Manufactured in 1891, an antique, this is a beautiful example of a rare, factory engraved Colt Model 1889 Navy revolver (few factory engraved), which is documented as purchased by major Taylor E. Brown, an officer of volunteers that took part in the Spanish-American War. Major Brown enlisted in the 1st Regiment of the Illinois National Guard in 1881 at the rank of private, was made second lieutenant in 1883, first lieutenant in June, 1884, and was elected captain in October, 1884 and reelected in 1887. He was brevetted major in 1890 and resigned four years later as the senior major in the regiment. It is quite possible this revolver was purchased to celebrate this promotion or as a gift because of it. In 1896, Brown raised a new company for the regiment which he was in command of until the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898. During that war, Brown was placed in command of a provisional company of engineers, with period newspapers stating that he was the first to land at Puerto Rico during the expedition led by Nelson A. Miles to capture the island. Major Brown survived the war and went on to be elected commander in chief of The Naval and Military Order of the Spanish American War. The revolver itself shows near full coverage, beautifully executed Colt factory engraving, most definitely executed by Colt Factory Master Engraver, Cuno Helfricht. Similar examples of Helfricht's work on other Colt double action revolvers from the period can be seen on p. 251-253 of "The Book of Colt Engraving" by Wilson. The engraving features primarily Germanic style floral scroll on a punch dot background with some florets, fans, and geometric/zig-zag borders. There are faint traces of the factory original gold plating over the nickel plating on the cylinder, the rest of the revolver showing a nickel finish apart from the trigger, upper surface of the hammer, and screw heads, which are nitre blue. The standard two-line address is marked on top of the barrel and "COLT D.A. 38" is on the left. The circled Rampant Colt is on the left rear of the frame. The assembly number "376" is marked on the frame, crane, cylinder latch, bottom of the barrel, rear of the cylinder, and on the inside of both grip panels in pencil. It is fitted with a blade front sight, frame groove rear sight, and a pair of smooth pearl grips. The included factory letter confirms the current configuration including the nickel/gold finish, the pearl grips, factory engraving and sale to Major Taylor E. Brown with shipment to Hibbard, Spencer, Bartlett & Co. in Chicago on 2 November 1891 in a two gun shipment, right about a year after Brown was brevetted major.
Excellent, retains 97% plus of the original nickel finish and nitre blue with traces of the original gold finish in sheltered areas on the cylinder and crisp engraving overall. The grips are also excellent with a couple very light chips at the top of the right panel and a few scattered light scratches. Mechanically excellent. A rare and exceptional original example of an antique factory engraved early Colt Model 1889 double action revolver with historic significance as a personal sidearm of major Taylor E. Brown, a veteran of the Spanish-American War!
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