Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1100: Colt Paterson Model 1839 Revolving Shotgun

Auction Date: May 14, 2022

Exceptional and Rare Colt Paterson Model 1839 Percussion Revolving Shotgun

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $160,000 - $250,000

Exceptional and Rare Colt Paterson Model 1839 Percussion Revolving Shotgun

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: Paterson
Type: Shotgun
Gauge: 16
Barrel: 32 inch round
Finish: blue/brown
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 690
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 81
Class: Antique

This is an exceptional original example of a Colt Model 1839 Revolving Shotgun that was manufactured at Samuel Colt's Paterson, New Jersey, factory c. 1839-1841. The total production of the Model 1839 Shotgun is estimated to have be limited to less than 225 guns. These rare early Colt long guns were very well-made and versatile early repeaters. The shotguns were built in larger caliber and thus had larger cylinders and frames than the rifles. They were even examined for military use. Captain George J. Raines wrote glowingly of Colt's revolving shotgun and recommended it be re-branded as "Colt's Repeating Musket" since it had the advantages of a musket in being able to fire a single large round ball, buckshot, or the popular "buck and ball" combination. Despite their high quality, they did not catch on. Instead, Samuel Colt's Paterson venture collapsed after the shareholders took over and eventually shut down the Patent Arms Company. Nonetheless, these historic early Colt firearms laid the groundwork for Colt's later success when he again began manufacturing firearms in 1847, and the revolving long gun concept was revived in 1855. Though revolving long guns had issues compared to more modern repeaters like the Henry and Spencer, Colt revolving rifles, carbines, and shotguns saw use by both sides during the American Civil War. The shotgun has a 16 gauge barrel, massive six-shot cylinder with round shoulder, flared recoil shield, steel scroll trigger guard and crescent steel buttplate. The barrel has a steel pin front sight. The rear sight has been removed, and the dovetail is filled with a fitted blank. The barrel is brown finished Damascus. The cylinder, recoil shield, and tang are blued, and the hammer, frame, trigger guard, and buttplate are casehardened. The stock is straight grain American walnut with a varnish finish. The cylinder has an elaborate roll-engraved scene that features three panels depicting: a Native American hunter, an American bald eagle with shield, and a deer hunting scene. The right side of the barrel lug is roll-stamped: "-Patent Arms M'g. Co. Paterson, N.J. - Colt's Pt.-" with the snake and star" motif at either end. The serial number is visible on: the wedge, rear face of the barrel lug, cylinder turning ring, face of the recoil shield, and toe of the buttplate. The Colt Model 1839 Shotgun is one of the rarest Colt longarms. Examples are rarely offered for sale. Provenance: The Robert M. Lee Collection; The Gateway Collection

Rating Definition:

Exceptionally fine. The cylinder has 85% plus of the original high polish blue finish, with limited high point wear. The elaborate cylinder scene is lightly engraved but nearly all distinct. The percussion nipples exhibit very minimal wear suggesting little use. The receiver/recoil shield and tang retain 70% of the original high polish blue finish. The case colors on the hammer, trigger guard, lower tang, and buttplate have aged to a smooth silver-gray with scattered age spotting. The finish on the barrel has mostly silvered but stronger brown finish and Damascus patterns remain toward the breech end. The barrel lug has a smooth silver-gray patina with scattered age spotting and a sharp Colt legend. The stock is in very fine overall condition with most of the original varnish finish remaining; wear is limited to a few scattered and insignificant handling marks and chips at the upper corners of the wrist. The original rear sight has been removed, and the blank in the dovetail is a period pewter addition. The action is crisp and fully functional. This is the finest example of one of the rarest Colt long guns we have ever offered at auction!

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