Colt Forum banner

1 - 16 of 16 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
Many years ago I obtained an old Colt SAA with vintage holster that has a rather unique story with it that I'd like to share with you and at the same time, ask your opinion as to the make and age of the holster.



Many years ago (I'm now retired) I went to an old friends house to repair a leak in a ceiling. To repair the leaking pipe, we had to remove an 8ft section of sheet rock from the ceiling. During the repair, I noticed something sitting on top of a heating duct. You guessed it...it was an old Colt 45 SAA in a period holster...just sitting there! I didn't know it was a Colt at the time.
I couldn't believe my eyes! The homeowner was standing next to me. I looked at it and handed it down to him. I told him what it was but I didn't know how old it was. He didn't like guns, had no interest in it and didn't want it in the house. Better yet, he gave it to me. As best we could tell, the house was built in the 1920's. The rec room looked like a 1950's job at the latest. That's when the ceiling was probably closed up. So we figured that the gun has sat there since at least the 1940s or 1950's and perhaps longer (about 70 yrs). This just doesn't happen to me...it happens to other people. Anyway....The gun had a light coating of rust all over it but not so bad that it didn't function properly. The holster had gotten a bit hard sitting on the heating duct. He said the air conditioning was added in the 70's so now the duct is warm and cool. I applied the correct leather restoration paste to the holster and it softened up nicely. I had to "go over" the gun with a soft brillo pad soaked in oil. I wasn't concerned about removing any old bluing because there wasn't any. I wanted to get the rust out! The gun is in pretty good shape. It functions properly and you can still hear the 4 distinctive "Colt clicks" when going to full cock. I did replace the Bolt (cylinder stop) with an original one. The grips are the original one piece wood although they have shrunk just a bit which is normal and expected on a gun over 135 years old. All of the numbers match except the loading gate which again is normal as almost all the colts left the factory with non-matching number loading gates, so I'm told. I also find the holster to be very interesting. It appears to be a period holster (1880 - 1900) in the floral pattern but has no makers mark. If you notice on the back of the holster, someone (probably a boot maker or cobbler) installed a leather "patch". Apparently the muzzle wore a hole through the bottom of the holster. They glued the patch in place then used tacks and tacked it then buffed the seam smooth. How cool is that? I guess back in the day, people couldn't afford to throw things out...so they repaired them instead! Now...could the patch be covering the makers name...? Maybe, but I'm not going to remove it and find out. In my opinion, this rig has probably spent a lot of time on horseback. I sent for and received the "Colt Letter". It states the gun left the Colt factory in March of 1882. It was part of a shipment of 50 that went to Hartley & Gramm. H&G were Colt distributors who shipped most of their guns west. I can find no records on who H&G shipped it to. If only this gun could talk. I'd love to shoot it with the low velosity cowboy loads but don't want to risk hurting it. I'm wondering if this holster could be as old as the gun and if the holster had a manufacturer's mark, would it be in the area under the patch? Any opinions are appreciated. IMG_7050.JPG IMG_7049.JPG IMG_5735.JPG I've attached a few pictures. Thanks for hanging in there this long.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,980 Posts
What a happy story, good for you.
I don't know vintage gun leather like many here; but if it has a makers-mark, I concur with your opinion it is under the patch.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,800 Posts
Many period holsters were marked on the skirt, with the holster pouch obscuring the stamp - get a good light, and look there.

Shooting it won't hurt it - they don't get fragile, and the 'cowboy' rounds are low-pressure.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
1,794 Posts
Hello,
Many years ago I obtained an old Colt SAA with vintage holster that has a rather unique story with it that I'd like to share with you and at the same time, ask your opinion as to the make and age of the holster.



Many years ago (I'm now retired) I went to an old friends house to repair a leak in a ceiling. To repair the leaking pipe, we had to remove an 8ft section of sheet rock from the ceiling. During the repair, I noticed something sitting on top of a heating duct. You guessed it...it was an old Colt 45 SAA in a period holster...just sitting there! I didn't know it was a Colt at the time.
I couldn't believe my eyes! The homeowner was standing next to me. I looked at it and handed it down to him. I told him what it was but I didn't know how old it was. He didn't like guns, had no interest in it and didn't want it in the house. Better yet, he gave it to me. As best we could tell, the house was built in the 1920's. The rec room looked like a 1950's job at the latest. That's when the ceiling was probably closed up. So we figured that the gun has sat there since at least the 1940s or 1950's and perhaps longer (about 70 yrs). This just doesn't happen to me...it happens to other people. Anyway....The gun had a light coating of rust all over it but not so bad that it didn't function properly. The holster had gotten a bit hard sitting on the heating duct. He said the air conditioning was added in the 70's so now the duct is warm and cool. I applied the correct leather restoration paste to the holster and it softened up nicely. I had to "go over" the gun with a soft brillo pad soaked in oil. I wasn't concerned about removing any old bluing because there wasn't any. I wanted to get the rust out! The gun is in pretty good shape. It functions properly and you can still hear the 4 distinctive "Colt clicks" when going to full cock. I did replace the Bolt (cylinder stop) with an original one. The grips are the original one piece wood although they have shrunk just a bit which is normal and expected on a gun over 135 years old. All of the numbers match except the loading gate which again is normal as almost all the colts left the factory with non-matching number loading gates, so I'm told. I also find the holster to be very interesting. It appears to be a period holster (1880 - 1900) in the floral pattern but has no makers mark. If you notice on the back of the holster, someone (probably a boot maker or cobbler) installed a leather "patch". Apparently the muzzle wore a hole through the bottom of the holster. They glued the patch in place then used tacks and tacked it then buffed the seam smooth. How cool is that? I guess back in the day, people couldn't afford to throw things out...so they repaired them instead! Now...could the patch be covering the makers name...? Maybe, but I'm not going to remove it and find out. In my opinion, this rig has probably spent a lot of time on horseback. I sent for and received the "Colt Letter". It states the gun left the Colt factory in March of 1882. It was part of a shipment of 50 that went to Hartley & Gramm. H&G were Colt distributors who shipped most of their guns west. I can find no records on who H&G shipped it to. If only this gun could talk. I'd love to shoot it with the low velosity cowboy loads but don't want to risk hurting it. I'm wondering if this holster could be as old as the gun and if the holster had a manufacturer's mark, would it be in the area under the patch? Any opinions are appreciated. View attachment 423489 View attachment 423497 View attachment 423505 I've attached a few pictures. Thanks for hanging in there this long.
My opinion is... WOW!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,980 Posts
Wayne, it will take one of our resident "leather wranglers" to weigh in to know for certain, but I speculate the patch is brain tanned "pig skin".
No other hide I am aware of has such noticeable pores where the bristles were removed... Not like the finer inner layer pig skin of car seats, (early year Buick Riviera), or women's dress garments, but what a working fellow might come up with to repair his tools / holster.

I also would like to know why it had to be patched . Lost to history for sure and I realize I'm NOT adding to your info, but..... :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Ponyup, it's a good question. I wondered what all the little "divits" were on the patch? I thought they were peen marks to possibly soften up the leather but none of them overlap so....maybe you are right. It might be pigskin. As to why it was patched? My original guess was the barrel wore a hole through it but there is no evidence of that on the inside of the holster. Another thought is that the holster was rubbing on something, possibly the saddle as the guy rode. That makes sense to me especially because some of the stiching that goes around the outer edge of the holster is also damaged in that same area. One thing for sure, it was damaged and patched. Thanks for your thoughts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,800 Posts
Is it an actual patch, or does the rear skirt leather extend to the inside of the holster pouch?

If so, it was purposely-made - maybe someone's idea of 'retention' for the piece.

I've seen (and owned) a helluva lot of vintage gunleather over time, and I've encountered light-wool-lined and corduroy-lined holsters, so pigskin wouldn't be much of a surprise.

'Most' period-original gunleather wasn't lined - lining became popular when preserving exterior finishes became important to more than just the average user - but lining did happen - make no mistake.

One problem with lining is getting it to fit properly - and in the case of the non 'skin' lining - dampness could really do a number on the piece.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,326 Posts
If I'm seeing it right it kind of looks like the back skirt was worn or torn and was then cut off partly. Then the part that was left on was stitched onto the back making a nice belt loop. I can't tell what's going on with the "patch". The carving, or tooling on the holster looks embossed, or pressed in like mass production old holsters were done like those in Sears catalogs of the day. The loop around the holster looks different enough to be added later if the above modification to the belt loop happened. The lacing is very well done and is something I've never seen on the mass produced holsters mentioned. Almost "Heiseresque". The gun is probably 30-40 years older than the holster unless others know of lacing like that done earlier.
This was better than Antique Roadshow, American Pickers and those metal detecting shows! What a great discovery.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Sensitive content, not recommended for those under 18 Show Content
KINDLE_CAMERA_1509702796000.jpg KINDLE_CAMERA_1509702710000.jpg KINDLE_CAMERA_1509702346000.jpg KINDLE_CAMERA_1509702274000.jpg KINDLE_CAMERA_1509702258000.jpg Thanks for your opinions guys. Dogface asked "does the skirt extend inside the holster pouch"? No....it does not. Nor does it appear to have ever been lined. Ive attached 9 photos to help solve this mystery. After scrutinizing this holster I discovered that the holster pouch and the back skirt were one peice of leather. It appears to me that the lower portion of the back skirt at the loop may have been cut and the lower portion of the back skirt replaced for whatever reason, I don't know. Then the pigskin was added extending an inch above the cut in the back skirt and was then glued, nailed and top seam on pigskin buffed to a point you can't feel the seam. If you notice on the pigskin, at one side where the loop attaches, there are two tacks. On the other side where the loop is attached is some very faint stiching. It's very hard to see but it is stitching the loop through the back skirt and through the pigskin patch. This tells me that the loop was either added or at least re-attached. Do loops usually match the floral pattern on the holster or are they plain. This one is plain. Surely if someone simply wanted to add a loop, they wouldn't need to cut the back skirt however if the back skirt were damaged and needed to be repaired, I can see someone perhaps adding the loop. I'm still curious why this repair was done and may never know, who may have made the holster and how old it is? I agree, it is a quality holster and the stitching was superb. I don't think the average guy could do this repair back in the day....more likely it was a cobbler. I don't suppose the repair helps it's value any but it certainly adds to the mystique and shows what a little ingenuity can do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
74 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Wyatt Burp said:
If I'm seeing it right it kind of looks like the back skirt was worn or torn and was then cut off partly. Then the part that was left on was stitched onto the back making a nice belt loop. I can't tell what's going on with the "patch". The carving, or tooling on the holster looks embossed, or pressed in like mass production old holsters were done like those in Sears catalogs of the day. The loop around the holster looks different enough to be added later if the above modification to the belt loop happened. The lacing is very well done and is something I've never seen on the mass produced holsters mentioned. Almost "Heiseresque". The gun is probably 30-40 years older than the holster unless others know of lacing like that done earlier.
This was better than Antique Roadshow, American Pickers and those metal detecting shows! What a great discovery.

Hey Wyatt....you were spot on! Through a lot of creative detective work on my part and your opinion, I have solved the mystery of what happened to this holster. I know what happened but am not certain why. The bottom line is this holster started life as a "mexican double loop" and someone didn't like the large skirt. They trimmed the skirt following the contour of the holster with a razor. The photos I've attached are from "Packing Iron" page 185. If you notice, the Heiser holster pictured is almost a dead ringer for mine except for the "atypical throat profile without curve". Mine has the "typical curve".
Looking at the photo, you can envision what would happen if the back skirt were cut as I said. Obviously, the two loops would be gone leaving a back skirt in several peices and the loops (or other leather material) would have to be added to the back skirt under the holster. That's exactly what happened to this holster! If you look at the side view of my holster, you can see that the back skirt is actually strips of leather. You can see the seams in the photo. To hold the strips together, the cobbler stitched the strips together with thread under the holster that you can't see. But stitching by itself wasn't enough...hence the pigshin patch! The leather peices that were added to the back skirt are in fact the two original loops. They are identical to the single loop that was then added to the holster including the two thin lines on the loop except it is slightly wider. The book says this holster was made between 1915-1925. You were right again. I guess the guy had a reason for doing this whether it was damage or personal preference....we'll never know.
When I looked under the holster for a makers mark and saw those strips of leather stitched together I kept wondering "why would someone do that"? It didn't make sense! I got my book and started looking and when I saw this Heiser "double loop" it hit me like a ton of bricks....someone trimmed the skirt! I suspect that the rivet at the bottom of the holster toe was added at the time of the repair for obvious reasons since it goes through the patch.
God....I love this hobby! Thanks to all who took the time to respond and for listening to my ramblings.
Wayne
KINDLE_CAMERA_1509826847000.jpg KINDLE_CAMERA_1509826669000.jpg KINDLE_CAMERA_1509826318000.jpg KINDLE_CAMERA_1509702710000.jpg
Sensitive content, not recommended for those under 18 Show Content
KINDLE_CAMERA_1509702796000.jpg
 
1 - 16 of 16 Posts
Top