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Old February 3, 2013, 12:09 PM   #1
alex0535
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Can anyone tell me more about this old 1911?

The right side of the slide is stamped "Model of 1911 U.S. Navy". Below that on the frame is stamped "No. 2811".

The left side of the slide is stamped "Patented Apr 20 1897, Sept 1902, Dec 19 1905, Feb 14 1911. To the right of this is "Colts PT F.A MFG CO. Hartford Ct. USA"

Under that on the frame it is stamped "Property of United States"



Any advice on the care of its old holster? Would a little bit of neatsfoot oil do anything negative for it?
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Old February 3, 2013, 12:19 PM   #2
x-five
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Well it is clear that this is orginal pistol made by colt before the end of world war II ( Because of the holster ).
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Old February 3, 2013, 12:28 PM   #3
Slamfire
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You have a very rare M1911.

According to Clawson's book "Colt .45 Service Pistol" your pistol is in the second batch of M1911's that the Navy bought in 1912. He notes that they were Colt USN (Naval Militia), so maybe the second lot did not go on ships. Another book says this serial number range went to Brooklyn Naval Yard.

The pictures in the book are black and white and I don't know what the original finish should have been, but the other book shows an early Navy with a blue finish.

I am not a holster expert. If the holster is an original WW1 or earlier holster just set it aside. If it has dry rot there is nothing you can add or do that will make it last longer other than stop handling it.
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Old February 3, 2013, 12:40 PM   #4
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The leather itself seems to be in pretty ok condition. The flash sort of made it look a little bit worse for wear than it seems in the hands, although on further inspection, towards the bottom the stitching is coming apart a bit so it probably won't be worn to avoid further damage.

How do I tell if the barrel is the original barrel? As far as I know right now everything on it is factory except for the clip, which I think came with a lanyard loop, which mine doesn't have from what I could find through google.
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Old February 3, 2013, 12:44 PM   #5
Slamfire
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Quote:
How do I tell if the barrel is the original barrel? As far as I know right now everything on it is factory except for the clip, which I think came with a lanyard loop, which mine doesn't have from what I could find through google
Take it apart and post lots of pictures.
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Old February 3, 2013, 12:47 PM   #6
alex0535
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I was planning on taking it apart to give it a good cleaning because it has not had one in a while. Will post some pictures after I take it apart.
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Old February 3, 2013, 02:23 PM   #7
alex0535
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Is the "No. 2811" the serial number or is there is somewhere else I should look for it?

Also just took it outside after cleaning and shot it a few times. Functioned well for a gun nearly 100 years old, we expected it to function well.

Last edited by alex0535; February 3, 2013 at 02:39 PM.
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Old February 3, 2013, 02:58 PM   #8
polyphemus
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Should the pistol be genuine in original condition it is a valuable item.The holster
also adds sought after provenance as would any other piece of pertinent information.Any damage from firing or modifying it will greatly reduce its value,
unless you get a great deal of pleasure out of shooting it that old military relic should be preserved.good luck
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Old February 3, 2013, 03:16 PM   #9
alex0535
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We are of the opinion that guns are meant to be shot, and this one will see a little bit more use, although not a whole lot of use. Even though it will see a little bit more use, it will be well taken care of.

We also do not plan to modify it or put it on the market any time soon.

It has been in the family for its lifetime and it will stay that way for a long time. It was given to my grandfather as repayment by my grandfathers uncle for a shotgun that was destroyed in a fire.
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Old February 3, 2013, 04:30 PM   #10
Slamfire
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Quote:
Is the "No. 2811" the serial number or is there is somewhere else I should look for it
It should be the serial number, but of course, I can't see it, and don't know if it is just another military marking.

As for the barrel, I don't see any markings that jump out, maybe a real M1911 collector will jump in and give an opinion.

There may be machining marks or contours that are unique to the older pistols, rifling characteristics, I don't have one that early to examine, someone who has will have to give an opinion.

If the finish is original bluing, don't ever have the pistol reblued. The collector value of a reblued pistol is about the value of a pistol with no finish remaining.
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Old February 3, 2013, 04:34 PM   #11
alex0535
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From everything we know about it, I believe everything on it is as it left the factory.

It looks considerably nicer now than it did now that its been cleaned and given a light coat of oil.
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Old February 3, 2013, 04:38 PM   #12
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Wow, that's an early one. I'd be putting that in a really strong safe!
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Old February 3, 2013, 05:04 PM   #13
Rainbow Demon
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Holsters seldom actually dry rot, but the leather can become very dry.
I restored my 1918 marked holster, that had been crushed flat and dry as a bone, by first soaking in very warm water, then using a hammer handle to slowly reshape it from the inside. While the leather is still wet but begining to dry you should apply neatfoot oil. Applying neats foot oil to bone dry leather is a no no.

As the leather drys it pulls oil into the surface and the oil then locks moisture into the cells below the surface. It ends up as a even mix of oil in some parts of the structure and moisture in other parts.

Since the holster in question has been dyed black you can then seal the surface with boot polish. On black leather holsters I use a silicon wax polish.

The stitching of my 1918 holster is as good as new, though one of the brass rivets has all but disintegrated.
They used some treatment for the thread back in the old days, but I can't remember what it was. It was something other than just wax.
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Old February 3, 2013, 05:14 PM   #14
Jim Watson
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The big fuzzy pictures are not a great help.
Close clear pictures will let us help you know what you have.
If the barrel is original - there are some little fine markings that will show - then the gun is worth a good bit of money even with the finish pretty much gone. When new it had a better blue job than most of the new guns on the market now.

The gun is made of mild steel not heat treated.
If you crack the slide plinking with it, you can watch several thousand dollars of resale value go down the drain.
The wear marks on the barrel show it has already been shot a good deal.

Do not store it in the holster, that is probably where most of the finish went.


Read up at
http://www.coolgunsite.com/
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Old February 3, 2013, 05:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
We are of the opinion that guns are meant to be shot, and this one will see a little bit more use, although not a whole lot of use. Even though it will see a little bit more use, it will be well taken care of.
While I understand your view, I have to caution you that shooting this pistol even one more time would be a VERY serious mistake.

The WW1 M1911s were not heat treated ... at all. The frames and slides were mild steel. It is not at all uncommon to have the slides fracture from shooting. When the M1911/M1911A1 was an issue sidearm, this wasn't a big deal because the Army had stocks of replacement slides. They didn't care abut originality or value -- if it went "Bang" they were happy.

Today is different. You have a pistol that is potentially worth several thousand dollars. There is absolutely no way to predict which shot is going to be THE shot that causes it to break. Once it breaks, it can never again be all original. You might find a "correct" replacement slide in roughly the same condition, but "correct" does not equal "original" and the value will forever be reduced -- significantly.

IMHO it simply makes no sense to jeopardize an all-original pistol worth thousands when you can buy a modern shooter for $500, new with warranty.

I suggest you go to the Collectors Corner area of the M1911.ORG forum, post your photos there, and shout out for Scott Gahimer. He's a genuine authority on the M1911 and he can advise you on what you have and whether or not you should be shooting it far better than I can.

Link: http://forum.m1911.org/forumdisplay.php?f=81
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Old February 3, 2013, 05:59 PM   #16
alex0535
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^Ok you convinced me, I won't shoot it any more.
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Old February 3, 2013, 07:35 PM   #17
polyphemus
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White Eagle speaks wisely,be kind to that pistol.
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Old February 3, 2013, 09:22 PM   #18
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I'm sick all over again

When I left Florida to come to Alaska in 1980, I was offered a pistol and holster almost exactly like yours. In trade for a camera lens which, as it happens, I have never taken a picture through since, but I kept because I was going to drive FL to AK and thought I should keep. Dollar value, about $250. Kicking myself ever since.

"My" .45, too, was from the second production run of 1911s sold to the U.S. It, too, had the flat mainspring housing, long trigger and short grip safety, but mine had been Parkerized (I believe the original finish in the early years was blued.) It was not uncommon for guns after the First World War to have been returned to armories, sometimes in parts, to be reassembled from the parts bins for reissue later (after refiniahing), leading to some 1911-1914 frames being mated with 1945 slides being used in the Korean War in the '50s.

I am still sick over not grabbing that gun, but I knew I was going to have to drive through Canada, so shipping from a Montana FFL to and Alaskan FFL would have been necessary. But I wish I had done it.

I once had a really nice leather bicycle seat that had been left out in the weather for a year. It was curled, stiff and looked a lot like your holster. I worked it with saddle soap every day for a week until it regained its shape, then oiled and waxed it (forget what I used) until it regained its proper feel. It never did look as pretty as it probably did when new, but it rode nicely.

Before I worked on a valuable holster, I would check with a holster maker or saddler or other leather expert for advice.

Good luck. You have a bit of American History and Family History there. I envy you.

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Old February 4, 2013, 11:00 AM   #19
jrothWA
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May I suggest that you ...

go to the Jouster website: www.jouster.com

and scroll to the service pistol forum and post what you there.

There is poster who is a collector of the early Navies and should be able to give further info.

Some shows that I have viewed his collection, the 1911's issued to a vessel would have an "ID" above the trigger on that open frame area.

One he had was marked: "BB-39" U.S.S. Arozona
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Old February 4, 2013, 12:46 PM   #20
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Some more/better pics would be nice. The mag release lock appears to be an early version without screw slot? I see a short hammer spur. That gun must have been "taken out of service" very early on, or it would have evidence of the retrofitting and updating that was done shortly after the M1911 was introduced.

Quote:
Well it is clear that this is orginal pistol made by colt before the end of world war II ( Because of the holster ).
All military Colts were made before the end of WWII, but the black holster could be either a dyed holster that was orginally tan or brown, or it could be a later holster, made after the army changed to black leather gear (mid-'50s).
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Old February 4, 2013, 01:53 PM   #21
James K
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That pistol appears to be correct for a Navy of that period. The serial number on the right front of the frame ahead of the trigger guard is correct; it was later moved to the rear, behind the slide stop pin.

The "dimple" magazine catch lock is correct, also; it was changed at #3190 to an altered one and then at about 6500 to the present type. I strongly suggest not removing the magazine catch. It is very difficult to do without scoring the frame.

Incidentally, that gun was made in 1912, before WWI.

Jim
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Old February 4, 2013, 05:23 PM   #22
shafter
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Somehow, even with all that wear and tear, it still looks really really nice!
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Old February 4, 2013, 06:26 PM   #23
alex0535
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The flash from the camera sort of made it look worse for wear than it actually is. Overall the finish seems pretty good. It was also taken before the outside was cleaned up and oiled.

Compared to the others I have looked at, it has fared pretty well over the years.
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