Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3139: Engraved Pair of Colt Model 1861 Navy Revolvers

Auction Date: May 16, 2021

Documented NRA Silver Medal Award Winning Cased Pair of L.D. Nimschke New York Engraved and New Orleans Retailer Presentation Inscribed Colt Model 1861 Navy Percussion Revolvers with Relief Carved Mexican Eagle Grip and Accessories, Formerly of the Famed William Locke Collection

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $30,000 - $50,000

A) Colt Model 1861 Navy Revolver

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1861
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 36
Barrel: 7 1/2 inch round
Finish: gold/silver
Grip: antique ivory
Stock:
Item Views: 785
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 83
Class: Antique
Description:

Each revolver was manufactured in 1864 and feature a L.D. Nimschke New York engraving with slight differences in the patterns. “A” has a more elaborate shell pattern on top of the back strap. “B” has “COLTS/PATENT” in a banner on the left side of the frame and cross hatching on the loading lever. The engraving on “A” obscures the “COLTS/PATENT” frame marking. Otherwise, the engraving consists of Nimschke’s signature foliate arabesque patterns. The barrels are fitted with German silver front sights and are marked with the one-line New York address. The cylinders feature the scrollwork instead of the standard factory roll-stamped naval scene and are marked “COLTS PATENT” followed by the respective partial serial numbers. The hammers are engraved with a wolf’s head on both sides of the noses and fish scales on the sides of the spurs. Both revolvers are wearing checkered grips with a fabulous, highly detailed Mexican eagle in an oval panel. Each front strap is inscribed, “From/Dart & Watkinson/New Orleans.” Matching full or partial serial numbers appear on the barrel, frame, trigger guard, back strap, cylinder, and arbor pin. Interestingly, the revolvers are exactly 100 serial numbers away from each other. “A” is no. 20322, and “B” is no. 20422. The French fitted rosewood case features a two-tone burgundy and green velvet lining and contains a “COLTS/PATENT marked single face trophy of flags and arms silver plated powder flask, silver plated steel bullet mold marked “COLT’S/PATENT” on the sprue cutter and “36B” on the right side, silver plated “L” shaped combination tool, three sealed packages of D.C. Sage cartridges, lead rounds, pewter oiler, hickory cleaning rod with silver plated hardware, and tin of Goldmark’s caps. The exterior of the lid is inlaid with a large silver shield inscribed with the initials “TAS.” Dart & Watkinson was a period New Orleans dealer located on 55 St. St. Charles Street. This set certainly would have made for a fine presentation piece for a Mexican politician or military officer. Leaving aside the obvious Mexican connections with the relief grip carving, there is the engraving on the cylinder which removed the scene of the Naval Battle of Campeche. This naval battle reflected an earlier period of disunity in Mexico and intervention by the Republic of Texas. With the end of the Civil War, President Johnson pressured the Napoleon III to back down and unofficially armed the Mexican republicans against Maximilian and the foreign supported Mexican imperial forces. With the withdrawal of French forces, Maximilian was left scrambling to hold power and issued increasingly brutal orders, including a decree calling for the execution of any member of an armed band in a futile attempt to end resistance to his rule. He was captured and executed himself by firing squad on June 19, 1867. The set would have certainly been a fitting presentation piece for a leader of the "Restored Republic" in 1867-1876. This set was awarded the "10 Best" Silver Medal Arms Award, "one of a maximum of ten certificates awarded each year to arms of outstanding historical value, or beauty, or rarity, selected from displays of the NRA's Affiliated Gun Collector Organizations." The silver medal was No. 110. This set was also formerly of the famed William M. Locke collection. See page 151. The pair is also featured on page 208 R.L. Wilson’s “Samuel Colt Presents” as item 131 and on page 78 in John Hamilton’s “Colt’s History and Heroes.”

Rating Definition:

Fine. The revolver retains 40% silver plating and traces of gold wash with the balance a bright appearance and some light pitting. The engraving is crisp. The age shrunken grip is also fine with overall crisp checkering and carving. The case is very good with minor handling/storage marks, an absent corner insert and faded lining showing strong burgundy color under the recesses for the revolvers and implements with high spot wear. 90% of the silver remains on the powder flask with a couple dings. 85% of the silver remains on the bullet mold. Screwdriver is refinished. Mechanically excellent.



B) Colt Model 1861 Navy Revolver

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1861
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 36
Barrel: 7 1/2 inch round
Finish: gold/silver
Grip: antique ivory
Stock:
Item Views: 785
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 83
Class: Antique
Description:

As described in "B."

Rating Definition:

Fine. The revolver retains 40% silver plating and traces of gold wash with the balance a bright appearance and some light pitting. The engraving is crisp. The grip is also fine with a small splice repair near the bottom (left side) and overall crisp checkering and carving. Mechanically excellent. An interesting Model 1861 cased presentation set likely given to a high ranking Mexican military officer or politician.



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