Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 272: U.S. Army Colt Model 1877 “Bulldog” Gatling Gun

Auction Date: December 3, 2021

Phenomenal and Incredibly Rare U.S. Army Colt Model 1877 “Bulldog” Gatling Gun with Inspected Tripod

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $225,000 - $375,000

Phenomenal and Incredibly Rare U.S. Army Colt Model 1877 “Bulldog” Gatling Gun with Inspected Tripod

Manufacturer: None
Model: None
Type: Other
Gauge: 45-70
Barrel: 18 inch round
Finish: brass
Item Views: 3222
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 144
Class: Antique

Few firearms in history, especially American history, are as well-known as Dr. Richard Gatling's "Battery Guns." They were designed to tremendously increase the amount of firepower a small group of men could unleash and thus in theory decrease the size of standing armies and the incredible losses of men due to disease in the camps. They are widely seen as the predecessors of the true machine guns that proved so devastating to massed infantry formations in World War I and forever changed military strategy. The first Gatling guns were used in the American Civil War, and the U.S. military continued to use multiple versions of the design into the early 20th century. The U.S. Army purchased seventeen of these Model 1877 "Bulldogs" which are listed as serial numbers 190 and 203-218 per Wahl and Toppel on page 80 of "The Gatling Gun." This “Bulldog” is no. 204. They also note: "Probably the best of the Gatling Guns, the Bulldog enjoyed a considerable sale in the U.S. and abroad." They were light enough for use by the cavalry and offered a significant increase in firepower compared to men armed with single shot Springfield Trapdoors. The 1877 was also more enclosed which provided more protection to the various components. It has five barrels, a fixed blade front sight offset to the right, "GATLING'S/BATTERY/GUN/PAT. NOV 4. 1862/MAY 9. 1865/FEB 28. 1871/APR -9.1872/MADE BY COLT'S/PAT. FIRE ARMS/MFG CO/HARTFORD, CONN./U.S.A." on the plate on top at the rear, and an oak tripod with iron hardware. Several of the Gatling gun and tripod components are marked "MODEL/1877" along with Henry Nettleton's inspector "N" mark. The original tripod has each of the three wood legs marked "MODEL/1877" over Henry Nettleton's "HN" inspector mark and has several components marked with matching assembly number "10." This is a matching numbered tripod. Included are the following accessories: one sealed box of 25 rounds of Winchester .45 Gatling blank cartridges, ammunition crate marked “MDL 1877/GATLING/.45”, 22 stripper clips, approximately 380 rounds of .45-70, one magazine, “APRIL/1876” marked wooden box with sliding lid, and an assortment of tools such as a rear guide nut wrench, brass wiping rod, shell driver, adjusting screw wrench, T-screwdriver and lock screwdriver. The Inspection Certificate (copy) for nos. 203, 204, 205 and 206 is also included. This certificate was signed by 1st Lt. John E. Greer, Inspector, and Henry Nettleton, Sub-Inspector. Sixteen tripods were also inspected but only 12 were accepted, with this example being one of those. Provenance: The George Moller Collection

Rating Definition:

Exceptionally fine overall with a highly attractive aged patina on the untouched original brass, tripod with minor scuffs, dings and scratches associated with typical handling and storage, and a pleasing dark aged patina on the iron. Certainly a museum quality piece of late 19th century U.S. militaria that is missing from even the most advanced public or private collections.

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