Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 260: Experimental Centerfire Conversion Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver

Auction Date: December 3, 2021

Important Experimental Centerfire Conversion Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver

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Estimated Price: $4,000 - $6,000

Important Experimental Centerfire Conversion Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Experimental
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 38 CF
Barrel: 7 1/2 inch octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened/silver
Grip: varnished walnut
Item Views: 424
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 127
Class: Antique

The consignor indicated this is one of three Colt factory toolroom conversions from his collection and notes that toolroom workmen in the 1870s "were given free rein to develop conversion systems that would enable sales of surplus percussion revolvers." See the article "Colt's Toolroom in the 1870s" by Dick Salzer in Arms Heritage Magazine Vol. 1 Issue 2 for more details. The revolver's serial number dates to 1854, the barrel has the early New York City address. The frame has the small "COLTS/PATENT" marking on the left. The cylinder has the standard Navy roll scene and is cut for use with metallic cartridges including recesses at the back of the chambers unlike the standard conversion. The breech plate/recoil shield is secured to the frame by three screws, and the loading gate has an unusual release lever and latch rather than the spring used on the standard conversions. The hammer has a long firing pin and no notch rear sight. The revolver is not fitted with an ejector and retains the original percussion loading lever. The matching serial numbers are stamped on the loading lever, wedge, barrel, cylinder, cylinder pin, frame, and grip straps and handwritten in ink in the back strap mortise of the grip. The reworked components are a mix of in-the-white and dull blue, and the breech plate appears to have been finished in a plum brown. The barrel is the original bright blue, and the grip straps have the original silver plating.

Rating Definition:

Fine with 60% of the original bright blue on the barrel, subtle original case colors on the loading lever, mostly a dull blue finish on the frame and hammer, silver-gray on the cylinder, brown patina on the breech plate along with traces of a plum finish in the protected areas, 30% original silver plating showing aged patina on the grip straps, age patina on the exposed brass, some minor oxidation, and scattered minor marks and scratches. The grip is very fine with a series of notches cut on the lower left edge, light scratches and marks, strong varnished finish, and minor edge wear. Mechanically fine. This is a very interesting and unusual conversion revolver.

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