This scarce five-chamber flintlock revolver was manufactured by Elisha H. Collier circa 1820. The Collier patent five-chamber revolver was invented by Artemus Wheeler of Concord, Massachusetts. Wheeler filed a patent for his revolver design in the United States in June 1818. The British patent for the revolver was filed in November 1818 by another American, Elisha H. Collier. Elisha Collier operated "Collier & Co., Gunmakers" in London from 1818 to 1827 and sold revolving pistols, rifles and shotguns. Experts are uncertain if Collier manufactured his own firearms; several prominent London gunmakers including Rigby, Nock and Mortimer may have made the revolving firearms sold by Collier & Co. R.L Wilson states that the Collier revolver is "important to the study of the Colt revolver, because there can be no question that [Samuel] Colt saw Collier revolving arms during his boyhood voyage to India and England on the [S.S.] Curvo (1830-31). Although Colt did not copy features incorporated in the Collier, the existence of these arms was undoubtedly a spur to his fertile imagination, and he later (in addressing the Institution of Civil Engineers) made it a point to be critical of the features in this important predecessor arm." Wilson speculated, "Had Collier's revolving hand and long guns been popularly accepted, perhaps Colt's pistols would never have been developed" (see "The Book of Colt Firearms," pages 2-4). When Colt entered the firearms market in the 1830s, his designs were a major step forward for revolving firearms. This revolver has a fluted five shot hand turned cylinder, octagon barrel with smooth bore and automatic primer. The barrel has a fluted top strap and an under rib with a single iron ramrod pipe. It is equipped with a post front sight, a fixed rear sight, squareback iron trigger guard and rosewood ramrod mounted in brass. The receiver has a flush fitted lock plate and tang. The top of the barrel rib is engraved "E. H. Collier 89 London" in Old English script. "E.H. Collier" is engraved on the side of the lock plate in Old English letters above "89 PATENT." The primer magazine is marked "E.H. COLLIER" and "89 PATENT." The revolver is decorated with a well executed scrollwork and patriotic engraving. The receiver tang is fully engraved with stylized stands of colors and arms centered on a British shield and surrounded by scrollwork and detailed engraved borders. In addition to the maker's markings, the lock plate is engraved with line and leaf borders, open foliate designs and a stand of arms with a British shield. The bottom of the trigger guard is engraved with scrollwork and detailed borders. The cylinder collar is engraved with open foliate designs. The screw heads are also engraved. To rotate the cylinder, the hammer must be at the half or full cock position before cylinder can be pushed back into the collar and turned to the next chamber. The revolver has browned barrel and cylinder, and the remaining metal surfaces are blue. The barrel is Damascus twist steel. Mounted with a nicely figured walnut stock featuring a checkered grip and flared butt. An eight-pointed star with a flower in the center is inlaid on the left flat, and a blank silver thumb escutcheon is on the top of the grip. This revolver is pictured and described in the book "The Art of the Gun: Magnificent Colts, Selections from the Robert M. Lee Collection" (pages 58-59). The revolver was formerly of the Clay P. Bedford Collection and is also pictured and described in the book "Early Firearms of Great Britain and Ireland from the Collection of Clay P. Bedford" published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (pages 166-168).
Fine. Overall the revolver has a smooth brown patina with the barrel retaining 40% original Damascus pattern, and the remaining metal surfaces retain 30% plus original blue finish (heaviest concentrations on the trigger guard). The engraving and markings are crisp. The wood is fine showing a number of minor handling marks. Mechanically fine. The Collier flintlock revolver is a unique firearm that is generally acknowledged to have influenced the design of the Colt revolver. Collier revolving arms are extremely rare. This may be your only opportunity to acquire an extremely rare Collier flintlock revolver at our auction! Provenance: Robert M. Lee Collection.
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