Colt Firearms History
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Colt engraving and other fancy stuff

After the contract with the Allies took effect on July 1, 1874, high-margin embellishment of Open Top .22s proliferated.  In the pre-contract period most of such work was done by distributors.and is rare.  Engraving in this period appears to have been mostly the work of Louis D. Nimschke.  For example, of the Type 1 only a handful of are known to have been engraved, those by Nimschke.

Engraved Open Top .22s that appear in the following pages are not exhaustive of the patterns observed.  Factory engraving of those so identified has been confirmed by Colt Archives, but other patterns may be discovered.

While premium factory stocks of rosewood and ebony were available in the pre-contract period, factory ivory and pearl are not seen until about April 1874.  They were supplied by Julius Kaldenberg of New York.

Wood stocks are often numbered to the gun; pearl and ivory only infrequently.

Note that on early models a high proportion of copper in the bronze lends the metal a rich patina that may appear to be gold. In later models the proportion of copper was reduced and the metal tends towards brass.

For we laity, identifying engraving is often a difficult proposition.  Auction houses get it wrong all the time.  

The two most prolific engravers of the Open Top .22 were Cuno Helfricht (Colt factory) and Louis D. Nimschke of New York.  Here is a simple guide which will help you to distinguish between them.