Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1222: Brigham Young Colt Model 1849 Pocket Percussion Revolver

Auction Date: April 30, 2016

Spectacular Historic Presentation Cased Factory Engraved Colt Model 1849 Pocket Percussion Revolver Inscribed to Latter Day Saint Leader and Utah Territory Governor Brigham Young

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $550,000 - $850,000

Spectacular Historic Presentation Cased Factory Engraved Colt Model 1849 Pocket Percussion Revolver Inscribed to Latter Day Saint Leader and Utah Territory Governor Brigham Young

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1849
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 31 percussion
Barrel: 4 inch octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened/silver
Grip: antique ivory
Item Views: 13962
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 108
Class: Antique

We at Rock Island Auctions are both pleased and fortunate to offer this lot as one of the most historical and iconic firearms ever brought to public sale on behalf of the direct descendants of Brigham Young and in association with Michael Simens and, a personal friend of the Young Family. Its combination of features include embellishment, condition, provenance, history and importance and rival all others that we have successfully offered throughout our many years. This is an extraordinary example of a historic factory engraved Colt Model 1849 Pocket percussion revolver manufactured in 1854 and presented to the famed leader of the Latter Day Saint movement and first governor of the Utah Territory, Brigham Young, by H.E. Dimick & Co., a major St. Louis firearms dealer. Brigham Young, often referred to as “The American Moses,” was the second leader and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and served in that capacity from 1844 until his death in 1877. He supervised the migration of Mormon pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley in the Utah territory from Illinois and other staging points across the country and the world. The migration was necessary after many years of community and religious abuse and the murder of first church leader Joseph Smith and his brother by an angry mob followed by the burning of the city of Nauvoo, Illinois. Two years later, Brigham Young, Smith's successor, made the decision to lead the church members on a mass exodus through the Mexican-controlled southwest wilderness that eventually ended in the forming a permanent Latter Day Saint community in the valley of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. On July 24, 1847, the first contingent arrived at their “Promised Land” when Young and 147 Mormon pilgrims arrived at the Salt Lake Valley. In 1851, the colonizer and founder of “Great Salt Lake City” was appointed the territory's first governor by President Millard Fillmore. In his lifetime, Brigham Young supervised the trek of nearly 80,000 pioneers to the Salt Lake Valley; founded 400 settlements, towns and cities; established a system of land distribution later ratified by Congress; and served as the first territorial governor of Utah for two terms, as first superintendent of Indian Affairs of Utah Territory, and as Church President for 30 years. With scarce provisions and resources, Brigham organized cooperative efforts to dig canals; construct roads; build telegraph lines, gristmills and tanneries; and established new industries including: cotton and woolen mills, iron foundries, a sugar beet factory and railroads. All of this took place under his personal direction. In a short period of time, he built a country within a country. Young was a human dynamo as a planner and builder of community but also encouraged advancements in human nature, encouraging not only hard work but dance, singing, reading “and anything else that will expand our frames, add fire to spirit, improve minds and make all citizens feel free and untrammeled in body and mind”. He encouraged woman to study and said, “We believe that women are useful, not only to sweep houses, wash dishes, make beds, and raise babies, but they should stand behind the counter, study law or physics [medicine], or become good book-keepers . . . And all this to enlarge their sphere of usefulness for the benefit of society at large. In following these things they but answer the design of their creation." He also gave them the vote in 1870 in the State of Utah. To accomplish these feats, Young and his followers exercised their rights as provided in our Constitution and were obviously strong believers in the First and Second Amendments (particularly the Second Amendment to defend the First). This revolver was presented to Young by H.E. Dimick & Company while Young served as Governor of the Utah Territory (1851-1858). Founded in 1849 in St. Louis, H.E. Dimick quickly became the largest firearms dealer west of the Mississippi and attracted a large share of public attention on account of the splendid assortment of firearms that composed their stock. Dimick was popular among mountain men, scouts, fur traders, buffalo hunters and pioneers migrating west in need of firearms and related supplies. It must be assumed that Young, as the Governor of the Utah Territory, would have had specific dealings with Dimick in the supplying of firearms to the Utah Territory. The revolver has deluxe factory floral scroll engraving with punch-dot background and floral accents. Due to its exquisite quality, we believe the engraving was executed by Master Engraver Gustave Young himself, and this gun is consecutively numbered to a gun listed on one of his two existing work-shop sheets from September 1854. The flawlessly executed scrollwork covers the lug and rear two thirds of the barrel, the loading lever flats, the frame, the trigger guard bow and the bottom and upper third of the back strap. The back strap is unquestionably factory, special order inscribed as follows; "Presented to Gov. Young/by H.E. Dimick & Co." The top and sides of the hammer are decorated with Gustave Young's characteristic wolf head motif with beautifully executed additional dog heads on the left side of the frame and barrel. The hammer exhibits deluxe knurling and the screw heads are also engraved. The top barrel flat is presentation style scroll engraved "Saml Colt" surrounded by simple decorative line engraving and the left side of the frame is engraved "COLT'S/PATENT". The serial number (97326) is marked on all major parts, and the correct partial serial number (7326) is on the barrel wedge. The cylinder is roll engraved with the stagecoach holdup scene and marked "COLTS PATENT" over the serial number. The barrel and cylinder are blue. The loading lever, frame and hammer are casehardened, and the trigger guard and back strap are silver plated brass. It is fitted with a smooth one-piece antique ivory grip. The partitioned deluxe rosewood case is lined in red wine velvet and is presentation inscribed to Young. The top of the lid has a brass inscription plaque that reads, "Gov. Young/G.S.L.C./Utah Ter." Interestingly, the city was named by Young himself, “Great Salt lake City” upon Young’s arrival to the valley, hence the decorated initials “G.S.L.C.” on the plaque. The name was later shortened to its current title. The case has brass hardware including the corner protectors on the lid. The case holds the revolver, silver or German silver powder flask, two cavity "COLTS/PATENT" brass bullet mold, combination screwdriver and nipple wrench, Eley percussion cap tin, nipple pick, cleaning rod and a small knife blade from a dress knife and file often used as a watch fob marked “G. Wostenholm, I.X.L.” The gun is accompanied with an un-impeachable letter of provenance from the great grandson of Brigham Young and a period ID card that was displayed with the set in the Young household on special occasions. This is the personal Colt revolver that Brigham Young received as a gift; that he personally cleaned, loaded and kept at-the-ready and would undoubtedly have used when necessary to protect himself, his family and those who might need it from nefarious persons as was his Constitutional right.

Rating Definition:

Excellent to near mint. The revolver retains 97% of its bright, original high polished blue finish with some scattered high edge wear and an extremely thin line of toning on its cylinder where it laid in its case. It even retains most of the blue in its bore and chambers. The frame, loading lever and hammer retain nearly all of their original, early style case colors. The grip straps retain nearly all of their original silver plating. The grip is excellent with a highly attractive color and grain pattern. The gun is mechanically excellent. The case is very fine with minor handling/storage marks overall and some high spot wear to the lining. The accessories are all very fine. We cannot speak too highly of this remarkable and iconic American weapon. Its magnificent features would be hard to improve upon by any measure, and place it as a potential centerpiece to any antique Colt or Americana museum collection! Its rarity, form, embellishment, history, provenance and high condition cannot be underestimated!

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