View Full Version : A couple of elderly .22s

August 4, 2010, 09:13 AM
I inherited these little guns from my grandfather many years ago. They've been in a shadowbox hanging on the wall of my "man cave" for a long time. I am interested in learning a little about them and aproximate value for insurance purposes.
The First is a Colt revolver in .22 short. It has what appear to be ivory grips and to my knowledge is completely original and functional. The steel parts are blued with its these parts retaining perhaps 75% of original deep blue. A serial # is stamped on the bottom of the butt: 1245.

The second is a C. Sharps 4 barrel pistol with what appear to be figured gutta Percha grips. Little finish remains. Pistol is fully functional. A serial # is stamped on its butt also: 28671 (or 28G71).
I am aware of the Christian Sharps rifles and to a lesser extent their little pistols.

TIA for any information about these firearms



August 4, 2010, 04:17 PM
Your Colt looks to be an 1871-77 Open Top Pocket Revolver, with the issue silver or nickle plating gone from the frame, making it a $400 piece ILO of $2K with the gennie plated frame.

A nice gun, one of some 114,000 made.

The Sharps looks to be a No.1 Pepperbox if it's also a .22 ( #2-.30cal, #3=.32cal, #4=.32 w/birdshead), made 1859-74, also lacking it's normal frame plating, and worth about $200, +/-, ILO $600 with the plating.


Bill DeShivs
August 4, 2010, 04:25 PM
The frame on the Colt appears to be gold plated. The grips are ivory.

August 4, 2010, 04:31 PM
Gentlemen, with all due respect, the frames of both firearms are made of brass. There is NO evidence of any kind of plating anywhere. Not under the grips, not inside the actions. These pistols are not modified nor had any plating removed.


August 4, 2010, 05:30 PM
FWIW, every reference I have at my disposal indicates that the Colts were issued with their frames plated with some other material, beit gold/silver/nickle - so, you might want to check further with a Colt historian.

AFAIK, The plated Sharps Pepperbox's were made with brass frames, but usually nickle-plated, or of CCH/steel - so a non-plated brassie may be authentic.





Bill DeShivs
August 4, 2010, 07:39 PM
Look at the grip screw escutcheon. It's brass. The evidence of plating is the finish itself.
Notice the difference in color and sheen from your frame? My bet is the frame is gold plated. Whether original or aftermarket, I can't tell. A brass frame-no matter how well kept, could not possibly be that shiny after that many years. Even if it were polished recently the difference in color between brass and gold is obvious.

I agree there is no visible evidence the Sharps was ever plated.

mega twin
August 4, 2010, 10:29 PM
That little Colt is a thing of beauty!

August 5, 2010, 04:02 PM
Now that interests me. I know that the little revolver has not been polished in at least the 50 years it has been in my family. I never considered GOLD ( ! ) plating.
If in fact it is gold plated, then the plating is in very good conditiion (as is the blue on the steel parts.) That perhaps changes the possible value of the revolver.
Any suggestion as to where I might look to obtain information so as to accurately or more correctly, adequately insure the piece?


James K
August 5, 2010, 09:09 PM
If that Colt is gold-plated and not just polished brass, the plating was almost certainly NOT factory. The fit of the sideplate and the conjunction of the frame and barrel show signs of polishing; in a factory gun, the sideplate joint would be nearly invisible. The bluing does not look like the factory bluing, either; it shows too many signs of rounded corners and bluing over rust.
As noted above, the frames were usually nickel plated, with silver an option.

The Sharps likewise is a decent gun but (like most of them) without the silver plating. The frames were silver plated, the barrels blued.

I would pretty much agree on the above values, except that I doubt an open top pocket would ever bring $2k unless it were brand new in the box.

Just FWIW, a note on silver plating of guns in that general era. The plating used was not the heavy silver plating we associate with good quality table wear (Rogers, for example, the company founded by the man who invented silver plating). The silver plating on revolver and pistol frames was a very light plating, often called "silver wash." It's purpose was to look good in the gun store, and it didn't last very long after the buyer left. Even without firing the gun, the silver tended to tarnish and become blue or black, helped along by an atmosphere full of sulfur smoke from coal fires. When the tarnish was removed, the thin silver plate went with it, except under the grips, and often even there when the gun was given a "good" cleaning.