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Identification & values.


Q: I'd like to know about two pistols my dad left me. The first is a Colt Police Positive, .38 Special, serial number 371XXX. Dad was a lawyer and circuit judge in Tampa and said he got this pistol from a client in the mid-1950s. He said the client told him it came from a guy who was reputed to be in the Tampa Mafia (Trafficante family). The grips have two initials carved very nicely into the bottoms, "D" in one, "S" in the other. When I took off the grips to make another pair (a hobby of mine is making pistol grips), there was a flat piece of lead in there, between the spring and frame. It had a groove filed into it for the grip screw. I wonder if it was a weight for "pistol whipping" an adversary or to somehow compensate for recoil. The gun is quite accurate; I passed my CCW shooting test with it. I know less about the second one. It's a Colt 1903 auto in .32 ACP, serial number 375XXX. It is a compact little pistol and looks a lot like a Model 1911, right down to the grip safety.

--B.S., Dade City, FL

A: Both of your guns are classics of their type. The Colt Police Positive was one of the most popular revolvers ever built and was offered in a number of different variations and calibers. The 1903 Colt Pocket Hammerless auto was also a highly regarded item. The serial number on your dad's Police Positive indicates it was manufactured in 1935. I must admit, I've never heard of the lead-in-the-butt trick, but it certainly could have been placed there to give the gun a bit more authority if used as a sap, or it could have been meant to help lessen recoil. Your 1903 was built in 1921.



Q: Can you tell me anything about this gun my grandfather had? It was manufactured by Bacon Arms Co. .22 Short caliber, seven-shot single-action revolver, spur trigger, solid frame, 2 1/2-inch round barrel, fluted cylinder, bird's-head grips, nickeled, marked, "Conqueror Pat. Dec. 10, '78."

--B.M., via email

A: Thomas K Bacon was a Connecticut gunmaker who founded three firms, lasting on and off between around 1850 to 1888. His companies were responsible for a number of different types of arms--everything from larger, almost service-size revolvers through pepperboxes and single-shots to small revolvers such as yours. As well as the Conqueror, the Bacon Arms also offered guns with such creative names as "Penetrator" and "Bonanza."


Q: I am 70 years old and remember--as a kid--my father going hunting with my grandfather's shotgun in Ohio. He would return with a few pheasants, rabbits and a couple red marks on his shoulder. I was always fascinated with "the shotgun" I was never able to shoot or hunt with. Even with five brothers, the shotgun was given to me 40 years ago, and I continue to admire it. But I want to know more about this special gun. I plan to write a short note about it and how much it meant to me, just a piece of history for my family. But I haven't been able to find any specific information about it, so I hope you can help me. The shotgun is from "New Haven Arms Co," New Haven, Conn. It's a 12-gauge double with Damascus barrels. The serial number is 501XX. It says "Patented Aug 12, 1884." There are the normal nicks from how old it is, and the right firing-pin tip has been broken off Other than that, the barrel inside and out is as smooth and shiny as my Winchester 1200 pump. I never fire my grandfather's gun but just keep it clean and oiled. When I hold it, I think of another day, another time and some old stories from my father.

--E.H., via email

A: There have been several references to New Haven Arms Co., the most famous being the one that was started in 1857 and later became the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. Unfortunately, your shotgun has no connection with that firm. There were other companies using this trade name, and this is most likely what you have. It was a good, reasonably priced working gun, similar to others of the period. As I recollect, the New Haven name was also used on some Belgian imports, but if your piece does not have Liege proofmarks, then it's probably a domestic product. Isn't it just wonderful to have a family heirloom to which you can connect so many fond memories?



Q: I am hoping you can help me find out the value of a firearm I recently acquired. It is a Browning BAR in .30-06. The serial number is 137PV08XXX. It has a Kahles Helia 8x56 scope that reads "Made in Austria 336XXX" on the side. The barrel is marked with a circle with a crown with the letters "PV" in the circle, and it has a "T" with a star above it. Any information would be greatly appreciated, especially the scope, as I am totally unfamiliar with it.

--J.M., Bay Minette, AL

A: The excellent Browning BAR semiautomatic rifle, introduced in 1967, has been produced in several grades and calibers including .243 Win., .270 Win., .280 Win., .308 Win., .30-06, 7mm Rem. Mag, .300 Win. Mag. and .338 Win. Mag. The "137" code in your gun's serial number indicates it is a Grade I, which is the standard model. Assuming 98 percent condition, its value is $635. Because it is fitted with the excellent Kahles Helia scope, you can tack on a few more hundred bucks, depending upon the condition of the optics.


Q: I have a rifle passed down in the family. It is a Winchester Model 90 .22 WRF in good condition. The barrel is round and 22 inches long. The serial number is 432XXX.

--L.W., Salt Lake City, UT

A: The Winchester Model 1890 pump action was manufactured from 1890 to 1941. More than 750,000 were built. The serial number on your piece places its date of manufacture at 1911. A Third Model 1890 (which is what you have) in 80 percent condition is worth $650.


Q: Please provide me with the history and value of this weapon. On top of the barrel is stamped "address Col. Sam Colt, New York, US America." On the left side is "Colt's Patent." On the cylinder is a picture of sailing ships with "Colt Patent 1850." The serial number 203XXX appears in three places.

--C.M., via email

A: You have a .36-caliber Colt Model 1851 Navy revolver. This was one of the most popular and best percussion revolvers ever designed and was used in large numbers by civilians and the military worldwide. Some were very highly embellished, and these can bring substantial prices. Model 1851 Colt Navys were manufactured from 1850 to 1873. Some 215,348 were produced in the United States and London. Your revolver was manufactured in 1867 Without a condition report, it's tough to give you a precise value. Assuming 60 percent shape, a standard, unengraved, c. 1867 Colt '51 Navy is worth in the $2,500 to $3,000 range.


Q: I read your column every month and always learn about unknown weapons' values and history. In the restoration and cleaning of an old house, we found a pistol wrapped in a rag and hidden in the top of a closet, probably to keep away from kids years ago. It is in fine working condition, but has rusted mildly on the outside. The bluing on the inside of the components is like new. The strange thing about this pistol is that it has an aluminum handle. Maybe you can shed some light on its history and value for me. It is stamped "Model A Target, Page Lewis Arms Company, Chicopee Falls Mass USA .22 LR."

--R.L.H., Mobile, AL

A: Page Lewis was a firm that started business in the early 1920s and was eventually absorbed by the Stevens Arms Company. It was mostly known for small, inexpensive single-shot rifles. I must admit, in checking my many references I can find no info on an auto pistol such as the one you describe. Perhaps one of my readers can help out.


* An extremely rare Sharps Sporting Rifle and accompanying buffalo hunter's equipment sold for a remarkable $86,250, plus premiums, at the March 12, 2012, James D Julia Fireams and Knife Auction. The .50-70-caliber rifle, which is in very fine condition--the barrel retaining 90 to 92 percent blued finish--was fitted with an original sporting windage tang sight as well as the barrel-mounted Lawrence Patent ladder sight. The stock still has some 40 percent of its original varnish. Accompanying the rifle was a selection of period buffalo hunter's gear to include an original Sharps case, two .50-caliber bullet molds, an original box of Sharps .50 cartridges, DuPont powder tin, hide scale, iron lead pot, double knife sheath and belt. and George W. Hamm hunting knife and skinning knife. All in all, a wonderful collection. For more information about this and future sales, contact James D Julia, 207/453-7125,



* The Goliath tracked mine, a precursor to today's robotic armaments, was actually employed by the Germans during World War II. Based on an earlier French design (not a good start, right away), this wire-guided little piece of mobile ordnance measured just over four feet long and two feet wide. It could carry up to 220 pounds of high explosive, theoretically to the heart of the enemy. Posessed of an electric motor, the Leichter Ladungstrager (light charge carrier), nicknamed "Goliath," moved along at a poky six mph. Despite the fact that almost 8,000 of these potentially lethal trapezoids were produced, its slow speed, low freeboard and questionable guidance setup limited its use considerably, despite the fact that it was widely deployed throughout Europe--even making an appearance at Normandy on D-Day.

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Title Annotation:GUN ROOM
Author:James, Garry
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 23, 2012
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