Need Help With An Appraisal
This is my first post here and don't hardly know a thing about guns, but my grandfather, who's getting up there in age, recently pulled out a really beautiful gun that he has been saving to pass down as a family heirloom. He's curious to know if it has any value, so I told him I would ask around. I apologize if there is any specific etiquette that I'm not following here, but would love to know if you guys can tell me anything about this piece.
Without further ado:
As the story goes, this gun was carried by a Mexican outlaw/cowboy back in the 20's (although I have no idea when the gun was actually made). He drew his weapon on a ranch foreman, who was a faster shot, and got himself killed. There are four notches cut into the handle, which we can only assume are in memory of his victims. The foreman took the weapon for his own, and eventually gave it to a boy that grew up on the ranch. That boy learned to shoot with the weapon, and kept it for 40 years, until he passed it on to my grandfather in the early 60's. Grandad has kept it safe ever since.
The markings read:
For 38 Colts Special CTGS
Butt of the handle:
Made in Belgium
And every piece of the gun has the number 2 inscribed on it (part number or serial number?)
Photos below. I would love to know if you guys could tell me anything about it or point me in the right direction. It won't be sold but I know he would love to learn a little more about it before passing down.
There are six (6) or seven (7) notches cut into the grip, not four (4).
It's a Belgian copy, somewhat inaccurately engineered, of the Colt's Model 1877 "Lightning," double-action (DA) revolver, but with some visual features of the Colt's "Frontier" Model or Model 1873 Single-Action Army.
For all I know, its engineering might be an improvement over that of Colt's Model 1877, since the Colt's "Lightning" had a reputation for fragility.
Anyway, it's trying to trade on a superficial resemblance to several different Colt's products.
It has Belgian proof marks, I believe from the Liege Proof House, on its cylinder.
If every important piece of it bears the number "2," then that's its serial number.
That low serial number might make it somewhat valuable, but only if you can figure out exactly who made it.
(There are books about the Belgian arms-makers and their products. It may be worth your research time.)
In its day, it was a cheap gun—maybe even junk. It may have misfired, way back in the '20s, during the fight in which its owner was killed.
But it has historical value, if you can prove its provenance in a satisfactory manner.
It's a real, old-west artifact.
A signed statement from your grandfather, or from its previous owner, would be very useful, as would the name and hometown (or home state) of the dead Mexican cowboy.
Whatever you do, do not try to fire it!
I once had an almost identical revolver, marked "Cowboy Ranger", and a list of cartridges on the barrel to include .38 Colt, .38 Special and .38 S&W. To my amazement, my Dad loaded and fired some .38 S&W cartridges in that gun. Now you're not supposed to be able to do that.
These were made in Belgium around the World War I period and may have been brought back by returning Doughboys. I was able to sell mine about 1985 or so for $50 to someone who wanted it as a decorator's piece.
If you can document the history of the gun and/or find a link to a famous or infamous person, the value might go to $100 or slightly higher. Without documentation, its just an interesting conversation piece.
I don't mean to be raining on your parade, but don't want to inflate your idea of its value, either.
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