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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
First, I'm not bitchin'. I'm a big believer that a company can charge whatever they want to charge for their product. No one is holding a gun to my head and forcing me to buy anything, including these letters. (Though I do sometimes wonder if a lower price might generate higher interest and sales volumes and therefore higher overall profits for this work, but, I digress)

Does anyone know the actual reason Colt has the two different price schedules for each of the Revolver and Pistol categories. I could understand if the price increase was solely due to the older firearms requiring more hand searching such as in the Revolver section. Most of the revolvers in the higher priced category are older. But that really doesn't seem to be the same for the Pistol section. It's a real mix of older and newer model semi-autos in each of those price categories.

It's not actually important that I know, I'm just sittin' here avoiding yard work and curious if anyone knows the actual Colt verified reasoning behind it.
Archieve price list.JPG
 

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It seems pretty clear that the arms that would benefit most from a letter of confirmation cost more to letter.
I realized this when I lettered a 1903 that turned out to be factory engraved. I was charged an additional $100.00 because it lettered as factory engraved. The long and short of it is the archives were purchased (smart move) and are now a seperate company. It's proprietary information and, for better or worse, we the collectors have made it a necessity.
 

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Basic economics, the cost of a service has nothing to do with its price, the price of a service is what someone is willing to pay for it.
 

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It seems pretty clear that the arms that would benefit most from a letter of confirmation cost more to letter.
I realized this when I lettered a 1903 that turned out to be factory engraved. I was charged an additional $100.00 because it lettered as factory engraved. The long and short of it is the archives were purchased (smart move) and are now a seperate company. It's proprietary information and, for better or worse, we the collectors have made it a necessity.
Purchased by whom? If in private hands credibility could become a concern.
 

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It does cost a bunch, but it does add value and provenance to the gun. I wish I could letter my Model 1862 conversion even at $300. I called and was ready to expedite etc. and gave them the info and Joe called back in less than 24 hrs and said they had nothing on my gun. Great service in my case, no cost at all. I have no history other than when it was born. And I love history ......damn!
 

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Paying for a letter is like buying a scratch off ticket. I feel satisfied with cost of the service. It’s a lot to ask for but a 30 day turn around would make things more interesting. After 90 days I forgot I ordered it.
 

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I’m getting ready to order a few letters for revolvers I think may reveal some interesting information. Not to anyone but me maybe, but having the letters certainly won’t hurt later on if I decide to sell. I did notice that there is a quantity discount. 10%, 15%, or 20% depending on how many you order. Looks like I’ll be ordering at least five.

Tom
 

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I think some guns are harder to research through the old ledgers than others is why the additional charge. If it was all about charging more money, the python would be in an upper tier. I think that’s proof there’s reasoning behind additional standard charges. Now with the engraved or provenance extra charges, this is imo, clearly a case of them getting a small piece of the pie. People complaint about standard letter prices doesn’t bother me, but when I see someone complaining, oh this 1957 python came back factory engraved and they charged me an extra $100!!! I’m like, what the *?*?! So you rather it came back not factory engraved and it not costed you an additional $100 LOL... Kinda like having a winning lottery ticket and complaining about the $1 they spent to get it. I never lettered anything unless it was a super desirable Colt and high condition until about 2 years ago I think it was. I lettered I believe virtually every colt I had because I saw that discount. That check could have bought a decent colt but it was money well spent.
 
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Purchased by whom? If in private hands credibility could become a concern.
“In private hands“ as opposed to what? Colt has never been a state-owned operation that I‘m aware of. And Colt Archive Properties still employs the same historians who access the same Colt archives; it was merely an organizational thing.
 

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“In private hands“ as opposed to what? Colt has never been a state-owned operation that I‘m aware of. And Colt Archive Properties still employs the same historians who access the same Colt archives; it was merely an organizational thing.
Organizational and ownership are very different things. Colt made the guns, maintained the records, and had credibility as to the information provided in the letters. If the archives were sold and are now in non Colt hands the information is only as good as the new owner. The "historians" can be replaced at any time at the desire and agenda of the new owner. It's all about money, the letter is a commodity to be sold. The future could hold changes in letter acquisition, perhaps for the better. I have made some suggestions that have gone nowhere.
 

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I hear what he's saying - people assign more validity to the letters by saying "it has a Colt factory letter". When it is not a factory letter. It is another company looking at old factory ledgers from what was Colt 100 years ago.

It's not like "the factory" is the same either, Colt is very different today from in 1901 or whenever. Generations of executives, manufacturing supervisors, ownership have changed over and over. There really isn't a "chain of custody" or anything. The database (and it is a digitized database now, I hear) is just that: data. Just like when you go to a library and check out a book for a nominal fee (for the card), you pay a fee for them to give you information. The problem is the huge price for that information, for one row of data in a computer saying where/when/what that Colt was when made. I'm glad car collectors haven't decided they need "Ford Factory Letters" for old Mustangs and Model Ts. But some gun collectors think the letter is valuable. To me, it's only valuable if it confirms something on the gun that people would suspect; short barrel, engraving, nickle finish (stocks often not listed, so it doesn't help there sometimes). Because I've bought guns for 40 years and NEVER needed a Colt letter to decide.
 

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I don't own a lettered Colt. For me the only importance of an old Colts history is if it was owned by someone important. I am just not that much of a collector that I need to pay Colt to tell me it's an authentic Colt. Don't get me wrong, I understand how real collectors want proof of purchase but as a shooter I don't really need proof.
 

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Colt Archives has been a separate legal entity for many years. Why the cynicism?
But were they previously owned and managed by Colt firearms or a non Colt person? Were they actually sold by Colt, and who owns them now?

If they were sold and in private non Colt hands anything could happen in the future. The current owner and employees could be completely honest and reliable. The records could be sold again and new employees put in place. An unscrupulous future owner or employees could provide "enhanced information" for friends or high payers. I trust the current owner and employees, but in the future, when the records are no longer managed by Colt, the records could be sold and resold and anything could happen. In the past Colt letters were free. Then $5. It was just a service for collectors. In the past Colt historians were long time Colt employees, Coles, Wagner, Huber, Hoyt. If the records are a commodity to be bought and sold, anything could happen in the future.
 

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I don't own a lettered Colt. For me the only importance of an old Colts history is if it was owned by someone important. I am just not that much of a collector that I need to pay Colt to tell me it's an authentic Colt. Don't get me wrong, I understand how real collectors want proof of purchase but as a shooter I don't really need proof.
I have one, to verify the build configuration of a short barrel Official Police. Remember, the letters are a separate, for profit company. You are not "paying Colt" and the letters do not tell you "it's an authentic Colt." They do not give "proof of purchase" either.

ALL the letter does is tells that that serial number was manufactured on xyz date, shipped xyz, had xyz finish, and xyz barrel length. Sometimes it will say more, like the stocks, but not always. If there were special order features, it will say that. In the decades since, many of these things can be changes by gunsmiths, owners, 'Bubba', or 'restorers' that want it different from how it came out of the factory.

Even IF a letter says "...blued, 2 inch barrel" that doesn't PROVE the gun as it is now is original blue, or the original 1" barrel. Condition and originality is appraised by the collector. Not by a "Colt Letter."
 

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I just ordered a bunch of letters.
Common guns were $75
Uncommon guns like Kodiak, Grizzly, python Hunter, Realtree Anaconda were $100
The M45A1 Decom were $25
I was given a 20% discount.
Also, they are 90 days out.
 

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Like Kevin, I don't know what the problem is. "Colt letter" may be a misleading abbreviation. What you're buying is a Colt archive letter. As I understand it (Paul will correct me), Colt Archive Properties, LLC https://coltarchives.com/ purchased and own the Colt ledgers that provide the information. They are not digitized and need to be searched by hand.
 

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Like Kevin, I don't know what the problem is. "Colt letter" may be a misleading abbreviation. What you're buying is a Colt archive letter. As I understand it (Paul will correct me), Colt Archive Properties, LLC https://coltarchives.com/ purchased and own the Colt ledgers that provide the information. They are not digitized and need to be searched by hand.
You stated the records were sold by Colt. So who bought the records? Are they now in non Colt hands and available to be bought and sold by the highest bidder in the future like any commodity? And yes, many records are computerized, have been for many years, and the information can be obtained in a matter of seconds.
 

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The archivist stated a year or two ago that they had scanned and digitized the large majority of the records, if not all of them. I'm sure calling up that serial number takes seconds and that page of the ledger is on the screen to view.

A few years ago I helped a man that somehow ended up with the factory ledgers of a famous optical camera lens company, called Dallmeyer. He had all the books from the mid 1800s to the 1880s. We scanned them, digitized them, and put them up on a website for the free use of anyone who wanted to look up the serial number of their lens. Kind of like Google Books does for thousands of antique documents. Old post here:
https://www.coltforum.com/forums/lounge/84520-why-aren-t-colt-ledgers-letters-online-answer-i-have-clue.html

Capture of one page here:

 
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