This incredible early Colt percussion revolver is one of the absolute finest examples of Samuel Colt's most significant model: the Model 1851 Navy revolver. The '51 Navy was Colt's second most popular revolver after only the Model 1849 Pocket, and Samuel Colt personally used the '51 Navy to seek international sales. High end, factory engraved revolvers like this one were particularly used by Colt for advertising and special presentations to promote his business. This revolver was almost certainly made for a special purpose, likely with Samuel Colt's personal involvement given it is the only known Colt Model 1851 Navy with a gold plated grip frame and also features stunning early factory engraving and a deluxe walnut grip with high gloss finish. Given its incredibly high condition, it comes as no surprise that this revolver has been studied carefully and featured in several publications over the years as it passed through multiple very noteworthy collection before becoming part of the legendary Greg Lampe Collection. This revolver fits within Lampe's collection perfectly as he is known for incredibly high condition "benchmark" examples of historic arms. It is pictured in "The William M. Locke Collection" on p. 90, "The Colt Engraving Book Volume 1" by R.L. Wilson on p. 60, "The Colt Engraving Book Volume 2" by Wilson on p. XV, "Colt Single Action from Paterson to Peacemakers" by Dennis Adler on p. 107, and "Colt 1851 Navies and 1861 Navies" by Jordan p. 266. It was also awarded "The Best Weapon" at the Texas Gun Collectors Association on Oct. 17, 1982. In "The Book of Colt Engraving Volume 1," Wilson calls the revolver "in perfect condition" and noted it has "donut scroll decor, and extremely rare gold-plated gripstraps." In "Colt Single Action from Paterson to Peacemakers," Adler states that this revolver is the only example known with a gold plated trigger guard and back strap. He also indicates that the engraving "is definitely that of the Gustave Young shop." The revolver was manufactured in 1851 and is in absolutely incredible condition and features deluxe factory engraving consisting mainly of scrollwork with crosshatched backgrounds. Though Adler attributed the engraving to Gustave Young's shop, Young was not active in Hartford yet when this revolver was engraved. Its "early Hartford" engraving style is consistent with the revolvers attributed to Thomas J. Barlow who engraved for Colt in the early 1850s and has more "feather-like" scrolls than the Germanic scroll engraving that became popular under Young, Bodenstein, and other German engravers who worked for Colt later in the 1850s and through the late 19th century. The engraving include gadroon design borders, "COLTS/PATENT" inscribed in an engraved banner on the left side of the frame, panels of scrollwork on the breech section of the barrel, sides of the loading lever arm, essentially all of the frame, the sides of the hammer along with a wolf head motif, and on the trigger guard and back strap. The barrel has a brass cone front sight and the one-line "-ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW-YORK CITY-" address on top. The cylinder has the classic Naval Battle of Campeche roll scene, the "COLTS PATENT No." marking, and the "Engraved by W.L. Ormsby, New York" marking. All of the visible serial numbers match, and the lower serial number locations have the factory dot marking designating the revolver for factory engraving and/or special finishing. The grip is a piece of highly figured deluxe walnut with a high polish varnish finish. The revolver comes in a fitted mahogany case with hunter green velveteen lining, an Eley Bros. cap tin, a Colt patent powder flask with slanted charger, L-shaped combination tool, and brass "COLTS/PATENT" ball and conical bullet mold with iron sprue cutter, and assortment of balls and bullets. Provenance: The William M. Locke Collection; The Harry Durand Collection; The Paul McCombs Collection; The Dr. Joseph Murphy Collection; The Greg Lampe Collection
Excellent. The engraving and markings are exceptionally crisp. The revolver retains 95% of the bright original high polish blue finish, case colors, and bright original gold plating. The only notable loss is some minor fading on the forcing cone and cylinder and light cylinder rotation wear. The cylinder retains all of the original safety pins. The deluxe factory grip is also excellent and has minimal handling and storage marks and retains nearly all of the glossy original piano finish. Mechanically excellent. The mold is also excellent and has minimal wear. The flask is also excellent overall. The case and other accessories are all exceptionally fine and have minor age and storage related wear.
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