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Auction Date: May 2, 2014

Lot 3116: Colt Civilian Walker Serial Number 1078 "Thumb Print Walker"

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Iconic, Historic and Exceptional Colt Civilian Walker Serial Number 1078 with Magnificent Period Holster: Popularly Known as "The Thumb Print Walker"
Estimated Price: $500,000 - $700,000
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Serial # Colt Civilian Walker Serial Number 1078 ManufacturerColt ModelWalker
TypeRevolver Gauge44 Catalog Page58
Barrel9 Inch Part Octagon FinishBlue/casehardened GripVarnished Walnut
Stock ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionHistorians, collectors, investment brokers/buyers, history buffs and general firearms enthusiasts take note. Before you is without question the most rare and arguably most historic Colt Walker Revolver we at Rock Island Auction have had the privilege to offer. It is the most difficult of all Colt revolvers to obtain, the gun most collectors can only fantasize to own, a gun so rare that even the most advanced collectors have never had the opportunity to own one. We proudly present to you the iconic Colt Civilian Walker serial number 1078 popularly known as "The Thumbprint Walker". The story of the Walker pistol forever changed course of American history and firearms design. It involves a young gallant U.S. Army officer Samuel Hamilton Walker, a brilliant second generation inventor and manufacturer Eli Whitney Jr and thrusted a young unsuccessful (up until this point) but ambitious entrepreneur to the forefront of American manufacturing, one of the first American business tycoons: Col. Samuel Colt . The U.S. 1847 Walker Model Colt design was developed by Samuel Colt and influenced by suggestions from the former Texas Ranger Samuel Hamilton Walker who was serving as a Captain in the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen (whom had quite a lot of experience with the Paterson revolver). On December 7, 1846 Colt met with President James K. Polk to promote his revolver. President Polk directed Secretary of War William L. Marcy to order 1000 revolvers from Colt thru the Ordnance Department. This order marked the beginning of the relationship between Colt and the U.S. military which exists to this day. Colt made arrangements for the revolvers to be manufactured by Eli Whitney at the Whitneyville Armory. The original intent was to issue two revolvers per man to the Mounted Rifle Regiment; the revolvers were marked "A Company-D Company" with "E Company" numbered 1-120. Whitney manufactured 220 pairs of revolvers marked "A Company-D Company" and 120 revolvers marked "E Company" for a total of 1000 revolvers. The first pistols delivered were to Samuel Walker's own company, C Company and then were delivered in alphabetic order: A Company, B Company, D Company, E Company. It is imperative to note that the Company markings were separate from the actual serial number, so each revolver was both serial numbered and unit numbered. Having filled the 1000 unit order for the military, a Civilian series of Walkers was put into production with serial numbers 1001-1100 for two purposes: The first and most notable was presentation arms which would become a famous tactic used by Colt throughout his illustrious career. Presentations would be made to ranking military personages who could secure the all important military contracts. Second was to offer pistols to the commercial or civilian market in order to get this new, innovative and potent revolver in consumer hands and a conversation started. More information to follow on the 100 unit Civilian run to follow, though all this information is absolutely essential in order to properly analyze the Civilian Walker serial number 1078 known better as the Thumb Print Walker. This revolver has been inspected by a handful of known firearms experts over a half century which include the late George Repair (owner and donor of the Sultan of Turkey Dragoon, whom at one time owned this revolver), Greg Martin and the well known author R.L. Wilson, yet never properly analyzed. A ground breaking discovery was made on this revolver by firearms specialists of RIAC. Upon examination RIAC discovered the faintest hint of a "E" stamped just above the wedge on the left barrel flat where the government purchased revolver were unit marked (see photo of "B Company 8" previously sold by RIA). A "B" inspection was then found between the barrel address and the forcing cone, again a proper inspection for the Military contract Walker Revolvers. This has never been mentioned in any other descriptions or articles written on this firearm over a half-century. After diving deeper into a forensic study of this revolver RIAC discovered that the bore had been drilled at a slight angle. This can be most obviously observed when taking the revolver apart and examining the face of the forcing cone (see photo: the bore is drilled slightly to the left, the effect if not corrected would be shaving bullets or cylinder combustion). This can also be observed from the exterior of this revolver when observing the left side of the barrel in two places: first at the forcing cone and second at the barrel joint, (see photo insert) both of which were factory polished smooth. Further, to align the barrel and cylinder a small wedge was factory milled, installed and serial numbered on the bottom of the barrel assembly which corrects the offset of the misaligned drilled bore. To substantiate this claim are the three key factors. 1) The previously discussed and original hint of the "Company E" marking as illustrated in the catalog. 2) The "B" sub inspector mark stamped on the top of the barrel flat between the address and forcing cone. 3) The serial number on the cylinder: 553 correctly stamped on the rear face of the cylinder. We know the sequence in which the companies received the revolvers and using that math would place this cylinder as "B Company 113". Also intriguing is the large "C" stamped on the face of the cylinder. While it is speculation it is not far fetched to believe this gun was condemned for military service as it had its obvious flaws. Given the evidence, it is more than likely fact. It is constantly said that Colt, or any of the major manufactures "never threw anything away". So what conclusions can we make: It is clear that Civilian Walker 1078 is no doubt a factory Civilian Walker made from condemned Military parts. One can only ask the question, did Colt actually produce 100 Civilian Walkers? Perhaps Civilian Walkers are much rarer than they are already perceived to be! However we are not finished just yet. This revolver is fitted with an original factory loading lever correctly assembly numbered, as is the wedge "16". Could this be the first Colt pistol with the new and improved loading lever and catch? Given the analysis, it is certainly plausible. Also intriguing is the silver plating found under the grip. As previously mentioned it was thought that the Civilian guns were given as presentation and it would make perfect sense to have this more deluxe "presentation" feature with a full silver plated grip. One thing is certain: Colt worked on this Walker more than any other, more specifically the work was probably done by the hand of the brilliant son of one of America's most famous inventors Eli Whitney Jr. He of course had a vested interest in these revolvers success and modification of this kind required skill. Over the years speculation on the authenticity of this gun has popped up from time to time because of the left side barrel flat, frame and the distinct thumbprint on the frame. However, as Paul Harvey used to say, "And here is the rest of the story". After these discoveries were made, Rock Island Auction Company felt obligated to seek a second expert opinion. Mr. Herb Glass Jr. was contacted, made aware of the discovery and asked to draw his own conclusion on Civilian Walker 1078. Now accompanying this revolver is a letter by Mr. Glass in which he draws a independent but consensus opinion. Further Mr. Glass states: The fact that parts for civilian guns had apparently become scare by the time this gun was assembled leads to the question of whethe

ConditionExtremely fine retaining 80% period blue finish. As Mr. Glass notes in his letter "This gun was discovered in Mexico in 1948, (he believes as do RIAC specialists) it was refinished during its period of use. It is not difficult to envision a history of this gun where by a prominent Mexican citizen or military figure came by this revolver. The love and admiration the Mexican Military had for the Walker revolvers is well documented. Further, civilian Walker 1078 is still accompanied by the sensational period holster with which it was found. The revolver was obviously carried, used, well maintained and held in high regard, further substantiating this claim. The cylinder is correctly in the white and exhibits nearly all of its original cylinder scene. The walnut grip is excellent with 90% original varnish. The holster is excellent. Maybe most intriguing of all is the silver plated grip strap which retains nearly of its original finish under the grip. While speculation exists of the Civilian Walker being presented to important figures of the day, this deluxe presentation attribute maybe its rarest feature of all! A once in a lifetime opportunity to own and a milestone moment in Colt Firearms Collecting. An occasion not to be taken lightly as generations of collectors have never been given the opportunity to own a documented, real Civilian Colt Walker with such historic origins and intrigue.
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