Wild West Americana: Buffalo Bill's Savage Model 1907
October 09, 2013
Normally a Model 1907 Savage pistol doesn't command a lot of collector interest, unless it was one of the approximately 400 manufactured in .45 ACP caliber for the 1907-1911 U.S. Military Trials. This pistol is a great example of what happens when a documented famous provenance can be linked up with a relatively ordinary firearm.
This particular Savage special order pistol was accepted from the factory on June 12, 1911, and shipped on Aug. 22 of the same year to Col. W. F. Cody. It is chambered for .32 ACP, has an all-blue finish — except case colored trigger — a 3 ¾-inch barrel with fixed sights, and smooth pearl grips with medallions that include the Savage Arms Co. logo in the center. The frame and slide are lightly engraved with foliate arabesque patterns, with matching engraving on the heel of the backstrap. The best part about the backstrap, however, is the engraved name, which is "Col. W.F. Cody."
Becoming more and more important on a potentially significant gun like this is the provenance and research to back up its famous history. This gun has been featured on Page 308 of R.L. Wilson's book, The Peacemakers. Mr. Wilson also goes on to state that the majority of known Buffalo Bill guns are in museums, and therefore unavailable to collectors. Additionally, a 1979 letter from Savage Historian Roe S. Clark states that the factory hand-written ledger book indicates this pistol was marked "SPEC. GRADE", in addition to being shipped to Col. W. F. Cody.
Also included in this gun's provenance is a bill of sale dated April 29, 1979, indicating this pistol, identified by Serial No. 33177, was sold from a Greg Curtis to Gene Schulze for the sum of $150. It has also been featured in the July 1975 issue of Arms Gazette.
All of this historical provenance makes this gun one of the most historically significant Savage pistols ever manufactured. After receiving this pistol, Buffalo Bill Cody wrote a resounding endorsement for Savage pistols, which was probably the intent of the presentation all along. Buffalo Bill Cody was the first real true showman in the United States, and his Wild West shows won universal acclaim both domestically and internationally. Undoubtedly, he was the most recognized and influential American during his day.
So what's this gun worth? That's a good question, and a large auction is certainly the best way of finding out what the high end of this pistol's potential value could be. With a condition factor of approximately 90 percent, a standard, non-engraved Model 1907 Savage in .32 ACP is worth approximately $200. At the recent James D. Julia auction, this pistol hammered for a very impressive $66,125, including the 15-percent auction premium! The estimate range was $50,000-$100,000. Was it worth it? For the winning bidder, obviously so. However, maybe the under bidder was thankful he didn't get the gun the day after the auction. Regardless of its value, this Savage pistol will always be remembered as an important and significant artifact of early 20th century Americana.
Images and some information courtesy of James D. Julia, Inc.