Colt Letter Question
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    Colt Letter Question

    Hello All,

    Been awhile since I have reported in but I have a quick question regarding the Colt Letter I received regarding my grandfather's 1926 New Service 38-40. My grandfather's name is mentioned as "Sold to" but no address. However the "Shipped to" is Mr. Phil B. Bekeart Co., San Fransisco, CA who was known as a famous shooter, Smith and Wesson firearms designer and Pacific Coast Colt representative and dealer. I don't know what to make of this because my grandfather lived about 600 miles South of San Francisco and there were plenty of firearms dealers in the Los Angeles area which he lived in for over 80 years and as far and I know, he did not travel to the San Francisco area, especially in 1926 as he was overly busy in Santa Monica CA working extremely hard, raising a family and was lower middle-class in 1926. Would this have been a mail order situation? But again, I ask why because there were local dealers within close reach. I would appreciate any thoughts on this, thank you in advance.
    Colt Letter Revised.jpg
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    Quote Originally Posted by buddie View Post
    My grandfather's name is mentioned as "Sold to" but no address. However the "Shipped to" is Mr. Phil B. Bekeart Co., San Fransisco, CA who was known as a famous shooter, Smith and Wesson firearms designer and Pacific Coast Colt representative and dealer.
    First of all, congratulations, you just won the Colt letter equivalent of the lottery jackpot. Having a gun letter by name to a family member is everyone's dream, but basically never happens.

    Second, I think you answered your own question. Bekeart served as Colt rep, distributor, and wholesaler. He likely sent the gun on to your grandfather's local dealer, where it was picked up. Not all that is necessarily reflected in the shipping ledgers at Colt.

    PS: An additional thought as to why the special order in the first place, rather than a local purchase: I’m fairly certain that’s due to the caliber. The .38/40 was a niche load and not very popular any more in the 1920s compared to the bigger bores in the New Service; maybe your grandfather wanted the caliber because he also had a rifle in it, but could not find one locally.
    Last edited by Absalom; 06-08-2019 at 08:21 PM.
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    Thank you ABSALOM for your succinct and knowledgeable response to my question, you have helped me on this forum in the past as well. What you say has filled in the blanks but I was not aware that this calibre fell out of favor in that era. I appreciate your thoughts, and yes, I still maintain my paternal family name. Many thanks to you,

    Laurel Simmons

    P.S. After all of these years, the status of this wheeler is in the high 90's, it was last fired about 40 years ago by myself, it's a dandy and has great presence, punch and accuracy.
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    A family lettered New Service, congratz, I want to SEE IT! I agree witht the probability of a .38 WCF combo. He may have save a couple of bucks ordering directly through Bekeart. Have you asked the rest of your family about a rifle in 38-40?
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    I'm not so sure 38-40 was falling out of favor back than. Here's another one in 7 1/2" shipped to SF 9 days after yours. I picked it up in a shop in Orange, CA. And I have seen others in this barrel length & caliber from that time frame.

    I haven't crono'd this round, but I would think this would be pushing 1000 fps+ out of a 7 1/2". Maybe 10mm velocities? Possibly a good flat shooting handgun hunting cartridge?

    But this is all speculation.

    Last edited by Dump1567; 06-09-2019 at 07:51 AM.
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    Watch & Pray

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    Hi Rick Bowles and Dump1567, thanks for you responses as well. I'm still having a hard time wrapping my head around why my grandfather's name appears on the letter in the first place, it was shipped to Bekeart from the factory, Grandpa bought it from Bekeart, maybe through a dealer local to him 600 miles south of SF and that was that. As far as I know, he did not have any other 38/40 firearms so he must have just preferred that calibre, actually the 40 calibre lead that it throws isn't exactly a sissy gun. His hunting rifle was an 1890 Springfield 45/70 trapdoor w/ a Buffington sight so he was not shy for a bit of kick. Your gun is actually the older brother to mine Dump1567, they were built 256 units apart, ain't that something! I see your grips are different, did it ever have a lanyard loop? Thank you all for your assistance, I appreciate it! Here you go Rick Bowles, photos....taken in natural light so you can see any prickles or stings when enlarged.
    13x.jpg18x.jpg17x.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dump1567 View Post
    I'm not so sure 38-40 was falling out of favor back than. Here's another one in 7 1/2" shipped to SF 9 days after yours. I picked it up in a shop in Orange, CA. And I have seen others in this barrel length & caliber from that time frame.
    Nice gun. But your letter actually provides further support for my point: Another single-gun shipment of a .38/40. I’ve got a few dozen letters by now: 5, 10, or even 25 guns per order in more common calibers are the rule to commercial destinations. While we have too few data points for any sweeping generalizations, limited local availability due to limited demand is really the only viable explanation for single-gun orders in that specific caliber.
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    Hi Absalom, I hear you now, what you say makes sense. What was it about that cartridge that made it fall by the wayside? I know you say, bigger bore for one point of fact but 40 calibre is still pretty popular these days, was it a brass and powder load factor that was undesirable? Does this make the old 38/40's more or lesser a collectable since there were fewer made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by buddie View Post
    I see your grips are different, did it ever have a lanyard loop?
    Actually it has the lanyard. You just can't tell from the pic. And the grips aren't original. Per the letter, it shipped with rubber. Probably got destroyed over the years. When I got the gun, it came with brown plastic 1950's replacement grips.

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    Watch & Pray

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    Beauty of a gun. It is possible that Bekart had a better price and shipped it to your grandfather. This was before the government got involved in the gun business. Shipment to a dealer was required by the manufacturer, a common business practice. After that the dealer could ship to any point in its territory.
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