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Today, I received about three dozen archive letters that had been on order for 154 days. I had not been keeping up on my letter acquisitions, so when I decided to catch up, I included letters on some of the potentially collectible Colts I bought new from known distributors. (There is a 20% discount when twenty or more letters are purchased, so it did not cost so much extra to add some "common" and "new" Colts.)

Having learned here that the build date is available as well as the ship date, I requested the build and ship dates for each Colt. It was the response to that request that proved interesting. The oldest Colt for which I requested a letter shipped in 1906. The built date was NOT available for that Colt. The next oldest Colt shipped in 1915, and the build date WAS available. From there, the build and ship dates were available on a fairly even distribution of ship dates until Colts that shipped in 1966, where only the ship date was available. Only the ship date was available from 1966 until those that shipped in 1993 through 1997, which are the newest Colts lettered this time.

On those Colts with both the build dates and ship dates, the shortest interval between build date and ship date was one day (several). The longest was nineteen months (the most expensive Colt - the Shooting Master - always said to be a slow seller in the heart of the Depression)! No other interval was longer than about four months, and that was a .32 Courier, a chambering that surely a slow seller. Two months seemed to be a common interval when the interval was longer than a week or two.

As far as interesting destinations, a .22-45 Conversion Unit U7XX, built June 7, 1939, went to Fort Hamilton, New York as one of two on September 15, 1939. Only two to a military post! Police Positive Target .22 362XX, built July 3, 1929, was shipped August 31, 1929 to Colt at the Camp Perry Matches as one of ten. The letter states the gun was returned to Colt on October 31, 1939. It was then shipped to Burhans and Black in Syracuse, New York on November 29, 1929.

I was surprised to see a reference to a "Series '70" Combat Commander shipped March 17, 1975 to John Jovino Company as one of 172! As we all know, there is no such thing as a "Series '70" Combat Commander or Commander, because NO 4.25-inch or shorter-barreled Model O ever had the collet bushing, the chief identifying characteristic of an original Series '70 Model O. The "Blue Book" nomenclature error has infected even Colt Archival Services!

There were some minor spelling errors, but the most egregious error was on a Single Action Army I bought new from Gophers Shooters Supply of Faribault, Minnesota on November 24, 1981. The gun arrived in my hands on December 1, 1981. The archive letter erroneously shows the gun as shipped March 18, 1982 to Lore Corporation, Santa Fe Distributors, El Paso, Texas! Had I not bought this gun new, I would never have known that the letter is wrong. (I will be sending a copy if the Gopher invoice with a request for a corrected letter - and request that it be returned immediately - not 154 days later!)

This is not the first serious error I have seen from Colt Archives. These extremely serious errors give me doubts on the accuracy of the dozens of letters I have. Unless there is some independent evidence of the accuracy of letter data, an error will never be discovered. Scary!

My final observation, for what it is worth, is that "Paul" called me in late July to inquire whether the Walker for which I had requested a letter was an "old" one or a "new" one! It has been my understanding that the serial numbers on the "new" ones began where the serial numbers on the "old" ones ended, so there should have been no question that my Walker is a "new" one. Is that correct? While I do not know how the Walker ledgers look, the highest serial number is presumably well-known, and, if that number is lower than my "new" Walker serial number (15XX), then logic should indicate that my number be searched in the "new" ledger (presumably computerized in 1979). Puzzling! At the end of my conversation with "Paul," he said "we should have these out in a week or so." He was only off by two months!

All in all, I love these letters, and I am waiting with anticipation on several more!
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