Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 81: Colt Paterson Model 1839 Percussion Carbine with Sling Bar

Auction Date: June 5, 2020

Historic and Exceptional Military Pattern Colt Paterson Model 1839 Percussion Carbine, the Only Known Example with a Sling Bar

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $250,000 - $375,000

Historic and Exceptional Military Pattern Colt Paterson Model 1839 Percussion Carbine, the Only Known Example with a Sling Bar

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1839-Carbine
Type: Carbine
Gauge: 525
Barrel: 24 inch
Finish: brown/blue/casehardened
Stock: varnished walnut
Item Views: 3689
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 61
Class: Antique

In "Paterson Colt Pistol Variations" by Philip R. Phillips with James E. Severn and R.L. Wilson, 100 Model 1839 Carbines are noted as ordered in March of 1841 by the U.S. Ordnance Department (see page 93), and on March 29, 1841, a letter from Pliny Lawton, Superintendent of the Patent Arms Manufacturing Co., wrote, "If these Carbines are to have slides put on them for the belt I would advise that the inspection be deferred until that is done say one week hence when all will be ready or say by Tuesday week Let me hear from you immediately." (sic on page 177). The authors also note, "No Paterson Colt arms have come to the attention of the authors equipped with belt hook or slide devices." This Colt Paterson Model 1839 Military Pattern "Saddle Ring" or "Slide Bar" Carbine was manufactured by Samuel Colt's Paterson, New Jersey, factory c. 1840-41 and certainly fits the description of a military pattern carbine that was adapted for a sling bar. It has a bar secured to the plate on the left side of the wrist. This incredible carbine is the only example of this type known and also remains in exceptional overall condition which is already incredibly rare. As the authors note on page 114 of the above book, "The Model 1839 Carbines proved to have the greatest longevity of all Colt Paterson arms. Rarely are specimens of this model found in excellent condition by modern-day collectors. They continued in use and demand, and some 360 of the estimated production run of 950 had been quantity sales to the U.S. government." We feel very strongly that this carbine, No. 766 was manufactured in March of 1841 as the "prototype of the military pattern" to be submitted to the ordinance department. The option of a carbine with a sling bar would help Colt compete with its main competitor for innovative cavalry arms at the time: the breech loading Hall carbines which featured sling rings on the early models, including a ring mounted on the left side of the wrist on the Model 1836 which was manufactured up to 1840, and then sling bars and rings on the left sides starting with the Model 1842. Pages 108 and 176 of "Paterson Colt Pistol Variations" specifically discuss the fact that Colt's revolving carbines were up against the Hall carbines in government trials. In February 1841, multiple U.S. Navy officers provided glowing testimony concerning Colt's patent carbines in revolvers, and the carbine received especially favorable reviews after trials. Lieutenant Cicero Price, for example, wrote, "I have only to say that the advantages of Colt's carbine and pistol over the ship's musket and pistol are so manifest, and so great, that I hope soon to see them adopted altogether in the service. . ." However, once actually in service, the Patersons did not receive favorable reviews and government orders ceased and thus brought about the termination of Colt's first firearms business. This extraordinary carbine has a 24-inch, smoothbore, .52 caliber, part-round barrel with 10-inch bevel at the breech. The barrel has a brass pin front sight and fixed, dovetail mounted rear sight. A three-piece loading lever is attached to the right side of the barrel lug. The right side of the barrel lug has a shallow loading cut-out at the breech. The two and one-half inch, six-shot, round back cylinder has integral ratchets. The cylinder is roll-engraved with an elaborate W.L. Ormsby scene depicting a lion hunter, naval engagement and land battle in three panels with "COLT'S PATENT/PATENT ARMS MAN'Y./Paterson JERSEY" stamped between the panels. The barrel lug has a capping notch on the right side. The left side of the frame has a large flared recoil shield and the right side has a shield with smaller flare. The hammer has bordered knurling on the spur. The carbine has a steel scroll-shaped trigger guard and crescent steel buttplate. The unique five-inch long sling bar is located on the left side of the stock. The right side of the barrel lug is roll-stamped with the legend: "-Patent Arms M'g. Co. Paterson, N.J. - Colt's Pt." in script letters with curving lines and asterisks at either end. This markings are partially covered by the loading lever. The bottom of the wedge and the inside of the loading lever are stamped with the serial number "766" (the carbine was not disassembled to check other serial numbers). The barrel is browned. The loading lever and wedge spring are fire blue. The cylinder, trigger guard, sling bar mount and upper tang have a high polish blue finish. The frame, hammer and buttplate are color casehardened. The straight grain American walnut stock has a semi-gloss varnish finish.

Rating Definition:

Excellent and for cumulative rarity sake, No. 766 could be considered near mint. This sublime military pattern Colt Model 1839 saddle ring carbine displays 85% plus of the original brown finish on the barrel with some slight finish loss at the muzzle and edges of the flats and two small areas on left side and a half-inch spot of pitting on the right side. The legend on the right side of the barrel lug is crisp. The loading lever has 60% plus of the delicate fire blue finish. The cylinder has 95% of the original blue finish and 100% of the elaborate roll-engraved scene. The front and rear faces of the cylinder have no flash pitting. The hammer and lower receiver tang retain 95% of the vivid original case colors. 85% of the delicate high polish blue finish remains on the recoil shield, trigger guard and sling bar mount. The upper receiver tang has 80% of the blue finish. The crescent buttplate displays some moderate pitting with dark patina on the heel and toe; the center of the buttplate retains most of the deep and rich case colors. The stock is in excellent overall condition with minimal handling and storage wear and nearly all of the original oil finish. The action is crisp and functions perfectly. This is a stunning never before known example of both an extraordinary and extremely rare, very possibly the "prototype of the military pattern, Colt Model 1839 Military Pattern Sling Bar Carbine that is without question, the finest known. This incredible carbine is truly an incredibly scarce and collection defining firearm.

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