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Auction Date: December 5, 2014

Lot 3186: Colt - 1851 Navy

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Ultra Rare and Historic Documented Colonel Colt Presentation Triple Cased Set of Percussion Revolvers to Colt's Close Friend and Best Man Lieutenant Silas Bent
Estimated Price: $75,000 - $110,000
Item Views 202 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Colt - 1851 Navy ManufacturerColt Model1851 Navy
TypeRevolver Gauge36 Percussion Catalog Page82
Barrel7 1/2 Inch FinishBlue/casehardened GripWalnut
Stock ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionThis is one of only two known Colt triple cased presentation sets of percussion revolvers and is illustrated and described on pages 52-53 of "THE COLT HERITAGE" by R.L. Wilson. The casing consists of a Colt Model 1851 Navy revolver (sn# 49962), Colt Model 1849 Pocket revolver (sn# 148376), and a Colt Model 1855 Sidehammer Pocket revolver (sn# 441) along with several accessories. The brass plate in the case lid is inscribed: "Lieut. Silas Bent/Compliments of/Col. Colt". Also included is a false hard cover book marked "LIEUTENANT/SILAS BENT/COMPLIMENTS/OF COL. COLT" that contains a number of documents related to their relationship and some photographs of the set. As detailed in several of the documents, the set was discovered in the 1930s in St. Louis in the possession of a major, which is logical given it was the home of his wife's estate and his birthplace, Bent would have had many friends there. After its discovery, it was sold to Norm Flayderman and was in his collection for a while. Many of the other documents provide details on Silas Bent and his relationship with Colt. Noted Colt historian R.L. Wilson, in an included letter, writes that "Samuel Colt was a man with innumerable acquaintances, but, by choice, with very few close friends. One of these, as evidence demonstrates, was Lieutenant Silas Bent." Wilson goes on the suggest that Colt and Bent had met during the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London and discusses that Bent helped Colt acquire many of the arms that he and Commodore Perry had brought back from the Japanese Emperor. Bent served as best man at Sam Colt's wedding in June of 1856 and rode ahead with Colt several hours before the ceremony while the remainder of the wedding party and guests went by steamer. It is well recorded that Colt exhibited the sheathed kris that Bent gave him as a wedding present at Armsmear as a sign of their close friendship. Bent also appeared as an "honored guest" at a gala thrown by Colt in February of that year as detailed in another document, and an included letter from Bent addressed to "My dear Colt" indicates that Bent helped Colt in his personal affairs; in this case handling furniture for his estate. Bent was an officer in the U.S. Navy with twenty years of experience by the time of the wedding having started his career in 1836 at the age of just sixteen. He later resigned in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War due to his Southern sympathies. He was well versed in oceanography and well connected. He advised American officials concerning potential expeditions to the North Pole and conducted hydrographic surveys of Japanese waters that were published in "Sailing Directions and Nautical Remarks: by Officers of the Late U.S. Naval Expedition to Japan". Those surveys were conducted while serving as the Flag Lieutenant of Commodore Perry's flagship THE MISSISSIPPI during the 1852-1854 expedition to Japan to secure the release of eighteen shipwrecked American sailors held prisoner by the Japanese government. According to James Fallows in "After Centuries of Japanese Isolation…", Bent readied his outnumbered men for hand to hand combat with the Japanese during one of the intense encounters of the expedition. Once peaceful relations were established, Bent worked to promote Colt's firearms in Japan. His service record is quite impressive; he crossed Atlantic five times, the Pacific twice, rounded Cape Horn four times and the Cape of Good Hope once. The mahogany case has a brass inscription plate inlaid in the lid and a shield-shaped brass escutcheon surrounding the key hole. The case is lined with dark red velvet and has twelve compartments for the three revolvers and the included American Flask & Cap Co. "Coat of Arms" Navy size powder flask (Rapley #F30), "Eagle and Shield" powder flask, two "COLTS/PATENT" marked bullet molds, combination tools, 250 count tin of Eley percussion caps, and American Flask and Cap Co. empty paper carton. The accessories are pictured in the illustration of the case in "THE COLT HERITAGE". The Third Model Navy revolver was manufactured c.1856 and has the has the small rounded trigger guard, loading lever screws that enter from the left side, thick barrel lug, beveled loading cut-out, and "piano" finished grip. It has the standard markings including the "-ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW-YORK CITY-" barrel address and the matching serial numbers. The Model 1849 Pocket revolver was manufactured circa 1858 and has the standard markings including the "{ADDRESS SAML COLT/ NEW YORK CITY}" barrel address and matching full and partial serial numbers. It also has a "piano" finished grip. The Model 3A Sidehammer revolver was manufactured circa 1860 and is roll-stamped with the second style legend with Maltese crosses but no hand on the top of the barrel and "PATENTED SEPT. 10th 1860" stamped in one cylinder flute. The serial number "441" is stamped on the underside of the barrel and bottom of the back strap.

ConditionVery fine. The rare mahogany triple case is fine with some light compression marks and scattered stains that are hidden when the revolvers and accessories are in place. A) The Navy revolver is in very fine condition and retains about 60% of the original finish and 90% of the dove-gray case colors. Most of the blue finish on the barrel and cylinder has aged to a smooth, gray patina and considerable high polish blue finish is present in protected areas. The naval scene remains almost entirely crisp and complete. The percussion nipples have minimal flash pitting. At least 85% of the silver-plated finish is present on the trigger guard and back strap. The grip is in excellent condition with minimal handling wear. B) The Model 1849 Pocket revolver remains in good to very good condition. The barrel retains approximately 70% of the high polish blue finish with a number of dents and handling marks, particularly on the right side of the lug surrounding the wedge slot. The cylinder shows handling wear and retains about 70% of the hold-up scene with scattered light dents and scratches. The percussion nipples and rear face of the cylinder have moderate-heavy flash pitting and several of the safety pins are battered. The loading lever, frame and hammer are in very good condition and retain nearly 90% of the muted case colors. The trigger guard and back strap have at least 90% of the silver-plated finish. The grip is very good and retains nearly all of the piano finish with numerous hammer type small dents at the heel and bottom of the back strap. C) The Model 1855 Sidehammer revolver is in very good condition and retains at least 80% of the original high polish blue finish and case colors. The finish on the top and sides of the barrel has flaked but nearly all of the finish on the frame remains intact. The cylinder shows light-moderate finish wear. The percussion nipples and rear face of the cylinder show minimal flash pitting. The grip is in excellent condition with minimal handling wear. The accessories are in good-very good condition. Presentation guns from Samuel Colt are among the most desirable of all Colt firearms. Multiple gun casing are rare. This Samuel Colt presentation, three-gun casing, is one of the rarest and most desirable groups of Colt percussion revolvers available.
B) Colt Model 1849 Pocket Revolver
Serial #B) Colt Model 1849 Pocket Revolver ManufacturerColt Model1849
TypeRevolver Gauge31 Percussion Catalog Page82
Barrel4 Inch FinishBlue/casehardened GripWalnut
Stock ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
Description

Condition
C) Colt Model 1855 Sidehammer Revolver
Serial #C) Colt Model 1855 Sidehammer Revolver ManufacturerColt ModelRoot
TypeRevolver Gauge31 Catalog Page82
Barrel3 1/2 Inch FinishBlue/casehardened GripWalnut
Stock ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
Description

Condition
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