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Old June 4, 2014, 09:57 AM   #1
jismail
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Old M1907 oddity and advice requested

Hi folks,

I have a chance to acquire a 1917 vintage M1917. The LGS is asking $850 for it. I think that is maybe a bit high but still in the acceptable range, but I am not expert.

The pictures pretty much show its condition and if you pull the trigger, it seems to lock up tight.

The thing that bothers me about it is that it doesnt have the Rampant Colt pony on it. Did all the early colts have it or is the fact it appears to be missing still normal? Could this be a WW2 rebuild and it was sanded off?

Thoughts on this revolver would be appreciated. Is it original? is it worth asking price?

Thanks!





Thanks in advance for your help....
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Old June 4, 2014, 10:13 AM   #2
Mike Irwin
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It doesn't look like a refinish to me... The letters are pretty crisp.

I'm not sure how Colt marked their guns during the war, but to be honest, if that guns is original finish, that is NOT a bad price given what's been going on in the markets the last few years.

Gun prices are up across the board, and collectible gun prices are through the roof in many cases.

Hell, even abysmal examples are being offered for prices higher than that on the online auction sites and at shows I've been to.

Priced at, and selling, are of course two different things, but things must be selling to someone or else the prices would have started to drop...
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Old June 4, 2014, 11:16 AM   #3
gyvel
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IIRC, some wartime 1917 Colts did not have the "pony" on the sideplate and some did.

You might want to look around first before you buy that gun. A quick search revealed one on Gunbroker in waaaaaaay better condition than that one for the same price. Here's the auction link: http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...=419582621#PIC

Take a peek first before you buy.

Update: I think you should just go to www.gunbroker.com, and put "1917 Colt" in the search box; I found yet another that is in much better condition for the same price as the one you are looking at.

Last edited by gyvel; June 4, 2014 at 11:40 AM.
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Old June 4, 2014, 11:40 AM   #4
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The linked gun at Gunbroker has definitely been refinished.

Could be an arsenal refinish, but it's definitely been refinished.
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Old June 4, 2014, 12:38 PM   #5
gyvel
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I have to disagree. That is a classic late WWI hurry-up rough polish job by Colt. I have seen too many 1917 Colts with rough polish jobs like that, all identical. No way that is refinished. If that's the case, then the four guns in my collection have all been refinished and I seriously doubt it.

If you're calling that an "arsenal refinish," then I can only assume that virtually every 1917 Colt I have seen has been an "arsenal refinish."
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Old June 4, 2014, 01:00 PM   #6
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Sorry, Gyvel, but I agree with Mike. Colt's late finish was not very good, but it was not that bad and they didn't practically obliterate the Colt emblem. They also didn't number the barrel with hand stamps. That gun appears to have been rusted and then given the wire wheel treatment. I doubt it was a gunsmith job and the added number indicates use by some military or police force that had the gun refinished. (Note that this is about the gun on Gunbroker, not the OP's gun.)

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Old June 4, 2014, 01:46 PM   #7
Mike Irwin
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The rough polish is one thing. In fact, depending on when it was made, it may well have come from the factory like that.

But the missing tops to letters and numbers is another thing entirely. The line stamp on the top of the barrel is virtually gone.

You can also see evidence of dishing around the holes in the side plate, especially on the right side.

Then there's the 9909 stamping on the underside of the barrel. The tops of the 9s are obliterated, as is the bottom of the 4 in the caliber marking above that.

That didn't come from the factory like that when it was new.


"then I can only assume that virtually every 1917 Colt I have seen has been an "arsenal refinish."

Virtually all WW I era S&W Model of 1917 revolvers were arsenal or factory refinished in the interwar years, and many were parkerized.

I'm not sure if that applied to the Colts, as well (I've never paid them much attention before), but I have seen phosphate-finish Colts and have always assumed that was done during arsenal refinish.
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Old June 4, 2014, 01:50 PM   #8
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The detail stinks, but at the top of this page is what appears to be a Colt 1917 with commercial grips and the phosphate finish:

http://www.militaryfactory.com/small...allarms_id=536
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Old June 4, 2014, 01:52 PM   #9
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Here's another one that the owner indicates was arsenal refinished in a parkerized finish:

http://rugerforum.net/collectors/728...colt-army.html
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Old June 4, 2014, 02:00 PM   #10
jismail
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would the low serial number (first year issue?) and lack of pony logo give this particular pistol any more collectability then the later year or arsenaled versions?
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Old June 4, 2014, 02:44 PM   #11
Mike Irwin
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The lower serial number always counts for something.... how much, I simply don't know.
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Old June 4, 2014, 03:07 PM   #12
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Now I've got to go out an examine mine very closely. His photos aren't the greatest, but you still see the perpendicular milling striations on either side of the front sight where sufficient polishing was too time consuming to do. That's one gun I would like to see in person.

I have seen some WWII reisues that have been Parkerized, but I have always purchased blued guns.

I don't know what the "9909" is, as it was obviously put on at a later time, but that gun still looks right as rain to me. The missing tops of those numbers are a result of stamping on a curved surface. The photo also doesn't show the top of the barrel very clearly so it's hard to really judge the address line.

Overall, it just looks a "typical" crappy finish Colt 1917 to me. I have handled a lot of them and they all seem to be more or less like that one.

Hard to say.
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Old June 4, 2014, 03:09 PM   #13
gyvel
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Quote:
would the low serial number (first year issue?) and lack of pony logo give this particular pistol any more collectability then the later year or arsenaled versions?
Lower numbered Colt 1917s had chambers that were bored differently up to ca. 20,000, I believe. (Butt #)
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Old June 4, 2014, 07:50 PM   #14
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Yes, the 9909 was added later, and the tops of the 9s likely would have been more lightly struck, which is exactly why I think they were partially polished away.

You can also see what appears to be polishing out of the bottom of the letters in the COLT D.A. .45 text above it.

I still say that I'm seeing evidence of dishing around screw and stud holes.

And, finally, the markings on the top of the barrel.

Yes, the photo isn't great, but one thing I think you'll agree with is that Colt never shirked from really putting the beef behind the stamps when they put the markings on their guns.

The markings on the top of the barrel are just too faint to me, especially in comparison with the COLT D.A. .45 marking.

I still say that gun has been refinished, and not particularly well.


And whoa! I just now noticed the Colt logo and the inspector's mark above the thumb latch. That's the biggest indicator that the gun has been refinished. I sincerely doubt that Colt every would have left one of their guns leave the factory with a horse stamped that badly.
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Old June 4, 2014, 10:51 PM   #15
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I now think the "new" number is 6066; you can see where it has been stamped on the frame under the crane and you can also see where the guy with the stamps practiced with a couple of the numbers in the same place. Also there are two sets of numbers on there where there should be only one. On those Colts, there are two serial numbers. The first, on the crane and the frame under it, is the New Service serial number which began with that model. The second, on the butt, is the military serial number, which started at 1 for the military Model 1917.

Why the 6066 was added, or by whom, is anyone's guess. It is not factory or U.S. military.

Jim
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Old June 5, 2014, 04:50 AM   #16
mag1911
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I recently tried to sell a Colt M1917 for a friend's estate. I took it to several shows starting at $1500. I went to $1200, then $1000 with no takers or even serious lookers. Original finish about 90% minus a cracked left grip panel and one small scrape on the barrel.

I called his wife and told her I didn't think I'd get more than $800 around here so she took it back.

======

This photo of the actual pistol. You can see the crack in the grip this side. Someone where she lived told her they could get a "lot" more than $800. I asked her to let me know the final selling price but haven't heard from her again.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg M1917.jpg (195.8 KB, 6 views)

Last edited by mag1911; June 6, 2014 at 05:18 AM. Reason: added photo
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Old June 5, 2014, 07:27 AM   #17
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I'm still betting 9909, based on the fact that most people are right handed and would tend to orient the gun butt down when doing hand stamping. It would be very odd to have the number stamped so that it would have to be read upside down.

The number could mean anything, from a Federal law enforcement property number down to a private corporation's accession number.

I know that right after World War I the Border Patrol (or whatever it was called then) was given M1917 revolvers and M1917 rifles, which I believe were marked with unique propety numbers.
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Old June 5, 2014, 01:42 PM   #18
jismail
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didnt the post office issue these revolvers in the past?
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Old June 5, 2014, 01:54 PM   #19
Mike Irwin
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"didnt the post office issue these revolvers in the past?"

They still do.

Well, they issue firearms to Postal Inspectors. They probably have moved away from revolvers by now.
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Old June 5, 2014, 08:09 PM   #20
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In a day when the Post Office actually was part of the government and took protection of the mails seriously, they issued guns to railway mail clerks, postmasters and sometimes even RFD carriers.

I remember watching the postmaster in my little home town strapping on a revolver to go across the road to the train station to take the mail bag to the train and bring back the one(s) that were dropped off. He had a little handcart, sort of like a child's wagon. If for some reason he could not be there when the mail was dropped off (literally), the railroad station agent (my father) was responsible for the mail until it could be delivered to a postal employee. So either the Pennsy or the Post Office Department had custody of the mail at all times. (But dad was not issued a revolver; I guess he was not trusted enough.)

So what kind of revolver did the postmaster have? Heck, I don't know. I was all of seven years old and knew even less about guns than I do now.

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Old June 5, 2014, 09:20 PM   #21
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There was a limited run of S&W M&P revolvers with fixed sights, I THINK it was the Model 45, made for a number of years.

Some were purchased by the Postal Service and used for training, while others were purchased by the Coast Guard.

They are very highly sought after by collectors.

Here's one going for over $3,000

http://www.gunauction.com/search/dis...temnum=9337501

As for what weapons were used by the Postal Service, at one time I believe that they took some surplus World War I era Model 1917s, and also Colt and Smith & Wesson .38s.

Issuing firearms to postal employees makes a lot of sense, because at one time the postal service handle a LOT of negotiable items, such as bonds and checks, as well as a lot of cash.

In many towns the post office would have more money than the local stores.
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Old June 6, 2014, 01:29 AM   #22
Slopemeno
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For some time, the Postal Service used 3" Ruger Speed Sixes. For years afterward you could buy the new, unused barrels out of Shotgun news.

From my experience the 1917 looks original. I've seen many pass over the counter of our shop, including one that was our "Mystery Gun" at our action shooting league, which would have been very close in appearance to this one.
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Old June 6, 2014, 05:44 AM   #23
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Which one are you talking about?

The one that Jismal has pictures of, or the one that is on the auction site?

I agree that Jismal's is likely an original finish, but I still the one on the auction site has been refinished.
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Old June 6, 2014, 06:44 AM   #24
gyvel
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Quote:
I agree that Jismal's is likely an original finish, but I still the one on the auction site has been refinished
Nope.

I have studied the auction pics very carefully and compared it to the 4 examples that I own.

All I will concede is that the barrel MIGHT be a refinish or even a possbile replacement. And before I would make a final judgement on that, I would have to see the gun in person in normal light.

As far as the rest of the gun is concerned, the edges of the frame and edges of the flute cuts in the cylinder are sharp and square. None of the rough machining marks are smoothed over. I don't see any indications that you mentioned of dished screw holes. The fit of the sideplate is excellent and the "fit" line shows no indication of refinishing.

Too many clues that contraindicate a refinish. Markings on the sideplace and frame were applied before final polishing for bluing, and are often very light or partially washed out. These look perfectly normal to me based on several hundred 1917s that I have handled over the last 50 years, including my own.

That was just one example that I selected from the particular GB auction heading I searched (1917 Colt). There were several others that all looked the same as this.

OP's gun is an early example and the finish has not shown the deterioration of the later guns.

Last edited by gyvel; June 6, 2014 at 06:49 AM.
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Old June 6, 2014, 08:38 AM   #25
Mike Irwin
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Sorry, for all of the reasons I've listed I continue to maintain that that guns has been refinished.

Either that, or the bottom half of Mr. Colt's pony has fallen in a hole and can't get out.


One additional reason why I'm sticking with my idea that it's refinished is because Jim also agrees that it's refinished.

He's a retired gunsmith with what, Jim, about 50 years experience?

If he said it wasn't refinished, I'd go with that.
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Last edited by Mike Irwin; June 6, 2014 at 08:53 AM.
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