Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1148: Presentation Colt Model 1851 Revolver Stock to Jefferson Davis

Auction Date: December 3, 2016

Historic Factory Presentation Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver Stock Inscribed to then U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $35,000 - $65,000

Historic Factory Presentation Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver Stock Inscribed to then U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis

Manufacturer: None
Model: None
Type: Other
Gauge:
Barrel:
Finish:
Grip:
Stock:
Item Views: 3224
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 112
Class: Other
Description:

Offered here is a "fresh-to-the-market" factory engraved and inscribed detachable shoulder stock for a Colt Model 1851 revolver presented by the Colt factory to then outgoing U.S. Secretary of War and future first and only Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis. The stock features a silver finished brass yoke configured for a 4-screw Model 1851 Navy revolver and bears the serial number "64817" on the lower tang and buttplate tang. The serial number places the manufacture date in late 1856 if we consider that the number corresponds to the Model 1851 revolver serial number range. The main body of the stock is nicely figured walnut. Two sling swivels are mounted on the underside. The buttplate is also silver plated brass. The yoke is profusely engraved with a floral scroll pattern on a dot background. The scrollwork extends to the buttplate tang and around the lower buttplate screw head. A similar scroll engraved shoulder stock is pictured and described in Nathan Swayze's book "'51 Colt Navies" on page 60. The Colt factory presentation inscription on this stock appears on top of the yoke ahead of the engraved clamping bar screw head, which reads, "Presented to/Gen. Jefferson Davis/Late U.S. Sec. of War/By the Workmen of/Col. Colts Armory/Hartford, Ct." The left side of the yoke is inscribed "Davis Detachable/Pistol Carbine Breech." In period Colt advertisements a revolver stock like this one was referred to as "attachable carbine breech." Under President Franklin Pierce, Jefferson Davis served as the 23rd U.S. Secretary of War from March 7, 1853, to March 4, 1857. Note that the late 1856 manufacture date of the stock works well within the timeframe of Davis' last day in office as the Secretary of War. Davis proved to be a capable Secretary of War who enlarged the army, strengthened coastal defenses, and oversaw land surveys for railways crossing the country to the Pacific. He is also credited for suggesting to Samuel Colt the idea of placing a canteen within shoulder stocks used on medium and large frame Colt revolvers. The canteen stock concept was intended to ease a soldier's burden by replacing two pieces of gear with a single piece which could perform both tasks. In a letter from October 1857, Colt representative J.D. Alden reported back to Samuel Colt, "When I showed the Secretary [of War Davis] the belt pistols with the attached stock the secretary said that it was the best arm in the world for its weight." This stock was likely a gift of appreciation by a factory that welcomed Davis' contributions in Colt weapons development. In 1861, Davis was fighting the army he had once helped to build, and in the aftermath of the Civil War, he remained an ardent apologist for the defeated South.

Rating Definition:

Exceptionally fine. The yoke and buttplate retain 95% aged darkened original silver plating. The engraving is crisp and the inscriptions are clear. The otherwise fine wood shows a number of minor scratches, a couple of minor pressure dents and a couple of missing small chips (located near the toe and lower tang). Much of the original finish remains. An extraordinary historic presentation accoutrement linked to Confederate President Jefferson Davis that would be a stand out piece to any advanced Civil War or percussion Colt collection.



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      More information on the history of this item can be found here: <a href="https://www.rockislandauction.com/blog/a-loose-artifact-of-jefferson-davis/" title="A Loose Artifact of Jefferson Davisr" target="_self">A Loose Artifact of Jefferson Davis</a>