Page 149 - Auction84-Book1
P. 149

    Rock Island Auction Company
Proudly Unveils for the First Time:
LOT 275
Transcendent, Incredibly Historic and Important, Factory Cased, Colt Single Action Army Revolver Presented by the Colt Factory to Major General Emory Upton, “Father of the Modern United States Army,” in January of 1874 - Serial no. 1501, 45 cal., 7 1/2 inch round
bbl., blue/casehardened finish, deluxe factory walnut grips. In recent years, Rock Island Auction has been fortunate to present some of the most amazing firearms known to exist. We believe the presentation of this new and unpublished discovery will exceed all expectations of our most discriminating clientele. Colt Single Action #1501 is a celebration of all the very best features that knowledgeable collectors look for in a world-class collectible and more. It certainly meets the usual criteria for an investment quality firearm; rarity, history and condition. However, it also has the rare characteristic of incredible importance, having been presented to a man recognized and celebrated as “The Father of the Modern United States Army” and one of the most important military figures in United States Military history. The revolver itself is unquestionably the most beautiful and highest condition example yet discovered of an early Colt Single Action Army, the most famous handgun in history and the first of the two major “Colt .45’s” of the American military.
The revolver exhibits the very finest, presentation grade, special order high polish blue finish on the barrel, ejector housing, cylinder, trigger
Upton's AssAUlt
The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, May 1864
Faced with six miles of powerful Confederate earthworks, Grant at first sought to turn Lee’s flanks. When, on May 10, those efforts encountered resistance, Grant mistakenly concluded that Lee had weakened the center of his line. That evening, Grant ordered an attack against the Confederate center.
At 6 p.m., 5,000 men commanded by Colonel Emory Upton dashed across 200 yards of open ground and breached the center of Lee’s line. Although Southern counterattacks eventually recaptured the works, Upton’s success gave Grant an idea. If 5,000 men could break the Confederate line, what might 20,000 men do?
“The struggle lasted only a few seconds. Numbers prevailed, and like a resistless wave, the column poured over the works...The column of assault had accomplished its task.” -Colonel Emory Upton, USA
Twenty-five-year-old Emory Upton led the May 10 attack on the Confederate line. Grant was so impressed by Upton’s performance that he promoted him to brigadier general on the spot.
guard, and back strap. The brilliance of the blue is unrivaled. The frame and hammer have awe inspiring vibrant iridescent case colors. The best we cataloged. The screws and trigger have bright niter blue finish. The barrel has a bright nickel-silver blade front sight and is marked “+COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. Co. HARTFORD. CT. U.S.A.+” on top in serif letters and “1501” on the bottom by the cylinder pin. The ejector has the classic “bulls-eye” button. Matching serial numbers “1501” are visible on one side behind the flute, frame, trigger guard, and back strap, and the loading gate has the assembly number “526.” The frame has the second style “PAT. SEPT. 19. 1871/PAT. JULY. 2. 1872” on the left side. Inexplicably, the left side of the trigger guard is marked “22 CAL” (not introduced to the Single Action line until 1883, but also seen on a few 38 caliber Colt Conversion revolvers
in the early 1870s). The hammer has bordered knurling on the spur. The deluxe burl walnut grip has the finest figure and a high polish “piano” varnish finish. The revolver comes in its immensely rare, factory form fitted walnut case with elegant dark purple lining and a fifty-round cartridge block holding 49 unmarked externally primed cartridges. True factory cases for Colt Single Actions are almost nonexistent with but a handful known, and this original is exceptional. Also included is the previously undocumented, newly discovered box of ammunition with orange lid label marked “50 CENTRAL FIRE METALLIC CARTRIDGES/FOR/Colt’s New Breech Loading/ARMY REVOLVER, 45/100 cal./Adopted by the UNITED
STATES GOVERNMENT for the Cavalry Service/Manufactured by COLT’S PATENT FIRE ARMS MFG. CO.,/HARTFORD, CONN., U.S.A./THESE SHELLS CAN BE RELOADED MANY TIMES.” If offered as a single lot at auction, this cartridge box would certainly set a new world record price for antique arm cartridges, but it remains in the case to retain full originality of the set.
The included letter of provenance from an Upton descendant states that this revolver was handed down through the Upton family and that he is an indirect descendant of Major General Emory Upton. The descendant states that Colt S/A 1501 was presented to Upton while he served as Commandant of Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Another revolver within 3 digits of this gun is known to have
also been presented by the factory to a West Point Administrator and is accompanied with its original Colt presentation letter from Colt Firearms Vice President W. B. Franklin attesting to that fact. The gun is identically outfitted but with less finish remaining and no cartridge box. Interestingly, that gun is also stamped 22 CAL. A third example, within four numbers
of 1501 is also known but in lesser condition, unidentified and lacks a cartridge box, but in the same type of rare factory case and marked 22 CAL. It has been surmised by some that President Ulysses S. Grant, Chief of Ordnance Major General Alexander B. Dyer, Commanding General of the Army William T. Sherman and General Thomas Ruger were likely recipients of cased Colts identical to 1501.

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