Question for those with experience.

jerrywh

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I am planing to engrave a special project. It will most likely take me a year to do. It is a spec gun. A colt revolver percussion type. I have three options on the gun. One is to do a reproduction. The other is a second generation colt. the other is a first generation colt. I really don't care what the cost is. What I want to know is when I sell it would I get a lot more out of the original ? Or does it make a lot of difference in the sale price? Sam W. or Sam Alfano should know . Can;t get in touch with Ron Smith.
 

FANCYGUN

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Jere
I would go with a second gen colt you would be selling your artwork. An original colt is always nice but i dont think you would get any more fore it as opposed to a second gen colt collectors, like winchester collectors, want factory original which we are not as far as a replica i feel the colt looking gun should say colt on it thus the second Gen. Which model were you thinking of doing up? I have a cased dragoon that will sooner or later i will do up
Marty
 

Roger Bleile

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Jerry,

Here is how I see it:

First Generation; Collectors of first gen. Colts are only interested in totally original guns and consider it a sacrilege to alter an original in any way, even if it's a dug up relic. Further, one would never modify a high condition first generation percussion Colt so that leaves you with a rough specimen which will require quite a bit of restoration work before engraving and even then the bore may still be rough.

Reproduction; A repro will always be a repro no matter what you do with it. It will never be a Colt. Also the markings will be wrong and it would probably be illegal to remark it to appear to be a Colt.

Third generation Colt black powder; My opinion of embellishing one of these is about the same as a second gen. but these are heavily stamped with Sam Colt's signature on the backstrap which would have to be dealt with.

Second generation Colt black powder; This is the one to do. All of the contemporary, finely embellished percussion revolvers that I have come across have been second gen. Colts. They are considered to be "real Colts," are very well made and finished, have all of the correct markings and can be had for very reasonable prices in perfect condition. That said, no matter what you do to it, (and I know the high quality of your work) it will never bring anywhere the price of an engraved original by Gustave Young or one of his contemporaries. That may mean that you will not be able to recover the costs of your labor and materials. The best approach may be to draw up your concept and present it someone who is known to collect the work of top contemporary engravers.

Good luck. I hope you can do this project because I would like to see the finished product.
 

sam

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I agree, Mike Dubber's probably the guy who knows.
Ultimately I believe the engraving job might have everything to do with desirability and value.
 

MikieDu

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I agree with all the points Roger made above. I just finished a 2nd Generation Black Powder Model 61 - the Robert E. Lee was one of the most lavishly decorated Colts I have ever engraved.

In regard to history and value, I try to stay away from1st Generation Colts. Those have intrinsic and collectors values that should not be disturbed. There are always exceptions, but in my lifetime of engraving I have only cut three of 1st Gens, they each required significant work to bring them to the level needed for engraving, and they all were done at the owner's request. Delete
 

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jerrywh

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Thank you very much for the advice. I regard it highly. I will not deface an original. I didn't realize how holy they were regarded. Great advise could only be obtained on this site.
One thing is the second generation colts seem to be case hardened. If that is so Mike should know. How about it Mike. Will I have to have it annealed first? Also must deal wit hthe engraved cylinder I guess.
 

MikieDu

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Yes, all Colt SAA Revolvers (unless they are nickel plated) have case hardened frames...even most of the black powder series. The case must be removed for engraving and most gunsmiths can do that for you. It is a process of heating/annealing the frame followed by cleanup and polishing.
 

Roger Bleile

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Jerry,

There are three options for dealing with the roll die impressed scene on the cylinder.

1. Leave it as is.

2. Deepen the lines and add additional shading to make the scene more prominent.

3. Use a lathe to remove the scene then engrave/inlay with whatever fits the theme of the rest of the gun. This would be the desired option for a highly ornamented piece. Mike's Robert E. Lee gun is such an example.
 

jerrywh

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Thanks Mike and Rodger. I do a lot of heat treating in my shop so annealing is not a problem.
I was a little worried about cutting down the cylinder to remove the engraving though but if Mike has it done it must be OK. It is probably no deeper than .010" anyway.
 

MikieDu

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#12
Jerrwh:

I placed my Colt 1851 Navy cylinder in my lathe to remove the stamped images - as you suggested, I only had to turn off about .010" to remove 95% of the marks. The remaining few marks were lost in my scrollwork and inlay.
Heat treating to remove the color case should be no problem for you- I go for a dull cherry and then let the frames cool in my heat treat oven. I don't have an exotic oven so I have to remove the scale before I polish for engraving.
 

SamW

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When I anneal, I heat to 500 degrees, coat with Brownells PBC which is a fine black powder that coats the hot metal and prevents scale, continue up to about 900 degrees and then cool slowly. The PBC rinses off with hot water and the metal is clean with no scale. I think Brownells has a different product these days for this but I have not tried it, as what I have has and will last a long time.
 
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#15
I recently picked up a 1st gen that has already been devalued and poorly plated. Looks more like chrome than nickel. I got it cheaper than a gen2. I assume in that case it would be ok to strip, polish and engrave it?

Dan 297C7E10-39EF-4DF8-873A-DE905FC8CB39.jpeg
 

MikieDu

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That looks to be a good Gen 1 candidate for engraving. It appears that it has already suffered through one or more overzealous polishings prior to plating...the corners and edges have been rounded and the screw holes are blurred. The edges between the frame, trigger guard and backstrap no longer meet in a single clean line. The grips do not meet/match the lines of the grip frame. This gun has already lost a great deal of its collector value, and to restore and engrave might be the best thing you can do for it.

That's the kind of damage that really can't be repaired. Turnbull and his guys are absolute magicians at restoration, but even they can't replace the corners and edges of a Colt that has been attacked by a polisher who permanently damaged and degraded the value of the gun.

Now, a discussion of 1st and 2nd Gen colts should cover far more territory than we have time and patience for here. I suggest that folks learn a little about SAA Colt Generations and serial numbers before they commit to tearing into one. There is nothing holy about Single Action Colts - I would never tell any group of engravers that they should never, ever, engrave a 1st Gen. The fact is that some 2nd Gens are more valuable than some 1st Gens...but that fact resides in the number of guns produced by Colt over defined time periods. There are a lot of folks out there who make Colt history a central theme of their lives, and I'm not one of them. I have studied the subject enough to make me aware that there are certain serial numbers and certain production dates and numbers that an engraver should research before they destroy a rare piece of history.

The first thing anyone should do, at least, is to go to the Colt serial Number website and see when your Colt was produced (https://www.colt.com/serial-lookup). There are other websites that will tell you more about that particular Serial Number and how rare it might be.
 
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