Original U.S. 1876 Colt Engraved Tiffany Grip Single Action Army Caliber Revolver Serial 23453
This pistol is a rare historical vestige of a bygone era when one's self worth and self esteem was, in part, measured by a man's sidearm. The extravagant style and design of the pistol cause R. L. Wilson, a noted and well published Colt historian, to comment on page 185 in the book Colt Pistols that, "...this pistol was rescued from south of the border many years ago and was another example of a Mexican delight."
This pistol was shipped to Spies, Kissam & Co. of New York on October 9, 1876, where they embellished the arm with Nimschke styled scroll engraving which was then nickel plated and the firearm was then custom fitted with a Tiffany style cast solid metal (gold plated over brass and copper) grip. According to R. L. Wilson, this is one of less than six known original Tiffany gripped, engraved Colt Single Action Army pistols in existence.
Serial number 23453, with trigger guard being numbered 24353 which is an obvious factory reversal of the numbers. Pistol retains approx. 90%-95% nickel finish, shows minor pitting and erosion and areas of darkening where the nickel has lifted, markings are good but are a little weak in some places as is often the case with arms engraved and nickeled by Shuyler, Hartley & Graham; action good, bore slightly rough. R.L. Wilson states in his description of this pistol that less than a half dozen original Tiffany gripped Single Actions are known, many are later copies. The grips on this pistol are absolutely genuine and guaranteed.
Watch IMA's own antique gun expert Alex evaluate this gun on History Channel's Pawn Stars:
History of the Colt Single Single Action Army
Bound by the Rollin White patent (#12,648, April 3, 1855) and not wanting to pay a royalty fee to Smith & Wesson, Colt could not begin development of bored-through revolver cylinders for metallic cartridge use until April 4, 1869. For the design, Colt turned to two of its best engineers: William Mason and Charles Brinckerhoff Richards who had developed a number of revolvers and black powder conversions for the company. Their effort was designed for the United States government service revolver trials of 1872 by Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company and adopted as the standard military service revolver. Production began in 1873 with the Single Action Army model 1873, also referred to as the "New Model Army Metallic Cartridge Revolving Pistol".
The very first production Single Action Army, serial number 1, thought lost for many years after its production, was found in a barn in Nashua, New Hampshire in the early 1900s. It was chambered in .45 Colt, a centerfire design containing charges of up to 40 grains (2.6 g) of fine-grained black powder and a 255-grain (16.5 g) blunt roundnosed bullet. Relative to period cartridges and most later handgun rounds, it was quite powerful in its full loading.
The Colt Single Action Army revolver, along with the 1870 and 1875 Smith & Wesson Model 3 "Schofield" revolver, replaced the Colt 1860 Army Percussion revolver. The Colt quickly gained favor over the S&W and remained the primary US military sidearm until 1892 when it was replaced by the .38 Long Colt caliber Colt Model 1892, a double-action revolver with swing-out cylinder. By the end of 1874, serial no. 16,000 was reached; 12,500 Colt Single Action Army revolvers chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge had entered service and the remaining revolvers were sold in the civilian market.
The Colt .45 is a famous piece of American history, known as "The Gun That Won the West". The Single Action army is a very popular firearm, even today, and it continues to be produced in various configurations.
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