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Discussion Starter #1
I recently came across what are the remains of an estate collection. The following guns were of interest to me. Any information on the following Colt 38 spl revolvers would be greatly appreciated.(all are 2" barrel, blued and are in outstanding condition)

Detective special #912xxx (mfg date and value?)

Cobra # A822xx (mfg date and value?)

Bankers special #376xxx (what is this?,mfg date and value?)

Marshal #696xxx marked BPD on backstrap (what is this?,mfg date and value?)
 

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With no intent to be disrespectful of Mr. dfw because his knowledge is vast while mine is only half vast, I disagree with a couple of items he posted.

First, the early Bankers Specials have square butts. The round butt was introduced on the .38 BS in 1933 when the .22 BS was introduced, also with a round butt.

Second, while I have no Marshall (wish I did), I have corresponded with two people who do and NONE of their guns have the "M" suffix on the serial number. They were, however, otehrwise in the serial number range given for the Marshall.

All the references say they should have the "M" suffix, but I have become convinced that may not be so. There are errors in the Wilson/Sutherland books and I believe this may be one. However, with only two in my data base, there is a chance both are rebarreled guns.

To believe that, one has to believe there are Marshall barrels floating around. Seems unlikely, but not impossible. This revolver would appear to be one with a Marshall barrel. Does anyone recall one of the big parts vendors having Marshall and Border Patrol barrels for sale years ago? It may be the power of suggestion, but I seem to recall it, which may account for these mystery guns.
 

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Judge, like you my knowledge is limited compared to Dr. dfw, however I got a guy in town who has two Marshalls with consecutive serial number and both have -M suffix. Now I don't know about others.
The only reason I haven't bought the two Marshalls is, the guy wants $1600 for the pair and condition is only about 70%.
Just my $.02.

------------------
Dick

IN GOD WE TRUST,
BUT HANG ONTO ONE GUN,
JUST IN CASE!

[This message has been edited by diamonback68 (edited 03-29-2004).]
 

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In order:
Detective Special--912XXX There is no such number WITHOUT a "prefix" letter. Colt DS #D912XXX was made in 1966.

Cobra--A822XX shows as 1969.

Bankers Special--376XXX shows as 1937.
The Banker's Special was made for bank employee's wanting a very small, light revolver. It was made in .38 S&W and 22LR, all with a 2" barrel. It was made on the old Police Positive frame, with a round butt grip.
Large numbers were bought for the US Postal Service.
There were about 15,000 total made.

Marshall--696XXX is not a Marshall serial number range.
The Super rare Marshall had serial numbers that ran from 83352-M to 845317-M. All Marshall's had the "M" suffix.
Only 2500 were made from 1954 and 1956. Marshall's are sought-after collector's guns that bring high values.

The only serial number that matches would be for an Official Police made in 1943.

Check the serial number again???
Either the number was misread, or the gun is an Official Police that was re-barreled with a Marshall barrel.

[This message has been edited by dfariswheel (edited 03-27-2004).]
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It is likely the person who created the list with serial #'s made a mistake. They also listed a .357 with original target grips as a .357 PTPD (indicating they really don't know what it is). This collection contained 40-50 revolvers, mostly Colt, and only 12 or so remain. One SAA sold for $7,500. It appears that this gentleman knew what he was doing, and was deliberately assembling a full Colt collection. I handled the guns, and judging from the condition of them, it seems unlikely he would have created models by assembling parts. I will check them again just to be sure.

However, if you could give me an idea what they would be worth "if" the numbers were correct I would appreciate it. BTW, throw in the value of the .357 also, as I didn't know what it was until after I made my initial post.

Also, what affect will the police dept marking have on the value of the Marshall (if it is one)

Thank You for the input.
 

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Your best source of "real world" values on the Colt's will be a copy of "The Blue Book of Gun Values".
This is a THICK paperback book giving prices for most firearms. It's available at most book sellers.

What's good about the Blue Book, is it does a much better job of giving values for guns in different conditions.
The Colt section is great.

Unless you find a collector of police marked guns, I doubt the department marks on the Marshal will have any effect one way, or another.

The serious question about the Marshal, is it's WAY out of range serial number, "M" mark being present or not.

The number you gave of 696XXX is just NOT in the well-known Marshal serial number range of 833352-M to 845317-M.

On an expensive collectable gun like this, a a letter from Colt will tell the truth, or possibly a phone call to the factory.
 

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For that price and the questionable serial number I would leave the Marshal alone unless you just desire that particular revolver.
Just chasing a needle in the haystack, could you have typed one to many "X" in the DS serial number and it turns out to be a PPS that's been rebarreled with a DS barrel sometime in it's life?
 

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I might be mis reading this but according to "Colt's Dates of Manufacture" by R.L. Wilson the Marshal is listed as ser # 833352-M to 845317-M in 1954 and 1956 and again in 1977.
Thet=y don't list the serial number range for 1977 but that number is too low.
the 696xxx is more likely a 1943 Official Police model
 

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Oh boy, more conflicting information on the Marshall "M" suffix. If someone has seen a Marshall with the "M" suffix, I may reverse my feeling and say they all should have it. Perhaps the two in my data file are rebarreled guns like the one mentioned. I now believe they are if someone has actually seen Marshalls with the "M" suffix. I wonder how many Marshall barrels were sold?!? I apparently have seen the results of at least two! Still, it seems strange that they are otherwise in the correct serial number range. Can that be coincidence?

I disagree a bit with dfw on the value of the Blue Book for Colt information or values. For example, the Blue Book has introduced "issue" nomenclature to Colts, which may be fine for convenience, but the way it defines the various "issues" is not correct in my view. (For instance, it lumps all Pre-War Detective Specials as "First Issue." What about the square butt from 1927 to 1933? Would not that be "First Issue," since the round butt ("Second Issue?") then continued to early Post-War? I see the major variations as the initial square butt long frame, the round butt long frame with half-moon front sight from 1933 to 1947, the long-frame with ramped front sight blade from 1947 to 1966, the short frame unshrouded ejector rod barrel from 1966 to 1972, the shrouded ejector rod barrel from 1972 to 1986, the reintroduced DS from 1993 to 1995, the DSII, the SF-IV, etc.. Would the 1950s "Coltwood" plastic stocks era be another issue? (It would be to me.) The Blue Book mentions only three issues, but, by my count, there are many more. To me, it is a worthless concept if it does not deal with the major variations like frame shape and length, sight style, etc..)

As far as BB values being accurate, I doubt that any NIB Marshall's can be bought for the $875 BB price. Well-worn Marshalls probably would bring that. However, the BB is still often a valuable reference for relative values and general information. Just do not rely on it as correct in all cases, with Marshall values being one. Military automatics are another. Pre-War National Matches are another, etc..
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So it seems the conclusion is that the Marshall is a fake due to the low serial number range, not necessarily the missing "M"? What's that worth?
Majic
The serial number for the detective special is correct, 912xxx, no "D". Is the PPS the same frame size? The Bankers special, Detective special, and Cobral all look the same except for the shape of the grip. The Marshall is definitely a larger gun.

BTW the Marshall, Cobra and Detective special have minor blemishes.

What about this Bankers special? Good serial number from 1937, in great shape, clear department markings, is this a shooter, or should I just admire it? Blue Book said $500?


If you guys are tired of these models how about these?

Colt .357 # 255xx
Officers .22lr #228xx

I have never thought of myself as a collector, as I generally am a utilitarian, but this is FUN. Thank you for the kind assistance BTW.
 

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The DS is no more than a short barreled PPS. The PPS (Police Positive Special) was a 4" barreled holster revolver for the uniformed cop. The Detective Special was given the short barrel for concealment for the plains clothed detectives. They are one in the same execpt for barrel/front sight arrangements.
The BS, DS, and Cobra are all variations on the same D-frame and basically the same gun just configured differently. The Marshal is built on the I-frame (which as you have noticed is a larger frame than the D-frame)and is the equal to a OP. Consider the D-frame as Colts small frame and the I-frame as it's medium frame.
The Bankers Special became one of the Colts that the value has shot thru the roof on some models. $500 for one would be a good deal to me.
The 357 seems to made around 1960 and the Officer was built in 1940. (till someone else comes along and corrects me.....lol)
 

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If you will look at the BS compared to the DS, you should notice the BS has a shorter cylinder because it is chambered for the .38S&W, not the longer .38 Special. Assuming the unit marking is factory, the BS is probably worth more than BB price. It is anyone's guess, but $700 to $900 would be my guess.

I am not sure what to say about the supposed Marshall. If the serial number were in the proper range without the suffix, I might say it could be legit, but would be skeptical. With it in the wrong range, it is worth only what a shooter is worth, plus some premium for a barrel that could be worth a premium as time passes.

The "357" is, in my opinion, a somewhat overlooked collectable. There were not that many made, and its place as the first Post-War .357 and the first medium-frame .357 make it an important Colt. (I call the I-frame a medium frame, at least compared to the giant New Service frame size.)

I really love the .22 Officers Models of any vintage, and Pre-War ones are the best in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I just looked at them again

The Detctive special does not have the prefix "D" before the serial #, so I don't know what that means.

The Bankers special is pristine, and is actually the gun marked B-P-D-4176 (MY MISTAKE)

The Marshall does not have the prefix "M" but there are other marks near the serial number, "L" and "U". The barrel does appear to be a different hue compared to the frame.

I'm thinking of making an offer on these four plus the .357, & an officers 22lr.

The confusing part is the Marshall is $500 in the blue book, referenced at $700 on the net, worth who knows what, if it is a fake but they are asking $800.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I didn't notice the Bankers was .38 S&W, not .38 special. Guess I won't be shooting that one anytime soon.
 

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Why would the .38S&W chambering of the BS keep you from shooting it? Ammunition is readily available, and it is a mild round to shoot.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks, I didn't know it was readily available. I usually concentrate on more modern firearms/caliber's. The information here is excellent.
 
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