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Bernard Wolfe engraver.

Among my favorite antique arms are those elaborately engraved Colt Single Action Army revolvers produced during the late 19th century. Perhaps it's because I've seen a number of them that were used by the legendary western figures I've read so much about. Maybe it's due to the fact that, to me, such guns represent the ideal marriage of function and beauty--an idea that typifies the Victorian age. Unfortunately, owning an original specimen of one of these engraved Peacemakers is out of the question for most of us when you consider that a typical example could easily cost several thousand dollars in today's collector market.

There is an alternative however. You can have virtually any "plain Jane" gun, old or new, engrave and embellished at a fraction of the cost of one of those old-time classics. Although quality engraving never comes cheap, here's one engraver who offers Victorian style, quality engraving at an affordable price. Bernard Wolfe, an artisan with over 30 years of experience in his craft, engraves in the antique Germanic scroll vein exclusively. For this reason, along with his great talent as an engraver, "Bernie's" finished products have a definite 19th century elegance about them.

I had long yearned for a fully-engraved Peacemaker, but have never been impressed with much of the modern-type engraving commonly available today. However, after my introduction to Bernie, I realized that this was just the man to make my "dram Colt" a reality. I looked at several samples of his work, and to simply say that I was impressed would be a gross understatement. I had a pretty good idea of the overall look I wanted on my gun, so after discussing several design ideas with Bernie Wolfe, I shipped him a Colt. I wanted this sixgun to be special as it was one of the last .45 Colt caliber Single Actions turned out by the factory, having been produced in 1982. Colt had discontinued production of the .45 Colt chambered SAAs in December of 1980; however, some time later enough parts were found to assemble a handful of 4-3/4-inch barreled Peacemakers in this bore size. I was fortunate enough to get hold of one and felt that this gun would make an ideal "presentation" piece to myself!

Well let me tell you, Bernie Wolfe did a magnificent job on this arm. It is elegantly decorated in the manner of Cuno Helfricht, a renown Colt engraver of the late 19th century. The sixgun is also silver plated with heat-blued frame screws--a feature I have long admired on the old-time Colts. This beautiful Peacemaker was fitted with a pair of two-piece, checkered ivory stocks from Eagle Grips (421 A Irmen Drive, Addison, IL 60101). Incidentally, Bernie fitted and cut the checkering on this ivory--again in the old sytle. Of course being a presentation piece, I couldn't resist having my name scripted onto the backstrap, and Bernie executed this elegantly--and that's quite an accomplishment considering my long moniker!

As a finishing touch, Bernie replaced the contemporary stamping of "COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY .45" on the left side of the barrel, to simply ".45 COLT" as would be found on late 19th century SAAs.

The gun, as the accompanying photos show, is tastefully embellished with a combination of floral and sunburst designs. I have to admit, even though I know it is a modern-made Colt, when I look at it, I think of it as a "mint condition" vintage piece of the 1880-1900 era. One of the real joys of owning a firearm such as this is that I can carry it and use it without fear of damaging a 100-year old relic, yet the beauty, and value, of this arm have increased considerably. All who lay eyes on my "new/old" Peacemaker are greatly impressed, and of course I am as proud as a mother hen. It doesn't take much arm twisting to get me to show off my Wolfe-engrave Colt.

Certainly, many engravers are capable of producing beautiful antique style scroll engraving, however such work is Bernie Wolfe's specialty--and his prices are well under those of other equally competent engravers. For example, Bernie charges around $650 to $750 for a fully-engraved Colt Single Action Army such as mine. Anyone who has shopped around for quality engraving work will realize that this is indeed a low price. Of course, polishing and plating are extra, as would be any carving, checkering or scrimshaw work done on the stocks. Wolfe works on all types of firearms; handguns or longarms, as well as knives, watches, or just about anything that can be engraved upon. Currently, he is able to deliver a piece in about 8 to 12 weeks from the time he receives it. He has done many percussion arms. Actually according to Bernie, these and the Colt Single Actions are among his favorites because of their handsome lines and historical significance. It's comforting to know that this exceptional artisan is a fellow black powder gun enthusiast, and that he takes a special pride in turning out firearms that carry on the Victorian tradition of functional elegance.

If you've been contemplating some engraving work for one of your six-shooters, long guns, or any other arm or prized possession, consider Bernie Wolfe. HE knows black powder guns and his style of engraving just "suits you pistol." For price quotes or any further information regarding Bernie Wolfe's engraving skills, send a self addressed stamped envelope to Bernard Wolfe, Dept. GA, 3500 N. Mesa, El Paso, TX 79902, or call him at (915) 5335641. I heartily recommend his work. By the way, if you're ever in my neck of the woods, look me up, I'd love to show you my fancy Wolfe engrave Peacemaker. MOUNTAIN MAN PRINTS

My long-time friend, Jerry Crandall, has recently finished another painting which has been published as a limited edition of 750 prints. Entitled "Trouble On Clear Creek," this 18-3/4-inch by 28-inch full color image excitingly depicts a grizzly bear confronting a pair of mountain men who are setting traps in a high country creek. Each print is signed and numbered, and are printed on Limoge Archival 100 percent rag paper. This is a very high grade of acid free paper that is guaranteed to last for some 300 years!

"Trouble On Clear Creek" sells for $85 plus $8 for shipping, handling and insurance charges, and can be ordered from Eagle Editions Ltd., Dept. GA, P.O. BOX 1830, Sedona, AZ 86336. By the way, they'll accept Visa and Mastercard credit cards. For more information on this colorful print, or other currently offered Crandall works, write Eagle Editions for a brochure, or call them at (602) 284-1412.

Crandall is well known among contemporary western artists, and his art has appeared in many publications, including Guns & Ammo, G&A's modern-day classic volume, Guns of the Gunfighters, Southwest Art, and Rendezvous and Longrifles. He has been a lifelong collector, living historian interpreter and black powder shooter, and has a workable knowledge of the people, arms and equipment portrayed in his paintings. I'm an avid fan of Jerry Crandall's artwork, and I'm sure you will be too when you see "Trouble On Clear Creek." Get in touch with Eagle editions today. GUNSMITHING PLIERS

Anyone who likes to tinker with guns, regardless of whether it's just for light maintenance, or complete gunsmithing chores, can appreciate a good set of sturdy, dependable tools. While I am certainly no gunsmith, I sometimes find it necessary to dismantle firearms and do a variety of minor 'smithing jobs on test guns as well as my own arms. Even clumsy fingers like my own value good tools. Dale Seppa, Dept. GA, 103 Sixth Avenue No., Virginia, MN 55792, is marketing a set of five 4-1/2-inch long hobby pliers which include chain-nose, flat-nose, round-nose, side-cutter, and end-cutter pliers. These are made with non-serrated jaws making them ideal for gunsmithing work. The complete set is packaged in a folding plastic carrying case and retails for $18 postpaid.
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Author:Spangenberger, Phil
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Article Type:column
Date:Jul 1, 1984
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