U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Colt’s Single Action Army (SAA) revolver is one of the most well-known guns of all time. Known colloquially as the Peacemaker, this revolver and the Winchester 1873 lever-action rifle are often regarded as the “Guns that Won the West.”
Many people often attribute the saying, “God made man, but Sam Colt made them equal” to be a reference to the SAA, but Sam had been dead for more than a decade before the gun was introduced. While the overall design of the gun has stayed relatively the same since it was first introduced in 1873, there have been three distinct periods of manufacture. They are referred to as First Generation (1873-1941), Second Generation (1956-1974), and Third Generation (1976-today).
The SAA is, by far, one of the most popular canvases for the art of engraving, and examples from all skill levels can be seen at practically any local gun show. It’s the true showstopper guns that are few and far between.
Master Engraver Howard Dove held the distinction of being one of only two people to have held the position of Master Engraver with both Colt and Winchester – at the same time! It’s a really big deal to be considered a Master Engraver, and an honor to have that title at just one of those companies, but to be a Master Engraver for both is a testament to Dove’s tremendous skill and ability.
Mr. Dove’s clientele has included such luminaries as Gene Autry, Sammy Davis Jr., Hank Williams Jr., John Wayne, his son Michael Wayne, Tom Selleck, and numerous US and foreign government officials.
Founded in 1980, the Colt Collectors Association has more than 2,600 members worldwide who are dedicated to the preservation of Colt firearms and other items produced by the Company, along with the study of the history relating to their development and usage. Each year at their annual meeting, an auction gun is presented as the centerpiece of their fundraising efforts. Each year it’s a different gun with a different theme by a different engraver.
In 1993, they selected Howard Dove to engrave a Buntline Single Action Army tied to the meeting’s location. That year, it was St. Louis, Missouri. Because of a Buntline’s long barrel, Howard had plenty of canvas to work with. He included the Gateway Arch, a steamboat, a sailboat, a bust of Mark Twain, references to the Mississippi River, and more, all of which was beautifully highlighted in gold and complemented with traditional scrollwork. A set of genuine ivory grips with scrimshaw images of a trapper and a Native American round out the complete package.
The level of engraving on this gun is what the Colt Custom Shop would refer to as its base to be “D Master Engraved Signed.” This is above and beyond your traditional D Master Engraved Signed piece of work, but for reference, that level of work starts at $13,000 and doesn’t include engraving on the front sight and hammer or any gold inlay, all of which this gun has plenty.
The auction guns from the Colt Collectors Association’s annual meetings are highly prized by collectors, as no two are exactly alike and each one holds its own place in Colt history and engraving history. That means it’s quite a rare treat that this gun will be available in the May 2021 sale from Lewis & Grant Auctions.
About Logan Metesh
Logan Metesh is a historian with a focus on firearms history and development. He runs High Caliber History LLC and has more than a decade of experience working for the Smithsonian Institution, the National Park Service, and the NRA Museums. His ability to present history and research in an engaging manner has made him a sought after consultant, writer, and museum professional. The ease with which he can recall obscure historical facts and figures makes him very good at Jeopardy!, but exceptionally bad at geometry.