Second Model – Civilian
Fabriques d’Armes Unies de Liège (FAUL) produced the Civilians with a deep blue, round recoil shield, silver plated trigger-guard and back-strap without notch for shoulder stock and mostly varnished grips as the “refined” version of the New Model Army (NMA). This variant was launched as the second model after the Regular New Model Army (RNMA). First shipments to the USA were probably made from mid-1960.
|2nd Model||Civilian Model – Common Characteristics|
|Frame||3-screw not cut for shoulder stock in recoil shield & back-strap|
|Cylinder||Centaure proprietary naval engagement scene similar to Ormsby-type but less background details|
|Cylinder marking||NEW MODEL .44|
|Finish||blue & case hardened (B/CCH), trigger-guard & back-strap silver plated|
|Prefix||“C” before serial number (“C” for Civilian Model).|
|Comments||variant sold primarily in the USA. These pistols were manufactured from 1960 in a separate block of serial numbers beginning with #C1|
Today we recognize 2 variations of the Civilian Model. Production of the 2nd variation seems to have been terminated during 1963 due to limited market acceptance and unsatisfactory sales. The majority of the Civilians inspected have the serial number with prefix stamped on the front not on the breech side of their cylinders like on the NMAs.
|1st Variation||Civilian Model – Key Features|
|Cylinder legend||ENGAGED 16 MAY 1843|
|Barrel marking||“1960 NEW MODEL ARMY”|
#C418 below was discovered together with RNMA #87 early 2008 in the pre-owned gun cabinet of a gun dealer on the outskirts of Las Vegas.
In line with FROCS recommended SOPs both Centaures were liberated on the spot. #87 found a new home in Texas, #C418 was added to a German Centaure herd.
Civilian #C418: legend on cylinder (left), S/N on front side of cylinder (center), BS & TG silver plated, no notch for shoulder stock (right)
|2nd Variation||Civilian Model – Key Features|
|Barrel markings||“1960 NEW MODEL ARMY”
“1960 NEW MODEL ARMY” CENTENNIAL TRADE MARK CHICAGO U.S.
CENTENNIAL TRADE MARK “1960 NEW MODEL ARMY”
|Comments||legend on the cylinders was omitted after the first run of pistols at the suggestion of the Ohio Gun Collectors Association to inhibit possible use of these cylinders in fakery|
#C459 is currently the lowest serial number known of a 2nd variation Civilian. She was offered in January 2011 by Danish gun dealer Bisgaard & Nielsenfrom Kjellerup in the German internet auction house Egun. According to Mr. Nielsen he was selling her for the heirs of her late gun collector owner. He had purchased #C459 during the early 1960s in the USA with the original carton which has disappeared.
Nielsen advised that he has been in the gun business for 40 years already but has only seen two Centaures in Denmark, namely this #C459 and another variant a few decades ago. They are thus a rare breed in Denmark!
#C489 above and below was exported by FAUL towards the end of 1960 to Mars Equipment in Lincolnwood, IL, USA, for sister company Centennial Arms Corp. Eventually she found her way down South to Houston, Texas but has a new home now in Germany since November 2010. Apart from the proof testing at the Liège Proof house 1960 she was probably never fired.
Close-up of #C489: rampant centaur logo, NEW MODEL 44 marking between the naval scene (left), silver plated TG & BS, MADE IN BELGIUM
on butt, varnished grip (right)
Some Thoughts on the Civilians: US buyers liked their modern C&B revolvers of the Colt Army 1860 pattern with the naval engagement scene on the cylinder in Ormsby-style. In retrospect it did not come as a surprise that market acceptance of these Civilian Models was limited. Certainly lower than anticipated by Bill Edwards and Sig Shore in the USA and cousins Albert and Paul Hanquest in Belgium at FAUL’s. As a consequence significant stocks of parts specifically made for these pistols were piled up at FAUL’s after production was terminated ca. 1963, namely
Ø cylinders with Centaure proprietary naval scene without legend ENGAGED 16 MAY 1843
Ø round 3-screw frames
Ø back-straps without the notch on the butt.
This situation sheds new light on the introduction of a number of variants launched during this early period, like
# RNMA 2nd variations: they feature the “Civilian” cylinder
# Cavalry Models 1st variation 3rd sub-variation: a small run with the “Civilian” cylinder,
# Pocket Army 1st variation: according to an ad of Centennial Arms Corp. the 1st variation of this special order pistol was offered with a “Civilian” cylinder, the 1st & 2nd variation with frame and back-strap of the Civilian.
# RNMAs 1st & 3rd variation: from the mid-1960s were regularly available with “Civilian” style back-straps, i. e. back-straps not cut for stock. Today we term these variants “3rd sub-variations”.
# 4th, 5th & 6th variation RNMA: a few early prototypes from 1967s are known without the toe on the butt.
News from Downrange: Got this mail from helpful US pard FROCS #96 Buddbudd on March 3, 2011. I like to share it with the FROCS community and Centaure aficionados:
“Hello LJW, I thought I would share with you a recent find I made. At a Midwest sale there were three interesting Colt replicas offered. I noted the serial numbers and features and felt they were Centennials. After examining them here is what I can tell about each one.”
“The first one is an 8″ 1960 New Model Army with a serial no. of #ENG C23 on all parts. It is fully engraved in a very fine scroll. Even the cylinder has matching engraving. The straps are silver plated. The recoil shield is not cut for a stock (i. e. Civilian!). What really makes this early one special is the inscription on the back strap. It says Presented to my good friend Dr Gerald Atlas in one line. The second line is Jan 1961 by Col Sig Shore. Dr Atlas passed away in Oct, 2009. This must have been in his estate. I wonder if any other presentation Centennials are known?”
This #ENG C23 reminded me of that gold inlaid and cased Civilian #ENG No 2 pictured below. I was privileged to photograph her in 2010 when visiting Shore Galleries in Lincolnwood, IL.
For further details, please, check the MOTHERLOAD page of this website.
It now appears that we have to realize that Sig Shore had not only a number of Centaures embellished by Thomas Haas for his collection but also a few of these presented to friends. See also the Cavalry chapter of this page and the story about #F1000 there.
After Baddbudd’s eye witness report, I checked back with Leslie Field, currently legal counsel of Shore Galleries and back then business associate of Sig Shore. My hope was that Les might be able to provide some background information to FROCS #96’s findings. He did not disappoint me because here is what he added:
“Hello Wolf; these are very interesting! Dr. Atlas was a great friend of mine and was my personal physician, along with Sig.”
“Dr. Atlas and I together testified before the United States Congress against restrictive gun legislation in the 1960s. Also, for many years Dr. Atlas was the chief physician for Cook County – in which the City of Chicago is located. As to the work on the guns (Baddbudd mentioned also 2 “colterized” Cavalries in his original post), I suspect it represents the highest-quality engraving of Mr. Tom Haas.”
And Les continues: “I doubt there are any kind of records of these (at Shore Galleries), as they were furnished (by the Belgians) “in the white” (without serial numbers or factory markings and proof testing).
Pricing & Serial Number Ranges: Centennial Arms Corporation of Chicago advertised this model 1960 at $ 89.95 only. Her price was increased to $ 99,50 in 1964!
Serial Number Ranges
|lowest serial number – year||highest serial number – year||Total||%|
|1st variation||# C1: 1960||# C428: 1960||440||44,0|
|2nd variation||# C459: 1960||# C932: 1963||550||55,0|
|Presentation||#ENG C23: 1960||#ENG No 3: 1963||5||0,5|
|“Colterized”||#18618: 1963||#18618: 1963||5||0,5|
More Thoughts on the Civilians: The discovery of above mentioned 2nd variation Civilian #C459 in Denmark had me thumbing through William B. Edwards’s chapter 35 titled THE RAGE OVER REPLICAS in his book CIVIL WAR GUNS, 421-428, from 1962.On page 425 Edwards mentions that a first production run of ca. 500 Civilians with the legend ENGAGED 16 MAY 1843 on their cylinders was made (what we term 1st variation Civilian today) before this legend was omitted at the request of the Ohio Gun Collectors Association. This led to the making of the 2nd variation Civilian sans legend but with rampant Centaure logo on the forward left side of the frame. Two pics of 2nd variation Centaure #C459 are below.
Civilian #C459: lowest S/N of a 2nd variation (left), barrel and frame marks typical for 2nd variation Civilian (right)
However, the identification of #C459 as a 2nd variation Civilian is proof that less than 500 specimens of the 1st variations were manufactured, probably only ca. 440.
It did not stop there because a week later an US collector by the name of Longwalker stepped forward and advised that he had just liberated #C423 which is pictured below. She clearly is a 1st variation Civilian. Longwalker had purchased her from the first owner who in turn had bought her as early as in March 1961 in a wooden case together with an Italian bullet mold from Centennial Arms Corp.
Civilian #C423: cased with Italian bullet mold before Dr. Centaure did his magic (left), before restoration (right)
Unfortunately #C423 was molested during the 1960s and has to be described as a “basket case”. But our pard FROCS #4 Rifle aka Dr. Centaure did do his magic on her again, and restored her in an expert manner.
“A tribute to a true craftsman, one who takes great pride in his work.” That’s what Longwalker said after he received #C423 back from Rifle: “ I’m delighted to say that it’s been returned, and I’m positive it’s in better condition now than when it left the factory. The pistol required some extensive work, which he completed in a true first-class manner.”
“As I said earlier, I wouldn’t have entrusted it to any of the ‘smiths I’m familiar with.”
WDN/June 27, 2013
© 2007 Wolf D. Niederastroth