Lot #1176
Lot #1178

Lot 1177: Engraved Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver of Major George W. Bruen

Auction Location: Rock Island, IL

Auction Date: September 11, 2021

Lot 1177: Engraved Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver of Major George W. Bruen

Auction Location: Rock Island, IL

Auction Date: September 11, 2021

Estimated Price: $100,000 - $150,000
Price Realized:

Rare Factory Engraved Colt Model 1860 Army Percussion Revolver with Rare Factory Ebony Grip, Accessories, and Presentation Case Inscribed to Civil War Major George W. Bruen of the 10th Army Corps

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1860 Army
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44
Barrel: 8 inch round
Finish: blue/casehardened/silver
Grip: ebony
Stock:
Item Views: 2648
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 128
Class: Antique
Description:

This revolver is part of a historic group of several revolvers manufactured in 1864 and featuring the classic late percussion vine scroll on the barrel, frame, trigger guard, and back strap and the incredibly scarce ebony grips. The best known of the special 1864 series was the revolver presented to Ulysses S. Grant (151718). These are interesting given production of revolvers that year was very limited due to the factory fire in February. Only around 2,000 Model 1860 Army revolvers are estimated to have been manufactured in 1864. On pages 286-288 of "The Colt Model 1860 Army Revolver" by Charles W. Pate, the author provides details on the 1864 produced revolvers. He indicates 250 were "special in some way by the time they were eventually sold." "The completion of six NMA revolvers in 1864 was recorded in Colt's financial ledgers. One pair was charged to the Presentation Account along with four individual pistols, two of which were also charged to that account. The other two revolvers were also presentations, but they were paid for by Mr. Jarvis. To the author's knowledge, none of these pistols have been found." Pate also notes six revolvers from 1864 with the "IE" or "I.E." markings in his survey of 153 revolves in the 146000-154000 range, and he indicates they were all engraved and also notes that two had ebony grips. The consecutive pair, 151388 and 151389, are pictured on page 262 of "The Colt Engraving Book Volume 1" by R.L. Wilson and were owned by Major General Joseph R. Hawley of Connecticut. Pate indicates that pair of revolvers was contributed by Secretary Thomas J. Fales for fundraising for a soldiers' home in Hartford in 1865. In Pate's Appendix B, among the shipments noted is a revolver sent to the "New York Sanitary Fair" (Metropolitan Fair) that was charged to the presentation account and noted as cased and engraved, perhaps our present revolver given its owner appears to have been from New York. The Metropolitan Fair was the largest of the of the fairs organized by the United States Sanitary Commission and raised more than $1.3 million for the Union Army. The nearly consecutive 151385 is also known and was owned by Second Lieutenant Huntington Frothingham Wolcott of Massachusetts; it too has the same style of engraving and an ebony grip. Given this, 151386 was also likely one of these engraved revolvers with ebony grips. As noted, this revolver features the classic late vine scroll. This style omits the punched/beaded backgrounds used on earlier revolvers and consists of intaglio floral scroll patterns. There are also shell accents and a wolf head on the hammer. The engraving was likely executed by Georg H. Sterzing. In "Colt Factory Engravers of the Nineteenth Century," Herbert Houze attributes the engraving of Grant's revolver and the pair owned by Hawley as engraved by Sterzing. The revolver has the factory "IE" marking by the serial numbers on the barrel, frame, hammer, trigger guard, and butt indicating factory engraving and a special grip. All of the serial numbers on the various metal components match. Out of caution, the grip was not dismounted, but we feel very confident it would be numbered to the gun as well. The barrel is marked "-ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA-." The frame has the "COLTS/PATENT" marking in a banner, and "44 CAL" is on the left side of the trigger guard. It is mounted with a high polish ebony grip. The case contains a "COLTS/PATENT" martial themed flask with sloped spout, a Hazard Powder Co. marked cartridge pack, L-shaped combination tool, key, blued "COLTS/PATENT" and "44H" marked bullet mold, pawl, trigger spring, Eley Bros. cap tin, and several lead balls. The lid escutcheon on the case containing this revolver is inscribed "George W. Bruen./Maj. A.D.C./10th Army Corps." The inscription indicates Major George W. Bruen was an aide-de-camp in the 10th Army Corps (X Corps). He appears to be the same George W. Bruen of New York City recorded as commissioned as a major and brigade engineer on November 18, 1859, in service of New York. "Trow's New York City Directory" from 1860 lists a man by the same name as a lawyer at "54 Wall, h St. Germain h." In 1867, "George W. Bruen, Esq. of New York" was admitted as an attorney and counselor of the U.S. Court of Claims in Washington, D.C. In 1864, the X Corps were part of Benjamin Butler's Army of the James and fought in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign and the Petersburg Campaign under the command of Quincy A. Gillmore and then David B. Birney near the Confederate capital. Late in the year, the corps' white soldiers were moved to the XXIV Corps and the black soldiers were sent to the XXV Corps and the X Corps was dissolved only to be recreated a few months later in March of 1865.

Rating Definition:

Very fine with crisp engraving and markings, 90% plus of the original vibrant case colors, 60% original blue finish on the barrel and cylinder with smooth brown patina on the balance, 30% original silver plating on the grip frame with aged patina on the silver and exposed brass, mild pitting on the hammer, and some minor dings and scratches. The rare ebony grip is excellent and has minor wear mainly at the lower edges. Mechanically excellent. The case is fine and has a crisp inscription, crack in the lid, detached keyhole escutcheon, and general mild wear. The accessories are very good with some minor wear from age and storage. This is an exceptionally rare, factory presentation grade engraved and ebony stocked Colt Model 1860 Army revolver with presentation case inscribed to a Union officer. All Civil War era engraved Colts are rare and desirable, but these 1864 revolvers are especially desirable given their rarity.



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