Friday, March 19, 2010

Bob Meldrum's Colt sold at auction

Remember my recent post on March 5th,
Bob Meldrum's Colt Up for Auction.
As we have discussed before, Bob Meldrrum and Charles Siringo were hired to guard Harry Orchard. They weren't concerned about his escape, but were there to discourage any assassination attempts on his life and to perform various other duties involving intimidation and protection. You may have seen this photo postcard from my grandparents (Julian and Francis Steunenberg) photo album before but always worth another look. I would like to find more of these or similar postcards if you ever see any or have some stashed away. Siringo is up toward the top of the stairs and Meldrum is second from the left with his hand/arm reaching behind Orchard (in the derby hat). Rudie Barthell (a step up the stairs just behind Orchard) was another hired gun that we see with this group. The picture was taken at the courthouse in Boise. Click on the photo to enlarge for better viewing. The following link shows much of the same group as they prepare to leave the Idaho Penitentiary.
Meldrum's Colt sold for $258, 750.00. Goldarnit, I just missed getting it! I wonder who did?
Click the link below to see detail photographs of this fine Colt.
Photos showing detail and engraving

And below is the full description from
James D. Julia auction item 2092.
*EXTRAORDINARILY RARE AND HISTORIC HELFRICHT ENGRAVED & GOLD INLAID COLT SINGLE ACTION ARMY REVOLVER PRESENTED TO "BAD GOOD GUY" ROBERT D MELDRUM. SN 253161. Cal. 45 Colt. Blue finish with 4-3/4" bbl, full front sight and 2-line address with caliber marking on left side. Left side of frame has 2-line 3-patent dates and rampant Colt in a circle. Mounted with 2-pc smooth pearl grips. Revolver is spectacularly engraved in very unique patterns by master engraver Cuno Helfricht with about full coverage on frame consisting of fine foliate arabesque patterns with gold wire inlay in two patterns on each side of the frame, narrow gold bands on the bbl at the frame and at the muzzle and a gold wire border around the presentation on the back strap. Rear edge of left recoil shield has an unusual geometric & foliate pattern with diamond & dot patterns combined with foliate patterns on the top strap. Loading gate is engraved in a beautiful scallop shell pattern and there is a large flower blossom on the ejector rod boss. Bottom front gullets of frame are engraved with tiny flower blossoms. The foliate arabesque patterns extend about 2/3 of the length of each side of the bbl with fine braided border patterns around bbl address, terminating in intertwined geometric & foliate arabesque patterns. In addition to the gold band around the muzzle there is a 4-panel triangular shaped diamond & dot pattern, and a flower blossom on each side of the front sight. Ejector rod housing has an unusual & well-executed foliate arabesque pattern on outer radius with a foliate spray at the frame end. Ejector rod housing top gullet is fully engraved with a braided pattern. Top of back strap is engraved with a fine shell pattern with chip & dot border and punch dot background. Back strap engraved with the presentation "From The Tomboy Gold Mine Co. Lt'd / Telluride Colo" and the butt strap is engraved "Rob't. D.Meldrum". Trigger guard & trigger bow are engraved in foliate arabesque patterns with a gold wire inlay on the trigger bow. Cylinder has full coverage engraved foliate arabesque patterns on the outer diameter with the flutes left unadorned. Rear edge of cylinder has four borders with a narrow gold wire band inlay and another very narrow gold wire lands on each side of a very fine, wavy border with a chip & dot border at the very rear edge. The serial number was observed in the usual three places on the frame, trigger guard & butt strap with the last three digits of the SN on rear face of cylinder. This revolver is very similar to two other Helfricht engraved and gold inlaid single actions, SN's 242701 and 256058 which are illustrated in full color on pp. 434 & 435 of The Colt Engraving Book Volume One, Wilson. A factory letter accompanies this lot which conforms to this gun. It also states the gun was ordered by Tompkins Hunt Hardware Co., (which was located in or near Telluride). According to factory records, only 2 gold inlaid 1st run Colt S.A.A.'s were ever made inscribed with presentations (this being one of them). As noted S.A. authority Ron Graham states in his letter (accompanying the gun), "The only way this could be any better is if the other (inscribed) one did not exist!" However, it actually gets better. The history of its somewhat nefarious former owner is both interesting and reflective of a time of great transition in the history of the West. While civilized societies were expanding, many areas were still hard and dangerous. In these areas, a lawman needed to be equally hard and feared to survive. It was hard to sometimes differentiate between the good guys and the bad guys. RobertMeldrum was such a man. In 1900Meldrum recognized a Texas fugitive, Noah Wilkerson from a wanted poster.Meldrum simply shot the man and collected his $200 reward without risk of personal injury. This approach seemed to become his policy. By 1902 he hired on as a mine guard and deputy sheriff in Telluride, Colorado, for the Tomboy Mining Co. located high in the mountains overlooking the village of Telluride. It had two serious problems; mineral poachers and organizers attempting to organize the mine workers. In need of a hired gun, the mine purportedly contacted the famous Tom Horn who is believed to have referred his acquaintance RobertMeldrum. While working for the Tomboy Mine company in a covert operation involving the Pinkerton Agency sometime from 1902 to 1904, Meldrum ingratiated himself to the mine (probably by killing some problematic individuals). Tomboy was unquestionably grateful because they not only presented him with this spectacular gun, but also gifted him another engraved (but not gold inlaid) Colt.Meldrum continued his heavy-handed ways and in 1904 killed unarmed Olaf Thissal in Telluride and others as he felt they needed it. He was brought to court on various cases involving killings but was usually acquitted. On a few occasion he worked for cattle growers associations like Tom Horn to dispose of and discourage cattle thieves. Finally in 1912, as a law officer, Meldrum killed another drunk unarmed cowboy, Chick Bowen. Meldrum was again brought up on charges and finally sent to jail. By 1919 he was out on parole and later owned a saddle and holster shop in Wyoming. In 1926 fire destroyed his shop and Meldrum disappeared never to be heard of again. There are far more fascinating details about this bad-good guy. More info and a great exhibit of some of Meldrum's things are available at the Museum of Northwest Colorado in Craig, Colorado. Much of the above information was graciously provided by Director of the museum, Mr. Dan Davidson. In appreciation of this, James D. Julia Auctioneers has commissioned Doug Turnbull to produce an exact copy of this gun which will be donated to the museum as part of its permanent Meldrum collection. CONDITION: Very fine, all matching including cylinder, grips are unnumbered. Overall retains 20-25% orig blue finish, mostly in sheltered areas on the bbl and in the flutes of the cylinder and on the face of the cylinder. Balance of the revolver is an even bare metal patina showing moderate wear to the inscription on the back strap. Grips are extremely fine with great fire & color. Crisp mechanics, bright shiny bore. 4-38974 JR91 (200,000-400,000)
--James D. Julia Auctions

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