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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all,

I've been an avid colt collector for a few years now. My love of colts started with my 1892 revolver, the smoothness and fitment of this firearm fueled my passion to buy others. Recently I purchased a U.S. marked colt single action army, the gun is marked with what I believe to be a faded "W.C C.O.". This marking leads me to Believe this was the property of Western Costume Company. The frame is marked with serial number #17833 and the trigger guard is additionally marked #5728, while the grip frame is scrubbed of its number. The barrel's serial number is #4720 and the loading gate is marked #6763. I am trying to establish a provenance and understand a little about what I have bought. Any input is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Dave

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Hi all,

I've been an avid colt collector for a few years now. My love of colts started with my 1892 revolver, the smoothness and fitment of this firearm fueled my passion to buy others. Recently I purchased a U.S. marked colt single action army, the gun is marked with what I believe to be a faded "W.C C.O.". This marking leads me to Believe this was the property of Western Costume Company. The frame is marked with serial number #17833 and the trigger guard is additionally marked #5728, while the grip frame is scrubbed of its number. The barrel's serial number is #4720 and the loading gate is marked #6763. I am trying to establish a provenance and understand a little about what I have bought. Any input is greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Dave

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About 25 years ago a number of these mixed number SAA artilleries were being auctioned off from a Hollywood company like WCCo. They were not bringing much in price, because at the time mixed number SAA's had little interest. Now things have changed with these artilleries.

I wouldn't be too concerned about the missing butt number, and here is why. And I have not seen this issue properly addressed before. The butts of some of these guns is where a regimental marking would often be applied. When these guns were being refurbished for re-issue, those regimental markings would be removed, along with the butt serial number.

I have one such artillery with a missing butt SN. The butt strap is thinner than normal. It is #33186, one of the dimensionally perfect guns as described by Kopec in books and articles. An old B&W photo is shown below.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Wow! Thank you all for sharing this fascinating history. The information about the scrubbing of regimental markings puts my mind at ease. The Custer era serials are another fascinating attribute of this gun, from a quick search on a pdf appears to be 6 guns off from what Kopec believes to be the Custer "avenger". I apologize for the pictures, I have supplied the files below.
 

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Wow! Thank you all for sharing this fascinating history. The information about the scrubbing of regimental markings puts my mind at ease. The Custer era serials are another fascinating attribute of this gun, from a quick search on a pdf appears to be 6 guns off from what Kopec believes to be the Custer "avenger". I apologize for the pictures, I have supplied the files below.
These are much larger pictures than the ones you initially presented. Still looks like a very nice artillery.

What type of barrel address is on this SAA? Italic or block (Roman) letters? My #33186 has an original italic address, with an 1890's style block address rolled on top of it.

Also can you take pictures of the ejector housing? My #33186 as mentioned above has a 1st type housing converted to a 3rd type. This conversion was easily done by adding one milled slot, for removal of rod and head as one unit. Yours doesn't have to look the same, but it might be interesting to see.

Have you obtained a Colt letter? There may be original info on #17833, but also possibly subsequent rework.
 

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I wouldn't be too concerned about the missing butt number, and here is why. And I have not seen this issue properly addressed before. The butts of some of these guns is where a regimental marking would often be applied. When these guns were being refurbished for re-issue, those regimental markings would be removed, along with the butt serial number. I have one such artillery with a missing butt SN. The butt strap is thinner than normal. It is #33186, one of the dimensionally perfect guns as described by Kopec in books and articles. An old B&W photo is shown below.
Jim, I too have an Artillery with a "cleaned" butt. As yours, it measures thinner, as it should if markings were removed. Mine still has a letter "C" visible which I take to be a Company Letter of whatever unit possessed it. Most likely stamped too deep to justify removing it completely. I think some/most of the removal of markings was done when the guns were declared surplus and sold to the public and not all were done by Colt when refurbished. My 1903 dated grips show some shortening at the butt to compensate for the thinner butt strap which would not have been necessary if done by Colt at time of the 1903 rebuild. Thanks.

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Mine still has a letter "C" visible which I take to be a Company Letter of whatever unit possessed it.
The letter "C" indicates your grip strap was condemned by the government inspector because of a manufacturing flaw of some kind.

You can find more about the condemnation mark on page 42, "Colt Cavalry & Artillery Revolvers ... a Continuing Study" by Kopec and Fenn.

Rusty Edwards
 

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Rusty, don't think so. Wrong size "c" and wrong location. I believe the condemned "c" would be close to the serial number and smaller. However, what you say about condemning parts is true . Thanks for the suggestion. I will review my Kopec book as you suggested.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
These are much larger pictures than the ones you initially presented. Still looks like a very nice artillery.

What type of barrel address is on this SAA? Italic or block (Roman) letters? My #33186 has an original italic address, with an 1890's style block address rolled on top of it.

Also can you take pictures of the ejector housing? My #33186 as mentioned above has a 1st type housing converted to a 3rd type. This conversion was easily done by adding one milled slot, for removal of rod and head as one unit. Yours doesn't have to look the same, but it might be interesting to see.

Have you obtained a Colt letter? There may be original info on #17833, but also possibly subsequent rework.
The barrel address appears to be in block letters, though is heavily faded from refinishing multiple times over the years. Since this is such a new purchase, only a few days ago I ordered a factory letter and the current wait is 90 days. Below I attached two pictures of the ejector housing and faded barrel markings.
 

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The best letter would boring showing it delivered to the US at the factory, maybe with a return for the great rebuild in the early 1900s. The worst would be a civilian gun. Still nice having a letter showing went to the US. I'd be pretty happy with this gun.
 

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Hello and welcome to the Colt Forum from West Virginia. Glad you have joined us all here. Fantastic looking SAA . Thanks for sharing it with us.
 

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Jim, I too have an Artillery with a "cleaned" butt. As yours, it measures thinner, as it should if markings were removed. Mine still has a letter "C" visible which I take to be a Company Letter of whatever unit possessed it. Most likely stamped too deep to justify removing it completely. I think some/most of the removal of markings was done when the guns were declared surplus and sold to the public and not all were done by Colt when refurbished. My 1903 dated grips show some shortening at the butt to compensate for the thinner butt strap which would not have been necessary if done by Colt at time of the 1903 rebuild. Thanks.

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What you say about the butt markings being filed off when declared surplus may be also true. The small "c" on your example sure looks like it was applied after the butt was thinned, but who knows?

But when these guns were being reworked for later service, it would seem that any regimental markings would be regarded as problematic. My #33186 was reworked in 1901 and sent to Manilla, P.I. A butt marking such as "C Co 3rd Cav" would surely be removed at that point. My Colt letter attached.
 

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These are much larger pictures than the ones you initially presented. Still looks like a very nice artillery.

What type of barrel address is on this SAA? Italic or block (Roman) letters? My #33186 has an original italic address, with an 1890's style block address rolled on top of it.

Also can you take pictures of the ejector housing? My #33186 as mentioned above has a 1st type housing converted to a 3rd type. This conversion was easily done by adding one milled slot, for removal of rod and head as one unit. Yours doesn't have to look the same, but it might be interesting to see.

Have you obtained a Colt letter? There may be original info on #17833, but also possibly subsequent rework.
17647, 18393 both Trp L 7th Cav as of 3/14/1888. however, 17789 was Trp C, 5th Cav (Surveyed) as of 8/17/1886.
Just FYI.
 

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The barrel address appears to be in block letters, though is heavily faded from refinishing multiple times over the years. Since this is such a new purchase, only a few days ago I ordered a factory letter and the current wait is 90 days. Below I attached two pictures of the ejector housing and faded barrel markings.
I am just now finding your reply and new pics.

As usual, the first line of the patent dates is weak. That is very normal, refinished or not.

That appears to be a normal 3rd type ejector housing, as I don’t see that mill cut from the concave inside. I have to wonder how many ejector housings had to be replaced, as a result of shooting loose and being lost in the field.

Please let us know what your Colt letter says, when it arrives.
 
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