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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey Everyone,

I need some help and as you can tell from the title, I have absolutely no idea how to precisely ask this question...so I'm going to go for it the best that I can.

I inherited a gun that I am trying to identify. Family history tells me that the gun was my great grandfather's (maybe great-great grand fathers).

The closest match I can find (based on internet pictures) is a Colt 1871/2 Open top. However my gun has some distinct differences. First, in addition to the serial numbers 115285 and 73257 there is a "959" marking in various places on the gun (just below the serial number and "stand alone" in many places)...the 959 seems to correspond to the "Colt Patent No 959" on the cylinder.

The "frame ??" below the rear-most part of the barrel is also different -- it looks more like the 1861 Navy version.

The rear sight is also in a different place ... mine is just forward of the hammer. There is also no screw head just below the "flippy thing" where one would insert bullets -- there are two screws ends visible, but not the screw head just above the two ends as I've seen in a number of pics).

The cylinder has the naval scene from 1843. The top of the barrel reads "-Address Col Saml Colt - New York - US America -" . The left hand side of the trigger guard is marked "44 Cal".

The are also some single letter markings.. a "D" right behind the hammer (on the piece of metal that wraps around the grip) and an "A" below the 115285 / 959 serial number on the underside of the trigger guard.

Can anyone tell me what I have and what it might be worth (for insurance purposes -- I'm not interested in selling).

As a side note ther are three "notches" just behid the front sight that I have been told indicate three "kills" -- of what/who I'm not sure.

Thanks much for your response and forgiving my ignorance.

Dean
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thank you

Mike,

Thank you...based on the pics I was able to find, that's exactly what it is! I'll try to get a pic or two up tomorrow.

I'm still curious about the "959" (which seems to be the patent number). It appears below some serial numbers and "stand alone" in lots of places on the gun...I don't see this in the pictures of the Richards Conversion I've found.

The gun is in good working order and generally in good condition (other than missing, well worn "chunks" of wood at the back of the grip. (I bet it was used as a "hammer" by one of my forefathers).

Any guesses on a value range?

Dean
 

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like everything else, it depends on condition. when you get some pics up, it'll be easier to say. i've got a second model richards .44 conversion myself, have shot it, and love it. a real piece of the old west!
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Another side note

As another side note, I have pictures of my great-grand father in front of a "sod house" carrying what appears to be this gun. Does this add "provenance" or any sort of value to the gun? I also see that many people get some sort of "authentication" letter from Colt -- should I consider doing so? Thanks again for any help you can provide.

Dean
 

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grips are super rough...couldn't make out the serial number or the condition of the cylinder scene. depending on what the sn is, they may have it or not as many records were lost in an early factory fire. offhand, i'd say the gun is worth $2,000-$2,500 though, if it were my great grandpa's, i wouldn't sell it for $2 million.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks Mike

Mike,

Thank you. Serial numbers are 115285 and 73257. The 73257 is on the "frame??" (on the underside of the gun just forward of the front end of the trigger guard). The 115285 is on the trigger guard and butt of the gun. The 959 is in many places (below the 115285 and 73257 serial numbers and often "stand alone") and is on the cylinder where it reads "Colts Patent No. 959").

I would say that 80 - 90% of the "scene" on the cylinder is clearly visible with 30% - 40% of the scene appearing to have a "silvery fininsh" as opposed the the other 60% -70% that looks like the finish is worn off.

I certainly agree that the grip is in tough shape. I also agree that I would never sell the gun...it's a part of both my family history and U.S. history that I would never part with.

Any further advice concerning how best to document, preserve or value the gun would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again for all your help.

Dean
 

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dean...for $300, colt would issue a letter on the frame (73257) but since yours is a mixed gun i'm not sure what the value of that would be. your gun is an odd one, since most first model richard's conversions fall in the 190,000-200,000 serial number range. i believe that your gun probably left the factory as a percussion gun and was returned for conversion later. the assembly number would be the 959.

how the gun ended up with mixed serial numbers, was returned to colt etc. is, i'm certain, a colorful story you'll wonder about a lot.

you definitely need to find & buy a copy of bruce mcdowell's "a study of colt conversions," which goes into great detail about these sixguns and contains a lot of great pictures. that will set you back another $100-$200.

it's not a gun, it's a lifestyle!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks again

Thanks again, Mike. I very much appreciate just knowing what the gun is so that I can pass along the information to my sons.

There must be a very interesting story behind the gun. Since the 959 appears below both serial numbers, the gun must have been worked on prior to being sent back to Colt for the "conversion".

Last question, then I promise to do some reading on my own as you suggest -- Any idea what the "A" below the trigger guard serial/conversion numbers and the "D" behind the hammer might mean?

Dean
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hmm....

OK...I lied...I do have more questions.

Please see the paste below from this link: http://rockislandauction.com/viewitem/aid/51/lid/3152

After reading the below and on closer inspection of my gun, I see both the "A" (Ainsworth) and "P" (Proofmark) [my P is double stamped] on the cylinder below the Colts Patent No. 959. I also have the "D" sub-inspector mark described below, however mine is on the metal that wraps the grips right behind the hammer (see pics link below). From my reading, this would seem to imply that this gun should also be marked "U.S." -- however it is not.

Also, the barrel is marked with the "A" on the left side just forward of the cylider AND the barrel is marked 959...so now I'm really confused. Was the barrel part of the conversion? Clearly this gun was inspected by Ainsworth after the conversion (since the serial number and conversion number both appear above the "A")

Here is a link to much better quality photos of the gun.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dsheaffer/

Does anybody have any clues as to exactly what all of this means????

__________________________________________________________
[Cut and paste-- Not my gun, but similar] A rare example of a U.S. marked Richard's Conversion Colt Model 1860 Army revolver, this particular revolver is pictured on page 154 of "COLT CONVERSIONS" by R. Bruce McDowell, and is one of two U.S. Richards Conversion revolver identified by McDowell with matching serial numbers. Converted by Colt in 1871 for the Ordnance Department, there were approximately 1203 Model 1860 Richards Conversion revolvers, with photographic evidence of some of these arms being carried by the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment and Native American Scouts on the Texas frontier in the early 1870s. Subjected to harsh frontier service, few of these revolvers survived, making the U.S. Colt Richards 1860 one of the most scarce martial Colts. German silver blade front and notch rear sights, with a re-faced barrel marked with "-ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA-" on top and "US" on the left near the breech, with the loading lever removed and replaced with a spring loaded ejector with cross-hatched head. The original Texas Navy roll-stamped cylinder has been cut and chambered for the .44 Colt center fire cartridge, with the spring loaded firing pin in the breech plate and the hammer face milled flat with cross-hatched, unbordered spur. Matching numbers are present on the barrel, frame and grip straps, with the assembly number "60" on the breech plate, loading gate, underside of the barrel lug and on the bottom of the ejector housing. The "A" inspection mark of Ordnance Sub-Inspector Orville W. Ainsworth is stamped on the side of the cylinder and on the trigger guard below the serial number. A "P" proofmark is stamped on the cylinder next to the Ainsworth inspection mark. The script initials of the Ordnance Inspector and Sub-Inspector are stamped on the lower left and right side of grip with rectangular borders. A "D" sub-inspection mark is stamped on the left grip heel.
 
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