COLT PINK/MAROON PICTURE BOX FOR SINGLE ACTION .45 WITH SMOOTHBORE 7 1/2 INCH BARREL !!!
L & M Enterprises is offering a "pink" hued, two piece hinged, Colt picture box with top and end labels specifying a Colt Single Action Army revolver in caliber .45, with 7 1/2 inch barrel and a SMOOTHBORE. This is the first and only picture box that we have ever seen (either in person or in published reference materials) for a Colt SAA .45 SMOOTHBORE. As it turns out, no one with whom we have consulted, nor anyone who contacted us while we were researching this box, has ever seen a box for a Colt SAA smoothbore either. We have delayed offering this potential treasure for sale because we could not confirm the authenticity of the box. After approximately 6 months of advertising the box on our website and on Guns America with a request for information, and after discussing the box with several knowledgeable and experienced Colt collectors and dealers, we have concluded that the box MAY be authentic or it MAY NOT be authentic. The reason for our indecisiveness is that we have collected a group of opinions about the box from knowledgeable, learned and experienced Colt collectors and dealers and authors, but we do not have a unified judgment as to whether the box is genuine or a "reproduction". Those wonderful Colt enthusiasts who inspected the box, either in person or through color photographs, and who offered their evaluations did not agree as to the genuineness of the box: some of the opinions were definite that the box was authentic, and some of the opinions were definite that the box was not produced by Colt. While several persons made comparisons between this box and other Colt boxes that they either owned or had inspected personally, no one could offer conclusive evidence that this box was not authentic, and no one could reference a Colt SAA .45 caliber, 7 1/2 smoothbore box for comparison. Additionally, one expert advised us that the Colt company has declined to describe details about the boxes from the 1800s, advising that they did not know what the boxes looked like. So the factory itself is not a source for details about materials, construction, illustration, dimensions etc. This means that the production source for this box and all other Colt boxes is of no help in determining authenticity of boxes. That leaves those of us who are interested in Colts and all things connected with them to determine authenticity by seeking out examples of the early boxes which we can study and document. There are Colt enthusiasts who are engaged in that very activity, but the results of their efforts are still in process (and even when published, will be based on what they have been able to observe and document; leaving anything that they have not observed in a state of questionable genuineness, at least until additional study is completed). From the work that has been completed to date, we have learned that there are several versions of Colt pistol boxes that differ from one another with variations in color (exterior box and hinge, and label inks), dimensions and/or picture labels. One experienced Colt enthusiast indicated to us that he could tell a difference between authentic boxes and boxes suspected of not being authentic from the interior smell when the boxes were opened. While we respect the individual and his sincerity, we wonder about the effects of age, black powder use, preservatives and lubricants, storage environment, moisture and temperature variations, and similar exogenous elements on the perceived smell of any box.
One possibly significant factor in determining authenticity for this box, is that the box was found, reportedly, in England some time ago. Why would that matter? Well, there was a Colt production facility in England during the mid-1800s. Colt had two manufacturing facilities, one in the USA and one in London (established ~1853). The London Factory was opened nearly two years prior to Colt's completion of their new USA facility in NH. Interestingly, in this context, smoothbore Colts were either shipped to or manufactured in London in the late 1800s to support Buffalo Bill and his "Wild West Show. One Colt SAA, serial number 128863 is documented with a Colt factory letter as a “Cal. 45 smooth bore, 7 ½ inch barrel” SAA with blue finish, shipped to the Colts Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company the London Agency; 14 Pal Mal London, England October 10th, 1889. It was at this very time that Buffalo Bill was just across the channel at his Wild West show and at about this same time the famous Paris International Exposition was in place. Buffalo Bill purchased a number of Colt smooth bore revolvers from the Colt manufacturing company. He and some of the other “expert shots” who performed at the time usually used shot and smooth bore pistols so they stood less of a chance of missing their air-borne targets! The London Agency, referred to in the Colt factory letter for serial number 128863, was the distributor for the London Factory. The factory produced firearms, for example, London Navy Models, and other models, and received shipments from the USA. Shipments of completed revolvers from the USA would be “made ready” by the London Factory. “Made ready” would involve inspecting, GB proofing, caliber adjustments, if required, for example, Eley, application of special finishes, and similar tasks necessary to make Colt firearms ready for shipment to, or to fill orders from, the London Agency. The reason that the existence of a Colt factory in England is important to our box is that its discovery in London, suggests that it might have been from the London Factory. We don’t know that it was made in the London Factory but just suppose. If the Colt London facilities produced firearms in the 1800s, did they also produce the packaging and accessories that accompanied the firearms, including pink/maroon/red Colt picture boxes? Could that mean that the Colt boxes produced in London varied from the Colt boxes produced in New Hampshire....if not in design and illustration, certainly in materials....cardboard produced in the USA would certainly not have the same consistency or coloring as cardboard manufactured in the UK would it? Could the box that we are offering today have been made by Colt in London and observable variations between this box and other 1800's era Colt boxes made in the USA be the result of different manufacturers and different materials? We don't know the answers to these questions and neither did those with whom we consulted while trying to authenticate this box. We only know that this box is very similar in terms of color, dimensions and construction to boxes presumed to be authentic. Dissimilarities involve the type of cardboard used in the Colt boxes, and the absence of a label on the inside of the box top.....but we do not know for sure that all Colt boxes had labels on the inside of the box tops, or, if this box was made in England, that the London Factory placed labels in the tops of the boxes.
So, this box is what it is, and you are the judge of its authenticity and of its value. We don't certify the authenticity nor do we certify that it is a reproduction. Accept it or reject it based on your own knowledge and conclusions.
The box is now for sale, and we believe that it would be a wonderful accompaniment to a collection of Colt firearms and accessories, even if you DON'T own a smooth bore 45 with a 7 1/2 barrel to go with it. Here is the description of the box, for your consideration, described as found: Colt Pink/Maroon SAA Picture Box for “Colt’s S. A. Pistol Smoothbore .45” with 7 ½ inch barrel. Box is amazingly fine with a complete picture label on top of box and complete end label on lower portion of box right end. All printing is in red ink. Some characters are rubbed or scratched and are missing portions of the red ink. Strong hinge across entire back. Strong corners on top and bottom portions of box. Interior shows impression of Colt long barreled revolver storage with “ghostly” representation of barrel, cylinder, hammer, and grip areas. Bottom of box has paper label of same substance as top label but without lettering or images....plain ivory color with accumulated “blackening” from the “dust of ages”. Top box Label: “COLT’S / Single Action Revolver / Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Co., / HARTFORD, CONN.”” End Label: “7 1/2 / Colt’s S. A. Pistol / SMOOTHBORE / .45"
Approximate Dimensions, in inches: Length, Top – 14 3/16; Length Bottom – 14 1/8 Length, Bottom, Inside at Ledge for Top Rest – 14; Width, Top – 4 15/16; Width, Bottom -- 4 15/16; Width, Bottom, Inside at Ledge for Top Rest -- 4 ¾; Depth, Overall, Top Closed –1 ¾; Depth, Top Only – 21/32; Depth, Bottom Only—1 ½; Top Label, Length – 13 7/8; Top Label, Height – 4 11/16; End Label, Length – 4 7/16; End Label, Height -- 15/16.