This revolver was manufactured in 1867 and is fitted with Charter Oak grips-wood harvested directly from the famous Connecticut Charter Oak Tree of Hartford which fell in a storm in 1856. The Charter Oak predated the arrival of European colonists to the region. It was planted by natives in the 12th or 13th century and used both as a symbol of peace and as a yardstick for when to plant corn during the season. The tree was preserved by the settlers, and earned its name in late October of 1687 when the British government attempted to strip the Connecticut colony of its charter (granted in 1662) as part of a plan to reassert their authority over the Americas by establishing a Dominion of New England. The governor of the Dominion personally traveled to Connecticut to physically seize the charter documents, but they were spirited away from the governor and concealed in the Charter Oak, an early act of American rebellion. The tree itself was lost in a severe windstorm on August 21, 1856. To mourn the death of the tree, the community held a large funeral service where people gave speeches, church bells tolled and Colonel Samuel Colt’s band played dirges in honor of the fallen tree. The owner of the property, American author Isaac W. Stuart (who among other credits was a professor of Greek and Latin, performing an early translation of the famous tragedy "Oedipus Rex" and writing a biography of patriot/spy Nathan Hale), had several items prepared from the wood, including a desk for the governor and chairs for the speaker and president of the State Senate. In addition to the various items, the Oak lives on today through several scions in the Hartford area as a symbol of American liberty and on the back of Connecticut's "50 States" quarter minted in 1999. Firearms manufacturer Colt used Charter Oak to have pieces of furniture and other items made for his home known as Armsmear (these can be seen today at the Wadsworth Athenaeum) and grips on revolvers. Only a few Charter Oak guns were presented, mostly to friends of Colt, and as Colt historian R.L. Wilson notes, “They form one of the most interesting and desirable groups in the field of presentation percussion Colt firearms.” Eight Colt Model 1855 revolvers and one Model 1849 Pocket Revolver are known to have been fitted with the unique Charter Oak grips. This revolver is illustrated and extensively described on pages 220-223 of "Magnificent Colts" by R.L. Wilson. The revolver has a 4 1/2-inch, .31caliber, round barrel and a five-shot round cylinder. The barrel has a dovetail mounted half-moon, nickel silver front sight blade. The hammer has bordered knurling on the spur. The top of the barrel is roll-stamped: "ADDRESS COL. COLT/NEW-YORK U.S.A." in two lines. The cylinder is roll-engraved with the stagecoach holdup scene and "COLTS PATENT". The serial number "11060" is located on the underside of the barrel, the side of the cylinder and the revolver butt. All of the visible serial numbers match. The barrel, frame and cylinder have the Colt high polish blue finish. The hammer and cylinder pin are color casehardened, and the hammer, frame screws and trigger have a fire blue finish. The one-piece oak grip has a varnished finish. The revolver has a factory mahogany case with red velvet lining and five compartments. The case contains: (1) straight leg, blued double cavity bullet mold marked "COLT'S/PATENT" on the sprue cutter and "31PKT" on the right block, (2) Colt's Patent powder flask for pocket pistols with fixed charger, steel top screws and eagle and shield embossed on one side of the lacquer finished body and (3) packet of five Hazards cartridges for "NEW MODEL/REVOLVING POCKET PISTOL". Also included is a copy of "Proceedings at the Dedication of Charter Oak Hall upon the South Meadow Grounds of Col. Samuel Colt" from 1856 and a period pamphlet concerning litigation. Pistols with Charter Oak grips are one of the great rarities in Colt collecting.
Excellent . The revolver is all original and retains 90% plus of the original high polish blue and 98% vivid color casehardened finish. There is some scattered and insignificant flaking to the blue finish on the left side of the barrel at the muzzle and on the cylinder. The balance of the high polish blue finish shows minimal wear. The loading lever, hammer and cylinder pin have almost all of the vivid case colors. Nearly all of the fire blue finish is present on the trigger and screw heads. The historic Charter Oak grip is in almost perfect condition and retains nearly all of the original varnish finish. The case exterior is in excellent condition with minimal wear on the lid and sides. The interior remains in very good condition. The red velvet lining is bright and clean. Wear is limited to a faint compression mark from contact with the revolver cylinder and a tear in the lining on one partition from contact with the hammer spur. The bullet mold is in very fine to excellent condition and retains nearly 90% of the blue finish. The powder flask is in excellent condition; the body has 98% of the original lacquer finish. Nearly all of the gold plated finish is present on the flask top, and the spring has most of the fire blue finish. The seal on the cartridge packet has been broken, and the cartridges may be missing; the packet itself remains in very good condition. This is a magnificent and fully documented example of one of the great rarities in Colt collecting: a Model 1855 Sidehammer revolver with grips from the historic Connecticut Charter Oak. Provenance: Robert M. Lee Collection.
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More information on the history of this item can be found here: <a href="https://www.rockislandauction.com/blog/samuel-colt-and-the-charter-oak/" title="Samuel Colt and the Charter Oak" target="_self">Samuel Colt and the Charter Oak</a>