Greg Martin Auctions announces the Colt factory archives collection is coming up for bid over three separate events, beginning Jan. 18, 2009, offering more than 1,200 items over the three events. Begun in the Colt factory’s earliest years and continuing today, the archives feature a reference collection comprised of prototypes, production models, samples, presentation and engraved pieces, and miscellaneous arms. Over time, these firearms have been valuable resources, not only for reference and historical reasons, but for collectors, shooters and law enforcement as well because of the items’ rarity, condition and diversity.
The January sale will be in Las Vegas to augment interest and participation among attendees of the Las Vegas Antique, Sporting Arms and Custom Knifemakers Show, on Jan. 16-18, 2009. Like the show itself, the auction will be held at the Riviera Hotel & Casino.
According to Greg Martin, principal in the firm bearing his name, the Colt factory archives collection represents a selection of items that are unique in the annals of the history of American firearms. “The legendary Colt name has been an American icon since the mid-1800s,” Martin said. “Maintained by the Colt factory over the years as a historical resource, this collection features items that have never come to sale before.
The Colt factory was established in 1836 in Paterson, N.J., by 22-year-old Samuel Colt after patenting his invention in France, England and America of the first practical revolving cylinder system that enabled repeating hand and shoulder arms. This major advance in weaponry, coupled with Samuel Colt’s prowess in design, manufacturing and marketing, would make Colt a very wealthy man – America’s first industrial tycoon.
That first venture, however, the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company, went out of business in 1842, but with the support of Texas Rangers who used Colt’s Paterson repeating firearms, Colt was able to relaunch his business in 1847 after receiving a government contract for 1,000 new .44 caliber model. He called this model the Walker, after his co-designer, Capt. Samuel H. Walker of the U.S. Mounted Riflemen. Fueled by profits from the Walker, Colt soon established an armory of his own in Hartford, beginning late in 1847.
In Hartford – more than 150 years later – firearms manufacturing has continued as a leading industry. Today, Colt produces firearms under two businesses targeted to separate markets: Colt Defense, LLC manufactures and sells military products; and Colt’s Manufacturing Company Inc. continues to manufacture and sell commercial products.
From those earliest years, a reference collection was established, composed of samples, prototypes, production models, presentation and engraved pieces, and miscellaneous arms. These have proven to be invaluable, some leading to internationally famed institutions like the Buffalo Bill Historical Center’s Cody Firearms Museum, in Cody, Wyo., to which the Winchester Gun Museum collection was presented in 1976.
Because Colt firearms are recognized among collectors as top of the line, the Colt factory archives collection is a bonanza for all who are admirers and enthusiasts of the unique history, tradition, manufacturing and marketing genius of the company’s founder, Col. Samuel Colt, and his innovative successors.
Below are some of the highlights to be sold at the three separate events. Each of the 1,200 firearms will be accompanied by a documentation letter from the Colt factory and an attached identification establishing that the item comes from the Colt factory archives collection.
· The deluxe cased, gold inlaid, engraved and inscribed “Last Gun Made in Hartford.” This Single Action Army was exquisitely built by the Custom Shop, in recognition of the factory’s historic move from the old Hartford site dating back to 1855, to the facility on New Park Avenue, where today’s headquarters, factory, and test range are located. The “Last Gun Made in Hartford” bears serial number MAY 31, 1994 HARTFORD.
· The Serial No. 1 Colt Single Action Army will be on the block. Secreted in a private collection for more than 20 years, it has been offered only once previously in the past 50 years.
· A rare Colt Model 1909 John M. Browning prototype automatic pistol, is a significant link in the evolution leading up to the classic Model 1911 pistol.
· A Daniel Cullity engraved Colonel Samuel Colt 150th Anniversary special number Single Action Army revolver and a deluxe Alvin A. White-engraved WWI Model 1911 commemorative pistol, decorated by two of America’s legendary arms engravers and master craftsmen.
· Cutaways and display models, including double actions and automatics, and a spectacular Single Action Army Custom Shop cutaway with special finish and grips.
All items in the Colt factory archives collection will be illustrated in catalogs prior to each sale. The complete catalogs – including full descriptions, estimates and photographs by individual lot – will be presented online three weeks prior to each sale at www.gregmartinauctions.com.
In addition, the Colt Factory Archives Collection will release the first in a series of definitive reference volumes – titled American Arms Collectors and written by R.L. Wilson – to be published by Greg Martin Auctions.
Click here to discuss this story and more in the AntiqueTrader.com message boards.