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I have been collecting pre 1980 Smith and Wessons 357 magnum revolvers for over two years and have found the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson to be tremendously helpful. Is there a comparable resource for Colts that provides info and photos on period correct boxes, grips, paperwork, etc?
 

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Like Cruiser RN stated, a lot of cash to buy many, many Colts is the best learning experience.

Other than that, most would agree The Book of Colt Firearms is a good place to start. I just got my copy of the 3rd edition today for Christmas. Also, this forum is a great place. Just search the thread archives. I have learned almost everything about Colt from this site, with slight supplemental information from other sites such as ColtFever.
 

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There are many books written about various Colt models. Most are great reference works. Don't waste your money on "The Standard Catalog of Colt Firearms." The Book of Colt Firearms, by Sutherland and Wilson (now just Wilson) is the standard for Colt Collectors. It is a great reference on Colts. Not cheap but a good reference library will pay for itself over time in money saved. Good luck.
 

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The place to start is always The Book of Colt Firearms by Sutherland & Wilson, Wilson now. It really depends on what you're interested in. I personally like the catalogs and find a lot of good relative info from old Gun Digests. What you really want is production numbers and those are hard to find unless they are listed in The Book... Lots of good info on this forum and probably one of the best places to learn.

If you're new to Colt, one of the coffee table books showing nice pictures of the various models is useful.
 

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I have been collecting pre 1980 Smith and Wessons 357 magnum revolvers for over two years and have found the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson to be tremendously helpful. Is there a comparable resource for Colts that provides info and photos on period correct boxes, grips, paperwork, etc?
There just isn't anything as good as the S&W Standard Catalog.
It was written with input from S&W.

As above "The Book of Colt Firearms" is considered to be the "standard reference" for Colt's. It's expensive.

There are several others that are good, most by R.L. Wilson.
A good one is "Colt: An American Legend" by Wilson. This is considered by Colt to be the official history of Colt firearms.
This one shows a picture of every model of firearm made by Colt from 1836 to 1985. Most all the guns shown are profusely engraved show guns. There's only very brief text on the models.
The photos are absolutely gorgeous and a treat to look at.
However, in the back of the book is a complete serial number reference on all Colt's up to 1985.
You can buy the book direct from Wilson or pick up used copies on Amazon.

Wilson also sells a Blue Book of Colt dates of manufacture for all Colt's for $20.00. This is a very useful reference for determining when a Colt was made, and if the actual gun doesn't match up with the factory serial number data base, which may indicate a faked, altered or re-barreled gun.

A handy reference on Colt models and values is "The Blue Book of Gun Values" by S.P. Fjestad.
This is a massively thick paperback that's considered to be the standard reference on valuation of guns.
People complain that especially Colt values are priced way too low, so you have to understand that the book is always a year behind due to publishing lead times, and due to the rapidly skyrocketing Colt values.
However, it's still a good reference.

An older book that's very valuable as a reference is "A History of the Colt Revolver From 1836 to 1940" by Haven and Belden.
This shows a lot of detail on early black powder revolvers and more modern double action revolvers and automatics.
One interesting chapter is a description of a tour of the Colt factory in the late 1930's with some excellent photos and descriptions of how Colt manufactured guns.
This is filled with pictures of Colt firearms up to 1940, and includes a massive amount of patent and design information along with the history of the company.
It includes copies of Colt catalog pages from the 1830's up to 1940 showing all Colt revolvers and automatics.
This has been reprinted several times and can be bought on Amazon and Ebay.

One book NOT to buy is "The Standard Catalog of Colt Firearms".
This is nothing more then reprinted pages from the Gun Digest Book of Gun Values, lifted word for word, along with incorrect information and even wrong pictures of guns with text on a different model.
This was done with NO input from Colt.
 

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As above, The Standard Catalog of Colt is absolute garbage.

TBOCF is the standard.

'Seven Serpents' has received a poor review for accuracy.
 

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There just isn't anything as good as the S&W Standard Catalog.
It was written with input from S&W.

As above "The Book of Colt Firearms" is considered to be the "standard reference" for Colt's. It's expensive.

There are several others that are good, most by R.L. Wilson.
A good one is "Colt: An American Legend" by Wilson. This is considered by Colt to be the official history of Colt firearms.
This one shows a picture of every model of firearm made by Colt from 1836 to 1985. Most all the guns shown are profusely engraved show guns. There's only very brief text on the models.
The photos are absolutely gorgeous and a treat to look at.
However, in the back of the book is a complete serial number reference on all Colt's up to 1985.
You can buy the book direct from Wilson or pick up used copies on Amazon.

Wilson also sells a Blue Book of Colt dates of manufacture for all Colt's for $20.00. This is a very useful reference for determining when a Colt was made, and if the actual gun doesn't match up with the factory serial number data base, which may indicate a faked, altered or re-barreled gun.

A handy reference on Colt models and values is "The Blue Book of Gun Values" by S.P. Fjestad.
This is a massively thick paperback that's considered to be the standard reference on valuation of guns.
People complain that especially Colt values are priced way too low, so you have to understand that the book is always a year behind due to publishing lead times, and due to the rapidly skyrocketing Colt values.
However, it's still a good reference.

An older book that's very valuable as a reference is "A History of the Colt Revolver From 1836 to 1940" by Haven and Belden.
This shows a lot of detail on early black powder revolvers and more modern double action revolvers and automatics.
One interesting chapter is a description of a tour of the Colt factory in the late 1930's with some excellent photos and descriptions of how Colt manufactured guns.
This is filled with pictures of Colt firearms up to 1940, and includes a massive amount of patent and design information along with the history of the company.
It includes copies of Colt catalog pages from the 1830's up to 1940 showing all Colt revolvers and automatics.
This has been reprinted several times and can be bought on Amazon and Ebay.

One book NOT to buy is "The Standard Catalog of Colt Firearms".
This is nothing more then reprinted pages from the Gun Digest Book of Gun Values, lifted word for word, along with incorrect information and even wrong pictures of guns with text on a different model.
This was done with NO input from Colt.
Great information, thank you.
 

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A handy reference on Colt models and values is "The Blue Book of Gun Values" by S.P. Fjestad.
This is a massively thick paperback that's considered to be the standard reference on valuation of guns.
People complain that especially Colt values are priced way too low, so you have to understand that the book is always a year behind due to publishing lead times, and due to the rapidly skyrocketing Colt values.
However, it's still a good reference.
My criticism of Fjestad's Blue Book is just the opposite: I believe Colts, especially Colt Single Action Army Revolvers, are valued in the stratosphere! I would buy the latest edition of this book like clockwork, IF I felt it was good value for the money. It does have handy information relative to certain firearms, OTHER than valuations, although once you have an edition of this book, it is repeated in later editions. As it is NOT at all even in the ballpark when it comes to valuations, I tend to buy an edition every five years, and then buy one that is a few years old to get it at a lesser price. The latest edition I have is from 2010, so, in two years or so I will probably purchase a 2015 edition of this book. Granted, prices quoted are retail, but I would argue that they are full retail, and then some (and then some again!). Presumably, prices are even higher now than in 2010. Now, the front of the book clearly states that valuations are retail, but sellers quickly forget this or don't want to believe it is true.

I will prove my point (and my apologies to coltsixguns, if he is offended in any way):

coltsixguns had this VERY NICE (!!!) Etched Panel .44-40 SAA that he posted for sale in January of last year for $6,000. Here is the link:

http://www.coltforum.com/forums/want-sell/89892-fs-collector-quality-nickel-44-40-x-4-3-4-etched-saa-1889-ship-date-6000-a.html

It got bumped to the top as late as August, so it did not sell in over 6 months time. I know it did sell later this year, as I inquired about it in October or so, thinking it is a fairly decent price on this one, or maybe even more than fair. At that point, it was sold pending funds, I believe. The condition of this gun is clearly greater than 50%, maybe 70 or 80%, or even better! In 2010, Fjestad said this gun was worth $12,000 in 50% condition, and $17,000 to $22,000 in 70-80% condition. Unless I am missing something here, or we are all thrifty Scotsmen on this forum, this firearm is really not valued at what Fjestad suggests. (I can say this as I am part Scottish).:)

Of course, because it was sold in October or thereabouts, I am kicking myself. Of course, I had a significant amount of time to act upon buying this one, and did not, so it is all my fault.

I think I contacted coltsixguns about this one because I am looking for a decent Colt SAA in .41 Colt, and coming up empty-handed. I want some condition, and .41 Colt is clearly not worth anywhere close to what a .44-40 or .45 Colt is worth. I think I contacted coltsixguns about his firearm after attending a decent sized and well respected antique arms show in October and finding a few .41 Colts in 0 to 10% condition, with the sellers thinking their gun is actually 20 or 30% at least, with a $3,500 or $4,000 price tag on it. I don't think Fjestad is fully to blame, but this is why, in my quest for first generation single action army revolvers that are pre-1898 and with at least something resembling condition, I have generally come up empty-handed. (Or even one with no condition, but maybe an italic barrel address or other early firearm, but the same remains true!)

Edit: I re-read this, and I was not as clear as I should have been. I already have a nice acid-etched nickel finish Colt .44-40, and do not have a .41 Colt at all. I went to the show, hoping to find a bargain, or at least a SAA that was fairly priced. I am always looking for a bargain, but who isn't! After perusing through all the junk at the show, I then decided that coltsixguns firearm is, if not a bargain, at least fairly priced. I think I came to that conclusion earlier, maybe months earlier, but just didn't spring for the $6,000, not that I didn't want this firearm, but I had another deal in the works. Clear as mud now?
 

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I agree with mrcvs. I too thought the gun sited was more than fairly priced and desirable and if I didn't already have a 3 serial no. 4 3/4" Etch Panel of the same vintage I would have been very interested. But in fairness to Fjestad, I believe Chares Layson still writes thie SAA section. Charles is a longtime high end dealer with a following of well healed collectors. So I think the prices quoted are high end retail. Generally much higher than you might on a good day find at auction or from a motivated seller at a show. This distinctionis lost on many sellers which, along with an overly optimistic condition rating, leads to the gross over pricing of a lot of beaters.

I still get the book yearly for the model descriptions and especially the pictorial condition rating tutorials.
 

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I agree with mrcvs. I too thought the gun sited was more than fairly priced and desirable and if I didn't already have a 3 serial no. 4 3/4" Etch Panel of the same vintage I would have been very interested. But in fairness to Fjestad, I believe Chares Layson still writes thie SAA section. Charles is a longtime high end dealer with a following of well healed collectors. So I think the prices quoted are high end retail. Generally much higher than you might on a good day find at auction or from a motivated seller at a show. This distinction is lost on many sellers which, along with an overly optimistic condition rating, leads to the gross over pricing of a lot of beaters.

I still get the book yearly for the model descriptions and especially the pictorial condition rating tutorials.
Doesn't this seem a bit dishonest having a high-end dealer determine the valuations of firearms in which he makes his livelihood? He has a vested interest in maintaining valuations as high as possible. But, then again, what is the best way to valuate? If I were to do it, I might have a tendency to valuate low, as I do not earn a livelihood in this 'hobby', and I tend to be interested in buying or collecting, with little regard for selling, other than to pay a price well below retail, such that if I needed to, I could get out at a profit--maybe not substantial, but a profit.

I think the best way, albeit very consuming, is to determine recent auction values, and valuate from there, throwing out any extreme outliers, that don't seem to make sense. Also, realistic values obtained at sale at a well-attended show, although I don't know how one would keep a running tally of these values--it requires honesty and the altruistic desire to provide personal or maybe confidential information without financial reward.
 

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Serven's book "Colt Firearms" contains a lot of basic historical information and pictures. Back issues of Gun Digest also contain much information, and the catalog section can be very helpful for post-WWII data, and not only for information on Colts, as every gun on the market is represented. I have the CD version containing PDF files of all GD editions from 1944-2010.
 
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