The Engraved Colt Bisley That Wouldn't Letter In 1995
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Thread: The Engraved Colt Bisley That Wouldn't Letter In 1995

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    The Engraved Colt Bisley That Wouldn't Letter In 1995

    A letter was requested in 1995 on this apparent factory-engraved Bisley. Although there had been some previous "bad luck" in lettering Bisley's, I thought that surely this high number #314861 could be found among the last few pages in the shipping ledger. But I received a dreaded "so sorry" letter on July 24, 1995.

    Twenty years later I decided to request this Bisley letter again. What a pleasant surprise! See attached.

    This Bisley was found with its original pearl grips. However, both grips were badly broken and something 34 mm in diameter had been extracted from each side. I later concluded that 20 dollar gold pieces (double eagles) had been removed, possibly after FDR required that gold coins be "turned in" to the government. Interestingly, within one year thereafter, the price of gold almost doubled. The current value of two double eagles (with no numismatic appeal) would be about $4000. In the middle of the Great Depression, it is no wonder that these gold pieces were separated and sold off of this Bisley.

    Recent pictures of this Bisley are attached. The pearl grips were replaced with checkered ivory. The possibility of re-creating pearl grips was considered, but ruled out due to many difficulties in duplicating Colt's original effort. There is much more to be said here, but I want to keep this story brief and free of tedious detail.

    How many times did I hear some of the "Colt Experts" say that this Bisley couldn't be factory engraved?? With only the frame and barrel being engraved, those "experts" were overlooking the engraving quality and other features that indicated a special order gun.

    At this time I am mainly interested in locating Thornieg Mercantile Company. Of course, the "sold to"-"shipped to" is in reverse in this letter. Has anyone heard of Thornieg Mercantile Company before?

    So far I have had no luck with researching "Thornieg". Between 1908 and 1912 there was a Thorne Mercantile Company at Thorne, in Rolette County, North Dakota. Thorne is now a ghost town location (a plowed field on Thorne Road, 15 miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border). Interestingly, this Thorne Mercantile Company had been located in Moberly, MO until the end of 1908. Notice again that this Colt was ordered through a St. Joseph, MO firm.
    Last edited by victorio1sw; 03-05-2019 at 09:05 PM.

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    That is great! Beautiful engraving!
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    Cool! I'd really like to see the pearl stocks as well, even if they don't have the gold anymore. Heck, I'd consider getting two gold pieces from the time and restore them. That would be sooooooo unique!!
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    That is an awesome Colt. A cheaper route to go would to have a Mexican gold coin insert. Or a 20 dollar gold piece split in half attached to each side. I would ask Paul Persinger if that's something he could do.
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    This special order was received by Colt on Aug 17, 1910 - so it required 1-3/4 months to complete. No doubt a few problems were encountered in trying to fab the grips, and several pair may have been broken in the process.

    Colt had no choice but to bend the double eagle to match grip contours. When one thinks of this bending process, it isn’t a simple matter. The curvature gets larger from top to bottom in order to match over that Bisley grip surface. If I were to do this job, seeing what is left of Colt’s work, I would first bend the coin. Then solder on the hollow pins, using a jig to maintain pin spacing. Then drill the grip holes, again using that pin spacing jig. Push the coin and pins down on grips. Make adjustments by bending coins at juncture of pins. Push the coin and pins down on grips, and this time scribe a line into grip surface all around the gold coin. Remove the coin and pin assembly. Inlet this three-dimensional hole in grips. Leave some relief around pins below coin (in grips) where solder makes the coin “thicker”. Re-seat the coin assembly, and flare hollow pins inside to lock assembly in place. That is one way to do this job, anyway! It is not an easy task, and it all risks the breaking of pearl as well as damaging the coin features. And that is why I opted out of trying to fab identical replacement grips. Oh, and then there is the $4000 upfront cost of the coins!


    Three pictures of the grips are attached, although not the best image quality.
    ussmanlovede36 and krag96 like this.

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    Restore those grips! You can get gold-plated Double Eagles on Amazon cheap!
    29aholic, krag96 and saintclair like this.




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    Quote Originally Posted by victorio1sw View Post
    A letter was requested in 1995 on this apparent factory-engraved Bisley. Although there had been some previous "bad luck" in lettering Bisley's, I thought that surely this high number #314861 could be found among the last few pages in the shipping ledger. But I received a dreaded "so sorry" letter on July 24, 1995.

    Twenty years later I decided to request this Bisley letter again. What a pleasant surprise! See attached.

    This Bisley was found with its original pearl grips. However, both grips were badly broken and something 34 mm in diameter had been extracted from each side. I later concluded that 20 dollar gold pieces (double eagles) had been removed, possibly after FDR required that gold coins be "turned in" to the government. Interestingly, within one year thereafter, the price of gold almost doubled. The current value of two double eagles (with no numismatic appeal) would be about $4000. In the middle of the Great Depression, it is no wonder that these gold pieces were separated and sold off of this Bisley.

    Recent pictures of this Bisley are attached. The pearl grips were replaced with checkered ivory. The possibility of re-creating pearl grips was considered, but ruled out due to many difficulties in duplicating Colt's original effort. There is much more to be said here, but I want to keep this story brief and free of tedious detail.

    How many times did I hear some of the "Colt Experts" say that this Bisley couldn't be factory engraved?? With only the frame and barrel being engraved, those "experts" were overlooking the engraving quality and other features that indicated a special order gun.

    At this time I am mainly interested in locating Thornieg Mercantile Company. Of course, the "sold to"-"shipped to" is in reverse in this letter. Has anyone heard of Thornieg Mercantile Company before?

    So far I have had no luck with researching "Thornieg". Between 1908 and 1912 there was a Thorne Mercantile Company at Thorne, in Rolette County, North Dakota. Thorne is now a ghost town location (a plowed field on Thorne Road, 15 miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border). Interestingly, this Thorne Mercantile Company had been located in Moberly, MO until the end of 1908. Notice again that this Colt was ordered through a St. Joseph, MO firm.
    Today's experts go on what they have read or have seen and handled through out there travels in life therefore if it isn't the norm then it most not be real but it has been proved that sometimes a rare bird appears beautiful pistol
    krag96 likes this.
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    Spectacular. I agree I would put plate eagles in it.
    krag96 likes this.
    Amat Victoria Curam

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    Very nice and unique Colt
    krag96 likes this.

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    It's unusual in that the cylinder was not engraved. I like it and having the factory letter is proof of factory engraving.


 
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