Past owners of this low numbered Colt have included arms maker Samuel Colt, who likely took it to Great Britain as the promotional prototype for his series of percussion revolvers to be sold through Colt's London Armory, and the poet scout Captain Jack Crawford, who likely placed the "w. f. Cody" punch dot marking on the side of its barrel at the time he received it as a gift. Over the years, this .36-caliber handgun resided in many famous American arms collections.
But the most illustrious owner of this scroll-engraved Colt with serial number 1 was the larger-than-life frontiersman called "Buffalo Bill." A Pony Express rider, star of the play "The Scouts of the Prairies," hero of countless dime novels, Wild West show organizer, buffalo hunter and recipient of the Medal of Honor, William Frederick Cody was at one point considered the most recognizable celebrity on earth and a walking Western legend. Clad in buckskins, the bearded Cody drew crowds everywhere he traveled.
Loaned to the National Firearms Museum by a friend of the National Rifle Association, this single-action Colt revolver is on exhibit with firearms once owned by fellow Wild West show star Annie Oakley.
Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, Dec. 2007.