Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3103: Colt Paterson 1839 Carbine with Rare Military Pattern Sling Bar

Auction Date: May 15, 2022

Highly Desirable Colt Paterson Model 1839 Military Pattern Percussion Revolving Carbine with Extremely Rare Cavalry Sling Bar

Estimated Price: $45,000 - $70,000

Highly Desirable Colt Paterson Model 1839 Military Pattern Percussion Revolving Carbine with Extremely Rare Cavalry Sling Bar

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1839-Carbine
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 525
Barrel: 24 1/4 inch half octagon
Finish: blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 486
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 64
Class: Antique

Only around 950 of these important early Colt Model 1839 carbines are estimated to have been manufactured in total by Samuel Colt's Paterson, New Jersey, factory c. 1838-1841. Of those, the U.S. Navy purchased 360, and they are known to have been used during the Mexican-American War. This Colt Paterson Model 1839 "Saddle Ring" or "Slide Bar" carbine certainly fits the description of a military pattern carbine that was adapted for a sling bar, secured to the plate on the left of the wrist. At the time of writing, this carbine is one of only three known examples of this type with the saddle bar, with the only other known examples, serial numbers 766 and 770 previously sold by Rock Island Auction, close to this example offered. In "Paterson Colt Pistol Variations" by Philip R. Phillips with James E. Severn and R.L. Wilson, 100 Model 1839 Carbines are noted as ordered in March of 1841 by the U.S. Ordnance Department (see page 93), and on March 29, 1841, a letter from Pliny Lawton, Superintendent of the Patent Arms Manufacturing Co., wrote, "If these Carbines are to have slides put on them for the belt I would advise that the inspection be deferred until that is done say one week hence when all will be ready or say by Tuesday week Let me hear from you immediately." (sic on page 177). The authors also note, "No Paterson Colt arms have come to the attention of the authors equipped with belt hook or slide devices." The option of a carbine with a sling bar would help Colt compete with its main competitor for innovative cavalry arms at the time: the breech loading Hall carbines which featured sling rings on the early models, including a ring mounted on the left side of the wrist on the Model 1836 which was manufactured up to 1840, and then sling bars and rings on the left sides starting with the Model 1842. Pages 108 and 176 of "Paterson Colt Pistol Variations" specifically discuss the fact that Colt's revolving carbines were up against the Hall carbines in government trials. In February 1841, multiple U.S. Navy officers provided glowing testimony concerning Colt's patent carbines in revolvers, and the carbine received especially favorable reviews after trials. Lieutenant Cicero Price, for example, wrote, "I have only to say that the advantages of Colt's carbine and pistol over the ship's musket and pistol are so manifest, and so great, that I hope soon to see them adopted altogether in the service. . ." However, once actually in service, the Patersons did not receive favorable reviews, and government orders ceased and thus brought about the termination of Colt's first firearms business. The navy and army of the Republic of Texas purchased and utilized Colt's advanced carbines, and these purchases led to Colt's use of the Naval Battle of Campeche as the scene on the Model 1851 Navy and subsequent models. R. L. Wilson wrote this model was "The most practical and popular of all Colts longarms from the Paterson period" and also indicated that Samuel Colt continued to sell and display this model into the 1850s. The Model 1839 is featured in multiple paintings by famous frontier artist George Catlin that were used to promote Colt's early firearms. On top of being the best of the Paterson long guns, this model is also significant as one of the first practical repeating long gun designs. There had been other repeating firearms in the past, but none of these were remotely as useful and many were unsuited to production on a large scale. This carbine is marked with matching serial number "761" on the inside of the loading lever, wedge, rear face of the barrel lug, back of the cylinder, cylinder arbor, hammer, hammer stirrup, trigger spring, rear face of the recoil shield, bottom of the upper tang, inside the upper stock channel, and inside of the saddle bar plate. Blade front and dovetail mounted notch rear sight. The right of the barrel is marked with the one-line legend "*Patent Arms M'g. Co. Paterson N.J.- Colt's Pt.*" with snake terminals at either end of the marking. "COLT'S PATENT PATENT ARMS MAN'Y Patterson JERSEY" marked on the cylinder along with "W L ORMSBY". The buttstock is fitted with a crescent iron buttplate.

Rating Definition:

Very good. The barrel exhibits a smooth brown patina with a crisp Patent Arms legend on the right. The cylinder shows a smooth gray patina with strong markings and mostly visible scenes. The recoil shield retains traces of original blue finish with mottled brown and gray patina on the balance of the remaining iron surfaces. The balance of the frame retains mostly dark silvered out patterns of case colors. The stock is also very good with a protective coat of varnish applied, scattered scratches and dings, and some minor cracks behind the upper and lower tangs. Mechanically excellent. This is a solid example of a highly desirable Colt Paterson Model 1839 carbine with a rare cavalry sling bar!

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