16 – A Crown Jewel Of Engraved Colts

By Museum of Northwest Colorado

Any factory-engraved Colt is a prized artifact, but a genuine Helfricht is a true pinnacle… especially a nickel-plated, .41 caliber Army Special in near-mint condition – a rarity among rarities.
German-born Cuno Helfricht was Colt’s chief engraver for 46 years (1876-1921) – and for good reason. He was a master engraver and his work was heads above the rest. In fact, his German-American style scroll quickly became the quintessential design found on all engraved Colt’s and, thus, is now one of the most iconic designs that represent the American West.
This stunning Colt Army Special is in original and excellent condition. It was a custom, factory order that includes the monogram “JS”; unfortunately we still don’t know the original owner. It was shipped from the Colt factory in 1916 to the Copper City Commercial Co. – a general store once located in Anaconda, Montana.
Despite being 104 years old, its nickel finish still sparkles with the masterful engraving by Helfricht’s own hand. There were occasionally dozens of Colt engravers at any given time; however, Helfricht’s style combined with a few of his own custom-made tools, leave behind subtle clues that point to the engraver’s true identity.
Believe it or not, this beautiful revolver was selected for Museum Marvels simply because of its show-stopping appearance – we had yet to discover the engraver. However, while researching information for this post bells began to ring. This prompted a call (just yesterday!) to Dan Cullity, a modern-day master engraver and esteemed firearm aficionado. He confirmed with no hesitation that this is indeed a genuine Helfricht engraved Colt. We owe a huge thanks to Mr. Cullity for taking our call on such short notice!