Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1096: A Company Colt Whitneyville Walker Percussion Revolver & Holster

Auction Date: June 6, 2020

Historic, Texas "National Treasure": A Company No. 50 Colt Walker Percussion Revolver with Holster Documented as Passed Down Through Multiple Generations of the Celebrated Darst Family of Texas, a Storied Family with Ties to Mexican American War, Daniel Boone, the Alamo, and Terry's Texas Rangers with Affidavit and Herb Glass Letter

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $150,000 - $250,000

Historic, Texas "National Treasure": A Company No. 50 Colt Walker Percussion Revolver with Holster Documented as Passed Down Through Multiple Generations of the Celebrated Darst Family of Texas, a Storied Family with Ties to Mexican American War, Daniel Boone, the Alamo, and Terry's Texas Rangers with Affidavit and Herb Glass Letter

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Walker
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44
Barrel: 9 inch part round
Finish: blue/casehardened
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 4749
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 60
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 82 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. They are the physical embodiment of Manifest Destiny. They represent the fervor of American exceptionalism, 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 are named for whom Colt designed the revolver with, the young and heroic Texas Ranger Captain Samuel H. Walker. The original intent was to issue two revolvers per man to the Mounted Texas Rifle Regiment; the revolvers were marked "A Company-E Company" and numbered 1-110. Whitney manufactured 220 pairs of revolvers marked "A Company-D Company" and 120 revolvers marked "E Company" for a total of 1000 revolvers. The first Walker Model Revolvers arrived at the Ordnance Depot in Vera Cruz, Mexico, in October of 1847. The First Regiment, Texas Mounted Volunteers commanded by Colonel John Hays was issued 394 Walker Model Revolvers marked A, B and C Company on October 19-26, 1847. The Texas Mounted Volunteers used the Walker Model Revolvers hard in numerous encounters with Mexican guerilla forces. Only 82 serviceable revolvers were turned in when the Texas Mounted Rifles were mustered out of Federal service in 1848. Captain Samuel Walker was killed in action at Huamantla, Mexico, before the Regiment of Mounted Rifles received the revolvers he helped to design. At the conclusion of the Mexican War, most of the remaining Walker Model Revolvers were issued to the 2nd Dragoon Regiment on the Texas frontier. Hence, the Colt Walker has always been a symbol of Texas, the Lone Star Republic, their independence, grit and fighting spirit which is what makes this example, A Company 50 so appealing, as its perhaps the most well decorated of all Colt Walkers for Texas history. Purchased in 1996, in Texas, from Elizabeth F. Darst as a fourth generation family heirloom, of Texas’ celebrated Darst family by a very well-known and respected icon of fine arms collecting from South Texas. The history of the Darst family and likewise this Walker are outlined in a notarized letter by Elizabeth F. Darst at the time of the previous sale. As outlined in the included notarized letter from Elizabeth Darst, this Walker was passed down through her family which came to Texas a decade and a half before Captain Walker. Her great-great-great-grandfather Abraham Darst (1786-1833) brought the family to Texas from Missouri in 1827 where they were among the first American pioneers and established themselves as ranchers and farmers. Abraham's first wife was the granddaughter of Daniel Boone. Mrs. Darst's great-great-grandfather Emory Holman Darst (1814-1880) was part of Captain John Austin's company at the Battle of Velasco and was among the men assigned to guard Santa Ana after he was captured at the Battle of San Jacinto. Multiple other members of the expansive Darst family also participated in the revolution, including Jacob Calloway Darst, Abraham's brother, who was among those killed at the Battle of the Alamo. Darst writes “my ancestors were friends and neighbors to most of the early Texas pioneers. They fought, farmed and ranched with all the members of the original Moses Austin land grant and Stephen F. Austin's’s original colony of the first 300 families. Many land grants of Austin’s first colonists’ were located on what is now Ft. Bend County. When Filisola and the Mexican stragglers were retreating from the Battle of San Jacinto, the residue of the main Mexican Army camped out on the Powell place for several days. It was here that Urrea with a force of 750 men joined forces with Filisola in his march back to Mexico. The Powell place is now owned by R.H. Darst, a member of the Darst family who were members of Austin’s colonists and came to Texas in 1829.” Ms. Darst’s great-grandfather William Moore Darst (1842-1927) was a member of Terry's Texas Rangers (8th Texas Cavalry) from September 7, 1861 to January 1862. Each member of the 8th Cavalry was "required to furnish a shotgun or carbine, a Colt revolver, a Bowie knife, and a saddle, bridle, and blanket" per an article from the Texas State Historical Foundation. It doesn’t take much imagination to consider that this Walker, A Company 50, was carried off to war by William Moore Darst. He was later a sheriff in Fort Bend County. Mrs. Darst wrote that the revolver had been in the family as long as she could remember and was definitely owned by William Darst's son, her grandfather, Homer Norwood Darst (1879-1943) when she was a kid and then passed down to her father, Homer William "Jack" Darst (1905-1965), who in turn left it to her. In the accompanying letter by Colt expert, and the world’s preeminent expert on Walkers, Herb Glass, he determined this revolver to be "untouched" condition and summarized the revolver as: "a fine Walker, far above average for these guns which saw long, hard use with many parts replaced in the field during their service. Only the cylinder is mismatched and it has obviously been with the gun for most of its life. Interestingly, the gun and its cylinder are closely related in terms of issuance, since we know that C company guns were the first in the field followed by A company. The wedge is unnumbered although appears original, 5 screws, and the always replaced lever spring comprise the only other replacement parts.” Glass also states “the loading lever assembly (which is often always replaced or modified) is completely original” and concludes, “it is a remarkable occurrence that this very original and 'untouched' Walker with original holster came directly from a prominent pioneer Texas family. . ." A copy of the certificate for this revolver when it was part of the Texas Gun Collectors Association's well-known "Parade of Walkers" display in 2003 is also included. The revolver has a German silver blade front sight, a very slow twist in the rifling, "ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW-YORK CITY" on top of the octagonal section of the barrel reading from the breech towards the muzzle, "US/1847" on the right side of the barrel over the wedge "A COMPANY No 50" on the left side of the barrel and frame and on the butt, "A COMY No 50" at the front of the trigger guard, "C COMY No 208" on the cylinder (a commonly swapped part in the period of usage), a faint number at the front of the frame between the studs that appears to be a "50," a small notch on the hammer for a rear sight, knurled hammer spur, and smooth one-piece walnut grip with an oiled finish and the outline of a cartouche visible on both sides. A lightly tooled brown leather flap holster with "DR" marked on the loop. Mr. Glass notes that the grip has the matching number inside, good traces of cartouches on both sides and that "All other internal numbers are clear, original and in their proper locations."

Rating Definition:

Very good plus with attractive natural aged patina on the trigger guard, dark brown patina and mild pitting on the balance, distinct markings aside from the cylinder scene very faint and moderate overall wear. Mr. Glass determined five screws are replaced as mentioned above as well as the cylinder. Interesting given cylinders were known to be "thrown" into large pots of boiling water by the men for cleaning and matching cylinders back with their issued Walker was hardly a priority. This is further substantiated as the first 394 revolvers were issued to the 1st Regiment Texas Mounted Volunteers A, B and Company. The grip is fine with faint cartouche and has moderate lower edge wear, a few small chips, and mild scratches and dings. Mechanically fine. The holster is fair, but given its EXTREME cumulative rarity, should be considered a treasure, with detached toe, tears, and flaking. This is a very attractive early U.S. Colt Walker revolver, as Mr. Glass states "far above average" steeped in phenomenal Texas history and should be considered a "National Treasure" of the Lone Star State. RIAC proudly offers A Company 50 for sale publicly for the first, and perhaps the last, time.

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