• Antique Arms, Armour and Colle auction at Christies

    Sale 6395

    Antique Arms, Armour and Collectors Firearms

    22 June 2011, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 210

    A .38 (SPECIAL) 'POLICE POSITIVE' NICKEL-PLATED SIX-SHOT DOUBLE-ACTION REVOLVER

    BY COLT, HARTFORD, SERIAL NO. 384221 FOR 1929

    Price Realised  

    Estimate

    A .38 (SPECIAL) 'POLICE POSITIVE' NICKEL-PLATED SIX-SHOT DOUBLE-ACTION REVOLVER
    BY COLT, HARTFORD, SERIAL NO. 384221 FOR 1929
    WITH SIGHTED BARREL WITH TWO LINE 'COLT'S PT. F. A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A. PAT'D. AUG 5, 1884, JULY 4, 1905, OCT 5, 1925.' ADDRESS AND WITH MODEL CALIBRE DESIGNATION TO THE LEFT SIDE, FLUTED CYLINDER, FRAME WITH RAMPANT COLT TRADE MARK, CHEQUERED WALNUT GRIPS EACH WITH COLT ROUNDEL, AND RETAINING NEARLY ALL ITS OLDER PLATED RE-FINISH THROUGHOUT
    4IN. (10.2CM.) BARREL


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    AL CAPONE IS PERHAPS THE MOST FAMOUS MOBSTER OF ALL TIME, JOINING THE EXCLUSIVE RANKS OF LAW-BREAKERS WHO WERE SIMULTANEOUSLY REGARDED A FOLK HEROES AND PUBLIC ENEMIES. BORN IN BROOKLYN IN 1899 TO ITALIAN IMMIGRANT PARENTS, AL MOVED TO CHICAGO IN HIS EARLY TWENTIES TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE OPPORTUNITIES AFFORDED BY PROHIBITION FOR SMUGGLING ALCOHOL INTO THE CITY. HIS CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES GREW TO INCLUDE THE CORRUPTION OF PUBLIC FIGURES, GAMBLING, PROSTITUTION AND THE RUNNING OF 'SPEAKEASIES' THROUGHOUT CHICAGO. HIS WEALTH ALLOWED HIM TO INDULGE IN A VERY HIGH PROFILE AND LUXURIOUS LIFESTYLE BASED OUT OF HIS HEADQUARTERS AT THE LEXINGTON HOTEL, TAILORED SUITS, CIGARS AND FINE DINING BEING THE ORDER OF THE DAY. BUT THIS GLAMOUROUS IMAGE WAS TEMPERED BY THE EXTREME VIOLENCE OF THE TIMES AND HIS CHOSEN CAREER PATH, PERHAPS THE MOST INFAMOUS INCIDENT BEING THE ST. VALENTINE'S DAY MASSACRE IN 1929 WHICH SAW A NUMBER OF HIS ENEMIES ELIMINATED IN ONE VERY PUBLIC EVENT. IT WAS THIS MASSACRE WHICH SPURRED FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES TO ATTEMPT TO BREAK HIM WITH ELIOT NESS BEGINNING HIS FAMOUS INVESTIGATION INTO HIS PROHIBITION VIOLATIONS. EVENTUALLY CAPONE FACED TRIAL FOR INCOME TAX EVASION, A CHARGE SEEN BY THE AUTHORITIES AS A BETTER BET FOR A CONVICTION, AND DESPITE HIS BEST EFFORTS AT BRIBING THE JURY HE WAS FOUND GUILTY AND IMPRISONED IN MAY 1932. DURING HIS INCARCERATION PROHIBITION WAS REPEALED WHICH SPELLED THE END OF MUCH OF HIS OF CRIMINAL EMPIRE. WHEN HE WAS EVENTUALLY PAROLED IN 1939 HE WAS LEFT A BROKEN MAN, HIS HEALTH HAD DETERIORATED TO THE EXTENT HE COULD NO LONGER CONTROL HIS BUSINES CONCERNS. HE RETREATED TO HIS HOME IN PALM ISLAND, FLORIDA AND DIED IN 1947.

    AL AND HIS BROTHER RALPH WERE VERY CLOSE. RALPH EARNED THE NICKNAME "BOTTLES" FROM HIS LEGITIMATE BOTTLED WATER BUSINESS IN CHICAGO. HIS INVOLVEMENT IN HIS YOUNGER BROTHER'S ILLEGITIMATE BUSINESSES WAS NEVER PROVEN BUT, LIKE AL, HE WAS ALSO CHARGED AND FOUND GUILTY OF TAX EVASION.

    AL CAPONE HAS BECOME THE MODERN EMBODIMENT OF THE ROMANTIC IMAGE OF THE PROHIBITION MOBSTER WITH FREQUENT SCREEN DEPICTIONS IN THE YEARS SINCE HIS DEATH TO THE PRESENT DAY.

    THIS LOT IS A SECTION 5 FIREARM. FOR LICENSING REQUIREMENTS AND OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION, PLEASE REFER TO THE "EXPLANATION OF CATALOGUING PRACTICE" IN RELATION TO FIREARMS ON PAGE 58.

    Special Notice

    Prospective purchasers are advised that several countries prohibit the importation of property containing materials from endangered species, including but not limited to coral, ivory and tortoiseshell. Accordingly, prospective purchasers should familiarize themselves with relevant customs regulations prior to bidding if they intend to import this lot into another country.


    Provenance

    ALPHONSE GABRIEL 'AL' CAPONE.
    RALPH 'BOTTLES' CAPONE.
    EDMUND KOESKI.

    A LETTER FROM MADELEINE CAPONE MORICHETTI TO EDMUND 'EDDIE' KOESKI WRITTEN IN 1976 AFTER RALPH'S DEATH IS ALSO INCLUDED IN THE LOT. IN THE LETTER MADELEINE CONFIRMS IT WAS RALPH'S WISH THAT THE REVOLVER WAS PASSED TO EDDIE. IN THE FIRST PARAGRAPH MADELEINE CONFIRMS THE SERIAL NUMBER AND STATES "... A GUN WHICH PREVIOUSLY BELONGED TO AND WAS USED ONLY BY AL CAPONE WHILE HE WAS ALIVE".

    ACCOMPANIED BY A COPY OF AN AFFIDAVIT SWORN ON 25TH MARCH 1990 BY MADELEINE CAPONE MORICHETTI, WIDOW OF RALPH CAPONE, STATING THAT "RALPH CAPONE BECAME THE CUSTODIAN AND OWNER OF A CERTAIN COLT POLICE POSITIVE .38 SPECIAL REVOLVER, SERIAL NO. 384221, BEING NICKEL PLATES WITH A WOOD HANDLE, WHICH REVOLVER WAS ACQUIRED FROM AND WAS THE PROPERTY OF HIS BROTHER AL CAPONE". THE AFFIDAVIT ALSO STATES THAT, ACCORDING TO RALPH'S WISHES, UPON HIS DEATH THE REVOLVER WAS TO BE PASSED TO ONE EDMUND KOESKI WHICH IT WAS IN 1976. THE AFFIDAVIT CONCLUDES WITH THE STATEMENT "THIS AFFADAVIT IS GOVEN FROM THE PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF THE AFFIANT FOR THE PURPOSE OF AUTHENTICATING THE PRIOR OWNERSHIP OF SUCH REVOLVER BY THE NOTORIOUS AL CAPONE."

    SOLD WITH A COLT FACTORY ARCHIVE LETTER CONFIRMING THAT THIS REVOLVER WAS ONE OF 3 POLICE POSITIVES SHIPPED TO FRANKFURTH HARDWARE CO., MILWAUKEE, WI ON 3RD MAY 1929. IT ALSO CONFIRMS THAT ORIGINALLY THE REVOLVER WAS BLUED.

    BUTTERFIELD & BUTTERFIELD, SAN FRANCISCO, 19TH JUNE 2000, LOT 4662.


    Pre-Lot Text

    THE PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE COLLECTOR

    "YOU CAN GET MUCH FARTHER WITH A KIND WORD AND A GUN THAN YOU CAN WITH A KIND WORD ALONE" - AL CAPONE