Factory Engraved! You can’t get that today.
Rock Island Auction, September 11, 2021
Lot 1270: Elmer Keith’s Custom Colt Single Action Army Target Revolver
Estimated Price: $65,000.00 – $130,000.00
Caliber: 44 Russian & 44 S&W special
Historic Elmer Keith’s “OLD NUMBER 5 COLT REVOLVER”, Well-Documented Engraved and Inscribed Custom Croft/Sedgley No. 5 Colt Flattop Target Style Single Action Revolver with Relief Carved Grip, Tooled Holster, and Documentation.
This incredible revolver was one of Elmer Keith’s (1899-1984) favorite revolvers and was custom built for him while he was still a young man early in his famous career as an expert marksman. Keith owned and shot a great many revolvers, including others sold by Rock Island Auction, but none is as unique or as famous as this one. The revolver is chambered for .44 S&W Russian or .44 Special. The latter was one of Keith’s favorites, and his experimentation with the .44 Special led to the popular .44 Magnum. The revolver is pictured on page 103 of Keith’s popular book “Sixguns” and listed as “No. 5 S.A. Colt, converted by Sedgley to author and Harold Croft’s design flat-top target” and also on page 169 being worn by Keith in the included holster with the caption: “Keith wearing George Lawrence belt and holster designed by Keith. S.A. Colt number 5.” A picture of Croft and Keith in Durkee, Oregon, in August 1928 is on page 126 and shows Croft showing Keith one of his custom revolvers. Keith’s revolver is also pictured in the included copy of “Gun & Ammo” from December 1967 in the article “Seein’ Sixgun Sights” by Keith. The most significant documentation for the revolver is the article “The Last Word” by Elmer Keith in the April 1929 issue of “The American Rifleman.” He notes, “My good friend, S. H. Croft, put in a lot of time, thought and money improving the S. A. Colt. Mr. Croft has designed the changes necessary to convert an ordinary S. A. Colt into the finest trigger single-action imaginable, either in the Featherweight model, or, at my suggestion, in a heavy, all-around 6-gun.” He notes that Croft used the Bisley back strap bent to the same angle as the regular S.A.A. and paired it with a S.A.A. guard and front strap. Keith states, “after playing with Croft’s guns a while I decided to have one of my S.A.A. guns worked over to incorporate some of Croft’s improvements, with a few ideas of my own thrown in.” The full details are worthy reading in the article. Keith indicates that Croft supervised the overall job and he and Neal K. Houchins of Philadelphia made the sights and the latter also fitted the barrel close to the cylinder. Keith wanted “a cross pin put through the front-sight band, and a set screw put in the rear of the flat-top frame and bearing against the rear-sight base, to lock the sight against a possible blow.” R.F. Sedgley modified the frame with a flat top that extend back over the top of the hammer, fit the new base pin and catch, made the No. 3 type grip frame, welded the base onto the S.A.A. hammer to fill the longer cut in the top of the Bisley back strap, manufactured the wide trigger, and made and fitted the new mainspring. On the latter, Keith wrote: “The Croft-Sedgley spring is without a double the fastest in action of any S.A.A. spring, and should improve the S.A. greatly for target shooting. . .” The hammer had already previously been fitted with a Bisley style spur by J. D. O’Meara for Keith “by dovetailing and brazing in the Bisley thumb piece.” Keith states, “We decided to call this gun model No. 5.” It was tuned to an approximately 3 1/2 pound trigger pull. “To my notion this is the finest and best Colt in existence. I know there are many with inlay work and finer finish, but they lack Croft’s many improvements, which are to me worth far more than all the inlay work, as they are a real help landing a bullet where I wish it to go. For general excellence of grip, balance, sights, trigger and hammer, I do not think this gun can be improved upon. Last spring I killed with this gun over 59 magpies, around two dozen crows and hawks, six horned owls, and a bobcat, to say nothing of over a hundred blacktail jack rabbits and a few woodchucks.” He later indicates he even shot this revolver at animals hundreds of yards away. He indicates the grips were replaced by him after the custom work and notes that the carving serves to fill the palm of the hand. The exact age of the frame on this fabulously customized and engraved revolver is not clear. In place of the usual serial number on the frame, this revolver is marked “M5.” The revolver a barrel turned down and fitted with an adjustable target front sight, an interesting cylinder pin release switch and pin with large grasping finial, a flat top frame with an adjustable notch rear sight, a Bisley style hammer, modified grip frame, and different mainspring. It is engraved with extensive floral engraving with serrated backgrounds. The top strap has the Masonic square and compass. The barrel has “RUSSIAN AND/S&W SPECIAL 44” in a panel and the one-line Hartford address on top. The left side of the frame has the two-line patent marking and circled Rampant Colt trademark. The back strap is inscribed “ELMER KEITH” down the back and “DURKEE, OREGON” on the butt. Includes a George Lawrence Co. 5 1/2 russet leather holster tooled with floral patterns. Provenance: Elmer Keith Estate Collection, Private Collection.
Rock Island Auction, May 6, 2017, Lot 2124, Exceptionally Rare and Magnificent, Documented Silver-Banded, Factory Cased Colt No. 5 Squareback Model Texas Paterson Percussion Revolver.
Estimated price: $350,000 – $475,000 — Sold for $500,000.
Description: This exceptional revolver is one of approximately 1,000 Texas Paterson revolvers manufactured by Samuel Colt’s Patent Arms Manufacturing Company from 1838-40. The No. 5 Holster Model revolvers were the largest of all the Paterson handguns and achieved fame as a result of their use by Captain Jack Hays and other Rangers on the Texas frontier. In fact, a major purchaser of the No. 5 was the Republic of Texas. Samuel Walker was familiar with the No. 5 during his days as a Texas Ranger and used the revolver to great effect. His experience with the Paterson persuaded him to advocate for a larger, quicker loading revolver powerful enough to kill either a man or horse with a single shot. His discussions with Samuel Colt led to the Colt Walker Model revolver in 1847. What followed next was a rapid evolution in revolver design spearhead by Colt who introduced the Dragoon series of revolvers that were based on the Walker design. Samuel Walker is often credited for establishing early Colt revolvers as an effective handgun. The Walker and Dragoon revolvers definitely provided Colt with financial relief and fame. This particular No. 5 revolver was once owned by Francis Bannerman. It is illustrated and described in detail on pages 80-83 of “The Art of the Gun: Magnificent Colts Volume I” by Robert M. Lee and R.L. Wilson. The revolver has a high polish blue finish on the barrel, frame, cylinder, and grip strap. The hammer is color casehardened. The five-shot, square back cylinder is roll-engraved with the stagecoach holdup scene. German silver bands are inlaid on the barrel at the muzzle, on the top of the barrel at the breech, on the underside of the barrel lug curves and on the recoil shields. An oval German silver escutcheon is inlaid on the back strap. The barrel has a German silver front sight blade. The two-piece grip is fancy grain walnut with a high polish piano finish. The straight sided barrel has a distinctive double curved lug with no provision for a loading lever. The top of the barrel is roll-stamped “- Patent Arms M’g. Co. Paterson, N.J. – Colt’s Pt. -” reading from the breech to the muzzle with â€œstar & snakeâ€ terminals at either end of the legend. The top of the cylinder is marked “COLT” in addition to the roll-engraved stagecoach scene. The serial number “141” is visible on: (1) the rear face of the barrel lug, (2) bottom of the cylinder wedge, (3) bottom of the frame in the trigger well, (4) inside of the trigger, (5) rear face of the cylinder, (6) inside of the hammer and (7) bottom of the left grip heel. All of the visible serial numbers match. The revolver is complete with a mahogany Paterson style case with beveled lid and scalloped German silver escutcheon plate. The case is lined with dark blue velvet with wire clips to retain the accessories. The case contains: (1) spare five-shot, square back cylinder marked â€œJ./201″ on the rear face, (2) brass cleaning rod with turned wooden head, (3) .36 caliber, single cavity, round ball iron bullet mold with three wooden handles, (4) Paterson combination tool with fire blue finish, (5) side-latch brass Colt capper marked “No. 333” on the inside of the body and lid, (6) distinctive Paterson copper and brass combination powder and ball flask numbered “16” on both the upper and lower sections and roll-stamped with the same Patent Arms Co. legend with â€œstar & snakeâ€ terminals as the top barrel flat and (7) several .36 caliber lead balls that were originally in the flask.
Condition: Very fine. This revolver remains in exceptionally fine condition, appears to be un-fired and retains 70% of the original high polish blue finish. The blue on the barrel is thin with some cleaning overall, but the metal surfaces are smooth and the edges are crisp. The barrel legend is extremely sharp. The cylinder retains nearly all of the stagecoach scene and has about 90% of the blue finish. The front and rear face of the cylinder and the percussion nipples show no trace of flash pitting or firing wear. The frame and back strap retain more than 90% of the high polish blue finish; the face of the recoil shield, top of the frame and the cylinder pin are in the same excellent condition as the exterior surfaces and show no wear. The hammer has nearly 95% of the original case colors with no flash pitting. The nicely figured walnut grip is in very fine with some scattered finish flaking. The visible serial numbers on all components are sharp. The factory case is fine. The case exterior has a few scattered and minor handling and storage marks, and the interior has some oil stains and compression marks but no serious wear. The spare cylinder has some flash pitting on the percussion nipples and the front and rear face but retains 100% of the stagecoach scene and nearly 80% of the blue finish. The cleaning rod remains very fine. The bullet mold has traces of blue finish on the blocks and sprue cutter while the wooden handles show minimal wear. The excellent combination tool retains 90% of the nitre blue finish. The capper is fine, complete, and original with an attractive, un-polished patina and sharp markings. The rare Paterson combination powder and ball flask is excellent and retains nearly 90% plus original of the bright original gold plated finish with crisp markings and serial numbers. This is a truly exceptional example of the most desirable of all Colt Paterson firearms – the Texas Paterson revolver. The combination of un-fired condition, rare German silver inlays, and factory case with rare accessories make this one of the finest of all Paterson revolvers extant. Provenance: Robert M. Lee Collection.
1886 Winchester, Serial Number 1, presented to Captain Henry Ware Lawton for capturing Gerinimo.
The worldâ€™s most expensive rifleâ€“setting the record at auction for $1.265 millionâ€“is a lever-action Winchester, with a blued and case-hardened finish, engraved only with â€œAlbee to Lawton.â€ Itâ€™s an unadorned Model 1886, serial number 1, given to Captain Henry Ware Lawton to celebrate his successful campaign against Geronimo, the fierce leader of the Chiricahua Apache tribe, a key event leading to the end of the brutal Apache Wars.
The rifle was auctioned as part of a lot of Lawtonâ€™s belongings including an engraved gold-plated C. Howard & Co. pocket watch and matching engraved gold chain, also in recognition of his work hunting down Geronimo. Lawton received prominent awards and medals during his career, including the Medal of Honor, rising to the rank of Major General before dying in battle during the Philippineâ€“American War.
Rock Island Auctions, 29 April- 1 May 2016, Lot 1025
A Khyber Pass Martini action pistol.
Lot 5278 came with a custom holster, and was sold in a lot of three handguns, along with a British Webley & Scott Mark V Double Action Revolver with Holster and a Japanese Type 26 Double Action Revolver for $977.50.