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Submitted necessary paperwork to Colt on Nov 12, 2012. Received confirmation that my request was received. six months later I called to check and they say they cant authenticate though I have serial number, unique engraving, half flute cylinder. ivory grips with initials engraved.

The initials are RGS and we believe the gun was a gift from Col. Robert G Shaw's father to him intended as a graduation gift, but he did not graduate. We believe the gun was given to Col Henry S Russell in the dispersement of Shaws estate. Col Russell named my great grandfather Howland SHAW Russell after his disceased cousin.

Any tips would be much appreciated.

Howdy Russell
 

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Thanks for the info any ideas to authenticate?

Thanks for the info any ideas to authenticate?
 

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Unfortunately the family history that you recorded is probably all you will be able to have; and that is pretty good information to keep with the gun.
 

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The only thing you might try is to find someone, probably a dealer who is a recognized expert in gun engraving, to identify who the engraver is. That is about all you can find out about your pistol, unless you can find family documents concerning it.
Unfortunately, without documentation, your pistol is just one of many engraved 19th century Colts.
 

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Some detailed pictures may show to the experts the engraving and identify who did the work and what time period...Jim
 

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Is the Robert G. Shaw you mention the colonel of the 54th Massachusetts, Robert Gould Shaw, killed in action at Battery Wagner July 18, 1863?



If so, there is a huge amount of information available about him and his regiment. Harvard University has 200 of his wartime letters, a couple of books have been written about him and his regiment, and of course the movie Glory :)

So, do your legwork and you might find mention of the Colt revolver somewhere. In the meantime, the most basic thing you can do for now is compare the date of manufacture of the revolver to his date of death.

John Gross
 

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The Connecticut State Library has a lot of old Colt records that for many years were thought not to exist. Not sure how you go about getting access. I do know a friend who validated some info there on a pair of Navies after Colt told him it could not be done. Call them and sweet talk them...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It is the same. My family is fairly aggressive about this type of research. It is why I am asking these questions. In three of his letters he references his revolver, or my revolver. I did find that my great, great grandfather and RGS were close childhood friends and I have a photo that includes Shaw, my great, great grandfather, Savage, and Copeland.

Not looking to sell. I am wanting to firm up the integrity of the history and reputation of the gun.

Thanks to all who have commented. The engraving and initials in thegrip are prominent. Does anyone have a recommendation of engravers I could attempt to work with?


Howland Shaw Russell Jr.

Is the Robert G. Shaw you mention the colonel of the 54th Massachusetts, Robert Gould Shaw, killed in action at Battery Wagner July 18, 1863?



If so, there is a huge amount of information available about him and his regiment. Harvard University has 200 of his wartime letters, a couple of books have been written about him and his regiment, and of course the movie Glory :)

So, do your legwork and you might find mention of the Colt revolver somewhere. In the meantime, the most basic thing you can do for now is compare the date of manufacture of the revolver to his date of death.

John Gross
 

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You might also see if Shaw's will is on file in the state where it was executed, it might be documented in it.
 

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I am wanting to firm up the integrity of the history and reputation of the gun.
Unless you find the original bill of sale with the serial number listed, you aren't going to "firm it up" any more than it already is. The revolver has been in the family for 150 years, it's mentioned in period letters, has Robert Gould Shaw's initials engraved on it, and (presumably) the serial number indicates it was manufactured prior to his death in 1863. I collect identified Civil War artifacts, and in the majority of cases with identified items you combine the physical and circumstantial evidence and come to a reasonable conclusion about such identification.

Pending photos of your revolver changing my mind, it passes the test of positive ID for me. At least as positive as we can get considering all the principle players are long deceased and none of them was thoughtful enough to record the serial number for 21st century gun collectors :)


Does anyone have a recommendation of engravers I could attempt to work with?
What does this mean? You don't want anybody working on that gun.

John Gross
 

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I would be wondering how the weapon returned to the family, myself.

Most engraved Civil War revolvers accompanied their owners throughout their campaigning - Shaw's body was never recovered and was buried in a mass grave from what I remember about the 54th Massachusetts and their fight at Fort Wagner.

His was the only Union Officer whose body wasn't returned - having been stripped and robbed, beforehand.
 

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I would be wondering how the weapon returned to the family, myself.

A couple of possibilities.

First, he did not have the revolver with him at Battery Wagner.

And secondly, the post-Civil war years saw a considerable amount of reconciliation between the Northern and Southern veterans. Included in this reconciliation were captured battle flags being returned, war trophy's (guns, swords) returned, and help in locating burial sites of former enemies for their family and friends.

John Gross

 

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One line you can find some of Shaw's letters home, in one dated April 27, 1861 he states that Mr. Robbins gave him a fine revolver. In another May 21, 1861 he asks his father to send his revolver. One Dec. 25, 1861 he wrote his mother and stated ask father to bring me a pocket revolver.

The book the letters were published in was "Blue-Eyes Child of Fortune. The entire book isn't available on line only excerpts, so I don't know if there might be further details about these firearms.

You might already know all this & if so sorry about passing on useless info.
 

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One line you can find some of Shaw's letters home, in one dated April 27, 1861 he states that Mr. Robbins gave him a fine revolver. In another May 21, 1861 he asks his father to send his revolver. One Dec. 25, 1861 he wrote his mother and stated ask father to bring me a pocket revolver.

This is where the serial number would be important. In order for him to have it this early it would have to be a three or low four digit number.

John Gross
 

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Howdyr. If you send pictures in a private thread I will look at it. I can not authenticate if its not in my hand. I have made a deep study of all the early engravers at Colt and have done many engraving authentications over the years. Q
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Robert Gould Shaw Pocket Revolver

RGS pistol Colt.jpg Okay, I took it to Antique Roadshow when they came to Jacksonville a couple of weeks ago. Rafael Eledge was the appraiser who looked at it. He said the value was $3500 without RGS initials. $6000 if I could authenticate it and restore it. He told me an artist needs to do the work not a gunsmith. He did not have any names to give me there. I emailed him after the show and have not heard back. The gun looks exactly like this one from a New York regiment....
Ivory Engraved Colt Model 1862 Police revolvers except that it has the initials RGS on the ivory grip. I am wondering if Shaw got the revolver when he was commissioned as a union officer from New York. The serial number is 20831 and has all of the same markings as described of the pistol at the link above.
 
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