When you purchase either a 2nd or 3rd Generation Colt Blackpowder Arms revolver it bears the Colt patent stamping on the frame and the Colt address on the top of the barrel. There is also a serial number stamped on the bottom of the frame, again on the bottom of the barrel lug, trigger guard and buttstrap. The serialization indicates the year or period of manufacture, and this is as straightforward as model identification gets. Even though many of the Colt parts for the 2nd Generation, and all of the Colt parts for the 3rd Generation were cast in Italy, the guns were finished and assembled in the United States by Colt or the Colt Blackpowder Arms Company, and Colt pistols, regardless of the origin of their components, bear only Colt markings.
The same model gun, an 1860 Army for example, manufactured in Italy and sold by Uberti or F.LLI Pietta, is stamped with a variety of markings – Italian Proof House devices, manufacturer's symbols and an encoded date of manufacture. It is usually a combination of heraldry and letters, which need to be decoded. The same is true of flintlock and percussion lock pistols and long rifles manufactured by Uberti, F.LLI Pietta, ArmiSport, Davide Pedersoli, Armi San Paolo SRL (Euroarms), and Palmetto, which comprise the major Italian manufacturers currently in production.
The Italian proof houses in Gardone and Valtrompia have been around for a very long time but as far as reproduction black powder arms are concerned, the dating begins in 1954. Prior to 1954, the year of proof was indicated in full Arabic numerals.
Following is a chart displaying the year of proof symbols used from 1954 to 2003. These are traditionally found within a box next to the individual proof house symbols. From 1954 through 1970 Roman Numerals were used. Roman Numerals and Arabic Numerals were combined in 1971, 1972, and 1973, and Roman Numerals were used again in 1974. Since 1975 two capital letters have been used exclusively.
As to the placement of proof house symbols, it depends upon the model of gun, and the level of embellishment, the latter often dictating a discrete location on the underside of the barrel or frame on highly engraved examples.
There are two standardized proof house marks. The first is the provisional Gardone proof, consisting of a star surrounded by eight lands and grooves over a coat of arms featuring a hammer and anvil and crossed bayoneted rifles; the second is a star surround by eight lands and grooves over the capital letters PN. All firearms produced in Italy since 1950, regardless of type, receive the first stamping. The second, also instituted in 1950, is the first black powder proof for Gardone and Brescia, and is only used on black powder arms. Thus all black powder arms must bear both proof house symbols.
Finally, there is the manufacturer's mark. This is often confusing unless one is familiar with the manufacturers' insignia. Most use their logo, while some combine their name and logo, or use an abbreviation as their logo. Earlier guns generally bear only their manufacturers' mark, while more recent production has been seen using both an emblem and company name.
Davide Pedersoli, one of Italy's oldest manufacturers has had three logos since 1957. The earliest was a diamond inside a circle. This is rarely seen. This mark was followed by the image of an anvil with PEDERSOLI above it in capital letters and the initials DAP inside the anvil. This again is rarely seen, except on very early models. The company logo, a lowercase dp within an oval, has been used for more than 40 years. This logo is often followed by the DAVIDE PEDERSOLI or PEDERSOLI name in capital letters. In short, there is no mistaking a Pedersoli product!
The same is true of Aldo Uberti, S.r.l, which has used the same logo since its founding in 1959 – a capital U contained within an octagonal barrel device. For Fratelli Pietta, another of Italy's leading manufacturers of black powder pistols and long arms, the initials FAP contained within a horizontal diamond identify F.LLI Pietta; often followed by F.LLI PIETTA in capital letters.
Palmetto, which manufactures a variety of black powder arms distributed primarily through Dixie Gun Works, uses a very recognizable palm tree within a circle as their company logo.
Armi San Paolo S.r.l., established in 1970, uses the last names of the original founders Grassi, Doninelli, and Gazzola as a symbol, DGG, usually contained within a circle. Beginning December 31, 2001, Armi San Paolo officially became Euroarms Italia S.r.l. The same logo is used on all Euroarms models.
Armi Sport, which produces an exceptional line of single shot percussion pistols like the French Le Page, Sharps rifles, and the popular Spencer rifle for Taylor's & Co., uses an AC within a circle, (AC for Armi Chiappa founder Rino Chiappa's last name).
Aldo Uberti S.r.l. was founded in 1959 and has always used a capital U surrounded
by an octagonal device, which is actually the muzzle of an 1851 Navy (their first gun) with six lands and grooves and the front sight. This photo of a Paterson barrel has a boxed AZ indicating a manufacturing date of 1990.
These are the three standard stampings on every Italian-made black powder revolver, pistol, rifle and shotgun. From left to right: year of manufacture, Gardone V.T. black powder proof house stamping, and Gardone proof house stamping. Armed with this information it is now possible to identify the maker and year of manufacture on any black powder rifle, shotgun, pistol, or revolver produced since
|Symbol||Year of Proof|