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A Centennial Colt

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To mark the Centennial Celebration held in Philadelphia in 1876, many American firms showcased their products in an exposition that came to be recognized as the first World's Fair. Over 10 million visitors toured the exposition's grounds, which held over 200 buildings filled with items that exhibited the nation's emerging industrial and innovative prowess. One of the major arms manufacturers represented was the Colt Patent Firearms Company of Hartford, Conn.

Colt exhibited 18 embellished examples of their new Single Action Army model revolvers at the Centennial Exposition. This engraved, nickel-plated .45, fitted with checkered ivory grip panels, was one of the 18. After its public display in Philadelphia, it later found its way into the hands of a Dawes County, Neb., sheriff named H.D. Winship, who personalized the revolver with an engraved gold plate mounted on the underside of the barrel.

A note that accompanied this gun read, "Old gun, we have seen stirring tight times. You have been a friend to me most true."

Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, Aug. 2008.