Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1166: Early Production Factory Engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver

Auction Date: September 11, 2021

Early Production Factory Engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver with Inscribed Case

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $5,500 - $8,500

Early Production Factory Engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver with Inscribed Case

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1851 Navy
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 36
Barrel: 7 1/2 inch octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened/silver
Grip: walnut
Item Views: 1280
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 118
Class: Antique

This early Colt Model 1851 Navy was manufactured in 1851 and is a Third Model with the small rounded trigger guard bow. It features the classic early Hartford "donut scroll" engraving found on Colts from the early 1850s. The scroll engraving covers the rear sides of the loading lever, the breech section of the barrel and barrel lug, essentially all of the frame, the grip frame, and the hammer. The engraving has crosshatched backgrounds and some light borders. On this example, some of the scrolls are more open and feather-like while others are very tight and "donut" shaped. There are fan designs at the top of the back strap. The hammer also features a bestial face design, and the trigger guard bow has a patriotic shield design sometimes seen on these early engraved Colts. The left side of the frame has "COLTS/PATENT" hand inscribed in a panel. The barrel has a brass cone front sight and is marked "-ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW-YORK CITY-." Matching serial numbers are found on the loading lever, wedge, arbor pin, cylinder, barrel, frame, grip frame, and grip. The barrel, frame, and grip frame have the factory dot marking used to denote revolvers selected for special finishing such as engraving. The revolver is finished in the classic Colt percussion era style with blue on the barrel and cylinder, casehardened frame as well as loading lever and hammer, and silver plate grip frame. The nicely figured walnut grip has the high gloss "piano" varnish finish. The revolver comes in a fitted hardwood case with an Eley Bros. cap tin, navy pattern flask with sloped spout, L-shaped combination tool, spare mainspring, and a brass Colt bullet mold with iron sprue cutter. The case lid escutcheon is inscribed with a name in Old English style script. The first letter of the last name is a bit difficult to decipher, but the name appears to be "J.T. Ware." The owner is not documented, and there were several J.T. Wares in the period, including a member of the Natchez Rifles of Mississippi who appears to have lived 1822-1891.

Rating Definition:

Very good. The engraving and most of the markings remain crisp. The grip frame retains mostof the original silver plating with only a couple small spots of loss. The iron displays a mottled mix of light gray patina and mild pitting on the barrel and cylinder and silver-gray patina and traces of case color patterns on the frame. The nipples and safety pins show very little wear. The grip is very fine and retains nearly all of the original high gloss varnish and has some light marks and scratches from handing and storage. Mechanically excellent. The relined case and accessories are good and have mild wear. No Colt percussion revolver collection can be considered complete without a donut scroll engraved Model 1851 Navy!

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