A very unusual Colt sheriff's model has come to us. This arm has no serial number on the frame, but it is numbered on the left side of the strap and guard, #341881. There are no rework numbers and the gate and frame does not have assembly numbers. The workmanship on the frame is unmistakably Colt factory in every respect, including the case color and blue. Has a 3&1/2" barrel in 45 Colt with proper address and caliber mark. Upon reseaeching with the factory historian, we discovered it was shipped to the Miller Brothers in 1926! These are the men who started the famous 101 Ranch in Oklahoma, the men who carried the lore and excitement of the old west into the 20th century. Some of the performers in their traveling wild west shows included Tex Ritter, Will Rogers, Tex McCloud and Bill Picket, the only man ever to bulldog a steer by biting its lip to bring it down!
This Colt is in nearly perfect condition. Overall we rate it 99%, As mentioned above, there is no serial number or assembly number on the frame. It does have an inspection number "1" in the hammer slot and a punch dot in the center of the butt strap. This corresponds to the same punch dot on the rear of an extra cylinder included with this remarkable Colt.
The cylinder is chambered in .455 Ely, and functions perfectly. We speculate that this extra cylinder, who's condition matches the the gun perfectly, was a special order by one of the 101 ranch members for use when touring Canada and Great Britain, where 45 Colt caliber blanks were not as common as .455 blanks were.
Under magnification, we can find no hint or suggestion of welding or alteration to the frame. Patent dates and pony are consistent with 1921, the date of manufacture for the serial number on the straps. These straps fit precisely and all polishing planes are identical to those found on period single actions. We are confident that this is an original Sheriff model. However, the letter will state that this serial number was shipped as a 4&3/4" 45 Colt, not a storekeepers model. This may just be a typo or oversight, we'll never know for sure. We searched the factory records for any combination of the six numbers that could have been transposed, but no storekeepers showed up so we are pretty certain that, considering the obvious factory work that this is an original piece.
Precedent for the unnumbered frame in this serial range is found on page 385 of Cochran's book, "Colt Peacemaker Encyclopedia,Vol 2". There we find a photo of a gun, #342473, with an unnumbered frame but numbered straps, 408 numbers away from our Colt. Clearly, the factory was using up spare frames and didn't want to ruin number dies by stamping the CC, or so it seems, during this period.
Since the condition is so pristine, it obviously was not used much for shooting. Inside the grip panels are the initials "ZM" over another scratched out initial with "101" above them. Zack MIller, the last surviving brother, was present during the sell off and auction of the remaining ranch equipment and property. We believe this Colt may have been his personal weapon, and along with the Colt will be included several 101 ranch items and documents, one of which is a hand written reference to a Colt with a "short barrel" being purchased in 1926, so this may be the gun referenced. We also have a reference to Zack having his six gun at the ready during the time of legal activities and acessments at the ranch. The action, bore and chambers of both cylinders are excellent, and it appears to have been fired very little, probably with blanks.
For this most unusual sheriff's model and the associated artifacts, our asking price is 65,000 dollars, with factory letter stating shipment to the Miller Brothers. More photos on request.
Addendum: During our research, we examined another SA that was manufactured in 1921. In the hammer slot was a punch dot, identical to the dot found on this gun's back strap and rear cylinder face. We are very sure that these are, then, factory marks, denoting special fitting or finish. No other inspector's mark was in the slot of the above mentioned Colt. In addition, further research with the factory has revealed that while the shipping date was March 6th, 1925, the PRODUCTION date is list March 3rd of the same year. A six year spread from the number on the straps to its production. There's an unsolved mystery here to be sure, an factory oversights and errors are common in the records. Also, we are in the process of arranging an X- ray of the frame to further confirm our certainty that it is a true Sheriff's model. And, according to the listed survey in Cochran's last Cylopedia on single actions, this number would place it as THE LAST sheriff model ever produced in blue and case color! Additional photos and information on request.
x-ray have been completed and no sign of welding is present. Acceptance document from the lab and the actual x-ray will accompany the sale.