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The Consummate Collector
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I have collected and enjoyed the Colt Banker Special for most of my collecting years. I have posted pictures of many from my collection on this Forum so I won't repeat those here but instead try to cover some information that I have recorded for those who may be interested.

The Bankers Special is really just a Police Positive with a 2" barrel. It was first introduced in 1928 and offered through 1943. From 1928 up to 1934 it was only offered in the .38 S&W caliber. During this six-year period, the frame had and what we collectors refer to a square butt. In 1934 the frame changed to the round butt configuration and the .22 caliber was introduced. I have never encountered a square butt .22 however as with all Colts you never say never. The Albert Foster Jr. gun mentioned below serializes and was shipped, during the correct time period for the square butt however I do not know if it was a square or round butt configuration.

Bankers Special .22 serial number history:
My good friend John (jonnyB on the Forum) and I have been tracking serial numbers on the Bankers Special .22's for several years and the numbers show the following: The earliest Bankers Special .22 (Blue) was serial number 350060 shipped to Albert Foster Jr. on 3/18/33 (Note that is was shipped almost a year before the introduction of the .22) and charged to the Loan Account (Meaning it was not paid for) and then officially sold to him on 3/24/41. The next serial number shown in our database was 366169 and it was made for J. Henry "Fitz" FitzGerald, Colt's famous gun guru during the 1920s and 1930s. The numbers then jump to just under 368,000 where most of the Bankers .22's seem to serialize. With the bulk of the Bankers Special .22's falling between 368,000 and 369,300 we do have a few recorded in the 370,000 range as well as one each in the 371,000, 376,000, 378,000 & 401,000 ranges.

A few interesting Bankers .22's that were shipped went to the following: S/N 368020 went to Liberace, S/N 368208 was shipped to Buenos Aires, Argentina, S/N 368379 was shipped as a Fitz Cut-A-Way, S/N 368484 was factory engraved with pearl stocks and medallions, S/N 368968 was shipped on 5/11/34 to a NY Police Captain, S/N 369099 was shipped to the Pennsylvania State Police, S/N 369177 was shipped directly to Camp Perry then returned and shipped to Joseph Lorch in 1938, S/N 369179 was shipped to Fox Studios, S/N 369186 had the backstrap marked: Municipo de Medellin, S/N 371407 was shipped with a 4" barrel and S/N 376967 was shipped with monogram pearl stocks.

An interesting fact is that the grip panels were serialized with a stamped number on the back of each panel on the .22 caliber guns. I have also seen targets with a small number of boxed guns indicating that at least some were targeted before shipping. In Wilson's Book of Colt Firearms he stated that fewer than 50 Bankers Specials were engraved or inscribed and since the .22 represents a small percentage of the total production number of Bankers one can only assume that very few engraved or inscribed .22's were produced. Our study shows only one engraved and two inscribed with about 15% of the production having been studied.

Bankers Special nickel .22
The subject of the Colt nickel Bankers Special .22 comes up every few years and each time I see some misinformation being spread on them. Here is what I have learned from studying them over my collecting years. I offer this in a constructive manner and I am sure as time goes on more information will appear. As always I welcome comments, constructive criticism, and additional information.

The Bankers Special .22 in nickel is what we collectors refer to as a Rare Bird. Our records indicate or point to the fact that Colt made around 50-60 of these and most of them seem to serialize in the 36852X to 36857X range. The two guns outside of this range are S/N 368058 that remains in new condition in the original box with target and has pearl stocks. The second is S/N 370113. Of the 30% recorded, four have pearl stocks and another four have the original box. It's interesting to note that S/N 368528 is a blue gun dismissing the fact that all were made in a consecutive number range. Also, S/N's 368520, 368583, 368595, 368597 & 368600 were all blue guns.

When it comes to the box we see that Colt did what they seemed to have done with most all short-run production guns and that is to convert an existing box label to fit there needs. I have viewed four original nickel .22 boxes and all had the white .38 Bankers label with a blue .22 sticker over the .38. Colt used the white label for the nickel guns and the blue label for the blue guns. Since there were no .22 caliber nickel guns at that time they used a .22 label from another gun by cutting it out and placing it over the .38 (See photo below).

I hope the above information helps and please feel free to comment or add to the post. If you have a Bankers Special .22 and wish to share your serial number so that we may record it please do so. We do not keep owner information with the serial numbers, only information about the gun.

 

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Great writeup Cam, as usual. Never really considered one of these but a vintage Colt snub in .22 would be dang cool. One question, and pardon my ignorance, if a Banker's Special is a Police Positive frame then what frame did the early Detective Special have? Thanks!
 

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Great writeup Cam, as usual. Never really considered one of these but a vintage Colt snub in .22 would be dang cool. One question, and pardon my ignorance, if a Banker's Special is a Police Positive frame then what frame did the early Detective Special have? Thanks!
Hope Cam doesn't mind me jumping in. Here is a picture that might answer your question. I don't own this one any longer. It went to a forum member.
 

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Great writeup Cam, as usual. Never really considered one of these but a vintage Colt snub in .22 would be dang cool. One question, and pardon my ignorance, if a Banker's Special is a Police Positive frame then what frame did the early Detective Special have? Thanks!
I'm surely no expert, but I'm going to take a stab at it and say a Police Positive Special frame. The Police Positive frame & cylinder would have been too short to accommodate .38 Special.
 
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The Consummate Collector
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Discussion Starter #7
Great writeup Cam, as usual. Never really considered one of these but a vintage Colt snub in .22 would be dang cool. One question, and pardon my ignorance, if a Banker's Special is a Police Positive frame then what frame did the early Detective Special have? Thanks!
Randy posted a picture and Kilowatt3 answered it perfectly. The Police Positive that was chambered in the .32 and .38 S&W often gets confused with its big brother the Police Positive Special with it's larger frame and longer cylinder that was chambered in .32-20 & .38 Special. The Detective Special is, of course, a 2" Police Positive Special.
 

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Hope Cam doesn't mind me jumping in. Here is a picture that might answer your question. I don't own this one any longer. It went to a forum member.
That boxed nickel DS now lives here in AZ...:cool:
 

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The Consummate Collector
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Discussion Starter #11
Well my shiny Bankers showed up and I am happy ......

Hard to get good pics.....





As you should be. Congratulations Rod, that's a terrific looking Bankers nickel .22 and it is about as rare as they come. It certainly makes a great addition to your fine collection.
 

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You lucky Americans with your snub nose revolvers. Our minimum for Canada land is 4.2" i believe. What a shame for collectors. Some folks have been grandfathered before they changed the minmum size of barrels so it does not apply to them
 

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The Consummate Collector
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Discussion Starter #14
Do you have any data on how many .22 Bankers Specials were factory engraved?
Without going through the factory ledger books it would be a guess however, fellow Forum member Jonnyb and I have been compiling data on the .22 Bankers for several years and currently have about 150 in our database. Here is what it shows. Inscribed: 2 & Engraved: 2. If we assume that Colt made 1000 Bankers in .22 caliber then we might want to assume that about a dozen may have been engraved.
 
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