In the included consignor research file for this revolver a copy of a page from "Colt Revolvers and the U.S. Navy 1865-1889" by Moore is included relating to the conversion of the U.S. Navy's Colt Model 1851 Navy revolvers to centerfire using the Richards-Mason conversion system in 1873. The records indicate this revolver is one of a pair of privately owned revolvers sent by Rear Admiral E.G. Parrott (1814-1879) to be converted for his use at his cost. Only this revolver is listed by serial number, so it is the other revolver remains unidentified. The first letter from August 15, 1873, stated "I forward this day 100 Colts pistols for alteration to center fire - by order of Bureau Ordnance. I have added one belonging to myself -will you be kind enough to cause it to be made to conform with the new regulations and send me a invoice of the cost - and oblige." That letter was sent from the Ordnance Office at the U.S. Navy Yard in Boston and is signed by Inspector William T. Truxtun but was actually from Rear Admiral E.G. Parrott given a second letter sent from the Commandant's Office and signed by Rear Admiral E.G. Parrott is quoted as reading: "I have sent, in the box of government revolvers, one of my own, German silver mounted, No 54294, separately enclosed. May I ask you to have it altered to fire central-fire metallic cartridges, the same as the others, but at my expense. It is the mate to the one mentioned in my letter of the 15th ult. but not then available for sending. I enclose money order for $7. - the cost of altering the two, as given in your note of the 16th ult. Will you please send them to me, by express, when finished, without waiting for the others." He also sent another letter reading: "I forward herewith Invoice of Revolvers Shipped by Boston & Albany Rail Road and consigned to your address." The cost Parrott paid was based on General W.B. Franklin, the vice president of Colt, offering to convert the Navy's Model 1851 and Model 1861 revolvers for $3.50 each in 1873. The various U.S. Navy yards then sent in around 2,097 revolvers to be converted to .38 Long Colt centerfire cartridges. Around half of these revolvers are believed to have been Model 1851 Navy revolvers, but only a very small percentage of either model remain in private collections today. This is the only privately owned Model 1851 Navy revolver positively identified as sent in by a U.S. Navy officer as part of the shipments of government revolvers to be converted. In addition, it remains in very high condition. The revolver was originally manufactured in 1856 and was likely one of Parrott's sidearms during the Civil War and his post-war career as a commanding officer. It has a brass cone front sight, the one-line New York City address, an ejector rod fitted on the right, breech plate with a "3" marked loading gate fitted to the frame which is marked "COLTS/PATENT" on the left, centerfire hammer, and matching serial numbers visible on the barrel, cylinder, frame, trigger guard, and back strap. Though Parrott listed his revolver has having German-silver mounts, the grip straps are actually the usual silver plated versions found on commercial Colt Model 1851 Navy revolvers. The barrel, ejector, and cylinder are blued, and the frame and hammer are casehardened. The grip has a high polish piano varnish finish. Enoch Greenleafe Parrott was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, during the War of 1812 and became a U.S. Navy midshipman in 1831 when he was a teenager. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1841 and served with Commander Matthew C. Perry in the African Squadron which worked to halt the illegal trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1843 and 1844. During the Mexican-American War, Parrott served on the frigate USS Congress, the flagship of Commodore Robert F. Stockton, and was part of John C. Fremont famous expedition from Monterey to Los Angeles and the capture of Guaymas and Mazatlan. During the Civil War, he was promoted to commander and led the attack that led to the destruction of the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia and also captured the Confederate privateer Savannah on June 3, 1861, near Charleston. He then commanded the USS Augusta, including during the Battle of Port Royal, and worked as the senior officer on blockade duty off of Charleston. Later in the war, he commanded the ironclad USS Canonicus in the battle of the ironclads on the James River in 1864 and against Howett's battery. During the attacks on Fort Fisher, he commanded the USS Monadnock and was present for the surrender of Charleston, South Carolina. He was the commander of the receiving ship at Boston from 1865 to 1868 and was promoted to captain in 1866. He then served at the Portsmouth Navy Yard in 1869 and was promoted to commodore in 1870. He was the commandant of the Mare Island Navy Yard in 1871 and 1872, briefly served as the commandant of the Boston Navy Yard, was promoted to rear-admiral in the fall of 1873 and took command of the Asiatic Squadron on December 12, 1873, but then was forced to turn over command and retire in early 1874 due to suffering strokes that ultimately led to his death in 1879. Provenance: Rear Admiral Enoch G. Parrott; Property of a Gentleman
Exceptionally fine. This revolver appears to have seen little to no use after being returned to Read Admiral Parrott in 1873. Wear is mostly limited to flaking of the blue finish on the barrel which retains around half of the bright high polish blue finish. The cylinder retains 90% plus of the bright high polish blue finish, including on the chambers and face, and has a very crisp cylinder scene. The frame and hammer retain over 90% of the vivid original case colors. The trigger guard retains 95% plus of the original silver plating which has taken on an attractive natural aged patina. The back strap retains 25% original silver plating concentrated on the top and bottom and has the fading typical from handling along the back where the exposed brass also displays an attractive aged patina. The grip is excellent and has essentially all of the glossy varnish finish remaining, some slight edge wear, and a few very minor handling and storage marks. Mechanically excellent. This is certainly one of the absolute finest converted Colt Model 1851 Navy revolvers in existence and is particularly historically significant as the only one identified as owned by Rear Admiral Enoch G. Parrott who had this revolver converted near the end of his decades long career with the U.S. Navy.
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