gunnut,Does anyone have an idea what the highest serial numbered first generation gun is? I am looking at serial number 357,359. It is in the box unfired with test target and letter from Colt that says they have no records available. Its a blues 45 with 5.5" barrel. No pictures right now, sorry. Any idea on value? Thanks.
According to Cochran's books, 1st gen serial numbers were all used prior to 1940 up to #357000. And the highest # was 357,859 and used in 1940. So # 357859 is the highest number 1st Gen SAA. However, after #357,000, all of the numbers were not used before 1940. As you probably know, SAAs assembled on pre war frames and shipped after WW II are known as Pre War-Post War SAAs. They are all numbered after 357,000 (Don Wikerson says as early as #355,986 and up to 357,856) but before 357859. And all the numbers in that range were not used. So if a gun numbered in that range does not letter as shipped before 1940, or there is 'no record', like the one you spotted, #357,359, it is most likely a Pre W-Post W SAA. Like was said above, many were presentation and special use guns which are notorious for not being recorded according to standard procedures. The last of which, #357,494, left the factory in 1980 and was sold by Colt at auction in Las Vegas. I'd bet it's a 'no record' gun as well.
To identify 357,359 as 1st gen or PW/PW, as a general rule the inspector stamp on the left side of the trigger guard is your clue. 1st gen guns shipped before and up to 1940 will have numeric inspector stamps, usually on the left FRONT TG bow. Starting in 1947 when the PW/PW frames were first assembled, they had alpha inspector stamps on the left REAR TG bow. And after 1955, also had an assembler's numeric stamp on the RIGHT front bow. Another clue; PW/PW frames assembled after 1955 usually have one or more components from 2nd gen production, like hammers with the 2nd gen rampant horse stamp (not visible unless removed), floating fire pins, loading gates tapered at the top, etc.
How is 357,359 stamped and does it have any 2nd gen parts?