This is an interesting and unique piece of history from the American western frontier with a great factory letter from the Colt Archives! This antique Colt Double Action Revolver was originally issued to the Tacoma police department in 1898 at the height of the Klondike gold rush. It's in caliber .38 Colt with blued finish, 4-1/2" barrel, and checkered "New Army" hard rubber grips. The left side of the frame is stamped in small font, "CITY OF TACOMA" over the number "8". While many of these DA's were used by police forces around the United States, it is unusual to find one with department markings. Even when you do, they're usually in the form of initials such as "BPD", which leaves collectors guessing as to what city or town the "B" represented. Well, this one is marked Tacoma so there is no mystery or doubt that it was purchased by the City of Tacoma, Washington. Best of all, it has an antique serial number is in the 93,000 range which dates it to the first half of the year 1898. We contacted the Colt Archives for a factory letter which we just received in the mail. The configuration, caliber, and finish letter perfectly...4-1/2", .38 C, blue finish, and rubber grips. It shipped to the Colt Agency in San Francisco, California on March 8, 1898 in a shipment of 25 guns. From there, it must have shipped via train or ship from San Francisco to the port in the Seattle/Tacoma area. The "CITY OF TACOMA" appears good enough to be factory but was most likely applied outside of the factory, perhaps before it left Colt in San Francisco as it appears to have been professionally applied with a roll die, not hand-stamped or engraved.
The question that arose in was what must have been going on in Tacoma, WA at the time to warrant the purchase of new service revolvers for their police force...at least several of them in 1898? Most likely, this had something to do with the influx of prospectors on their way to the gold fields in the Yukon Territory during the Klondike gold rush of 1898. After gold was discovered there in 1897, thousands of men and some women made the trek north to strike it rich. What many people don't know is that Seattle/Tacoma, due to its large bay/ports, is the area where most prospectors left by ship during the Klondike gold rush. Tacoma was founded right below Seattle as the terminus point for the Northern Pacific Railroad. The city motto is "Where rails meet sails"! Prospectors flooded into Tacoma and Seattle, and while there, many purchased "outfits" (large supply kits) to the before leaving port by ship to either Alaska (the Rich Man's Route) or British Columbia (Poor Man's Route). From there, they had a long trek by land to get to the Yukon. One can only imagine that for as many that passed through Tacoma headed north, an equal number would eventually return on their journeys back home. That said, this Colt Revolver was no doubt purchased in 1898 by the city to keep the peace on the streets of Tacoma during one of the last great events in the American west as the sun set on the 19th century. Furthermore, 1898 was also the year the Spanish-American War started and a number of Washington Regiments shipped to the Philippines from its ports. Another event this revolver would have witnessed was the Great White Fleet of the United States Navy when it passed through Tacoma in 1908 during its tour around the world.
Overall Condition grades to NRA Antique Fine Plus Condition with 70% original blue that is thinning from honest carry wear. The trigger, rear of hammer, and several screws show strong traces of their bright original nitre blue in protected areas. Colt assembly numbers are matching on the frame, cylinder yoke, latch, and grips. Note that by the 70-90,000 serial range, Colt no longer applied assembly numbers on the barrels and cylinders and true to form, these are unmarked. The checkered hard rubber grips are in Fine Condition with nice checkered and fairly sharp edges. No chips or broken pieces missing. There is a shallow crack that's beginning to form on the base of the right grip. We can have this repaired free of charge if the customer would like it mended. Nice markings throughout which includes the three line Colt barrel address, "COLT D.A. 38" marking on the left side of barrel, rampant Colt on the rear edge of the frame above the left grip. Original front sight has never been filed or altered. Action cycles in both double and single action modes. Bore is respectable and has a few pits (being from the black powder era) but decent rifling. Good Overall.
If you're looking for a genuine example of a Colt Revolver used by law enforcement in the American west during the 19th century (not some "woulda, coulda, shoulda"), this 1894 New Army would make a great addition to any serious collection and best of all, it won't break the bank. Many of the DA's we've sold over the years from unaltered 1892 US Army's to Wells Fargo Marked DA's have ended up in major collections or sold by more well-known dealers for substantially higher prices. Don't let this one get away! Since it was made before Jan. 1, 1899, it qualifies as a legal antique. Comes with factory letter verifying date of manufacture and shipment to Colt's San Francisco headquarters on March, 8 1898, exactly 120 years to the day when we began this ad for the website.