Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 222: Colt Model 1849 Percussion Revolver with Cut-Down Recoil Shields

Auction Date: December 2, 2016

Cased Colt Model 1849 Pocket Percussion Revolver with Period "Scalloped" Recoil Shield and Frame Channel

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $5,500 - $7,500

Cased Colt Model 1849 Pocket Percussion Revolver with Period "Scalloped" Recoil Shield and Frame Channel

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1849
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 31 percussion
Barrel: 5 inch octagon
Finish: blue/silver
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 1303
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 89
Class: Antique

Manufactured in 1853, this type of Model 1849 revolver has been the center of a great debate within the Colt collector community and is what Colt historian R.L. Wilson referred to as a "scalloped recoil shield revolver." The revolver has a cut-down recoil shield and a slot or channel cut into the frame at the face of the recoil shield. The purpose of this unusual feature was to prevent jamming due to spent percussion caps. During the course of his studies, Wilson encountered both Wells Fargo and standard Model 1849s with this design, and these examples were found in the 81000, 83000, 98000 and 119000 serial number ranges. Wilson concluded that the revolvers were experimental or special order. See Wilson's book "The Book of Colt Firearms" (pages 102-103 and 109) for his analysis and images of a Wells Fargo example. In "Colt Firearms," author James Serven came to the same conclusion and added that the cut-down recoil shield permits capping on either side and "very few [were] manufactured" (page 116). P. L. Shumaker came to a different conclusion in "Colt's Variations of the Old Model Pocket Pistol, 1848 to 1872." In his analysis, these revolvers are "the product of Outside influence rather than Inside Influence." For him the wide separation in the serial number groups make it more likely that these revolvers were modified outside the factory by a master gunsmith rather than being experimental (pages 136-138). While collectors may continue the debate, these little known revolvers are, as Shumaker put it, "quite catchy-looking." The revolver has the two-line New York City barrel address inside brackets, "COLTS/PATENT" marked frame, stagecoach hold-up scene engraved cylinder also marked "COLTS PATENT/No 73185" and one-piece grip. The frame appears to be blue. Note that the Wells Fargo example in Wilson's book also had the unusual feature of a blue frame. The number "6" is marked on the cylinder and barrel lug, and the number "8" and the letter "X" are marked on the trigger guard. The matching numbers are found on the barrel, trigger guard, back strap, loading lever, barrel wedge, cylinder and cylinder pin. The partitioned case is lined with blue velvet and contains lead balls, double face eagle powder flask, two cavity Colt patent brass bullet mold and a percussion cap tin. The bottom of the case is hand marked "MR. D.N. HORBURGER/BUCK/1861."

Rating Definition:

Very good as period modified. The revolver has a mottled gray patina with traces of blue finish in the protected areas of the frame. The cylinder retains most of the engraving. The grip straps retain 80% original silver plating. The grip is fine with a couple chips along the grain and a few circular dings on the bottom. Mechanically excellent. The relined case is good with a wood filled repair on the front, minor handling/storage marks and high spot wear on the lining.

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