Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 2125: Colt 1848 Revolver 31 percussion

Auction Date: May 6, 2017

Factory Engraved, Inscribed and Cased Colt Model 1848 Baby Dragoon Percussion Revolver with Matching Serialized Extra Barrel

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $150,000 - $225,000

Factory Engraved, Inscribed and Cased Colt Model 1848 Baby Dragoon Percussion Revolver with Matching Serialized Extra Barrel

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1848
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 31 percussion
Barrel: 6 inch octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 4382
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 72
Class: Antique

Offered here is a physical link to the Col. Samuel Colt family legacy: a cased factory engraved Colt Model 1848 Baby Dragoon revolver inscribed to Samuel Colt’s brother-in-law, Cyprian Nichols Beach. The inscription is engraved on the trigger guard tang and reads, “C.N. BEACH/Philadelphia." Cyprian N. Beach (1828-1887) was a prominent East Coast businessman with interests in coal who married Samuel Colt's sister-in-law Hetty Jarvis in 1867. Samuel Colt married Hetty's older sister, Elizabeth Hart Jarvis, in 1856. The manufacture date for this revolver is 1849, which suggests that Beach was well acquainted with Samuel Colt years before his 1867 marriage to Hetty. Beach attended Trinity College and fostered a lucrative business partnership with Hartford native and coal merchant George F. Tyler. He died in London at the age of 58 and is buried in the same Hartford cemetery where Col. Colt and his family are interred. Cyprian’s half-brother, Henry, was co-founder of Woodruff & Beach Iron Works, which stood next door to Colt’s first Hartford factory and built the enormous 250 horsepower steam engine for Colt’s Armory that began construction in 1855 on a 260-acre site along the Connecticut River. Woodruff & Beach’s contribution to the Armory “give”, in the words of a period reporter, “a sort of Birmingham aspect here, which seems strange…for old Hartford.” In 1994, Colt vacated the Hartford complex. As of 2007, the complex is part of the Coltsville Historic District and preserves Colt’s contributions to manufacturing. The revolver has the distinctive Baby Dragoon square back trigger guard and five-shot cylinder with late production features that include loading lever, square cylinder stop slots and roll-engraved stagecoach holdup cylinder scene. The six-inch barrel is roll-stamped "- ADDRESS SAML COLT/NEW-YORK CITY-". The left side of the frame is roll-stamped "COLTS/PATENT" in two lines. The cylinder is roll-stamped "COLTS PATENT" in a rectangle. The four-inch spare barrel is roll-stamped "{ADDRESS SAML COLT/NEW-YORK CITY}." The full serial number "11665" is stamped on the bottom of the barrel lug, frame, trigger guard, back strap and cylinder and the loading lever is stamped with the partial serial number "1665". The spare barrel has the serial number "11665" on the bottom of the barrel lug and "1665" on the loading lever. All of the visible serial numbers match. Both barrels have a brass cone front sights. The hammer has fine, bordered knurling on the spur. Both barrels and loading levers along with the frame, trigger guard, back strap and hammer are decorated with finely executed, relief cut Irish style scroll and border work with tight circular scrolls and interwoven chain borders. The engraving is almost certainly the work of Joseph Delany who engraved Colt revolvers circa 1850-52. Colt Belt Model pistols with similar engraving attributed to Delany are illustrated on pages 36, 37 and 38 of "Colt Factory Engravers" by Herbert G. Houze. The revolver barrels and cylinders have a high polish blue finish, and the loading levers, frame and hammer are color casehardened. The trigger guard and back strap are silver plated, and the highly figured walnut grip has a high polish piano finish. The revolver has a mahogany American style case lined with blue velvet. The interior has five compartments and contains: (1) spare barrel, (2) fixed charger, pocket pistol powder flask embossed with and eagle and "COLTS/PATENT" markings on both sides, (3) brass, straight leg, double cavity bullet mold stamped "COLTS PATENT" across the top of the mold, (4) L-shaped combination nipple wrench/screwdriver, (5) L-shaped combination screwdriver/cleaning rod and (6) matching key. Colt percussion revolvers with matching numbered extra barrels are very rare. This revolver is described and extensively illustrated on pages 162-165 of "The Art of the Gun: Magnificent Colts" by Lee and Wilson.

Rating Definition:

Very fine. This revolver is all original and retains 75% of the original high polish blue, color casehardened, and silver-plated finish. The extra barrel assembly has 80% of the original blue finish. The cylinder retains 70% of the blue finish and all of the stagecoach holdup scene. All of the cylinder pins remain, and the percussion nipples show only light flash pitting. The loading levers, frame and hammer have nearly all of the color casehardened finish and show minimal wear. The silver-plated trigger guard and back strap are slightly tarnished but retain close to 90% of the original finish. The highly figured walnut grip remains excellent with minimal handling wear and has nearly 95% of the high polish piano finish. The delicate Irish style scroll and border engraving is deep and crisp. The action is tight and functions well. The case exterior is very fine with minor handling and storage wear. The interior is good; the lining is bright with several oil stains and some torn fabric on the partitions from contact with the revolver hammer and front sight. The powder flask is very good and retains at least 90% of the plum-colored lacquer finish on the body and about 80% of the gold-plated finish on the top and charger. The bullet mold is good overall with a few dents and scratches and untouched age patina. The combination screwdriver nipple wrench is very good and retains most of the fire blue finish. This is a very fine example of an early Colt factory engraved revolver with rare matching numbered and engraved extra barrel, factory casing, inscribed to a businessman who was almost certainly a close associate of Samuel Colt. It would be difficult to find a better example of a Colt Baby Dragoon revolver. Provenance: Robert M. Lee Collection.

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