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Tell me about the value of engraving on a Colt SAA. I know engraving falls into four basic categories according to the amount of engraving done; 25 to 100 % ,A, B, C, and D, percentages of engraved surface. Some are unsigned generic work I call “factory engraved” and some are signed works done by master engravers whose names appear on factory letters...assuming they could also be considered "factory" engraved. My questions are;

1. How much value does unsigned factory engraving add to a gun…per grade?
2. Do unsigned engravings extend into the C and D levels or are they mostly lower grades?
3. Do master engravers ever sign their work in the lower grades?
5. Is any engraving done “in house” , i.e. full time employees, or is most of it farmed out?

Every once in a while I see engraved gun for sale but don’t know enough about engraving to properly judge their values. I know gold inlays add value but I’m talking about just basic scroll work. Any comments? Opinions on engraved guns?
 

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That series of questions will take quite a while to answer. I will be interested to see if a member tackles it in its entirety.
I would advise that you not consider buying an engraved gun until you get a good level of understanding of the subject. There are several books on engraving that might be of help.
 

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Terry nailed it. Best to know more about the subject. That will take some good books and seeing, in hand, any number of engraved guns.

Some are unsigned generic work I call “factory engraved” and some are signed works done by master engravers


Pays to not assume. Even beginner engravers these days sign their work. Signatures aren't important for the most part. When they are the level of engraving is generally obvious. Last thing I worry about or look for is a signature. Even on $10K+ engraved guns. It is the level of engraving that has value, seldom a signature.

1. How much value does unsigned factory engraving add to a gun…per grade?

Take a look at the current Colt Custom shop price list
Colt+Custom+Shop+Order+Form+SAA+Q3-2019.pdf

2. Do unsigned engravings extend into the C and D levels?

yes

3. Do master engravers ever sign their work in the lower grades?

yes

5. Is any engraving done “in house” , i.e. full time employees, or is most of it farmed out?

It is all "farmed out". The best known engravers, engrave full time. They have their own shops that Colt contracts with. You can order a Colt gun engraved by anyone willing to do the engraving, if money is no object.

Every once in a while I see engraved gun for sale but don’t know enough about engraving to properly judge their values.
I have a rule about engraved guns. "Buy what you like." Lots of guns and engraver styles available. Develop an eye for what you find attractive. Then check if your pocket book is up to those standards.

728024



I know gold inlays add value but I’m talking about just basic scroll work.
728020



Two different subjects entirely. Scroll work alone is a subject in itself. Gold inlays another subject.

Buy the books, study the guns...lots of them here. Find guns and pick them up. Look at them. Buy a loop to look at them. Shop prices. Find more guns to look at. The more you know and have seen the better purchases you'll make.

 

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Terry nailed it. Best to know more about the subject. That will take some good books and seeing, in hand , any number of engraved guns.



1. How much value does unsigned factory engraving add to a gun…per grade?

Take a look at the current Colt Custom shop price list
Colt+Custom+Shop+Order+Form+SAA+Q3-2019.pdf

2. Do unsigned engravings extend into the C and D levels or are they mostly lower grades?

yes

3. Do master engravers ever sign their work in the lower grades?

yes

5. Is any engraving done “in house” , i.e. full time employees, or is most of it farmed out?

It is all "farmed out". The best known engravers, engrave full time. They have their own shops that Colt contracts with. You can order a Colt gun engraved by anyone willing to do the engraving, if money is no object.



I have a rule about engraved guns. "Buy what you like." Lots of guns and engraver styles available. Develop and eye for what you find attractive. Then check if your pocket book is up to those standards.

View attachment 728024



View attachment 728020


Two different subjects entirely. Scroll work alone is a subject in itself. Gold as well.

View attachment 728025

Buy the books, study the guns...lots of them here. Find guns and pick them up. Look at them. Buy a loop to look at them. Shop prices. Find more guns to look at. The more you know and have seen the better purchases you'll make.

Excellent treatise on a fascinating subject! Wish I could afford more of them! ”A usable piece of art!”
 

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Books with high-resolution, detailed photos are really important. Study the photos, and you'll begin to develop a good sense for quality engraving.

Below are photos of one of the nicest guns I own. Notice that the patterns are very uniform. Nothing sticks out likes a sore thumb.

Scrolls are nicely rounded at the edges - nothing looks "smushed". The "basket weave" and other repeat patterns are uniform. Borders are nice and straight. Everything appears very symmetrical.











 

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There is ENGRAVING, and then there is engraving. The guns shown in this thread are ENGRAVING. The work on the guns shown here transform the firearm into a work of art, and not just an embellishment. When you ask about "value", the pride of ownership of guns like the ones shown here is immeasurable.
 

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One of the things that I get reminded of on almost any occasion I show my engraved guns is, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

Some of the most recognized master engravers today I simply don't like their style of engraving. Cost no object (and it always is for me) I still wouldn't own one of those particular master's guns. I find no beauty in them.

Over the years (yes, years) I have also developed a better eye for what I think good engraving is. And what I value in "good" engraving. Like any art it is totally subjective. What I thought was good 10 years ago now I wouldn't bother to look at let alone buy. And it is not a pocket book limit, it is finally being able to actually see the work the engraver did.

I showed an exceptionally nice, truly master engraved, "C+" engraved gun, with ivory to a friend the other day. He was totally indifferent to the gun because, as he rightfully noted, the hammer and front sight were not engraved. Neither front sight or the hammer were traditionally engraved on many/most period guns. The engraving pattern was a very traditional and very intricate old school pattern that was copied by a master engraver with hammer and chisel. It just doesn't get much better than that. If you know what you are looking it. If!

An engraved front sight and engraved hammer would have been totally out of place on that particular gun. It might well be a wonderful idea on another gun and pattern.

But that level of detailing is what sets apart a "ok engraved gun" from a "really nice engraved gun" for my friend. You live. And hopefully, you learn.

728043
 

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I am glad Cozmo took the challenge to answer your questions. He did a great job. My knowledge of engraving came from having a close friend who was an engraver and later on when I befriended Ken Hurst who was a Master Engraver for Colt, S&W & Winchester. He used to let me watch him engrave and would point out what to look for in quality engraving and how to assess unsigned/random engraving. In other words I have spent hundreds of hours being taught about engraving from engravers.
 

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Books with high-resolution, detailed photos are really important. Study the photos, and you'll begin to develop a good sense for quality engraving.

Below are photos of one of the nicest guns I own. Notice that the patterns are very uniform. Nothing sticks out likes a sore thumb.

Scrolls are nicely rounded at the edges - nothing looks "smushed". The "basket weave" and other repeat patterns are uniform. Borders are nice and straight. Everything appears very symmetrical.











Books with high-resolution, detailed photos are really important. Study the photos, and you'll begin to develop a good sense for quality engraving.

Below are photos of one of the nicest guns I own. Notice that the patterns are very uniform. Nothing sticks out likes a sore thumb.

Scrolls are nicely rounded at the edges - nothing looks "smushed". The "basket weave" and other repeat patterns are uniform. Borders are nice and straight. Everything appears very symmetrical.











beautiful Colt, if you don’t mind who did the work?
 

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One of the things that I get reminded of on almost any occasion I show my engraved guns is, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

Some of the most recognized master engravers today I simply don't like their style of engraving. Cost no object (and it always is for me) I still wouldn't own one of those particular master's guns. I find no beauty in them.

Over the years (yes, years) I have also developed a better eye for what I think good engraving is. And what I value in "good" engraving. Like any art it is totally subjective. What I thought was good 10 years ago now I wouldn't bother to look at let alone buy. And it is not a pocket book limit, it is finally being able to actually see the work the engraver did.

I showed an exceptionally nice, truly master engraved, "C+" engraved gun, with ivory to a friend the other day. He was totally indifferent to the gun because, as he rightfully noted, the hammer and front sight were not engraved. Neither front sight or the hammer were traditionally engraved on many/most period guns. The engraving pattern was a very traditional and very intricate old school pattern that was copied by a master engraver with hammer and chisel. It just doesn't get much better than that. If you know what you are looking it. If!

An engraved front sight and engraved hammer would have been totally out of place on that particular gun. It might well be a wonderful idea on another gun and pattern.

But that level of detailing is what sets apart a "ok engraved gun" from a "really nice engraved gun" for my friend. You live. And hopefully, you learn.

View attachment 728043
This is what I’m talking about!!!!❤It
 

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I must say >>>>> YOU GUYS AMAZE ME <<<<<< Some most fantastic looking Colts. Thanks to all for sharing these with us to enjoy. I did anyway.
 

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This is more in line with historical engraved Colts as Cozmo mentioned (plain hammer and front sight), although it's not a Colt. It's a U.S. Patent Fire Arms Single Action, which the company referred to as the "Sears Gun" inspired by the Sears & Roebuck "Cow Boy" Special. Dennis Kies did the engraving.









 

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I have been thinking about starting out with the Uberti Dalton, you know to cut my teeth. But these stunning guns are making me think twice.
 
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