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why are colt historical letters so expensive compared to smith & wesson historical letters,
 

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I think that when SAA's started to fetch astronomical prices, and if a factory letter showed a connection to an historical figure, Colt's figured a guy already spending $5K could shell out another hundred. And if I remember right, when the factory changed ownership several times, the historical department was spun off as a separate entity ("intellectual property") and was no longer supported by the factory.

Short answer - because they can.
 
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