Lot #1123
Lot #1125

Lot 1124: Only Known Engraved Colt Model 1847 Walker Revolver

Auction Location: Rock Island, IL

Auction Date: September 12, 2020

Lot 1124: Only Known Engraved Colt Model 1847 Walker Revolver

Auction Location: Rock Island, IL

Auction Date: September 12, 2020

Estimated Price: $450,000 - $750,000
Price Realized:

Important, Historically Significant & Well Documented, Rock Island Auction Company Proudly Presents: The Only Known Engraved Colt Model 1847 Walker Percussion Revolver, E Company No. 22

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Walker
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44
Barrel: 9 inch part octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened
Grip: walnut
Stock:
Item Views: 8723
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 118
Class: Antique
Description:

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 of the last century. For even 80 years ago "they were kings", quoting 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, and 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 has long held the spotlight as Colt's most important and most desirable revolver. The Walkers were the guns that established his reputation and are named after the man Colt designed the revolver with, the young and heroic Texas Ranger Captain Samuel H. Walker. This Walker, E Company 22 is on an island of importance and significance all its own, as it is the only engraved Walker Colt known to date. Samuel Colt’s fondness for embellishing his products actual predates the production of Paterson arms, which of course predate the Walker Model Revolver. Quoting the original “The Colt Book of Engraving” by Wilson on page 1 “Most of the approximately 26 pre-Paterson arms were engraved”. From Samuel Colts own notes of billings and diary from 1836 to April of 1837, the entry reads “Richard Henshaw Gon. smith & Engraver 150 William Street. N. York & Corner of Orange & Broad St. Newark N. Jersey”. Mr. Henshaw later testified in the epic trial of Samuel Colt vs. Mass. Arms Company as “an engraver, in 1831 I lived in New York, I did some work for Mr. Colt then, it was two or three pistols I believe, I understood from him that they were his first pistols or firearms." Particular attention needs to be drawn to the prototype pre-Paterson pistol maintained by the Connecticut State Library and discussed on pg. 13 of “The Colt Book of Engraving” by Wilson. Notice the uncanny similarities between it and this Walker E Company 22. As a master showman and proud inventor, Colt understood the notion that presentation is important. As production of Patersons commenced the practice of embellishing his arms happened in tandem. Samuel Colts own No. 5 Texas Paterson No. 984 is engraved and silver plated with “shell” ivory grips and features 10 silver bands. The “factory engraving” on the Paterson arms has long been described as rudimentary or as Wilson puts it “coarse in quality”. Next, one should examine the panel scene engraved and banded No. 5 Texas Paterson serial number 361 also highlighted in “The Colt Book of Engraving” by Wilson and photographed in tandem in the pages of this catalog (No. 5 Texas Paterson serial number 361 to be featured in our upcoming December Premier Auction). It is a very rare opportunity to be able to compare these two specimens’ side-by-side and also make a very compelling case that they were more than likely executed by the same hand. All of these embellishments were done on contract, as Colt would not employ in house engravers for several more years. Please examine the similarities in the grip-strap, recoil shield and around the barrel lugs. It is widely known and discussed that personal gifts and presentation of his inventions were at the backbone Samuel Colts marketing strategy, with the goal of securing lucrative military contracts, documentation of which exists back to the “Walker period”. Referencing: “The Colt Whitneyville-Walker Pistol” by Whittington, we know that on June 7th, 1847 and again on June 10th , 1847 while in New York, Sam and his brother James sent a letter along with “pairs of (Walker) pistols to the following officers: Major General Zachary Taylor, Major General Winfield Scott, Brigadier General David E. Twigg, Brigadier General Persifor Smith, Brigadier General William J. Worth and Colonel Harney.” Whittington references these presentations, citing a letter by General Taylor to Colt “Sir, your letter of June 7th and the accompanying box, contained a pair of your new “modelled” repeating pistols have duly reached me.” The most famous pair of Walkers, dubbed “Walkers Walkers” are documented in a letter of July 29th, 1847 signed by James B Colt, which addresses them as a “presentation pair” no. 1019 and 1020 shipped to Captain Samuel Walker at Vera Cruz by way of the steamship Martha Washington. We also know that on that same trip to New York in June of 1847 “Colt visited several arms dealers and sold or consigned some of the (Walker) pistols.” One in particular serial no. 1022, known as the “Danish Sea Captain Walker”, (sold by Rock Island Auction Company, April 2018 as lot 60 for a world record price of $1,840,000) with appendages to the firm of Blunt & Syms, who are considered the first Colt retailers or “jobbers”. The Danish Sea Captain Walker holds the distinction as the finest Civilian Walker known and frankly the finest Walker specimen known in private hands. It also holds the distinction as the only known cased example, done by Blunt & Syms, which appears on the lid of the case. While not cased by the factory, as there was no factory, much as there were no in-house engravers, it is still immensely desirable. Early engraved specimens of pepperboxes retailed by Blunt & Syms should also be mentioned, as their engraving style is also uncanny. One must consider that the population in New York City in 1840 was only 312,710. The pool of engravers in New York and greater New England was shallow. It is not only plausible, but highly likely that the same artisans who cut the early Paterson revolvers, rifles and shotguns, were also contracted by Blunt & Syms and many others. Without fear of contradiction we can say this Walker E Company No. 22, was engraved and grips checkered by those same hands, under whose direction unfortunately has been lost to the ages. E Company No. 22 stands alone and commands iconic status as the only known engraved Colt Walker. E Company Walker revolvers, such as this example, are numbered sequentially by "Company" 1-120. E Company was only issued 120 revolvers unlike Company A-D which all received 220. Gaps of missing guns are well documented by the ordnance department, particularly on the later Company revolvers (Company D and Company E), which help place this Walker in Samuel and James' possession in June of 1847 while in New York. In all, 1,000 Walker revolvers were manufactured at the Whitneyville Armory to meet a contract between the U.S. government and Samuel Colt executed in January 1847. 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 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 Ranger and Indian fight scene is absent from the cylinder. A "B" Ordnance sub-inspection mark is stamped on the left shoulder of the trigger guard. The left side of the barrel lug, frame and bottom of the back strap are stamped "E COMPANY No 22". "E COMY No 22" is stamped on the trigger guard behind the screw. “22” is stamped on the rear face of the barrel lug and front of the frame. The one-piece grip is checkered. In the accompanying letter of authenticity noted firearms collector and dealer Herb Glass Jr. makes several important observations: 1) “The wedge is a very old replacement done in the period of the gun’s use” and “is the only significant replacement part along with four screws ( back strap, trigger, loading lever attachment, and wedge) and the internal trigger/bolt spring.” All other components are “original and clearly numbered to the gun,” including the grip. 2) The original loading lever assembly is “interesting” in that “it has what old collectors sometimes referred to as the ‘California’ style loading lever; a modification of the plunger (to reduce its weight) by filing its forward portion flat. This is found on several Walker revolvers and was apparently an attempt to make the retaining spring work better.” 3) “The front sight has been slightly shortened in the gun’s period of use.” 4) “The hammer nose has been very slightly reshaped long ago.” Mr. Glass states that he believes the gun was engraved in New York in or around 1850, while we agree on the location we slightly dissent on the date, we believe rather resolutely it was executed in June or July of 1847. This truly one-of-a-kind Colt, the king amongst kings was proudly displayed and certified at the famous 2003 Parade of Walkers put on by the Texas Gun Collectors Association. Rock Island Auction Company is proud to present this seminal and fleeting opportunity to acquire a pillar of arms collecting, the only known engraved Colt Walker revolver. An indisputable rarity in Colt collecting!

Rating Definition:

Very fine. The metal surfaces have an even mottled gray patina mixed with light scattered surface oxidation overall. The underside of the barrel still proudly exhibits a fairly large section of deep, beautiful original blue finish, which is virtually unheard for ANY Colt Walker specimen. The engraving remains strong and crisp. The cylinder scene is only slightly visible and E Company markings remain clearly legible throughout, including on the cylinder. The Colt barrel markings are clear. The brass trigger guard has an attractively aged mellow appearance. The grip is also fine with a couple chips near the bottom, minor handing marks, typical high edge wear, and some wear in the overall crisp checkering. Mechanically sound. The Colt Walker Model Revolver is one of the best known, most historic and desirable of all American firearms. "Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms" describe the Walker as "the greatest prize of any Colt collection." As the only known, well documented, engraved example, this Walker far exceeds the term "greatest prize." Quite possibly a once in a lifetime opportunity! Provenance: Robert Ables, Chris Degunie, Displayed by Richard Ellis 1991 NRA Annual Meeting of Members San Antonio, Texas, Bryan L Bossier, Sr., The Bobby Smith Collection, The Curt McClymond Collection. Illustrated : Arms Gazette April, 1974, The Gun Journal November 1997



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