Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 265: Gustave Young Factory Engraved Colt 1849 Pocket Revolver

Auction Date: December 3, 2021

Extraordinary and Exceptionally Well-Documented Gustave Young Master Factory Engraved Colt Model 1849 Pocket Percussion Revolver with One-Off Fitted Pipe Casing Formerly in the William M. Locke Collection

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $50,000 - $85,000

Extraordinary and Exceptionally Well-Documented Gustave Young Master Factory Engraved Colt Model 1849 Pocket Percussion Revolver with One-Off Fitted Pipe Casing Formerly in the William M. Locke Collection

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1849
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 31
Barrel: 6 inch octagon
Finish: blue/casehardened/silver
Grip: antique ivory
Item Views: 2104
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 130
Class: Antique

The Model 1849 Pocket was the most popular 19th century Colt revolver and remains very popular with collectors. People often think of the famous Single Action Army as the Colt revolver that dominated the 19th century, but the Colt 1849 Pocket was carried by thousands of men and women across the United States and abroad before the Single Action Army was even contemplated and formed a strong foundation for Colt's success. This model is known to have been very popular in the gold fields of the West and the cities of the East alike, and while more of this model were made than any other during the century, high condition, factory engraved '49 Pockets are rare and valuable. This '49 Pocket from 1853 remains in extraordinarily fine condition and has been owned by some of the most well-respected firearms collectors: Jerry D. Berger, Fred E. Hines, William M. Locke, and Robert M. Lee. It and its case are pictured on page 54 of "The Book of Colt Engraving" in the chapter on Gustave Young, page 76 of "The William M. Locke Collection" by Sellers and pages 178-179 of "The Art of the Gun: Magnificent Colts- Selections from the Robert M. Lee Collection Vol. 1." In the first book, the revolver is noted as engraved with the style listed in the records as No. 2, and in the latter, the engraving on the revolver is described as "attributable to Gustave Young," and the case is noted as "unique" and "superbly crafted leather, lined with silk in the lid and in velvet in the base. Known to collectors as the 'pipe style,' this is one of the rarest of all percussion Colt casings." The engraving is certainly in keeping with the patterns known to be used by Gustave Young and seen in Wilson's publications on Colt engraving. Note the overall style and quality of the engraving as well as his signature wolf head motif on the hammer. While Young often situated animal heads among the scrolls, this revolver is noteworthy for having two eagle heads on the left side: one in the scrolls on the barrel and another on the recoil shield. The scrolls patterns also feature excellent floral blooms as well as some shell accents at the base of the barrel lug and top and sides of the back strap. The "Saml Colt" marking on the barrel and "COLTS/PATENT" marking on the left side of the frame are hand engraved as is often seen on Gustave Young engraved Colts. The revolver has a small brass cone front sight, the stagecoach holdup scene on the cylinder, "3" on the left side of the barrel lug and the cylinder, a dot by the main serial numbers indicating selection for factory engraving, and a highly attractive one-piece grip. All of the visible serial numbers match. The equally rare case is as described above and has small containers for caps, cartridges, and spare nipples. In "The Book of Colt Engraving," Wilson notes, "Casings in this style for Colt revolvers are the utmost rarity." Provenance: Fred E. Hines, William M. Locke, The Robert M. Lee Collection

Rating Definition:

Exceptionally fine. 85% plus of the bright original high polish blue finish remaining on the barrel and cylinder. The cylinder retains a crisp roll-scene and all of the safety pins and shows only minor drag lines. The small amount of finish loss is mainly from some light fading on the left side of the barrel and at the edges. The loading lever, hammer, and frame exhibit 80% of the original smooth smoky-gray casehardening. The trigger grip frame retains 95% plus of the original silver plating which has taken on an attractive aged patina throughout. All of the markings are crisp throughout aside from the trigger guard serial number which is lightly struck, and the engraving remains exceptionally crisp and distinct. The screws are all in excellent condition, and the wedge retains strong original blue finish and has some minor edge wear on the left. The grip is excellent and has very attractive natural tones and grain, a small amount of shrinkage, very faint age cracks on the butt, and light handling and storage wear. The revolver remains mechanically excellent and tight. The case is extremely fine and has minor compression wear on the lining, a slight tear at the button, and minor storage wear mainly at the edges. This is one of the finest Colt Model 1849 Pocket Revolvers we have ever had the pleasure of bringing to auction, and combined with its unique case and documented provenance from some of the most noteworthy collections of Colt and antique American firearms, it is sure to add significant beauty, interest, and value to any antique firearms collection.

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