I have a Colt .38 Detective Special 6 shot revolver with a square butt.
I checked a couple of websites for Colt serial numbers and according to them this gun was made in 1920.
The finish is a little rough, and the grips are a little worn, but if it is as old as the info I have says then it's in good shape for it's age.
I'll see about posting some gun porn pics tomorrow.
This gun is NOT (repeat NOT) for sale!
If you give it a 60 to 70% rating on condition I would say $300.to $350. but that's just a guess.
first off, i really like the little gun! i will share a few observations. first, the detective special was actually introduced, by colt, in 1927. it shares its serial number range with the police positive special. they both share the "long" 38 special-length cylinder/ cylinder window. the police positive has a shorter cylinder/window in another serial range. a few (possibly 500) "pre detective specials" were made in 1926. they were marked "38 Special" on the left side of the barrel. this was the only marking on the barrel. all these early guns had a full "half-moon" sight as on your gun. all of them had a "square-butt" frame, also, although there were two different sizes of grips. (i know, it is getting complicated. you gotta love colt!) after the mid 20s (roughly), the small frame gun had the small grips, and the large (38 special length) gun had the larger grips. there are 38 special frame guns with the smaller square-butt grip frame, very early in the serial range.
your gun appears to me to have the "small" grips, and the "long"/38 special frame. the barrel also has the early sight, but i can't make out what is stamped on it. the ejector rod appears to be the correct length for a 2-inch barrel.
it would cost 50 bucks to get a letter from colt, nailing down exactly what configuration the serial numbered frame left the factory with. lots and lots of old police positives and police positive specials have had their barrels changed over the years.
i would say that a very early (1920?) 38 spl police positive special had its barrel changed for a very early (1927-30ish) detective special barrel.
i am not trying to distress you! i think it is a very cool gun. it is even cooler that it really appears to have a very early barrel. i am certainly no expert, and colt did a lot of wierd stuff back in the day. even if it is a rebarreled early police positive special, i think it should be worth the aforementioned 350.00 range.
if you wanted to spring for a factory letter, and it letters as shipping with a 2 inch barrel, it could be worth way more. even if it got a barrel change from the colt factory, at some later point in its life (mid-late '20s) it would up the value a little. it is a definitely an interesting little gun, with a lot of desireable features. i love it!