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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am doing research on a firearm I have had in my family for some time. It is a Colt single action Army revolver. The gun is believed to be owned by famous lawman Bill Tilghman. Every time I start digging to get information I end up with a ton on unreliable info from online.

I have an authentication letter from Colt stating the date of shipping was December 13th, 1894. Shipped to Simmons Hardware Company in St . Louis. I have since found other authentication letters of other famous lawmen and outlaws shipped to the same hardware store.

I also purchased a magazine online. It is the June 1977 issue of Arms Gazette. Inside is a story of the gun collection of Bill Tilghman, and I would argue the picture of the gun in the article looks identical to the one I have. They list the serial # and it is different than the gun I have. But the pics are clear enough to see the engraving is identical. From what I have read the revolver pictured in the article belonged to the collection of John Bianchi, and is now possibly in the Gene Autry museum in California. I have reached out to the museum with no luck so far.

Both the magazine article as well as the unconfirmed story of how I ended up with the gun are both close, but there are discrepancies. The gun was believed to be given to Bill Tilghman from the citizens of Perry, while Tilghman was a city Marshall in Perry.

I would love any (credible) or constructive input on the history of this gun. I am trying to gather as much info as I can.

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Many engraved guns that show up in magazines and books are often copied exactly by engravers. I saw the one with William F. Cody on it in one of Wilson's book and asked Ken Hurst to make a copy for me. He did a great job and told me he did not like doing copies, so he made a few changes to make it look better than the original.
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Many engraved guns that show up in magazines and books are often copied exactly by engravers. I saw the one with William F. Cody on it in one of Wilson's book and asked Ken Hurst to make a copy for me. He did a great job and told me he did not like doing copies, so he made a few changes to make it look better than the original.
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I'm curious, did you give him an old black powder SAA to engrave or was this done from a modern gun? I noticed the 45cal marking on the trigger guard and the SN stamped on the cylinder.
 

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He did a great job and told me he did not like doing copies, so he made a few changes to make it look better than the original.
Did he tell you that before he did it, or after? If it were me I would be highly ticked he changed things wo asking me.
To the OP, always follow your best lead, which here is still the Gene Autry museum. Dont give up on them, if they have the gun from the magazine there is your answer. Maybe. How many guns were listed in the shipment with your serial numbered gun? If more than 1 it might be an idea to letter the serial number of the Gene Autry gun and see if it was in the batch that was sent to Simmons with your gun. Frankly I am sure if the museum has the gun they have probably lettered it and would give you the info. You need to find a sympathetic soul there. Fortunately museum workers usually are like that and would be more than willing to help. How far are you from the museum? A visit may be worthwhile.
 

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The factory letter says it was sent to Tilghman. Your letter does not. Simmons was a common destination for many Colt SAA’s. Would Tilghman have two identical guns? That is not likely. Also, the Tilghman gun would have gone to Oklahoma, not Missouri.
 
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Brian C - These guys are correct.... you need to upload good resolution photos (so zooming in to see the details in the engraving is possible) in natural, indirect light, just like saintclair has done. Its really the only way to get good input.

Saintclair, I have never, ever been one to embrace copies, or for that matter aftermarket engraving, but I must say, that is one fine looking SAA you have there, copy or not! Very nice, indeed!
 

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BrianC, my 1st Generation Colt SAA Serial Number Registry (link below) lists three revolvers known to have been owned by Bill Tilghman. Over the years, I suspect he owned many Colt SAA revolvers, but these are the only serial numbers I have identified so far.

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Rusty Edwards
 

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Tilghman's Colt was engraved by Cuno Helfricht in 1893 and presented by the citizens of Perry, OK. Lots of ho hum guns shipped to Simmons Hardware Company in St . Louis. Your pattern is close or the the same but I don't believe its the same gun. That pattern has now been copied many times over from the original gun. I have a pair of them. The original was in a private collection last I saw it. Not at the GA Museum. Might be worth asking John Bianchi if he knows where the gun went. The engraver, John Adams Sr might know as well.

Either way the actual Tilghman gun has been lettered and documented many times over in several books with great detailed photos. (which is how the pattern has been copied)

I don't think your gun is the original gun or one that dates back as an earlier example of the engraved gun. Certainly not factory engraved from the Colt letter info. The original gun is lettered by Colt. But..it is worth looking farther. Who ever had the gun made up put pearl grips on the gun like the original but did not used blued screws. Easy give away there. Finish isn't correct. Another give away IMO.

Best thing you can do to get more info is take a number of really good quality photos of the engraving and detailing on the gun. Take the grips off as well and photograph both sides. You'll be surprised what the membership here can tell you from the photos.

Same actual Tilghman pattern on my gun.
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Did he tell you that before he did it, or after? If it were me I would be highly ticked he changed things wo asking me.
To the OP, always follow your best lead, which here is still the Gene Autry museum. Dont give up on them, if they have the gun from the magazine there is your answer. Maybe. How many guns were listed in the shipment with your serial numbered gun? If more than 1 it might be an idea to letter the serial number of the Gene Autry gun and see if it was in the batch that was sent to Simmons with your gun. Frankly I am sure if the museum has the gun they have probably lettered it and would give you the info. You need to find a sympathetic soul there. Fortunately museum workers usually are like that and would be more than willing to help. How far are you from the museum? A visit may be worthwhile.
15 guns in the shipment to Simmons hardware. I have spoken with a gentlemen who pointed me in the direction on the cowboy hall of fame in okc. They have a large collection of Bill Tilghman history.
 

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15 guns in the shipment to Simmons hardware. I have spoken with a gentlemen who pointed me in the direction on the cowboy hall of fame in okc. They have a large collection of Bill Tilghman history.
Worth checking. But last time I was in OKC @ the CHF museum they did not have the Perry gun. I'll look round I have/had the name of the last collection the original gun was in.

FWI This obvious Uberti, in a "museum", is credited to Tilghman. It is laughable. Lots of fakes out there that someone wanted to put a name to and make some money off of.
PT Barnum has it sorted decades ago.
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Tilghman's Colt was engraved by Cuno Helfricht in 1893 and presented by the citizens of Perry, OK. Lots of hoo hum guns shipped to Simmons Hardware Company in St . Louis. Your pattern is close or the the same but I don't believe t the same gun. That pattern has now been copied many times over from the original gun. I have a pair of them. The original was in a private collection last I saw it. Not at the GA Museum. Might be worth asking John Bianchi if he knows where the gun went.

Either way the actual Tilghman gun has been lettered and documented many times over in several books with great detailed photos. (which is how the pattern has been copied)

I don't think your gun is the original gun or one that dates back as an earlier example of the engraved gun. Certainly not factory engraved from the Colt letter info. The original gun is lettered by Colt. But..it is worth looking farther. Who ever had the gun made up put pearl grips on the gun like the original but did not used blued screws. Easy give away there. Finish isn't correct. Another give away IMO.

Best thing you can do to get more info is take a number of really good quality photos of the engraving and detailing on the gun. Take the grips off as well and photograph both sides. You'll be surprised what teh membership cna tell you from the photos.

Same pattern on my gun.
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Another beautiful gun !
 
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