This is a factory engraved Little .45 toy cap gun revolver made by the American Miniature Gun and Cartridge Co. of Hollywood, California in the 1950’s. Designated as U20 in Bob Urso’s book The Tiniest Guns, Third Edition, the following description from his book is used with his permission:
“Manufactured by the American Miniature Gun Mfg. Co. of Hollywood, California, and marketed as the Frontier “45”. On much of it’s literature it was also referred to as the “Little 45”. A difficult to classify miniature, although modeled after the Colt Frontier Single Action revolver, it is not a true miniature of that gun. The Frontier “45” is a six shot, single action, revolver with a hand rotated barrel (cylinder). At 3 1/2″ OAL, this little beauty is much nicer than a toy, but not quite a true miniature. Manufactured in the 1950’s it has more detail, and is more functional than the best of the toy miniatures. It’s cylinder rotates. It has full and half cock. It has a flip down side loading gate, and fires brass, percussion cap-like ammunition. Expended shells are ejected with a functioning spring loaded ejector, just like on the real thing. It is unusual in that the complete trigger guard acts as its trigger and is pulled back to fire. This part is delicate and many of these guns are found with the tab that holds the trigger assembly in place broken. The clean finish on these guns suggest that they are sturdy little pieces. They were however, cast in a pot metal. It is the care that was taken in finishing these guns that makes them look more substantial than they actually are. …This is a popular gun with collectors and a relatively difficult gun to find. Prices are considerably higher than for even the best of the toy miniatures such as Armodelli or Hubley guns.”
These unengraved nickel plated sets sold for $27.50 back in the late 1950’s, & an engraved nickel & gold plated one like this sold for $47.50, which was a huge sum to pay for a toy cap gun revolver! This example is serial number 2336. This set does have some condition issues. The trigger is not broken & still functional, as is the loading gate, both pieces that are often broken or missing. However the ejector rod button is broken off & missing. It’s possible you might find a parts gun with a good ejector, have it gold plated, and replace the broken one. The nickel finish retains about 99% original nickle plating, but the fragile gold plating is almost non existent on the triggerguard with just traces showing, and the hammer shows only about 65% of the gold plating. The cylinder pin shows 99% of the gold plating. It’s possible that the piece could be disassembled & the hammer & triggerguard replated by your local jeweler. The two piece pearl grips with a single screw entering from the left side are excellent with no cracks or chips. Included is the original plastic cartridge looking cap container. The case made of brass colored plastic and headstamped in raised letters “LITTLE .45”. As is typical of these, there are a couple small hairline crack near the case mouth. The top is projectile shaped gray lead colored plastic. Inside are a large quantity of original caps, and the original wadding. The original case is walnut, has a slide latch, and a rectangular plaque mounted to the case top by two small brass nails. The case is in excellent condition with the plaque and hinges showing some very minor tarnish. The interior bottom of the case French fit and lined in a very dark burgundy/purple velour. These factory engraved Little 45 revolvers are very rare, I have only seen maybe six in over 25 years. In mint condition, this piece would be worth $1K. With the condition issues it has, I have priced it accordingly. Price: $650.00.