Share this item:
Colt firearms may have been manufactured in the Northeast, but their history is intimately linked to the American West and especially to Texas. Texas was the key battleground in the early years of the Colt revolver, and the Colt Patersons revolvers used by the Texas Rangers in their struggles on the frontier against the powerful Comanche proved that Colt's revolvers were truly weapons of war suitable for intense frontier combat. Heavily outnumbered Texas Rangers used them to fight off Comanche attacks at both the Battle of Bandera Pass and the Battle of Walker's Creek despite the Comanche warriors being notorious for their bravery and their talent in combat with traditional lances and bows. Texans’ thirst for Colt's revolvers continued on after the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company folded in 1842 and grew with the outbreak of the Mexican-American War. As a result, the formidable Colt Model 1847 Walker revolver was famously designed in collaboration between Samuel Colt and Captain Samuel H. Walker of the Texas Rangers and the U.S. Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. In 1847, Samuel Colt contacted Walker asking for details on the battles in which his Paterson revolvers had been used and for an endorsement that he could then use to pursue government contracts. Walker wrote back a glowing endorsement of Colt's revolvers but also made suggestions on how to improve the design. John Coffee Hays, Walker, and the Texas Rangers had successfully used Colt's .36 caliber Paterson revolvers against the Comanche but now sought even more powerful revolvers for their fight against the Mexican Army. They wanted bigger, more powerful revolvers, true war-fighting revolvers that could stop a man or horse with a single shot. Walker got what he wanted, and Colt did as well: a contract for 1,000 revolvers. Since Colt did not have a manufacturing facility for the revolvers, he contracted to have Eli Whitney Jr. make them for him, and by that fall, Walker revolvers were arriving in the Southwest. Only 1,000 of the historic U.S. martial contract Colt Walker revolvers were manufactured in 1847. These massive "horse pistols" resurrected Samuel Colt's firearms business and set him on a path to immense success and wealth. He did not forget his friends in Texas, and memorialized them on the roll-scenes on his revolvers, including a scene of the Texas Rangers fighting the Comanche in a running battle on the Walker and Dragoon revolvers. Aside from a few special pairs sent earlier, this revolver would have been part of the first batch of 220 revolvers with the C Company markings (Walker's company in the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen) shipped to the Vera Cruz Ordnance Depot. Colonel John Coffee Hays of the First Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers, signed for 214 of the C Company Walkers on October 19, 1847, and the other six C Company Walkers were listed as stolen. During the fighting, the Walker was reported to be as effective as a rifle at 100 yards and more effective than a musket at 200 yards. While Walker put his revolvers to good use, a Mexican marksman succeeded where the Comanche had long failed and sent Walker to his grave at the Battle of Huamantla. The American and Texan cause, however, prevailed in the end, securing additional territory in the Southwest for both the United States and the State of Texas. After the Mexican-American War ended, most of the surviving Colt Walker revolvers were returned to government arsenals in Texas. Of the 191 turned in by Hays's men, only 82 are recorded as remaining serviceable, but the revolvers continued to be issued in Texas during in the late 1840s. Many of the Walkers used during the Mexican-American War and in fights with Native Americans in the late 1840s were shipped to the San Antonio Ordnance Depot and were captured by the Confederacy at the beginning of the Civil War and then issued to Confederate cavalry units. That any survive in the condition of this example is surprising. The revolver is accompanied by a detailed letter from Colt expert Herb Glass stating: "...I have examined U.S. Model 1847 Colt Walker Revolver C Company No. 12. This examination consisted of complete disassembly and careful examination of all parts. As a result I find this gun to be a genuine Colt Walker in very fine condition. It is completely original throughout; the only exception being a well made replacement loading lever assembly. Original Walker loading levers are commonly found repaired or replaced; this is due to forging problems during their manufacture." He closes noting: "As the earliest example this writer has had the pleasure of examining (just the twelfth gun produced), we can be certain that it arrived in Vera Cruz in the first shipment and saw service." The revolver has a German silver blade front sight, "ADDRESS SAML. COLT. NEW YORK CITY" marked on top of the barrel reading from the breech towards the muzzle, "US/1847" over the wedge screw on the right, "C COMPANY No 12" on the left side over the wedge, "12" on the breech face of the barrel below the arbor slot, "12" at the front of the frame between the pins, "12" on top of the wedge, "12" on the bottom of the arbor pin ("2" faint), "C COMPANY No 12" on the left side of the frame, "C COM-Y No 12" on the cylinder along with the Texas Ranger and Comanche fight scene and "MODEL U.S.M.R./COLT'S PATENT" markings, "C COM-YNo 12" (restamped over the first strike which appears to have been upside down) on the front of the trigger guard, "C COMPANY No 12" on the butt, "12" on the left side of the front strap towards the top, "12" on the mortise in the butt of the grip, and "JH" (left side horizontally for John Hawkins) and "WAT" (right side vertically for Captain William Anderson Thornton) cartouches along with a "2" near the butt on the left. The revolver is accompanied by a Walker combination screwdriver/nipple wrench, Walker pattern powder flask with "COLT'S/PATENT" on the top cover and "COLTS PATENT" in banners under cross revolving rifles and revolvers on both sides (appears to have been gilt instead of lacquered), and a brown leather flap holster. The revolver's provenance is detailed in notarized letters within the document file which indicates the revolver was purchased by Andrew Cherven in Washtenaw County, Michigan, in 1981 from his friend Dr. Bernard Godfroy (1908-1983). Dr. Godfroy had been given it by his father, Phillip M. Godfroy (1864-1947), after it had been in the family for some time. Michael Simens indicated that Phillip W. Godfroy (1834-1913), Dr. Godfroy's grandfather, had served in the 9th Michigan Cavalry during the Civil War, and the revolver may have been brought back by him from the war, perhaps after capturing it from a Confederate soldier. Michael Simens purchased the revolver from Cherven's family in 2002, displayed it in the famous 50th anniversary "Parade of Walkers" display organized by the Texas Gun Collectors Association in 2003 (TGCA certificate included) and subsequently sold it to Greg Lampe. In his analysis of the revolver, Michael Simens, writing in 2004, stated, "With the publishing of 'The William M. Locke Collection' in 1973, it was found that Walker C-Company No. 181 had a 'JH' cartouche on its left grip and 'WAT' on its right. Since that time, Walker collectors and historians have been searching for another with the same cartouche. Walker C-Company No. 12 is the first C-Company Walker to be found with similar, near perfect cartouches, and no additional C-Company gun has ever been found with distinctly visible cartouches other than the two stated." Provenance: The Godfroy Family; The Andrew Cherven Collection; The Michael Simens Collection; The Greg Lampe Collection
Fine overall. The revolver mainly exhibits a crisp smooth untouched original brown patina overall, patches of original blue finish at the top of the back strap and butt, a factory flaw semi-circular absent piece visible on the barrel lug at the left pin, wear at the upper corners of the frame nearby, mild oxidation and pitting, and some hammer wear at the back of the cylinder. The hammer screw, loading lever, and T-spring catch are all professionally made recent replacements. The grip is also fine and has legible but mildly hand worn markings (these markings are rarely even visible on Walkers), a tiny repaired chip at the toe on the left along with additional small flakes at the toe, mild edge wear, a divot on the lower right, and light scratches and dings. Mechanically excellent. The accessories are also fine and have mild age and storage relate wear. This is certainly one of the most attractive C Company Walkers extant. Nearly all of the C Company Walkers saw action with Hays's Texans during the Mexican-American War, and it may have been carried during the Civil War as well, yet it remains in unusually fine, well-above average condition. A truly extraordinary piece of Texas history!
There are currently no customer product questions on this lot