Up To Snuff

To add to the craze, Continental Tobacco, the mega-corporation who owned a staggering amount of tobacco brands, started offering a Colt Lightning as a “present” to their patrons around 1900. Tobacco was often sold in twists and to prevent store owners from counterfeiting lesser grade leaf in place of their product, tobacco companies placed a colorful tin tag on the twist. To encourage brand loyalty, tobacco companies sent out premium catalogs with a wide range of presents that could be had free by sending in the correct amount of tags. For 1,800 tags, one would receive a genuine Colt Lightning revolver!

To understand the impact on the tobacco market, look at the numbers. From 1900-1906 Colt manufactured approximately 46,500 M1877 revolvers, and roughly 58% were chambered in .38 Colt. Of those, 12,789 were shipped out blued and sporting a 4-1/2" barrel and an ejector. Here is the exciting part: 9,285 were purchased by Floradora, Continental and other tobacco companies. If you see a Colt Lightning with a serial number between 115500 and 160000, blued, with a 4-1/2" barrel and ejector, there is a 78% chance it was given out as a prize by a tobacco company!