Beautiful but deadly: the revolver decorated by the world's finest engraver

An auction in California on January 1 looks set to attract both militaria collectors and investors with an eye for exquisite firearms.

The annual Don Presley Auctions New Year sale will feature a rare and important Colt revolver decorated by one of the world's most famous engravers.

The Colt is a late addition to the sale, but one the auction house couldn't refuse. The 44 calibre A2-1 Colt 1882 open-top revolver features a 7 1/2" barrel, unpolished nickel and gold gilt and a magnificent raised carved ivory grip.

The engraving on the barrel is attributed to "the engraver's engraver" Louis D. Nimschke, who was world-renowned for his work on firearms.

The revolver, featuring a carved ivory grip and engraved
barrel, is valued at $50,000 - $75,000

Born in Germany in 1834, Nimschke moved to the United States around 1850. His work has appeared on jewellery, seals, silverware, watch cases and even dog collars, but it was his immaculate engravings on firearms that brought him the attention of the world.

He is the best-known engraver of his era due to the longevity of his career and the body of work he left behind. His distinctive work is much-imitated and coined the terms 'Nimschke scroll' and 'Nimschke star', two styles of decoration still used today.

His famous customers included Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, Maria Cristina of Austria (widow of the King of Spain) and Napoleon III, Emperor of France, and the guns he worked on are some of the most highly prized by collectors.

Only 20 engraved open-top revolvers of this kind are known to exist, and the gun has an estimated price of $50,000 - $75,000. But with the name of Nimschke attached to the gun, the sale looks set to see some very competitive bidding.


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