cartridge Colts

For those not familiar, Rock Island Auction Company sent out a series of emails containing some of the highlights in our May 2014 Premiere Firearms Auction. These messages covered a number of popular genres and gave a first look at some firearms that are bound to attract the attention of some of the world's foremost collectors and investors. This blog, and the ones to follow, are a reprint of those emails for those who do not receive that type of communication. As an added bonus, these blogs will also include many photos that did not appear in the original emails in order to keep them at a reasonable size. We hope you enjoy these collectible firearms and their multitude of photos!

If you like what you see below, be sure to check out our auction highlights in the Photo Preview4-page Sneak Preview, or our full 16-page mailer. To search our entire auction listing please visit

Our last article about two particularly famous Colt revolvers was enough to get Colt collectors' hearts pumping. We can't promise that today's will be any gentler. This article, the sixth in our series, will take a look inside our May 2014 Premiere Firearms Auction at some of our superb cartridge Colts. We hope you enjoy these great photos and appreciate you taking the time to view all these great collector firearms.

Our first firearm is the rare and historic, Colt factory cased, engraved, and inscribed, presentation Government Model 1911 semi automatic pistol with ivory grips.
Lot 1602: Rare and Unique Colt Factory Presentation Inscribed Factory Cased and Engraved Government Model Semi Automatic Pistol with Ivory Grips

Approximately 140 Model 1911/1911A1 pistols were factory engraved prior to World War II and around 160 of the production were factory inscribed or monogrammed. Add a case to that, uncommon for a Government model pistol, and the result is a supremely rare version of not only a popular U.S. military sidearm, but one of the most beloved and long-lived firearms in the history of the United States of America.

This pistol is inscribed to a "Col. L.T. Fisher" and was likely a gift from Colt to Col. Fisher to "encourage" his endorsement of the Colt M1911 to the British Government, a tactic of Samuel Colt's dating even back to his Walker revolvers. It must have been effective; the British military purchased around 13,300 M1911 pistols between 1915 and 1919.

The pistol would be quite a gift in Fisher's day or today! Arriving in a fitted, maroon leather case with his gold embossed name on the lid, the pistol rested comfortably on a cream-colored chamois leather. A fitting setting for a pistol with such deeply cut, skillfully executed, and beautiful scroll engraving. It covers the sides and top of the frame, underside of the trigger guard, bottom of the grip, the mainspring housing, and even has a single leaf on the magazine release lever. The engraving coverage is a least Colt "B" with a high polish blue finish and biscuit colored ivory grips. The rarity, condition, known origin, and upscale embellishments make this a world-class collector piece for dedicated Colt and U.S. military aficionados. Our writer, familiar with the finest Colts in existence, has never seen a finer presentation Colt Government Model.

The second cartridge Colt we couldn't wait to show you is this stunning Colt First Generation Single Action Army with Glahn factory engraving and carved mother-of-pearl grips. Made in 1927, this pistol is as beautiful for its standard features as its special ones. The bluing on the barrel is near new, the case hardening color of the frame, hammer, and loading gate is gorgeous, and the bright nitre blue of the trigger and screws draw the eyes even from a distance. The condition of this revolver would be enough to endear it to any number of collectors, but when one also considers the special order features the gun becomes a much more significant investment grade firearm.

Lot 1174: Documented Superb Factory Engraved Colt Single Action Army Revolver with Carved Pearl Grips and Factory Letter

The mother of pearl grips provide an iridescent shine that can be seen deep underneath their immediate surface. The carved American eagle they depict is a perfect touch of period art and the only embellishment on the grips aside from the nickel Colt medallions. Both the grips and the engraving were created by Colt Master Engraver Wilbur A Glahn. The engraving runs from the back strap, up to the frame and loading gate, around the cylinder, and down the barrel. If the condition and knock out special features weren't enough for collectors, the Parsons list states that there are only nine standard frame Colt Single Action Army revolvers in this .38 caliber, making it even more rare than it is beautiful.

So far we've shown some of the finely embellished handguns from our May Premiere Auction, but we know there are a lot of you who appreciate firearms that look just like those used by the ordinary people who performed extraordinary actions as the nation stretched westward. Rest assured, we have plenty of firearms for you too! Case in point, the revolver below: an astonishing Rinaldo A. Carr sub-inspected Colt Single Action Army Cavalry Model revolver.

Lot 3164: Astonishing U.S. Rinaldo A. Carr Sub-inspected Colt Single Action Cavalry Model Revolver

Manufactured in 1890, Colt's 4,000 Cavalry SAA revolvers made to satisfy an 1890 government contract were the last purchased by the U.S. Army. This wondrously high condition example was sub-inspected by Rinaldo A. Carr, giving it the R.A.C. cartouche, and inspected by Captain Stanhope E. Blunt (S.E.B.). The complete matching serial number is stamped on the frame, trigger guard, and back strap with the partial serial number on the barrel (under the second-style oval ejector) as well as the cylinder.

It goes without saying that many SAA cavalry models saw hard, everyday use and that finding them in good condition is no easy task. Military life or life on the prairie was not very forgiving, making this gun all the more spectacular. Abundant blueing, a case hardened frame, loading gate, and hammer, a fiery nitre blue trigger, and beautiful wood grips still bearing their crisp cartouches all make for a gun that would improve any collection lucky enough to have it.

Our final cartridge Colt is the most historic of the group. It is a Colt New Service double action revolver that bears a factory gold inlaid name on the flat top of its frame. The name is that of its former owner, the Presidential Secretary to Theodore Roosevelt, Mr. William Loeb, Jr.

Loeb started as Roosevelt's sternographer when Teddy was the Governor of New York, but so impressed the future president that he appointed Loeb as his personal secretary. When Roosevelt became president after the assassination of William McKinley, Loeb was Roosevelt's assistant secretary and eventually, Secretary to the President. Loeb was incredibly influential for Roosevelt and a key advisor, helping to shape policy and even acting as a media barricade for the president, earning him the moniker "Stonewall Loeb." His 24 hour accessibility to reporters and ability to speak on behalf of the president essentially made him the first unofficial presidential press secretary.

The gun is chambered in the desirable 44 Russian caliber, which was an excellent target round in its day. The blue finish still covers the revolver and it is accented with the niter blue hammer and trigger as well as the diamond pattern checkered grips. The gun accompanied by a signed period political cartoon personalized to Mrs. William Loeb, the wife of William Loeb Jr. It was drawn by Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Clifford Kennedy Berryman, who is perhaps best known for depicting President Roosevelt showing sympathy for a small bear cub, later inspiring the creation of the Teddy bear.

As you can see, there are no shortage of Colts in this auction. From yesterday's glimpse at our percussion pieces to today's peek into the cartridge Colts, anyone can see that the selection is outstanding. There are over 500 Colts already in our facility just waiting to be added to a new collection. We have every manufacturer of the M1911/A1 pistol, as well as DAs, Armys, Navys, Pockets, Patersons, SAA revolvers, special finishes, carved grips, engravings, inscribings, inlays, historical pieces, Tiffany grips, revolving rifles and shotguns, Lightnings (rifle and revolver), Thunderers, Dragoons, Aces, AR-15s, early semi autos, snake guns, cloverleafs, derringers, a sidehammer, and even an 1897 Gatling gun. Colt collectors everywhere will be marking this event on their calendars.

Stay tuned for more picture and history filled articles highlighting the exciting world-class firearms that will be appearing in our May 2014 Premiere Firearms Auction. It's going to be an event to remember!

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