Offered here is without question the rarest, most historic and finest Colt Walker revolver Rock Island Auction Company has had the privilege to offer at auction. Known by the collecting fraternity as the Danish sea captain Walker, it is a type of revolver that gun collectors usually can only fantasize about owning. The story of the Walker revolver forever changed the course of American history and firearms design. It involves a young gallant U.S. Army officer, Samuel Hamilton Walker, a brilliant second generation inventor and manufacturer, Eli Whitney, Jr., and thrusted a young, unsuccessful (up until this point) but ambitious entrepreneur to the forefront of American manufacturing, one of the first American business tycoons, Col. Samuel Colt. The Colt U.S. 1847 Walker Model design was developed by Samuel Colt and influenced by suggestions from the former Texas Ranger Samuel Hamilton Walker who was serving as a captain in the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. On December 7, 1846, Colt met with President James K. Polk to promote his revolver. President Polk directed Secretary of War William L. Marcy to order 1,000 revolvers from Colt through the Ordnance Department. This order marked the beginning of the relationship between Colt and the U.S. military which exists to this day. Colt made arrangements for the revolvers to be manufactured by Eli Whitney at the Whitneyville Armory. The original intent was to issue two revolvers per man to the Mounted Rifle Regiment. After filling the 1,000 unit order for the military, a civilian series of Walkers in the serial number range 1001-1100 was put into production for two purposes. The first and most notable was presentation arms which would become a famous tactic used by Colt throughout his illustrious career. Presentations were made to ranking military personages who could secure important military contracts. Second was to offer revolvers to the commercial or civilian market in order to get this new, innovative and potent revolver in consumer hands and a conversation started. This revolver, serial number 1022, was one of the only 100 civilian Walkers manufactured. The revolver has the distinctive half octagon nine inch barrel with German silver front sight blade and hinged round tip loading lever secured by a T-shaped spring. The top barrel flat is stamped “ADDRESS, SAML. COLT, NEW-YORK CITY.” The barrel lug on the right side is stamped “U.S./1847.” The Texas Rangers and Indian battle scene is roll engraved on the cylinder which has oval stop slots. The brass square back trigger guard has a distinctive broad base. The back strap is iron. The serial number is stamped on the bottom of the barrel lug, bottom of the frame, the rear of the cylinder, the trigger guard, and the back strap. The arbor pin has the number “18,” and the wedge is unnumbered. The revolver properly lacks U.S. military inspection marks. The oak case is lined in green baize and contains rare accessories: a “COLT’S/PATENT” marked bullet mold, “COLTS PATENT” marked powder and ball flask (more about this accessory later), and question-marked shaped tool. This is the only known Colt Walker with the original case in existence. The case has brass hardware with steel screws and two compartments with lids featuring turned pulls. The lock plate is stamped “BUNDGER” and “BARMEN.” Unable to obtain this revolver for himself, famed firearms collector William Locke reverted to replicating the case for one of his own Walkers, serial number 1004, which is pictured in Frank Seller’s “The William M. Locke Collection” on page 44. Accompanying the revolver is a remarkable record of its history handwritten in ink by Samuel Colt himself. The 3 inch x 3 inch card reads in Colt’s own handwriting, “This Pistol is a correct sample of the Pistols furnished to the U.S. government [and] the Texas Rangers, carried by Cap Walker” on one side and “Sold by Blunt & Syms 44 Chatham New York” on the other side. According to Colt historian R.L. Wilson in the book “Magnificent Colts,” “This Walker set is the only known with specific documentation in the inventor’s own handwriting, accompanying the revolver since the day it was sold, at Blunt & Syms, New York, c. 1847.” Blunt & Syms was one of the first retailers to sell Colt firearms. As the story goes, the revolver was purchased by Danish sea Captain Niels Hanson during a trip to New York City (see “The Gun Collectors Letter,” No. 9 March 18, 1947.) Over the years the revolver was passed down through Captain Hanson’s descendants until purchased by a Danish gun collector. During the Nazi occupation of Denmark, the Walker along with its case were buried in a garden by its then owner. After the war the Walker resurfaced to be sold in America where it fetched $10,000, a then record price for an American antique firearm. The revolver set was key to properly identifying the Walker powder flask (see Robin Rapley’s “Colt Percussion Accoutrements, 1834-1873). From the time the revolver was returned to the United States by Ray Riling in 1951 to when it was photographed for use in R.L. Wilson’s 1971 edition of “The Book of Colt Firearms,” the original Walker powder flask had been substituted with a Dragoon flask. At that time no one had differentiated a Walker flask from a Dragoon flask. The Dragoon flask that now accompanies the revolver is as it has been photographed for nearly half a century. Over the decades serial number 1022 has been well-documented and is perhaps the most well published percussion Colt: “The Gun Collectors Letter,” No. 9 March 18, 1947; R.L. Wilson’s “The Book of Colt Firearms,” page 80; R.L. Wilson’s “Colt: An American Legend,” pages 24-25; TGCA 1971 Antique Arms Annual pg 46 The Larry Sheerin Collection, pg 104 Herb Glass Sr Collection, The R.L. Wilson’s “The Colt Heritage,” pages 24-25; Ray Riling’s “The Powder Flask Book,” page 62; James Serven’s “Colt Firearms from 1836,” page 80; Robin Rapley’s “Colt Percussion Accoutrements, 1834-1873,” pages 112-115; Robin Rapley’s “The Solution to the Walker Flask Mystery,” The Gun Report, March 1994; Robert Lee & R.L. Wilson’s “Magnificent Colts,” pages 122-125. The revolver was also lent to the Wadsworth Atheneum’s exhibition “Samuel Colt Presents” and illustrated on page 31 of the catalog.
Exceptionally fine, totally original. The barrel retains 60% original bright blue finish, the back strap retains 50% original blue finish, and traces of original case colors remain on the hammer, frame, and loading lever, with the balance a smooth gray patina. There is some minor pitting, heavier on the right side of the barrel lug. All of the original cylinder scene remains. The markings are clear. The brass trigger guard has an untouched appearance. The grip is fine showing some minor scratches. Mechanically excellent. The case is very good showing a slightly wrapped lid and some minor handling/storage marks. The case is missing a left closure hook, and the faded lining has some insect damage and wear. Not bad for a case that was buried in garden to keep it hidden from the Nazis! The powder flask has a small dent near the top and retains 70% original brown lacquer. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to own an intriguing, well-documented Colt revolver and a milestone moment in the history of Colt firearms collecting. This revolver has all of the historical significance, rarity, and provenance one dreams of finding! Where else will you find a Colt firearm documented by Samuel Colt himself! Provenance: Niels Hanson and his descendants, Robert Halter, Larry Sheerin, Herb Glass, Sr., R.E. Hable, William Foxley, and Robert M. Lee
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