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Colt 1911 - help estimating age and value

Discussion in 'Handgun Discussion' started by ATCclears, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. ATCclears

    ATCclears Seattle area, WA Well-Known Member

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    My wife's grandfather had a full-size Colt 1911 in WWI, and after being in a friend's safe we just got the pistol back. Can anyone help to estimate the age and value? We have no plans to sell the pistol - it would just be fun to know more.

    On the left side of the slide:
    Colt's PT F.A. Mfg. Co
    Hartford, CA. U.S.A.

    On the right side of the slide:
    Model of 1911. U.S. Army

    Serial no: 394101

    The pistol is pitted after sitting for too long in the leather holster.

    Any input or interesting websites appreciated. :)

    Thx,
    Peter

    photo.jpg

    photo(1).jpg
     
  2. Greenbug

    Greenbug Bend Well-Known Member

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    Manufacture year of 1918 according to Proofhouse.com
     
  3. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Nice WWI era Colt and from the looks of it US Issue. The condition will effect its value greatly. First thing to do is to get some quality oil into that metal. DO NOT TRY TO CLEAN IT. ONLY oil it anything that comes off with oil is fine. But if you start to try to remove the rust you will end up removing finish and do further damage to the value and condition of the pistol.

    It should be properly cleaned by someone knowledgeable in collectible firearms and then kept oiled and clean. NEVER in a holster or gun rug but laying on a soft cloth and flipped over every so often in a cool dry place.

    You should of course contact COLT for a letter to have proof of the pistols provenance the letter will add to the value of the pistol. There is a cost for the research and letter but its value exceeds the cost.
     
  4. Oro

    Oro Western WA Active Member

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    I see the eagle acceptance stamp on the frame above the mag release, but I don't see the "US Property" stamp on the dust cover forward of that. The contour line looks low and perhaps it was removed (this was common, unfortunately). For a military gun in that poor a condition, I think a relatively expensive Colt letter would be of very little aid or value. It is though in fortunate original condition and would be a candidate for a restoration, though that is pricey and not necessarily a break-even proposition.
     
  5. iamme

    iamme Lane County Well-Known Member

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    Maybe a colt commercial? Pics aint best but appears same stamp as this commercial
    http://www.coolgunsite.com/images/1911/1918sn334070/MVC-777F.JPG

    IF it was in good shape still I could see getting a letter. The only way a letter MAY help at this point is if it was shipped to someone and has a history. Value is hugely subjective as the "true collectors" mainly look for those 90%+ all original guns. The good news though is it's usually the non-collector collector that will pay more for items like this.
     
  6. ATCclears

    ATCclears Seattle area, WA Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all input so far.

    Oro is correct about the stamp on the left side and above the magazine release. I could not have told you that it was an eagle in the stamp, but it has S12 immediately below that tiny image. I also think Oro is correct about the "US Property" stamp being removed - there are many parallel, light scratches in that area such that I think someone used a file or other.

    We have no plans to sell the pistol. Can anyone guestimate what a Colt letter might cost? Honestly, if it is more than say $150 then it is not worth the cost or effort to us.

    Peter
     
  7. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    More then likely "liberated' from Uncle Sam at some point in it's life as a service weapon.
    Value is diminished by removal of the roll mark. take it apart, inspect and clean it, and have fun, it's a shooter.
     
  8. iamme

    iamme Lane County Well-Known Member

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    Colt letter is $100 iirc, and if it's had the USP mark removed it's now worth nothing as far as collector value go's.
     
  9. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    It's still nice because it was her granddaddy's pistol! It will still be functioning after your great grand children have passed. Try to put together a written combat history of the grandfather for the future generations of your family. It will be fun for them! Ditto on having it inspected and serviced by a smith or someone knowledgeable abt Colts. I would bet that someone on this site would volunteer to preform that service for you. Congratulations!
     
  10. JimmyD

    JimmyD Salem,Or Member

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    On the outside it looks straight but finish condition will be a major factor. Condition sells... If it's totally straight with no pitting and nice finish could be worth $1800-$2000 but this one looks to be in the $1000-$1400 range. All speculation without really examining it.
     
  11. iamme

    iamme Lane County Well-Known Member

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    Except I'm guessing you missed the ground off roll mark?
     
  12. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    $1000-1400 bucks will buy you a really nice Colt 1911.
    Vintage government 1911's are nice, but condition and possible illegally taken from the US government are what places a value on this piece.
    My best guess is it's worth around $475 to $575 as a shooter. That's all I would pay if offered to me.
     
  13. JimmyD

    JimmyD Salem,Or Member

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    You are correct, I did...
     
  14. iamme

    iamme Lane County Well-Known Member

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    No worries Jimmy!!

    And I agree with the above number. A lot of people, knowingly or not, would shoot for 700-1K and hope person buying is clueless. Please don't :)

    Since its shot as a collector piece- I would find a good smith (not turnbull based on reviews and budget). Have them clean it up and a nice blue job. Maybe even Colt custom shop since its a Colt or try Springfield if it doesn't better. Keep it as a family piece.
     
  15. MountainBear

    MountainBear Sweet Home, OR Well-Known Member

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    I would value it at between $550 and $600. The last one I sold had better finish and the US Property mark and sold for $750, but non-original grips and no holster.
     
  16. ATCclears

    ATCclears Seattle area, WA Well-Known Member

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    MountainBear, thanks. We have the holster and we believe the grips are original.

    Peter
     
  17. MountainBear

    MountainBear Sweet Home, OR Well-Known Member

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    For insurance purposes, I would put the value between $750 and $1000 to be on the safe side. That would be high for sale value, but good for insurance purposes.