This revolver was manufactured in 1875, the year before the World's Fair was held in the United States for the first time in celebration of the Centennial of the founding of the United States. Fittingly, the Centennial Exposition was held in Philadelphia, the birthplace of American independence. The fair presented a tremendous advertising opportunity for American industry, including arms companies like Colt and Winchester. Colt's famous display was perhaps the factory’s most spectacular display in its history, and Colt's smaller pocket revolvers were highly represented given they were just the type of firearms suited to those living in and visiting the bustling late 19th century cities. Most of the revolvers in the display were of highly embellished deluxe grades. This revolver is listed by serial number on the Oct. 15, 1877, ledger listing revolvers received by Henry Folsom & Co. from and returned to Colt that were previously part of Colt's famous "wheel" display at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. The display was built in Hartford specifically for the exposition and received a lot of attention both at the World's Fair itself and into the 21st century as collectors eagerly seek out the historic Colts that made up Colt's most famous display. It is shown in multiple publications about Colt firearms, including Wilson's books (for example, see page 172 of "Colt: An American Legend". The "wheel" revolvers were later loaned to the Henry Folsom Co. of St. Louis and were returned to Colt in October 1877. Some remain in the Colt Collection at the Museum of Connecticut History. The engraving was probably executed by L.D. Nimschke and consists of punch-dot backed intertwining vine scroll and floral engraving along with a circular geometric design on the side plate. A very similar example also from the Folsom Exposition list, including a similar case, is pictured on p. 363 of "The Colt Engraving Book: Volume I" by Wilson. It is fitted the standard blade and groove sights, and a pair of smooth pearl grips. The barrel is marked "COLT'S PT. F. A. MFG. CO./HARTFORD, CT. U. S. A." The bottom of the grip frame is marked "32 CAL." Matching serial numbers are on the bottom of the barrel, rear of the cylinder ("798"), left side of the grip frame, which is also marked "P", and inside each grip panel in pencil. Includes a leather wrapped hard case, cleaning rod, and 30 cartridges. Also included is a handwritten note that is attributed as having been found in the case which is addressed to "Mr. E. Ryder Superintendent of Minneapolis & St Louis Railway" and reads "Sir, Please accept this as a Christmas Present from W.R. Hopkins Hartford Conn" and appears to be dated 20 December 1878. Provenance: The Don and Carol Wilkerson Collection
Exceptionally fine, retains 70% of the original nickel finish with a few scattered patches of very light flaking, and 60% plus of the original gold finish on the cylinder, trigger, and hammer, with the balance having thinned to mostly a smooth grey patina. The grips are excellent with only the slightest handling marks. Mechanically excellent. The case is fair with moderate wear on the exterior, a corner of the leather wrap on the lid absent, and the interior showing mild wear. A beautiful example of one of Colt's Centennial Exposition revolvers!
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