Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 64: McClatchie's Presentation Engraved Colt 1855 Root Revolver

Auction Date: August 26, 2022

Iconic and Transcendent, Gustave Young Factory Presentation Engraved, Deluxe Finished Colt Model 1855 "Root" Percussion Revolver Inscribed to Colt Employee and Samuel Colt's Timekeeper, James McClatchie, from Colt's P.F.A. M. Co

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $250,000 - $375,000

Iconic and Transcendent, Gustave Young Factory Presentation Engraved, Deluxe Finished Colt Model 1855 "Root" Percussion Revolver Inscribed to Colt Employee and Samuel Colt's Timekeeper, James McClatchie, from Colt's P.F.A. M. Co

Manufacturer: Colt
Model: 1855 Root Pocket
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 31
Barrel: 3 1/2 inch round
Finish: blue/casehardened
Grip: antique ivory
Item Views: 2336
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 79
Class: Antique

Rock Island Auction Company proudly unveils one of the greats. Renowned for its immaculate original condition and undeniable brilliance. 12076IE, better known simply as “The McClatchie Root” stands in extremely limited company: famous guns with a nickname that have been lauded for decades by collectors, authors and historians, immortalized in print, can boast “finest known” for a model and certainly belongs in any conversation regarding the truly elite, historic, and fine arms of any genre or historic pedigree. Presented from Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company to longtime company employee James McClatchie, Samuel Colt's Timekeeper who was active with the company from 1853 through 1864. While less is known about McClatchie than this model’s namesake, Elisha K. Root, he was one of the most important Colt executives during its most pivotal decade. James McClatchie oversaw employees' time. This might seem obvious in the twenty first century but at the time, it was revolutionary. Colonel Colt cut no slack when it came to his employees arriving to work on time, mandating a lunch break, and locking the factory doors during shifts. Samuel Colt was an industrial revolutionary, and the concept of the time and efficiency was at his core. Samuel Colt is known as a great inventor and better marketer but his prowess as an entrepreneur and organizer is massively underrated. By in large Colt was the first American industrial tycoon centered on the idea of mass production and interchangeable parts, known today as “The American System of Manufacturing”. He was the first manufacturer to harness the power of the assembly line, fifty years before Henry Ford would immortalize it. Colt built Coltsville; one of the first and most sophisticated company towns of the 19th century, where he would establish some progressive ideas for employees and also lay the ground work for the great industrial class of latter 19th Century like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. Most notably Colt established a ten-hour work day, backed by a mandated one-hour lunch break. It is often written that Colt ran his plant with “military precision” and was prone to fire employees for tardiness. A machine that large cannot function without the sum of all its parts. Nevertheless, it’s clear to see why McClatchie played such significant role in Colt’s empire, and was likewise deserving of this gorgeous embellished revolver presented to him after retirement. This historic set is pictured on page 88 and described in detail on page 89 of "Fine Colts, The Joseph A. Murphy Collection" by R.L. Wilson where the inscription on the backstrap is noted as reading "To James Mc Clatchie/With compliments of Colts P.F.A. M. Co." as engraved and presented to James McClatchie, and that the Colt factory ledgers (Journal B, page 412) list this cased set as a $28.88 (no expenses spared!) cost charged to the factory presentation account on Friday, November 30th, 1866 and confirms the revolvers configuration, including the barrel length of 3 1/2 inches, listed as a "NM Pkt Pistol", "ex" (extra fine) engraved, ivory grips and with "all appendages in case for James McClatchie." R.L. Wilson firmly states "The McClatchie Root is one of the finest Colt percussion sets in existence, and remains in unfired condition." This historic presentation revolver is also pictured next to the "Charter Oak" Colt 1855 and described on page 13 of the book "Guns of the American West" as well as on page 115 of "Colt Single Action; From Patersons to Peacemakers" and pictured on its own on page 45 of "Guns of the Civil War" all by author Dennis Adler, and all three books state this is "One of the finest Root Sidehammer pistols known." This is a Model 7 variant of the Model 1855 "Root" revolver series with finely detailed "vine" factory scrollwork. The “vine” style dominated the 1860’s decade as the in vogue pattern, and adorns several of the other most elite percussion Colts of the same period including the Parson’s 1861 Navy, 19928 (presented in 1865) and the Norton 1860 Army, 154768 (presented in 1865) to name a few. An elegant banner is engraved around the main serial number on the butt. The butt serial number has the suffix "IE", which denotes the special checkered antique ivory grip and engraving by the factory. All bluing is an extra deluxe high gloss factory presentation finish. The top of the 3 1/2 inch barrel has the two-line New York address: "ADDRESS COL. COLT/NEW-YORK U.S.A." The cylinder is numbered to the gun, has the stagecoach holdup scene and has a screw that retains the cylinder pin. The underside of the barrel is also numbered to the gun. The high grade mahogany case contains a double sided "COLTS/PATENT" eagle powder flask, Eley Bros cap tin, four "COL.COLT'S PATENT/NEW MODEL/REVOLVING POCKET PISTOL" marked ammunition boxes containing five rounds each (twenty rounds total), L-shaped combination screwdriver, key and a deluxe high polish blue two cavity "COLT'S/PATENT" bullet mold. Provenance: McClatchie family descendants, Wallace Beinfeld Collection, Richard Ellis, The Dr. Joseph A. Murphy Collection, Property of a Gentleman

Rating Definition:

Mint, unfired and fresh as the day it was delivered, this extraordinary presentation Colt revolver retains 99% original bright high polish blue finish with absolutely crisp engraving and inscription, minor casting flaw in the gripstrap, and 99% vibrant original case colors on the loading lever and hammer. The grips are excellent plus. Mechanically untested due to the untouched nature of this extraordinary revolver. The case is extremely fine with some minor warping and minor separation at one of the corners of the lid, with a few light handling marks. The accessories are excellent plus. One of the precious few elites in the pantheon of fine and historic arms collecting. Rock Island Auction Company proudly offers "The McClatchie Root".

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