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See also : Historical arms Wild West
1866 Buffaloes and Indians
2018 SOLD for $ 400K including premium
There was place for more than one Buffalo Bill in the Wild West. William Mathewson won this nickname during the winter 1860-1861 when he decimated several buffalo herds to avoid the starvation of the pioneers after a catastrophic drought.
In 1864 the Kiowa Indians enter the warpath again. The chief warns Mathewson in advance for intimidating him. Mathewson's trading post occupies a strategic position on the Santa Fe Trail. He informs the companies but it is too late for the Overland Transportation which has just started from New Mexico a convoy of 147 wagons loaded with rifles and ammunition, accompanied by 155 men.
After four days of siege in his post, Mathewson sees that the Indians had departed. He understands that they got a better target nearby. Indeed a few miles away from his post the Indians encircle the Overland train. Mathewson arrives by surprise and manages to unload a wagon and to provide arms to the men of the convoy. Indians give up. Buffalo Bill had altogether saved the goods and the men.
The pair of revolvers is presented to him in May 1866 by one of his customers in a small ceremony of thanks commemorating the Overland feat. The nameplate identifying donor and recipient on the case is dated from the next year.
In the Colt nomenclature, Army or Navy designation is not a reference to the government but to the standard of the gauge, .36 for the Navy. A similar cased 1861 Navy pair offered in 1863 by a cotton trading company to Major General McPherson was sold for $ 425K including premium by Bonhams on November 10, 2014.
Please watch the video shared by RIA.
This exceptional cased set of silver plated Colt 1861 Navy revolvers was presented to a man who saved hundreds of settlers, perhaps most famously by providing buffalo meat during a winter famine. His name is William Mathewson - the original Buffalo Bill. Available this September. pic.twitter.com/EB6PJD2GwA— Rock Island Auction (@RIAuction) June 27, 2018
1872 The Colt that won the West
2009 SOLD 860 K$ including premium
We have already discussed the guns of that mark in this group, about the earliest models. Lot 51 of this next sale is more recent, but exceptional. This is the serial number 1 of the model Colt Single Action Army Revolver, patented in 1871 and 1872. For Americans, this six shots handgun is the "Colt that Won the West," and it was nicknamed "Peacemaker".
Here's what this firearm was then supposed telling to its owner. You will appreciate the true Western charm of this four lines of poetry:
"Be not afraid of any man,
No matter what his size,
Just call on me in time of need,
and I will equalize. "
This prestigious copy went to Christie's in 1987 and received the same year a leather showcase. After the sale, the purchaser has made some miniature replica edited by the U.S. Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia, with the authorization of the Colt company.
It is in fine condition (no more), and is estimated 500 K $.
POST SALE COMMENT
Excellent result for this serial number 1 of a prestigious model : $ 750 K before fees.
It is almost the price of the 1847 Colt Walker sold on 9 October 2008 at $ 800 K before fees by James D. Julia.
1876 The Colt from the Little Bighorn
2017 SOLD for $ 460K including premium
After the fire had stopped Captain Benteen, who was leading one of the other two battalions, visited the field of the massacre. The scattered dead men were stripped of all that might be useful to the Indians. Benteen identified Custer's corpse.
The looting was almost perfect except some artefacts that escaped the attention of the Indians. A guidon of the 7th Cavalry Regiment was sold for $ 2.2M including premium by Sotheby's on December 10, 2010. Benteen and his team picked up twelve Springfield rifles and three Colt revolvers of Single Action Army type.
Only one of these three Colt SAA remains in its original state. The other two were reissued during the Spanish-American War. This Colt is now the only unmodified revolver whose participation in the Little Bighorn is indisputable. For obvious reasons of security the Indians hid the firearms stolen from the US army and even when some of them went to resurface their true history could no longer be assessed.
This Colt from the Little Bighorn is in a heavy wear condition including bites related to blood stains. It is estimated in excess of $ 175K for sale by James D. Julia at Fairfield ME on April 11, lot 1129. Here is the link to the press release.
The Battle of the Little Bighorn also known as Custer's Last Stand holds a top position in the history of the conquest of the West. Julia remember that they sold in April 2000 for $ 680K including premium a forensically retrieved Winchester rifle used by an Indian warrior.
1876-1880 From Buggy to Buntline
2012 SOLD 550 K$ including premium
In 1876, on the occasion of the extraordinary Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, Coltidentifies as the "buggy rifles" a type of revolver with very long barrel, .45 Long gauge, fitted with a detachable shoulder stock. About thirty serial numbers are assigned to this novelty, and the corresponding copies will be manufactured before 1882.
These thirty pieces include several variants. The example for sale got the longest available barrel, no less than 16 inches. In overall nice condition, it is estimated beyond $ 325K. It had been delivered in 1880 by Colt to a firearm dealer.
In December 2010, the same auction house sold $ 368K including premium a very similar unit in near new condition.
The term buggy rifle vanished after 1931. At that date, a novelist-biographer of the Wild West wanted to give a role, which has never been demonstrated, to his predecessor Ned Buntline in the promotion of this model. That "Colt Buntline" name will afterwards be generalized to other ultra-long barrel Colt revolvers.
History fades more and more behind legend. The spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone relived these extraordinary firearms with which the villains brandishing them become even more wicked.
POST SALE COMMENT
This spectacular and extremely rare firearm exceeded its higher estimate. It was sold $ 490K before fees, $ 550K including premium. This is an excellent result.
Please watch the pre-auction video, shared by RIAC on YouTube, introducing three Colts including this exciting example :
1879 A Peacemaker for the British Empire
2019 SOLD for $ 520K including premium
This firearm is made for use, not for prestige. The first opportunity to adorn SAAs with factory engraved panels is the Centennial Exhibition held in Philadelphia in 1876. The Colt's Fire Arms Co showcase is decorated with a spectacular rose window of revolvers including an inner corcle of sixteen SAAs.
One of them, a .45 in superb condition, was sold for $ 700K including premium by Julia in March 2009. The abundant engraving on nickel is attributed to Herman Ulrich. The side panels are illustrated respectively of a wolf and a bear in action in a mountain landscape. The rest of the piece is almost entirely embellished with foliated arabesques, plus a few secondary panels with floral motifs.
An engraved SAA is estimated $ 375K for sale by RIAC at Rock Island IL on December 6, lot 31. Its gauge is .455 in the British standard for use with black powder cartridges. Its serial number corresponds to a manufacture in 1879. The side panels are illustrated respectively of a bear hunt and a buffalo hunt, and a third panel shows a Native American on horseback.
All elements converge to consider it is as a piece of exhibition. Unknown up to now, it does not appear in Colt's sales records. It is in an almost mint condition with 95% of its original finish. The quality of the engraving by Herman Ulrich or Gustave Young is similar to the Centennial example described above.
The best scenario is that this revolver was prepared for the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880, in which the Colt company participated, and that it was never returned to the stock. Please watch the video in which Kevin Hogan, president of the auction house, tells his investigation.
1880-1881 the Colt that killed Billy the Kid
2021 SOLD for $ 6M by Bonhams
In November 1880, Pat Garrett is elected sheriff of the county. Although his term was to begin on January 1, he immediately obtains a commission to pursue Billy the Kid within the limits of the county. On December 13 a $ 500 bounty is posted by the governor for the capture of the outlaw.
On December 23 Billy the Kid and his whole gang are captured by Garrett and his men. Sentenced to hang, Billy escapes from custody on April 28. While in jail his notoriety had raised through the local gazettes.
Garrett is not yet awarded with the bounty. On July 14, in search for the fugitive, he discusses the issue with a ranch owner. Around midnight a man enters the room in the dark. Garrett will state that he had recognized the voice of Billy the Kid. He fires twice and kills the man.
The revolver that killed Billy the Kid is a Colt Single Action Army made in 1880, taken near new by Garrett when he arrested the gang on November 23. It was sold for $ 6M from a lower estimate of $ 2M by Bonhams on August 27, 2021, lot 11.
The corpse was certified by the local justice of the peace but the reward was not paid to Garrett. He managed to respond to the rumors that he had been unfair. His biographical account of Billy the Kid co-authored by an itinerant journalist was considered as factual in period. It contributed to transform that ferocious but enigmatic desperado into the major folk hero of the Wild West.
A doubt still subsists on who was killed by Garrett on July 14. On July 28 a local newspaper reported that the outlaw had allowed his beard to grow and had stained his skin brown to look like a Mexican. Dead or alive, the mythic gang leader never resumed his criminal industry.
1888 Bat Masterson's Colt
2021 SOLD for $ 490K by RIAC
He was also a notorious gunfighter, ever ready to argue the self-defense. From 1879 to 1888, he ordered to Colt nine special Single Action Army revolvers for his own use, requiring an easy trigger and a higher sight.
The revolver supplied in 1885 by Colt to Masterson in Dodge City, Kansas was sold for $ 375K by Bonhams on August 27, 2021, lot 14.
The revolver supplied to him in 1888 in Denver, Colorado, accompanied with its original holster and belt rig, was sold for $ 490K by RIAC on May 14, 2021, lot 103.
1891-1895 the Colt that killed John Wesley Hardin
2021 SOLD for $ 860K by Bonhams
John Selman Sr had been a gang leader in the Lincoln County war. The former outlaw went to El Paso where he worked as a constable.
The story of the Wild West is a long series of crimes followed by lawsuits in which the killers claim the self-defense. The El Paso story is as follows.
The semi-prostitute Beulah M'Roze is an acquaintance to Hardin. Her husband is killed in June 1895 in the presence of Scarborough. The ever boastful Harlin claims while drinking that he had paid Scarborough for the crime. Selman's son John Jr heavily fines the widow M'Roze on a drunk and disorderly charge. Hardin insults the Selmans.
On August 19, Hardin plays dice at the bar of the saloon. Selman Sr enters and kills Hardin by a gun shot in the back of the head. Selman testifies that he was in self-defense when he saw Hardin taking hold of a gun. Released on bond pending a retrial, Selman Sr is killed by Scarborough.
Both guns from the August 19 story were exhibited at Selman's trial and referred in the proceedings with their serial numbers. Both were auctioned together by the court and did not part one another until they were sold separately by Bonhams on August 27, 2021.
Selman's gun, a Colt revolver made in 1891, was sold for $ 860K, lot 20. Hardin's Smith and Wesson revolver was sold for $ 630K, lot 19.
1912 The Bull Moose Colt
2020 SOLD for $ 1.47M including premium by RIAC
narrated in 2021
The presidential election is in full swing. Taft, the outgoing president, received the Republican nomination. In open conflict with his successor, Roosevelt created the Progressive Party with which he wishes to rally progressive, radical, conservative and even democratic sensibilities. The symbol of the party is the bull moose, a majestic king of the forest.
On October 14 in Milwaukee, while preparing to deliver an election speech, Roosevelt is the victim of an assassination attempt. The bullet, slowed down by the glasses case and the thick bundle of speech, penetrates his chest. The old hunter appreciates that the wound will not be fatal. He begins his 90 minute address by stating : "It takes more than that to kill a bull moose."
The election will be won by the Democratic candidate Woodrow Wilson. It would have taken much longer for the new party to establish a real support network, but Roosevelt still obtains more than 4 million votes, far ahead of Taft.
The Colt class 5 is given as planned to Roosevelt for his birthday. The former president undoubtedly took it with him in the following year on his exhausting expedition to Brazil, which would explain a wear of the finish. Then this firearm remained anonymous for a long time because of the inversion of two figures in the factory documents.
Traceability has been restored. The "Bull Moose Colt" was sold by Rock Island Auction Company on December 5, 2020 for $ 1.47M including premium from a lower estimate of $ 350K, lot 1210. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
(1909)- 1969 Screen Used Colt of John Wayne
2021 SOLD for $ 520K by RIAC
This arm had been shipped from factory by Colt in 1909 as a Single Action Army revolver.
Its authenticated filmography includes the 1969 True Grit. 'Duke' won in the next year his top ranking award, Best Actor in the Academy Awards, for his role of a US Marshal in that film. It was also used in 1972 in The Cowboys and in 1975 in a follow to True Grit titled Rooster Cogburn.
John Wayne was featured with this Colt and its holster in 1972 on a cover page of Life Magazine.