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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I'm new to the site and new (sort of) to the Model 1911. My father was a gun collector whose interests would shift every few years. Before he passed away 20 years ago, his focus was on commercial and military semi autos. I inherited his collection but not his passion, so everything went into a gun safe and closets back in 1997.

Recently I started going through all of the boxes and cases to inventory what I had. One thing led to another and I now find myself staying up to wee hours of the morning looking at the pistols with a magnifying glass and a Clawson book on my desk and 10 different websites open on my pc. While 20 years delayed, the passion is starting to develop and I really want to know more about the guns he owned. You guys seem like a good place to start and I'm hoping to accelerate my learning curve with your help.

One of the pistols is an engraved 1911. With the serial number C135688, I know that its a commercial model made in 1924. However I don't know how to tell if the engraving is from the factory or aftermarket. The initials "EJS" can be found on the right side of the receiver just below the back of the slide. I tried looking up factory engravers with those initials but struck out. I can't afford to apply for letters from Colt for all of the pistols I have so I am trying to answer as many questions as possible without doing that.

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"Amazing" 1911 you have there, surely a beautiful gun regardless of who did the engraving. You can acquire a Archive Letter from Colt that will describe the gun in the condition it left the factory. That's the first step I'd take. Looks like it might be the work of Wilbur A. Glahn. He was one of Colt's premier engravers from 1919 until around 1950. "EJS" was likely the original owner. Welcome to the forum...
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Thanks... I don't want to apply for letters for all of them... it would be prohibitively expensive so I plan on just doing it for the few that I need to. I posted for help in one other forum and decided to do this one as well in hopes of crowdsourcing wisdom:)

If there is a best place on this site or another that you would recommend... I'm all ears.

Edit - Just reread your reply... thank you for the help. It hadn't occurred to me that the initials might be the original owners.
 

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That is a gorgeous Government Model. My first impression is that it is very good engraving but not factory.... but that doesn't mean anything. You should definitely get a letter. Though the engraving is in a style reminiscent of Wilbur A. Glan (c. 1919 to c.1950), old school European trained engravers seldom signed their work. It was considered déclassé. The stocks are clearly old Elephant ivory with period medallions though the condition of the medallions suggest the stocks are not factory. You have a valuable Colt and the $75.00 charge would be well spent. However, if it does indeed letter as being factory engraved you'll pay an additional $100.00 but the value of your pistol will have increased exponentially.
 

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Tony

Lets start by asking if all or many of the guns are engraved? If it is just a couple you may want to take Snakeman99's suggestion as it is the only sure way to know if the gun was factory engraved. I do not recognize the engraving pattern and I have a few factory engraved guns. Some of the guns may require a letter to verify it if the gun is very valuable and this is money well spent if the gun proves out. Feel free to post pictures as many of the members can then comment on what they see and make recommendations as to which ones you may want to letter. The Forum has lots of members with knowledge on various models. I for one collect the pre war double action Colt's and may be able to assist with any of those. It seems though your father left you a nice collection and we hope that you develop the passion for what you have. Colt collecting is very rewarding and the more you get into it the more you will come to enjoy it. It looks like you have already started down the right path. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you guys for the detailed responses. I have several other engraved weapons but that's the only engraved 1911. I don't have them all pulled out yet but will post them over time and hopefully get an idea of which ones I should get a letter for. I know my dad collected revolvers at one point but don't know if I have any yet. He tended to obsess over one type for a couple of years and then sell most everything to focus on something else. Here are a couple more:

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I'll post more over time...
 

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After close examination of your pictures I found some pitting here and there. The VP proof stamping shows no burnishing. I am certain it was engraved after leaving the factory.
 

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That is beautiful engraving on the 1911, but, like Rick indicated, it probably was not done by Colt. It appears that the engraving is mostly 'deep relief' meaning much of the background has been cut away. Looking at the EJS on the rear of the slide, I suspect those are the initials of the engraver. I have a list of well over 100 engravers and I cannot find one who has the EJS initials. The fact that I cannot find the engraver is not a reflection on the quality of the engraving. Hopefully, another forum member may identify who EJS might be. A Colt letter on the gun will add more value to the gun than it will cost. By all means you should get that letter.
 

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I also believe it's not factory - but I have been wrong before and will be wrong again. Take good care of them.

Great collection and welcome to the forum. The Colt Guy loves the pre war double actions, but my passion is the earlier long slides especially models 1900, 1902, 1903 and 1905. Would love to see some more pictures as they are unearthed from the safe especially of the early Colt's.
 

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I enlarged the initials on the right rear of the engraved 1911 and noticed that the E is a good distance from the JS. That makes me wonder if the E might be short for "Engraved by." If that is the case, the initials JS could mean the gun was engraved by the very well known, and highly respected engraver, Jim Small.
 

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The barrel appears to be fully blued, which would not be correct for the pistol. That in itself doesn't confirm one way or the other about who did the engraving, but I do suspect it's not factory engraved. The letter for a GM is normally $100. That's a small price to pay in order to know.

The SA M1911 looks pretty nice, as does the 1916 GM. I'd recommend a letter on all the commercial Colts, and perhaps some of the military pistols, depending on whether or not they're listed in Clawson's book.

Welcome to the board and I look forward to seeing the other guns, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
After close examination of your pictures I found some pitting here and there. The VP proof stamping shows no burnishing. I am certain it was engraved after leaving the factory.
I believe the VP proof stamp is on the trigger guard correct? Would you explain to a newbie how the lack of burnishing (means polishing right?) on the VP stamp tells you about the weapon? And with the pitting.... are you commenting on the general condition of the gun or perhaps it was engraved to cover up pitting?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I also believe it's not factory - but I have been wrong before and will be wrong again. Take good care of them.

Great collection and welcome to the forum. The Colt Guy loves the pre war double actions, but my passion is the earlier long slides especially models 1900, 1902, 1903 and 1905. Would love to see some more pictures as they are unearthed from the safe especially of the early Colt's.
Thanks. Here is one that I believe is a model 1905 mfg. in 1908. Could be wrong....
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I also believe it's not factory - but I have been wrong before and will be wrong again. Take good care of them.

Great collection and welcome to the forum. The Colt Guy loves the pre war double actions, but my passion is the earlier long slides especially models 1900, 1902, 1903 and 1905. Would love to see some more pictures as they are unearthed from the safe especially of the early Colt's.
And here is another that I think is a Model 1902 and mfg. in 1909. It's so shiny for an older pistol that my assumption was that it had been re-blued. But you guys will know better than I.

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Thank you guys for the detailed responses. I have several other engraved weapons but that's the only engraved 1911. I don't have them all pulled out yet but will post them over time and hopefully get an idea of which ones I should get a letter for. I know my dad collected revolvers at one point but don't know if I have any yet. He tended to obsess over one type for a couple of years and then sell most everything to focus on something else. Here are a couple more:

View attachment 399321 View attachment 399329
View attachment 399337 View attachment 399345

I'll post more over time...
Can someone tell me what that "bird" is on the slide of the Springfield GM?
 

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And here is another that I think is a Model 1902 and mfg. in 1909. It's so shiny for an older pistol that my assumption was that it had been re-blued. But you guys will know better than I.

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I think it's important to tell you that you clearly have some very desirable and valuable guns. You may want to wait, until we see more images, before entertaining the inevitable offers you'll receive via private message.
 
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