Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3089: Colt Model 1883 Gatling Gun with Field Carriage

Auction Date: August 28, 2022

Rare, Desirable and Iconic U.S. Inspected and 1887 Dated Colt Model 1883 Gatling Gun with Field Carriage and Accessories

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $200,000 - $350,000

Rare, Desirable and Iconic U.S. Inspected and 1887 Dated Colt Model 1883 Gatling Gun with Field Carriage and Accessories

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1883-Rifle
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 45-70 Government
Barrel: 32 inch round encased
Finish: bright
Item Views: 1547
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 66
Class: Antique

This is a fine representative example of a U.S. Government inspected Colt Model 1883 Gatling gun with carriage. It was shipped to the U.S. Army on May 20, 1887. Ahead of the Accles drum magazine the casing is marked/engraved "MANUFD BY/Colt's Pat F.A. Mfg. Co/HARTFORD. CONN." and "U.S.A." accented by some light scrollwork. It is marked "1887" just behind the magazine over a round plaque marked "GATLING GUN/PATENTED". Below the plaque is inspection initials "D.F.C." of David F. Clark over "MODEL 1883/No 468/CAL .45". "D.F.C." inspection initials present on various components. The trunnions are marked "U.S." The gun includes one donut shaped brass Accles drum magazine. These "donut" drums were the most advanced feed method used on Gatling guns, but proved too sensitive for sustained field use. They held 104 rounds of ammunition but could be disabled if they were not kept immaculately clean or if they were dented by enemy fire or poor handling. The carriage has storage boxes for magazines and other equipment. The Gatling gun was first developed in 1861 by Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling who received a first patent covering "Improvements in Revolving Battery Guns." They were first used in combat by Union forces in the Civil War at the Battle of Petersburg. Gatling's stated goal was to reduce the number of deaths in war by decreasing the size of armies. Since a Gatling gun can fire more shots in a minute than an entire unit, large armies would become less necessary, and thus deaths from disease in the camps and field would decrease. The first Gatling guns were capable of a cyclic rate of 200 rounds per minute, but later models could reach cyclic rates as high as 1,500 rounds per minute. The speed on this model is variable and depended on which position the lever is in and how fast the operator rotates it. The Model 1883 has two sets of sights so that it can be fired with either 405 or 500 grain bullets without correction. They were incredibly useful against massed attacks and in suppressing the enemy while the main ground forces prepared to charge. Their very presence could lead to surrender or retreat. According to Wahl and Toppel in "The Gatling Gun," "Time and again, during its long history, the Gatling Gun proved itself a 'super riot gun'-a little of its characteristic 'music' or just the sight of its menacing multiple muzzles was usually enough to discourage a mob." They were used by armies around the world and were especially suited for use on naval vessels. They largely replaced the use of heavier "grapeshot" firing artillery pieces and could be fitted to a variety of carriages and mounts depending on their intended role. This example would have been best suited for regular field use given its full size carriage. While the true Gatling guns were declared obsolete before World War I after the introduction of more modern designs by Maxim and Browning, their impact is still seen today. The M61 Vulcan and M134 Minigun are two notable modern descendants. Gatling guns paved the way for modern machine gun designs by demonstrating the utility of high rates of fire in warfare, and forever altered battlefields around the world. The gun is fitted on an original U.S. inspected carriage marked "WATERVLIET ARSENAL" and "U.S. No16 1888" on the front of the axle, "WAYNE WORKS RICHMOND IND." on the right wheel hub, "INTERNATIONAL HARVESTER CORPS CHICAGO USA", "US" and "83" on the left wheel hub. Includes two very rare period U.S. Gatling gun tan canvas covers, a period wooden crate containing twelve Model 1875 Gatling magazines (not compatible feed with this gun) and detailed documentation regarding the restoration parts work performed on this Gatling gun by renowned Gatling gun restoration shop Anderson Guncraft. Professionally installed, correct style restoration Anderson parts as original in all manners include the barrels (made to exact period specifications including the grooves in the rifling which, according to the consignor, allows the gun to fire safely, making it ideal for regiments or recreation scenes being able to fire without concern), six of the bolt assemblies, main shaft, crankshaft and crank lever assembly, various small parts and screws, carriage yoke assembly and wheel pins. It is noted that all work done is in the highest standard of originality. The carriage with wheels measures approximately 7 feet 4 inches in overall length with a 6 feet 2 inch width, and the wheels stand around 4 feet 7 inches tall. With the Gatling gun in the carriage as it sits, the height to the top of the magazine is 5 feet.

Rating Definition:

Fine as partially restored for preservation purposes. The original enclosed bronze casing exhibits a pleasing darkened aged patina with minor scattered pin holes and otherwise sharp markings overall. The period U.S. inspected carriage is fine, age considered, and was painted some time ago with some scattered paint flaking. The included accessories are rare and considered good with some cracks and absent components as typical with several surviving Gatling guns on the wooden magazine crate. The Gatling Gun is easily one of the most recognizable and impressive weapons used in American history, and is the missing piece in most advanced U.S. military collections! This Gatling gun would be a fine addition to even the most impressive collections. A must have for the serious collector or reenactor.

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