This is a very strong example of an early Colt Single Action Army Revolver in scarce .450 Eley Caliber and London Pall Mall Barrel Address. Its in remarkable condition for such an early gun. Low serial number is in the 38,000 range. Made in 1877. Like most London SAA's it has the "short" barrel....which measures 5 1/2". Side of triggerguard is marked "45 B". We used to think these were .450 Boxer because of the "B" notation but have been told by other collectors that these will usually letter as 450 Eley. Being shipped to England, it of course has London proofs on the barrel and cylinder. These markings are tiny!!!! This SAA has the early style donut ejector rod, black powder frame, early walnut grips, and early pattern hammer knurling. The Colt Single Action enjoyed strong sales with British Officers who preferred the smoother and well-balanced Colt to some of the more awkward English revolvers. Since Colt offered their revolvers in British military calibers like the .450 Boxer, .450 Eley, and .476 Eley, through their London Agency, this made their products more practical and competitive against the English makes like Webley and Adams. This one looks as though it may have been carried by a military officer given the lanyard loop install on the bottomstrap. It even has its original braided leather lanyard intact.
The only other non-original item to note is a small number stamped on right side of frame. Yes, I'm like you..would prefer to see it not there at all but we believe there lies a story to this marking and we may know just what it is. We've seen these types of numbers before...usually a prefix followed by a 4 digit number. Several years ago, we came across an old Winchester with a similar marking and made an inquiry to Ian Skennerton, author of several books and God of all British Military Arms. Of course, he knew right away...had even written a magazine article about this very subject...which left me marveling at Mr. Skennerton's dedication to both broadness and depth of his work. It turns out that during the dark and uncertain days of WW2, some former British Colonies began confiscating guns from non-residents and foreigners as a safe-guard against Gov't subversion or aiding an enemy. Each weapon taken was recorded and assigned a number with the intent of being eventually returned to its rightful owner after the War. Whether or not they were ever returned is somewhat of a mystery, but that is the theory we think this number symbolizes. The marking itself appears quite old but not as old as the weapon itself.
Overall condition grades to NRA Antique Fine with most of the finish loss due to being kept in a holster rather than wear. The frame shows 15-20% strong original case colors mostly towards the more sheltered areas..down in the pinch at the front of the frame, above and below the recoil shield, back or recoild shield around hammer, in front of the trigger guard, and on the topstrap down in the sighting groove. Strong traces of original case color on the hammer and some evidence of fire blue on the sides of trigger. The barrel is mostly turned to a grey patina that is beginning to frost over to a patina. Strong traces of original blue along sides of ejector housing. Cylinder is mostly grey with lots of age-darkened blue down in the flutes. Trigger guard and front strap still show about 40% original blue while the bottom strap shows 75% original blue and backstrap has a remarkable 80-85% blue. Clearly, given the high percentage of blue in such a high wear area like the backstrap, the overall loss of original finsih on this revolver was not due to handling wear but storage in a leather holster. Action works perfectly with all 4 clicks. Bore is excellent. Screw are good overall...some show turn marks and a couple are a bit wavy but none boogered and all are serviceable. Grips are in very good condition showing 50% original varnish and good wood to metal fit. A nice example of an early Colt Single Action sold through Colt's London Agency; most likely to a British Military Officer.