In the latter part of the 1900's many engravers strived to imitate the engraving of Nimschke. I have looked at many supposed 'Nimschke engraved' SAA's at gun shows and in books but just about every one has been a Nimschke copy. I know that Dave Lanara has studied many guns attributed to this great master engraver. I hope Dave, and other members who have studied Nimschke (like mrcvs, aka Ian) will comment on this gun. I see the bifurcated lines in the scroll work, but I get the feeling this engraving was done by someone who specialized in copying Nimschke.
It is certainly beautiful engraving and the gun is well worth over the last selling price of $7500. Those beautifully carved and checkered ivory grips are probably worth >$2500.
Last edited by saintclair; 07-18-2019 at 08:55 AM.
One might have missed it, mrcvs has commented above.
I agree saintclair and suspect Dave will have an opinion right off. Terrible photos inHempill's book, Colts from Texas and the old West. This gun is featured on page 24. Book was published in 1990. But one must wonder how a gun went from a selling price of $125,000 down to $7500. I suspect there are others out there that know more on this gun than we do as it has been around a while now. Serial number and grips tell us that much.
Last edited by Cozmo; 07-18-2019 at 09:28 AM.
Cozmo - I suspect that you are correct in suspecting that "there are others out there that know more on this gun than we do as it has been around a while now"!
It is not the overall pattern that concerns me, it's the inability to see more of the details... I don't see that we've gotten a pic of the full left side. That would be helpful.
I guess I just don't enjoy the finer things in life, but to me I just don't get the price for that Colt, in my opinion the two Colts in post 5 and 6 by saintclair are far better looking guns then the one with most of that gold finish worn off. I don't understand why anyone would want a gold finish on a gun anyway. if it were mine the 1st thing I would do would be to remove the rest of whats left of that finish. I think that Colt would look better with no finish at all and with those beautiful grips then it does now.
Not trying to insult anyone, maybe I just don't know enough about engraved, or gold plated ole Colts.
First, it's a good idea to have a firearm that existed during the time frame the engraver was active. Obviously, it's impossible to execute engraving posthumously! Of course, a revolver from the era that an engraver was active could be faked so as to appear to be the work of a certain engraver decades after the fact. Also, it helps if a letter states a revolver is factory, and then it's just a matter of determining whom engraved it, but we don't have this luxury, in this case.
Secondly, I stated the work appeared to be that of Nimschke. I think that this perhaps was stated a bit liberally. I don't think I can state even that it appears to be that of Nimschke, as there's no way to definitively prove that. I should have stated that it's in the style of Nimschke, or possibly could be attributed to Nimschke, but I cannot imply definitively it is his work. All I can do is study known examples of his work, or the work of other period engravers, and look for similar patterns, and come up with hypotheses and ideas as to whether a certain engraver could have executed the engraving, or if there are reasons why he could not have.
Backing up, the first thing I question is the over all execution of the piece. Does it look professional, balanced, etc? In this case, it certainly does. So, a skilled craftsman performed the work. The quality strongly suggests factory, and not "New York" engraved. Having said that, I cannot say definitively it is, and without a letter stating that it is, there is always that doubt. That is a strong indicator as to why it may recently have sold for $7500 and not the $125,000 nearly 10 years ago that it brought, if this is true. Putting it all together, a price tag of $7500 seems awfully low for this piece, but $125,000, even in a stronger market seems awfully high.
My basis for believing this to be the work of Nimschke is how the scroll cuts end, which is squarely, as described page 73 of Firearms Engraving as Decorative Art, by Frederic A Harris. This book is a MUST HAVE if you are a student of this. Also, the design of the inter-scroll spaces suggests the work of Nimschke. But, then again, all we can say is "attributed to", or "in the style of" Nimschke.
You will note that I gave a "like" to Post #10, which suggests the work is not factory. Despite all I stated above, there is a shadow of doubt. My reasoning for that is if you look at Post #9, the execution of the engraving on the trigger guard and especially that surrounding the serial number on the frame appears amateur, especially the poorly executed circles and the "depressions" leading into the arc surrounding the serial number 15730. Now, did Nimschke engrave the scrolls and other large surfaces and hand off the gun to an apprentice to perform the engraving that surrounds the frame serial number? Of course, that's possible, but the work is sloppy, at best, and, frankly, I'm surprised that this would have passed final muster.
So, putting it all together, like I stated previously, the work, in general, is good, and it strongly suggests factory work, but this cannot be definitely ascertained. Value will reflect that. I'm not sure what happened in 2010 to bring such a high price, except perhaps two individuals wanted this gun very badly and put common sense aside. But, in the end, I guess one must value this as to what it would be as a "New York" engraved Colt Single Action Army Revolver that is attractive, despite its faults, with a gold wash.
It is too bad that a letter does not exist on this one describing it as engraved or not. I wonder why?
Lastly, in closing, and I hope I am not out of line when I state this, but no matter what I think, I always defer to coltsixguns (Jim) on this forum. He's good, I mean really, really good! I would be pleased to have his knowledge base and experience. Perhaps he will comment.
I hope this helps...
Ian, Your comments in post #17 are good ones related to the SAA in question. Jim Yates' comments should 'carry a lot of weight.' I will look forward to them.
Furthermore, knowing how many highly qualified engravers have copied Nimschke's work, I would not pay $100,000 for a 'newly discovered Nimschke engraved SAA' even if 10 out of 10 experts verified it as being correct.
The real Nimschke's that were identified before fakery became so profitable are the ones that should carry the high price tags. I am not sure when that time was.
I agree that Jimmy would have a good idea, but I'm not sure we have enough good, clear, closeup, detailed photos that could help support at least an initial determination without the SAA being in hand and looking through a loop.
Patterns can be copied by both master engravers and machines. Wish we could get those pics. I guess the OP doesn't have access to them.
Lanara has/had a "newly discovered" Nimschke that took me a long time to believe it is a actual example of his engraving. We discussed here for a while. It is about as far from this one as humanly possible as far as engraving goes. Lanara says it was a Nimsche. John Adams Sr told Dave he thought it was a Nimschke and I believe Dave's buyer sure thought it a "lost" Nimschke. I was still shaking my head and eventually came around to may be thinking it might be a Nimschke.
As Ian said, right time frame on this one. And I'd bet the grips date back to the early 1870s. Looks to be that age certainly that carving pattern. So those are starters. But as mentioned prior by Rick it looks too new, the engraving...not the gun. If it is a Nimschke it is some of the very best work he did in his entire career after looking at all the guns everyone else has looked at in photos. The obvious Nimschke tell-tell patterns are there. Notably all are embellished from what you would typically see on the same designs else where in Nimschke's work. It is another detail that puts the gun in the forger's camp for me or just as likely in my mind the hand of a real master engraver, by Nimschke himself. I have not actually handed a real Nimschke. This one is not a super fancy pattern or over the top coverage but really clean engraving. Really clean. May be too clean? I was looking at serial number fonts on the trigger guards not the engraving there and wondered which gun got restamped.
If I were gonna fake a engraved SAA it would not be a gold washed one. But then if I wanted to fake a SAA I'd look for the serial numbers with no records. To me the weight there is, "I'd not fake a gold gun". Just too few of them and everyone notices. The best fakes are anything that doesn't actually jump out at you and beg the question.
I'm not in the $125,000 SAA buyer category. Wouldn't be if that were mere pocket change to me. $7500 for this gun sure seems like a fire sale with, really, no known history------- unless of course your write your own book or have RL Wilson write a book about your gun for you. Makes one wonder why this gun hasn't had some very detailed photos made of it previous to 1990 and serious collectors already know its full history to date. First photo of a "gold Colt" is from 1990? Doesn't make any sense to me. As most had photos prior to that. A 1870's gun and no photos?
I agree it is not a pretty gun. But it is history (question is how much history is represented) which is why we are discussing it and why the gun shouldn't me modified.
Last edited by Cozmo; 07-18-2019 at 02:49 PM.