Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 62: E Company No. 120 U.S. Colt Model 1847 Walker Revolver

Auction Date: September 6, 2019

Iconic, Exceptional, and Extremely Well-Documented U.S. Military Contract E Company No. 120 U.S. Colt Model 1847 Walker Percussion Revolver: The Last Martial Colt Walker Manufactured and One of the Finest Martial Examples Extant

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $650,000 - $950,000

Iconic, Exceptional, and Extremely Well-Documented U.S. Military Contract E Company No. 120 U.S. Colt Model 1847 Walker Percussion Revolver: The Last Martial Colt Walker Manufactured and One of the Finest Martial Examples Extant

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Walker
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44 percussion
Barrel: 9 inch
Finish: blue/casehardened
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 19387
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 46
Class: Antique

The Colt Walker has long been the single most essential and necessary piece for many, if not all, of the iconic, important and influential 19th Century fine American arms collections over the last century. For even 80 years ago they were kings, referencing the 1938 Far West Hobby Shop Catalog featuring the David L. Ingalls Collection in which two Walker Colts are listed for sale: B Company 102 for $550 and C Company 43 for an astonishing $850. Their appeal is of course for good reason. They transcend percussion Colt collecting, American arms collecting or military arms collecting. The Colt Walker represents so much more. Colt Walkers are a tangible piece of the American spirit at such a pivotal time in our illustrious history. They exhibit grit, vision, conquest, expansion and success. The literal embodiment of manifest destiny. They represent the birth of an empire, the awakening of American manufacturing might, the American West and the first American industrial tycoon: Col. Samuel Colt. As R.L. Wilson so perfectly described, "(the Walker) gave Samuel Colt the keys to the mint". Its success propelled him to enduring international fame and wealth. Thus, it is the Colt Walker that is often credited with being Colt's most important and most desirable revolver and the military contract Walkers are especially so. They were the guns that established his reputation and for whom Colt designed the revolver with, the young and heroic Texas Ranger Captain Samuel H. Walker. This Walker has even more historic significance as it is the last of the 1,000 Walker revolvers manufactured at the Whitneyville Armory to meet a contract between the U.S. government and Samuel Colt executed in January 1847. The E Company Walker revolvers are numbered sequentially by "Company" 1-120. E Company was only issued 120 revolvers unlike Company A-D which all received 220. In addition, the rear face of the cylinder is stamped "1000" which experts agree indicates cylinders were numbered in their own "contract series", also sequentially 1-1000 but were matched according to the order in which the Company's were issued and like wise numbered i.e. First was C Company 1-220, then A 1-220, B 1-220, D 1-220 and last E 1-120. Thus E Company 120, the last martial Walker represents the completion of Samuel Colt’s most important military contract. The first Walker revolvers were shipped to Vera Cruz, Mexico, in October 1847. The 1st Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers was issued 394 revolvers with A, B, and C Company markings. In November 1847, 100 Walker pistols with A and B Company markings were issued to the U.S. Mounted Rifle Regiment. The remaining 500 Walker revolvers were delivered to the Ordnance Department in March 1848 and shipped to the Baton Rouge Arsenal to be issued to the 2nd Dragoon Regiment and Texas Ranger companies in federal service on the Texas frontier c. 1850. The revolver has a military blue finish on the barrel and back strap. The loading lever and frame are color casehardened. The massive 2 7/16-inch, six shot cylinder is finished bright. The distinctive brass trigger guard was also finished bright. The one-piece walnut grip is oil finished. The barrel has a nickel-silver front sight blade, and the hammer is notched for a rear sight. The cylinder has a single safety pin, and a corresponding oval notch is in the hammer face. The loading lever is secured by a spring located just ahead of the barrel lug. The top barrel flat is boldly roll-stamped: "ADDRESS, SAML COLT NEW-YORK CITY" reading toward the muzzle. The right side of the barrel lug is marked: "US/1847" above the wedge slot. The cylinder is roll-engraved with the Ranger and Indian fight scene, and "W.L. Ormsby Sc N" is roll-engraved below the battle scene. The cylinder retains the impression of the roll-die behind the battle scene. The percussion nipples are marked "COLT/PATENT". A "B" Ordnance sub-inspection mark is stamped on the left shoulder of the trigger guard, front edge of the cylinder, and top of the barrel lug at the breech. "P" sub-inspection marks are stamped on the upper portion of the back strap and on the rear of the trigger guard bottom. The left side of the barrel lug and frame and bottom of the back strap are boldly roll-stamped: "E COMPANY No 120". "E COMY No 120" is stamped on the trigger guard behind screw, and "E COM-Y No 120" is on the side of the cylinder between the etched "MODEL U.S.M.R." and "COLTS PATENT" markings. "120" is stamped on the bottom of the barrel wedge, rear face of the barrel lug, underside of the cylinder pin, and on the inside of the grip in the back strap cut-out. All serial numbers match. This revolver was purchased from the McClure ranch family in rural Wyoming in the early 1970s by well-known collector and dealer Mr. Robert Funk. Documents with the revolver state that the McClures owned the Walker for over a century, and include a transcript of an interview Mr. Funk conducted with Ashley Williamson (born in 1897) granddaughter of who is described as the original owner, George Charles McClure. The transcript leaves you with more questions than answers. It is disorganized and confusing at times; however, it states that George Charles McClure obtained or had the gun with him during his service in the American Civil War and that the gun came with him when he moved west from Illinois in 1873 as part of his three year employment of working a wagon train, where the Walker is said to have been with him while hunting buffalo. Also included is a copy of a letter, which is again hard to read, from Ashley's mother, Mary McClure, which briefly discusses the gun, passing it down and how the family originally discovered it was a "Walker Model" and not a "Dragoon Model”. It must be noted that much of the documentation is oral tradition and nothing can truly be substantiated. Though it also must be said that nothing Ashley or Mary claim leave a reader any reason to doubt its journey, no claims are outlandish or unrealistic. Nevertheless it has never been the accompanying history that has made E Company 120 a titan in the pantheon of truly great/iconic American fine arms, but rather its sensational condition. The revolver is accompanied by extensive documentation including detailed descriptions and commentary from previous owners which include many of the most respected experts, collectors and dealers from the last 75 years. Colt expert R.L. Wilson describes the finish as "exceptional" and states: "Not only is this revolver the best conditioned of military Walkers known to the antique arms field, but it is one of the few with its period barrel length, with excellent markings and cylinder scene, with completeness of original parts, and the presence of original finish". A 1995 dated letter from noted authority Herb Glass Sr. states that "E. Co. #120" is "the finest Military Model that I have ever seen". It has also been called the finest military Walker revolver extant by notable Colt specialist and previous owner, the late Tom Seymour and again by the entire panel of judges at the famous 2003 Parade of Walkers put on by the Texas Gun Collectors Association where it was appropriately titled: "the finest privately owned military Walker known to date". There are several important caveats implied and not implied in that statement. The first being the undisputed finest example of a Colt Walker happens to be a civilian example, serial number 1017, gift of John E. Parsons, exhibited in 1958 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The second finest example known is also a civilian, serial number 1022, the Danish Sea Captain Walker, sold by RIAC in April of 2018 for $1,840,000. As for military examples there are four known that could contend for the "best known" distinction which are in no particular order: C Company 13 (grip strap mismatched to A Company 195), D Company 204 and A Company 210. E Company 120 features a large "8" stamped horizontally on the right gripstock which is a rather interesting feature as D Company 204 has a large 9 stamped in precisely the same spot, also vertically (reference Magnificent Colts by Wilson pg 120). A Company 210 has a large "K" also on the right side of the gripstock. It is important to note that none of the aforementioned Walkers were present at the Parade of Walkers in 2003. The first of the three is institutionalized at the Gene Autry Museum of the American West and the other two remain in strong private hands. Rock Island Auction Company is proud, excited and honored to present this seminal and fleeting opportunity to acquire a pillar of fine arms collecting, one of the absolute finest, well-documented and pedigreed U.S. Colt Walkers extant! Carpe diem!

Rating Definition:

This rare and historic U.S. Contact Walker Model revolver remains in exceptional condition. As Mr. Glass writes in his letter: "E Co. No. 120 is a magnificent gun having tremendous amounts of original blue (unheard of in a Walker), brilliant markings, including cylinder scene and all original parts except the small loading lever spring (which is almost always replaced) and one loading lever screw." The barrel exhibits 55% plus of the original blue with handling wear and a pleasant tones gray/blue patina on the balance consistent with holster wear. The wedge retains close to 50% of the brilliant original blue finish. The address, serial numbers, property marks and ordnance sub-inspection marks are all extremely sharp. The cylinder retains nearly all of the original bright finish and proudly exhibits virtually 100% of the Ranger and Indian scene. The revolver shows minimal firing-related wear. The percussion nipples and nipple recesses show some very minor flash pitting, and there are traces of flash pitting on the cylinder face. The single cylinder safety pin remains solid. The hammer and hammer well are almost completely free of flash pitting. The case colors on the loading lever, frame and hammer are strong but have mellowed with age to a mixed silver-gray patina. The "E Company" markings on the left side of the frame and "120" markings on other components are sharp. The brass trigger guard/grip strap has a handsome and correct un-polished patina with crisp markings and only minimal handling marks. The walnut grip is in good overall condition with moderate handling wear. The lower portions of both grips are slightly flattened near the butt, and the ordnance sub-inspection and final inspection marks stamped on the sides of the grip are not visible. The action is tight and functions perfectly. The Colt Walker revolver is the most desirable of all Colt firearms. Of the 1,000 U.S. Contract Walker revolvers manufactured, fewer than 160 are known to collectors today. This magnificent revolver is one of the finest U.S. Contract Walker Colts in existence and boasts not only condition and originality but extensive documentation. Wilson also notes, "No finer military series Walker is known to the writer than E Co. No. 120. . .", and in concluding his included letter, Herb Glass notes, "The owner of E-120 has the finest - and incidentally, the last gun of the 1000 gun Military Contract, in short, a magnificent, exciting Colt rarity." Provenance: George Charles McClure, Mary Augusta McClure Williamson, Ashley Williamson (born 1897, gifted the revolver sometime between 1937-40), Bob Funk, Tom Seymor, Bob Berryman, Arnold Chernoff, John B. Solley, John Malloy, Alan Kelly, Herb Glass Sr. (sold July 26th 1994 Butterfield & Butterfield the estate of Mr. Alan Kelly), Martin Lane, Dr. Paul McCombs, Property of a gentleman.

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