It is a Navy contract gun. WWK was [Navy] Lieutenant William W. Kimball, the inspector for the first Navy contract. But there are some areas of apparent contradictions. Lt. Kimball left that job in the spring of 1890 and did not return. So he never did any inspections as late as 1895, which is the date on the barrel as well as the date on the butt.
So, FWIW, I think you have a Model 1889 Colt Navy contract revolver that was rebuilt and upgraded in 1895. The internal lockwork was upgraded and the barrel and cylinder replaced. (Barrels were not normally replaced; the original was probably in bad shape.) I believe the butt date under close inspection might show that the "95" is an overstamp of the original last two digits of the year 1889 or 1890. The guns were also refinished by Colt at that time, which could account for the good condition.
The butt should read (barrel facing down) U.S.N./anchor/38DA/No./line/xxxx/line/P/WWK/1895. (The bold indicates literal numbers or letters; the xxxx indicates the serial number.)
You indicated that below the "No" is the letter "R" not a number. If that is correct, I have no idea what that means or why there is no number. On that contract, the number on the butt is the Navy Registry Number, which is also the Colt serial number, so there is no separate Colt serial number as there is on later Navy contract revolvers.
That early, the cylinder, even one made for rebuilding those revolvers, would have had the shoulders for .38 Long Colt, so it may have been altered later.
Last edited by James K; February 21, 2013 at 01:17 AM.