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Discussion Starter #1
This winter I have noticed auction sales of what have been purported to be Tommy Haas restored Ainsworth Colts. These guns appear to have sold for between roughly $4k to $8k. Their sales raise a question in my mind as to whether before "restoration" by Haas these guns were actually even Colt Ainsworths or were instead Italian reproductions or perhaps beat up civilian Colts that were"restored" to look like Colt Ainsworths. I realize that they could have been restored maybe 40-60 years ago but even then what were the economics of "restoring" even an Ainsworth in very poor condition? The ones I saw appeared to have been very well done and nicely finished. Is anyone familiar with the Haas restored "Ainsworths" and what is your opinion both as to what they were made from and the quality of their "restoration"? Thank you.

rbs
 

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The Haas/Acevedo shop fabricated all their parts (or whole firearms). They did not use Italian parts. Whether they used original civilian parts to ‘restore’ a US martial is unknown to me.
 

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40+ years ago I sold a really beat U.S SAA on Shotgun News. A guy bought it. I talked with him, and made sure he knew it was in poor condition. He said "that's OK, I just need the number". I was naive. A friend later told me what he thought that meant.

Several years ago I bought a completely restored antique 1880s SAA sheriffs model from a major auction house. It was sold as completely restored, so I knew the markings and finish were not original. It was in new condition, looked great. No visible flaws, a super restoration. When it arrived I took out the cylinder, and discovered there was no fouling cut out, no firing pin bushing, and it had right hand rifling. Made from an Italian gun with some Colt parts. The auction house returned my money and apologized.

Even now when I go to a show some honest exhibitors will show me an old SAA and tell me what has been done to it. Some of the alterations/modification/fakery are so good as to be undetectable. There are some masters out there at making an SAA appear to be something it is not.
 

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A friend of mine was friends with Tommy Haas, He said when he finished with a restoration you couldn't tell from the real deal, I'm sure there's a lot of his guns floating around that people don't even know they have one of his restorations and that includes auction houses
 

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Is that a restoration or a fraud. If it is passed as original then it crosses over to being a fraud.
What usually happens is the restorer does the work or sells the gun as a restoration. As ownership changes, future owners sometimes unknowingly present the gun as a high condition Colt. If a restoration of a 140 year old gun is in 100% new condition, most people understand it must be a restoration. If 10% of the finish is carefully removed, it can appear to be a high condition original gun.
 

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It's why in many crafts, a restorer puts a small mark in a spot that is not visible to the causal observer, that shows it's a restoration. I see these marks all the time on instruments, furniture, and other valuable antiques. It's just that gun trading has always been a "good ole boy" thing, where you may or may not get ripped off, depending on how knowledgeable you are - buyers and sellers. Kind of like Jack trading the cow for 3 magic beans...rubes are expected to make mistakes, and fraudsters expected to get away with it.

It's expected that gun buyers become supreme, world class experts to "know" for sure if a gun is real or refinished. A quality refinisher like Turnbull should know they are feeding the fraud circuit, and start putting a cartouche under slides or grips.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
desron6, Thanks for your interesting reply. When you state that "the Haas/Acevedo shop fabricated all their parts (or whole firearms)", "...did not use Italian parts...[and] "whether they used civilian parts to "restore" a U S martial is unknown to me" leaves me uncertain as to whether it is your understanding that they fabricated all the parts used in their "Ainsworth restorations" and that you don't know whether or not they used original civilian parts in these "restorations".

Regardless of whether they fabricated all the parts used in their "Ainsworth restorations" and/or used parts from a civilian SAA, I think it misleading at best for such guns to be marketed as "Ainsworth restorations" if no part of these guns is from an original Ainsworth. Is it your understanding that no parts in the Haas/Acevedo Ainsworth "restorations" came from original Ainsworths?

Interestingly, in looking at these "Haas restorations" whatever they were made from, it appears that Haas/Acevedo knew a good deal about what an Ainsworth should look like right down to putting serial numbers under 1200 so as to be visible on the barrel and serial numbers over 1200 under the ejector housing.

Does anyone have any understanding of how many "Ainsworth restorations" Haas/Acevedo made and of the time frame during which they were produced? Thanks. rbs
 

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I remember hearing that Tommy actually made a mirror image of a SAA; that is everything opposite. Loading gate, ejector etc. on the opposite side. I recall seeing him at shows but never bought anything from him....
 

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Had breakfast with him at a show in Lexington a couple years before he passed. Not sure if he was suffering from the onset of dementia but what a tortured soul. I felt sorry for him.
 

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At the 91 Sahara gun show Mr Wallace Beinfeld, introduced me to Tommy, we chatted for over an hour mainly about Australian colts.he gave me lots of tips when viewing colt sa's. A great guy.
 

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I have a nice unrestored Ainsworth and it shows some wear, I have no plan to restore it.
 

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I may not have all the facts correct but, after a Turnbull restored Marlin won best-in-show at a major gun show Turnbull agreed to mark his restorations. You can call Turnbull with the serial number of a firearm and they will say if they worked on it. Is this still the case?
 

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My understanding is that missing parts, or those ‘mangled’, if you will, beyond repair, were fabricated. Let me be a little more succinct; I do not personally know of ANY period civilian parts going into a martial SAA restoration. That does not preclude the possibility that some may have, I just have not seen such an identifiable example, nor talked to a collector of his work who can verify whether or not it happened.
 

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Most Ainsworths are heavily used. Rounded edges at the muzzle, cylinder, straps, worn markings, etc. It does not make sense for a restorer to try and sharpen up edges and remove all marks, that would be a lot of work, you would have to remove a lot of metal and the parts would be way undersized. Much easier to just use a new part and apply new markings. If you have the ability to make or acquire new parts, why bother with used civilian parts.
 

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The problem with those particular 'restoration/rebuilt/fabricated' SAAs is that Haas and Acevedo knew precisely what they were doing - that particular skill set is both valuable, as well as a curse, since those revolvers are making their way onto today's market as their original owners sell off their collections, and some of those guys knew what they were, and never disclosed the background...

No auction house will be able to 'authenticate' them, since that's not what those houses 'do' - they go by what the sellers tell them - period.

As to Kopec being fooled - not all that impossible, since all of the author/experts have been expertly fooled at one time or another, and the guys doing the 'restoration' work use those reference guides, and also go out of their way to get past them, as a sort of challenge to their skills.

Martial Colts are a difficult field - the so-called 'Artillery' versions even moreso, since they're expected to be of mixed parentage.

As I've said before - this is an expensive game, played by 'Big Boy's Rules', so be aware, and Best of Luck!
 

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I recall meeting Tommy at a GS in Richmond many years ago. He appeared to be close to 80 at the time. His girl friend with him was about 25.
He got pretty mad with her when she spent most of her time with the young country singer who had a table next to me.
 

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I was looking at Tommy's table at a Las Vegas show back in the mid 90's and he had what appeared to be a like new condition 38-40 x 4-3/4 factory engraved bisley in nickel. I looked at the serial number and realized I had owned the gun several years before when it was a heavily buffed / silver plated piece. It had very unique carved spread eagle carved pearls on the left grip. I told him "You do good work" and he said "what do you mean? that gun is original and untouched." I asked him if he had a factory letter and he handed me one and sure enough it was the same gun. The gun lettered as a 44-40 x 4-3/4 factory engraved bisley in nickel and of course I always believed the shipping clerk had made a mistake in the ledger and wrote down the wrong caliber. Years later it showed up at a major auction. Pictured is the gun like it looked when I sold it to one of Jerry Hemphill's friends and it ended up in one of Jerry's books and what it looked like when the auction house sold it.

Bisley overall before.jpg Bisley overall after.jpg FIY273-X-CU90-H.jpg
 
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