Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1142: Lt. Ducat Presentation Engraved Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver

Auction Date: December 5, 2020

FRESH, Newly Discovered and Historic Civil War Factory Presentation Gustave Young Deluxe Engraved Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver Inscribed to Lt. Colonel Arthur Ducat, Inspector General of the Army of the Cumberland, with Compliments of Colts P. F. A. Mfg. Co.

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $100,000 - $180,000

FRESH, Newly Discovered and Historic Civil War Factory Presentation Gustave Young Deluxe Engraved Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver Inscribed to Lt. Colonel Arthur Ducat, Inspector General of the Army of the Cumberland, with Compliments of Colts P. F. A. Mfg. Co.

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1860
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44
Barrel: 8 inch round
Finish: blue/casehardened/silver
Grip: deluxe walnut
Item Views: 1231
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 114
Class: Antique

This extraordinary Colt Model 1860 Army revolver was manufactured in 1863 and elaborately factory engraved and inscribed by Gustave Young for Colt presentation to Lt. Colonel Arthur Charles Ducat Sr., then the Inspector General on the staff of Major General William S. Rosecrans in the Army of the Cumberland. The back strap is inscribed: "Lt Col Arthur G Ducat U.S.A./with compliments of Colts PFA Mfg Co." This revolver was certainly a very extravagant factory presentation piece. Lt. Col. Ducat received a nicer revolver than many of his higher ranking counterparts! The inscription matches the style known to be used by the Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Co. after the death of Samuel Colt in January 1862. For comparison see Major General Rosecrans' own Colt Model 1860 Army (serial number 11592, just six digits away) shown on pages 82-84 of "The Book of Colt Engraving" by R.L. Wilson. These revolvers are also similar to the pair presented to the General George McClellan (serial numbers 100359 and 100362) See our December 2019 catalog for the first gun in that pair which sold for nearly $300,000 and appears in the factory records on March 28, 1863. That revolver is also featured in R.L. Wilson’s "Samuel Colt Presents" on pages 187-188 and "The Colt Engraving Book, Vol. I" on page 166. The engraving patterns, inscriptions, and other details are very similar, but interestingly, Ducat's revolver has the finest details of these three. Note, for example, the more complex rendition of the wolf's head motif on the hammer, the presence of multiple animal heads inhabiting the scrolls, and the greater complexity and refinement of the scroll patterns, especially note the intertwining patterns on the sides of the barrel. By 1863, Ducat had risen from a private in the 12th Illinois Infantry to acting Chief of Staff and then Inspector General on General Rosecrans' staff through his own intelligence, bravery and merit rather than political machinations like many Civil War officers. He was in charge of organizing and equipping the army. It is likely these revolvers were sent to Rosecrans and Ducat at the same time. The engraver got Lt. Colonel Ducat's middle initial wrong, likely misreading a script "C" as a "G" on a document. The engraving is clearly the work of Master Engraver Gustave Young's own hand and features five dots on the hammer spur ahead of the knurling which represents five 10-hour days of work engraving the revolver, the same as General McClellan's revolver. Also note that there are seven similar dots on the heel. These are highly unusual and may indicate additional work on the engraving by Young. The complex scroll engraving patterns are more highly detailed and refined than is seen on earlier Young engraved Colts and are considerably more extensive than is often seen with scroll patterns extending to the side of the loading lever, engraved borders around checkering on the front of the loading lever, scrolls on the rebated portion of the cylinder, and engraving close to the main serial numbers along the bottom. Even the cylinder scene has been engraved rather than roll-stamped. The hammer also features a much more highly detailed version of the classic wolf head motif used by Young as noted above. The engraving includes Young's distinctive inclusion of floral blooms and animal heads inhabiting the scrolls. In this case, there is an eagle head above the wedge on the left, a bestial mask on the right over the wedge (possibly a cougar), and another bestial mask on the left side of the frame just below the hammer screw. The barrel is numbered 111588 and has a nickel-silver blade front sight and the standard New York address. The frame is numbered 111586 (two digits from barrel) and has "COLTS/PATENT" stamped in an oval panel. The left side of the trigger guard has "2" and "44 CAL." The balance of all visible serial numbers all match (excluding barrel). The grip is deluxe figured walnut with a varnish finish. Arthur Charles Ducat (1830- 1896) was born in Dublin, Ireland, in a family of very ancient Highland decent and came to the U.S. as a 19 year old young man with plans of becoming a civil engineer and became the Secretary and General Surveyor of the Board of Underwriters of Chicago and also organized and instructed the Citizens' Fire Brigade, a semi-military and armed body of citizens. In April of 1861, he enlisted as a private in A Company of the 12th Illinois Infantry with an initial three-month enlistment and helped secure Cairo and the St. Louis arsenal. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant and appointed Adjutant of the regiment. He re-enlisted after three months for three years as Captain of Company A. The 12th seized Paducah, Kentucky, after which he was promoted to Major. At Fort Donelson, he was promoted again to Lieutenant Colonel. He served on the staffs of Major General Edward Ord, Major General Rosecrans, and Major General George H. Thomas. In 1863, he was appointed by the U.S. War Department as Inspector General of the Fourteenth Army Corps and then Army and Department of the Cumberland after it was organized, again under Rosecrans. As Inspector General, he took a very active role in managing the troops during the famous Chickamauga Campaign. He is also credited with organizing the Bureau of the Inspector General and is recognized as bringing about greater efficiency, sanitary condition, and morale among the troops. Among his improvements were new flags for better for identification during the heat of battle. Though a staff officer, he was still in the thick of it and directed troops in combat. After Rosecrans was dismissed after the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863, he served on the staff of Major General Thomas who had rallied the troops at Chickamauga after Rosecrans was routed. Ducat served until he resigned due to ill health on February 29, 1864. For his meritorious service, he received the praise of multiple Union generals: General Rosecrans - "I regard him as an extraordinary man, an excellent tactician, a soldier by nature; so much so, that he never exacted the credit he easily merited, nor the promotion given to less able and more plodding men." General Ulysses S. Grant - "His services have been very valuable and have been highly appreciated." General Thomas - "One of the most able and useful of the army staff and cannot well be spared." General Sheridan - "an officer of high standing and distinguished merit." After the war, he received a brevet promotion to Major General and worked in the insurance industry. In 1873, he was called upon to help reorganize the Illinois militia and was appointed as the state's first Major General and commander of the statewide militia and helped put down the riots during the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. In 1886, he was also elected as commander of the Illinois Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion. Among his other memberships were the Grand Army of the Republic, the Apollo Commandery of the Knights Templar, and the Chicago Club. His memoir was published the year after his death.

Rating Definition:

Extremely fine with crisp engraving throughout 80% original silver on the front strap, 60% original case colors, and 40% original blue finish. The finish loss is confined to the exposed surfaces such as the top of the barrel, raised section of the cylinder, the recoil shield, and the back strap. The finish in the more protected areas remains very strong, and the case colors in particular remain vibrant in many areas. There are some patches of oxidation on the recoil shield, and a smooth gray and brown patina is on most of the balance of the worn areas. The cylinder pins are flattened, and there are distinct drag lines between the stops, although the engraved scene and scrolls remain distinct. The grip is also very fine and retains the vast majority of the original "piano" varnish and has some light handling and storage wear including some minor scratches and dings. The figure of the wood is very attractive, and there is an original filled spot on the right. The revolver remains mechanically excellent. This is an exceptional revolver inscribed from the Colt factory to a staff officer in the Army of the Cumberland and will certainly be a valuable addition to any Civil War, Colt, antique American arms, or artistic arms collection. Its engraving from Gustave Young rivals and exceeds the quality of engraving found on many presentation Colts and even the revolver presented to his superior officer, General Rosecrans, at or around the same time in 1863 as the war was finally turning in the Union's favor but the conflict remained far from settled.

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