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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I suppose this question is not limited to SAAs but since consideration of purchasing that model in a 1st Gen iteration is what prompts me to ask, I thought this would be the best place to ask...

In looking at pre-1900 SAAs, I notice some nickel guns have a very bright appearance while others have a far more subdued, flat appearance. I am confident both appearances are associated with original factory nickel plating, and I assume that in both cases, when the guns left the factory, the finish was bright and reflective so as to be indistinguishable when new. So, I am curious what factors play into what causes those differences 100 years later.

But of more direct interest to me is whether one or the other adds or detracts from the value one should attach to any given pistol. Assuming two Colt SAAs of the same configuration/caliber both made in the same year, say 1897 (give or take ten years either way), would one generally be valued significantly higher than the other? I have found guns with both appearances that I found to be quite attractive.

One of these days I plan on adding a nickel 1st Gen to the stable and thought I'd get some opinions to keep in mind when I find one that fits the bill.
 

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My opinion, for what it's worth, All things being equal, I value blue, then frosted nickel, then the other.
 

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I would say most of the early nickel guns have the dull or frosted appearance. When I see an early 1st gen. gun with bright shiny nickel all over, it sends up a red flag. It may be excellent original finish, but I'd check it over real good.
 

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Frosted nickel is what I consider "untouched" finish. I believe over a period of years the nickel just dulls. It hasn't been polished or buffed and usually there is a big contrast between the nickel and the areas that may be worn or flaked. I know of a couple local collectors who just can't help themselves. Every time they buy a nice untouched nickel gun they have to polish it up so it's like a new silver dollar and usually they lose all the contrast between where the nickel is and where it isn't.
 
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Discussion Starter #6
At the last Julia auction, I took a liking to two nickel SAAs from the Rholes collection. One was bright, the other frosted. I liked the overall look of the frosted gun better but wasnt sure how that would affect market value. To my surprise, the frosted gun was the one that sold for the higher price. I had assumed the gun that looked closest to how it looked when it left the factory would pull in more dollars.


Sounds like there is no reason to think I should shy away from a frosted nickel finish. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts! Now I can get back to looking at ways to spend money on another darn Colt!
 

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sixguns,

I bought 3 45 x 4-3/4 pre 1890 guns in that Julia auction. They were all nickeled guns!

Here is an example of frosted or "dead" nickel as I call it. Nearly looks like aluminum in color.

1.jpg
 
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If a nickeled revolver from the 1880's or 1890's did NOT have a frosted finish...I would be highly suspicious. I would think there is a 99% chance it was refinished.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
coltsixguns - thanks for the pic! And congrats on what sounds like a successful run at the Julia auction!


mrcvs - if TOO shiny and bright, I agree. For the sake of comparison, if you search the Julia auction (still online and searchable), lots 1223 and 1224 are the two pistols that prompted my question. Both look like factory finishes to me, but I am far from expert.

If anyone reading this bought either pistol, I would be tickled to own either one, so no disparagement is intended to either gun!
 

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It's pretty safe to say that if Tommy Rholes had those guns the finish was right as rain on them. I bought lots 1241 1242 1242a All nickel guns.
 

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Well, if the finish looks too good, look at wear on the grips. Is wear evident? Then, look at the lettering. Is it crisp? If the grips show little or no wear and the lettering is crisp, then it could just be that the shiny nickel finish is original. If wear is evident, and the lettering is not crisp, then a refinish is likely. It would be impossible to have much wear and still maintain a shiny nickel finish. Likewise, if factory original, the lettering would be sharp. A refinish would dull the lettering and numbering.
 
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