Engraved Centaures

Under construction. Pictures coming soon

Custom Engraved Centaures

“Many more Centaure percussion revolvers were engraved outside the Belgian factory by me and other engravers than there are known and confirmed factory engraved pistols” muses long-time German master engraver J. Hensel of Rothenburger Waffeneck www.rothenburger-waffeneck.de

 

 

 

US Engraving Art

Adds Mitch Shore, Sigmund Shore’s son, who together with William B. Edwards started the US Centaure hype back in 1960: “During the early 1960s my dad and Bill (Edwards) had a number of Centaures engraved by famous US restorer and noted gunsmith Tommy Haas for their personal collection”.

See exquisitely engraved specimens with display cases of English fit, namely a Civilian – above: green interior – and Cavalry Model – below: red interior – from the Shore collection.

Tom Haas pushed it even further and demonstrated his art by “colterizing” a couple of Centaures for Edwards and Shore: all FAUL factory markings, serial numbers and the acceptance stamps of the Liège Proof house were removed. The screws are nicely domed like you find on Sam Colt’s presentation Colt Armies from the 19th century. The advanced Colt students will note that the barrel marking was changed to the Colt New-York U.S. America address.

It now reads – ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA –

Above “colterized” Haas Centaure is stylishly engraved and has trigger-guard and back-strap silver plated. The serial numbers were stamped in the same positions where Colt used to place them back then.

European Engravers

The earliest New Model Armies (NMAs) custom engraved by European artists are currently known from the 2nd half of the 1960s only. So far, custom engraved Centaures from Austrian, Belgian and German engravers were discovered. Most engravers maintained the factory barrel marking when using their client’s Regular New Model Army (RNMA) 1st variation as the base gun for the engraving task. This also applies to the Centaurelogo on the forward left side of frame, and the MADE IN BELGIUM on the butt. These elements were usually integrated into their engraving art, sometimes further enhanced like on RNMA #7295 or Marshal #13096 below.

In line with the restrictive gun legislations of most European countries custom engraved Centaures have to keep their proof marks. This is in contrast to what seems to be the rule in the USA.

Factory Engraved New Model Armies

Confides Lesley Field, formerly Mars Equipment, the company of Shore Galleries of Lakewood, IL, USA that imported the Centaures from Belgium: “FAUL hired the same engravers for their factory engraved Centaures who also worked for well-known Fabrique Nationale d’Armes (FN) of Herstal”.

In German dealer catalogs from 1972 and 73 Fabriques d’Armes Unies de Liège (FAUL) and their dealers offered the two Centaure models as regular production guns:

# RNMA with the rebated cylinder factory engraved in de Luxe, Super de Luxe and Presentation style, the

# Marshal with rebated cylinder in de Luxe style only.

Please note:

# Factory engraved NMAs produced before 1971 are not known.

# Factory engraved models other than the RNMAs and Marshals are unknown.

# No fluted cylinder NMA variants have surfaced and/or can be confirmed as a factory engraved Centaure.

# No factory engraved Centaures with barrel markings or logos are known.

FAUL was prepared to have Centaures custom engraved as well.

De Luxe style Factory Engraved RNMAs (above and below) came in high gloss “in the white” finish with Colt-style floral hand engraving. Screws on frame and barrel lug and the wedged were blued.

RNMA #11850 factory engraved in deluxe style in as new condition. She came with a display case and he is another happy camper. These de Luxefactory engraved Centaures were selected quality but taken from regular production after proof testing. This is an important piece of information because it implies that barrel markings and the centaur logos were stamped on regular production guns after the proof testing procedure only.

Most factory engraved Centaures recorded in the survey are engraved in de Luxe style. Oiled grips were standard with or without inlaid centaure logo medallion.

De Luxe style Factory Engraved Marshals

Also the short barrelled Marshals could be had engraved from the factory. They were fitted with the rebated cylinder like their long barrelled brothers of the RNMA variety, not with the fluted one of the regular Marshal models. Their frame, barrel lug screws and the wedge were blued.

Only as late as December 26, 2010 the first real life specimen of a factory engraved Marshal was discovered at German internet auction house Egun and liberated in line with FROCS OPs.

At your German gun shop (see page 5 Stanglmeier ad) such a de Luxe style engraved RNMA or Marshal with oiled grips and medallions would set you back DM 658,00 in 1972 and 1973.

Super de Luxe Style Factory Engraved RNMAs

While the de Luxe style pistols had this high gloss “white” finish these very rare variants in Super de Luxe style (below) had a deep blue finish with silver inlaid bands. They were made at FAUL’s to order only with specially tuned and polished actions.

Your German gun dealer would ask DM 1698,00 for this specimen in 1973.

Until November 19, 2010 all evidence regarding these Super de Luxe style engraved RNMAs was hearsay, pictures in catalogs and from ads until an elderly German gentleman and shooter by the name of Whitey Piet paid yours truly a visit. Piet had just sold a custom chromium plated de Luxevariant for the widow of his shooting buddy. But there was this blued and engraved RNMA left in his inventory that looked a bit different, see for yourself:

Rich and deep floral engraving covered the Centaure, some 20 % more than what you would find on a de Luxe version. There were some silver inlays that would not mind some polishing, like these double bands close to the edge of the cylinder front and the muzzle as well. Both grip panels are enhanced with a silverfish centaur medallion. Also, please, mind the engraving of the sides of the loading lever. Such a feature has not been found on any of the pistols factory engraved, neither in de Luxe nor in Presentations style variants.

The country of origin stamp on the butt is framed. Please, notice the engraving under the trigger guard and on the back-strap. Did you spot the wolf head on both sides of the hammer? You find this feature on most factory engraved Centaures but on many engraved 1st generation Colts as well!

The Super de Luxe style RNMAs are the rarest of the factory engraved Centaures, rarer even than the Presentation Models!

Presentation Style Factory Engraved RNMAs

FAUL had every 1000th RNMA enhanced with work profusely engraved and gold inlaid in a quality even surpassing the Super de Luxe version. That’s how the story goes. One such specimen and the first one discovered in 2007 when this Centaure research program was kicked-off is #14000, two close-ups below. These very rare revolvers dubbed Presentation Model are known with ivory grips only! They could be purchased directly from the factory in Belgium but in Germany also from dealers like Bärbel Harlos or Stanglmeier in Munich. Price then was DM 2198,00 for such a gem.

As suggested somewhere else on this website be prepared for surprises when you deal with Centaures no matter if they are of the plain Jane or the engraved kind. In August 25, 2009 two stylishly engraved Belgians were brought to my attention by a shooter-collector from Southern Germany. #12439 was undoubtedly a RNMA of the factory engraved de Luxe variety. But beauty #11842 justified further detailed inspection. Because she exhibited all the characteristics of another Presentation Model like the gold inlaid horses on the cylinder that seem to gallop when the cylinder is spun. In other words that this is another specimen engraved in Presentation style at the factory.

Which shows that above nice little introductory story of “every 1000th RNMA is made into a Presentation Model” is just that another Centauremyth for the campfire that does not hold water, I am afraid!

 

MYTHBUSTER
# Every 1000th RNMA was factory engraved in Presentation style? Myth busted!

 

Factory engraved New Model Armies lowest serial number – year highest serial number – year Total %
de Luxe RNMAs #11189:                            1971 #14003:                            1973 276 78,8
de Luxe Marshals #12680:                            1972 #13654:                            1973 52 14,9
Super de Luxe RNMAs #13446:                            1972 #13446:                            1972 9 2,6
Presentation RNMAs #11842:                            1972 #14000:                            1973 13 3,7
TOTAL     350 100,0

Today we know five Presentation style factory engraved RNMAs by their serial number, namely pistols #11842, #12418, # 12421, #12422 and #14000, but only one Super de Luxe #13446 is currently listed in the survey!

Factory engraved RNMAs in de Luxe style are reported from Germany and a few also from France. Ca. 50 % of the French ones were imports from Germany during the last few years. They have the two line B. HARLOS RIEDEN importer stamp on the butt or elsewhere on the gun. The others do not feature any importer mark. They were probably imported back then directly from Belgium.

All other factory engraved pistols, Marshals in de Luxe and RNMAs in Super de Luxe and Presentation style alike, were discovered in Germany.

FAUL Sampler, Speculation & Another Thought

In German DWJ magazine from 1973 is a picture of what looks like a 2nd variation Cavalry Model. The specimen shown has a rebated cylinder (!) and the pistol is engraved in de Luxe style. The shoulder stock fitted features an engraved yoke and butt plate matching the gun, see picture below. Where is it now, where did this beautiful stocked pistol find a new home?

The € 10,000.00 question then is: did FAUL make this 2nd variation Cavalry combo as a sampler, as one of a kind only like for exhibitions?

We only know late production Cavalry Models as plain Jane versions with the fluted cylinders.

But could they possibly be had as special order combo with

# rebated & plain cylinder in high gloss/“white” finish like the one pictured above, or

# rebated & plain cylinder in traditional blue/case colors as well?

This would indicate there are further yet undiscovered variants of the Cavalry Model to be found out there.