Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 6: Cased Factory Engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver

Auction Date: December 6, 2019

Exceptional Early Production Cased Factory Engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $25,000 - $40,000

Exceptional Early Production Cased Factory Engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1851 Navy
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 36
Barrel: 7 1/2 inch octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened/silver
Grip: highly figured varnished walnut
Item Views: 3133
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 10
Class: Antique

The Colt Model 1851 Navy or "Revolving Belt Pistol of Naval Caliber" was the second most popular of all Colt percussion revolvers after only the more compact Model 1849 Pocket. When Samuel Colt was alive, it was this model that was probably the first to come to mind when someone brought up Colt's innovative "revolving pistols." Many were presented influential individuals at home and abroad to help establish the quality of Colt's wares. It was an excellent revolver for lawmen, soldier, and every day citizens who might need some protection. It had more power than the '49 Pocket but was still much easier to carry than the massive .44 caliber Colts such as the Walkers and Dragoons. This beautiful '51 Navy was manufactured in 1852, the third year of production, and was designated for factory engraving as can be seen by the dot by the matching serial numbers on the barrel, frame, trigger guard, and back strap which Colt used to designate items for special finishing or engraving around 1849 to 1861. Matching serial numbers are also found on the loading lever, wedge, cylinder pin, and cylinder. The latter also has a "4" stamped perpendicular below. The "donut scroll" engraving matches other early Colt Navy revolvers that came out of Master Engraver Gustave Young's shop and consists of mainly intricate acanthus scroll patterns along with some floral and shell accents and a simpler, early version of his wolf head motif on the hammer. The cylinder has the standard Naval Battle of Campeche scene. The barrel has a small brass cone front sight and is marked "-ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW YORK CITY-." The frame has "COLTS/PATENT" hand inscribed on the left side in place of the usual stamped marking. The grip is fancy grade walnut with a "piano" varnish finish. The case has burgundy colored lining, a section full of conical and round ball bullets, three cap tins, a package for 12 combustible envelope cartridges (8 inside), correct early pattern Colt Patent marked dual cavity bullet mold, a key, an L-shaped combination nipple wrench and screwdriver, and additional springs.

Rating Definition:

Very fine. The engraving and markings throughout remain crisp. The grip straps retain 95% plus of the original silver plating which displays a deep aged patina. 60% plus original case colors remain, concentrated mostly on the frame. The barrel retains 85% plus original blue, and the cylinder retains 30% original blue and has a distinct roll-scene and five solid safety pins. The wear is mostly concentrated on the cylinder and raised edges and is primarily from age rather than use. The grip is also very fine and has most of the glossy original varnish remaining, minor marks and scratches, and light edge wear. Mechanically excellent. The case and accessories are very good to fine and have mild age and storage related wear. The case dividers have some splits, and the lining has some fading and contact wear. The exterior of the case has mild scrapes and dings. This is a newly discovered, "fresh to the market", very attractive, and rather early example of a factory engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver.

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