October 25, 2023 The Paul Friedrich Collection of Firearms & Gold Rush
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 10/25/2023
Manufactured 1888 per Colt factory letter. The letter indicates gun shipped as a 4 - 3/4" nickel gun with checkered ivory grips in .41 Colt (likely a factory error, as there is another error in the letter) to G.A. Gabrielson, May 5th, 1888, factory engraved with additional remarks that a name was engraved on the backstrap, but no details regarding name. The backstrap is engraved "L.P. Barton from his friends San Diego California April 3rd 1888". The gun is one of Helfricht's masterpieces, with approximately C class coverage of his scrollwork on a punch dot background, accented with geometrics and florals throughout, and bordered vignettes around the Colt patent information of frame, the address on top of barrel, and the serial number on the butt. The top strap is particularly well engraved with scrollwork, and the cylinder is extensively engraved, going so far as to dress the flutes. Checkered ivory grips have shrunk ever so slightly, but are still an exceptional fit. L.P. Barton, born Lorenzo Poe Barton, was a significant police officer in San Diego during the mid-late 1880s, a particularly volatile time for the city as the transcontinental railroad was completed in November of 1885, and the population exploded. As typically happens when a population explodes that quickly, a number of bad actors also arrived in San Diego, and by 1887 the City approved City Marshal Joe Coyne hiring help, with the final count numbering over 20 police officers. They largely handled minor disturbances such as drunkness, vagrancy, and enforcing the curfew that required saloons to close at 11:00pm, a practice that often did not happen, allegedly because the saloons paid off the police. Gambling dens were also the subject of police investigation, as California had functionally outlawed gambling in 1885; in 1888, an investigation was made into the nature of gambling in San Diego, and the results were mixed. Some argued that gambling was largely absent from San Diego, while others said that most saloons were engaging in gambling (particularly stud-horse poker), and, as police were not to enter the establishments unless making arrests, they were not privy to the extent of the issue. Others claimed that the police were demanding bribes, with the owner of the Hub saloon accusing Barton of trying to extort $100, a charge Barton denied. Coyne said that his men were told to arrest gamblers, but admitted that he knew of "a gambler named Earp" who had defied arrest; Wyatt Earp was running faro out of a Sixth Street saloon, and when confronted Earp told the officer "if he came after his [Earp's] game he would get into his coffin.". During this time Barton was made deputy constable, as he is found listed as such in the San Diego Directory in 1888; while no definitive information exists, it stands to reason that Barton received this gun from his friends as a congratulatory gift. Further supporting this theory is the Colt letter listing shipment to G.A. Gabrielson (a typo, as Maxwell's directory only lists G.E. Gabrielson, not G.A.), another policeman in San Diego. Ultimately, in 1889, 6 police officers were let go, Barton among them. The reasoning is unclear, but the article states that it was no reflection on the men, and that "when the men were appointed it was with the understanding that at the end of sixty days such removals would be made by the commission as they saw fit, without preferring charges", and that a member of the commission had been on the streets telling people that Barton in particular "won't be on the force long". Barton continued to pursue a career in law enforcement as a private detective, and is referenced in 1893 in a June edition of The Morning Call in an article entitled "Outlaw Hunting" about the Harry N. Morse detective agency chasing Chris Evans and John Sontag. Barton offered extensive commentary about the two men, noting that they were no longer popular amongst the people as the men had moved from railroad and express robberies to murder, and their rapidly decreasing funds meant they could no longer buy goodwill. Barton then appears in November of the same year, involved in the arrest of several men who were stealing wire. In an August 31st, 1894 newspaper, he was searching for a Henry Steward, a seaman who disappeared; Barton was looking for Steward or his descendants to close a bank account. The last case involving Barton is found in a small article in the Record Union of Sacramento, where Barton was looking for a James Beatty, or his descendants. Barton passed in San Mateo, California, on April 6th, 1937. CONDITION: Overall excellent, near fine, with crisp engraving throughout and much, approximately 60%, of the original nickel finish remains, with areas of losses scattered throughout and at high edges such as ejector rod housing; left side of gun exhibits more losses than right, possibly from being placed on something. Engraving is crisp and clearly executed by a master. Screws even have much nitre bluing, with some rubbing noticeably on male ends on left side of frame. Ivory grips are excellent, with good color and grain, and some black striations common to old ivory. Mechanically fine, bore is excellent with strong rifling and minor oxidation throughout. This revolver is one of the best examples extant, given its provenance and rarity, and this may be your only chance to acquire it before it disappears into an institution or a jealously guarded private collection.
Barrel Length
4 - 3/4"
.45 Colt
FFL Status
Single Action Army
Factory Letter, Newspaper articles
Serial Number
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $38,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium: $79,200.00
Estimate: $75,000 - $125,000
Number Bids: 18
Auction closed on Wednesday, October 25, 2023.
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