During July, Pete and Snezha were based in the Los Angelas area in California

During July, Pete and Snezha were based in the Los Angelas area in California. They travelled all over the western states of California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, attending the Winchester Arms Association gun show in Cody, Wyoming from 13-16 July, followed by the Crossroads of the West Reno show on Reno, Nevada from 21-23 July. They met with customers and friends to discuss the full spectrum of gun collecting. Please call: +44 7778 008008 or email Pete at peteholder@antiqueamericanfirearms.com for appraisals or to help you sell your valuable gun collection.

June 2023

Pete Holder's Diary for 2023 - 2024

June 2023

Pete & Snezha were at The Birmingham Arms Fair, held at the Motor Cycle Museum, Birmingham on Sunday 18 June, 2023.

Please call: +44 7778 008008 or email Pete at peteholder@antiqueamericanfirearms.com for appraisals or help with your gun collection.

May 2023

Pete Holder's Diary for 2023 - 2024

May 2023

Pete & Snezha exhibited at the 59th Annual Colorado Gun Collectors Association held at the Island Grove Event Center, 421 N. 15th Avenue, Greeley, Colorado 80631, from 20 to 22 May, 2023. Please call: +44 7778 008008 or email Pete at peteholder@antiqueamericanfirearms.com for appraisals or help with your gun collection.

 Please call: +44 7778 008008 or email Pete at peteholder@antiqueamericanfirearms.com for appraisals or help with your gun collection.

Texas Gun Collectors Association show at the Waco Convention Center

Pete Holder's Diary for 2023 - 2024

Pete and Snezha attended the Texas Gun Collectors Association show at the Waco Convention Center, 100 Washington Avenue, Waco, Texas 76701, USA from 21-23 April, 2023.

As a life member (number 221) of the T.G.C.A., Pete was privileged to help host a Texas Ranger Bicentennial Celebration to honour the proud legacy and the outstanding service of the individuals who have served in the Texas Rangers over the past 200 years. Photo of Snezha and Pete with two Texas Rangers.

Please call: +44 7778 008008 or email Pete at peteholder@antiqueamericanfirearms.com for appraisals or help with your gun collection.

Samuel Colt Chronology


Sam’s Great-Great-Great Grandfather John Colt arrives in America.

Sam’s Great-Great-Great Grandfather John Colt, from Colchester in England, sails to Boston, arriving in September, 1636. He sailed along with Dr Hooker. He marries Mary Fitch.


Sam’s Great-Great Grandfather John Colt is born.

Sam’s Great-Great Grandfather John Colt is born in 1658. He was married to Mary Lord.


Sam’s Grandfather Benjamin Colt Jr. is born.

Sam’s Grandfather Benjamin Colt Jr. is born in Lyme, New London County in Connecticut. He married Lucretia Ely who was born on 21st November, 1738.  


Sam’s father Christopher Colt is born in Hadley, Massachusetts.

Sam’s father Christopher Colt was born in 1780 and died in Hartford on 5th April, 1850.


Christopher Colt marries Sarah Caldwell.

On 4th April, Sam’s father Christopher, marries Sarah Caldwell, the daughter of Major John Caldwell. She was born in Hartford in 1792. Her father John Caldwell was born in 1755 and founded the first Hartford bank. He was also in the Legislature. He was president of the bank and also engaged in a shipping business in the West Indies. He went bankrupt in 1820.


Samuel’s sister Margaret is born.

Samuel’s sister Margaret is born.


Samuel’s sister Sarah Ann is born.

Samuel’s sister Sarah Ann is born.


Samuel’s brother John Caldwell is born.

Samuel’s brother John Caldwell is born.


Samuel’s brother Christopher Jr. is born.

Samuel’s brother Christopher Jr. is born.


Age 0

Samuel Colt is born.

On 19th July, Samuel Colt is born to Christopher and Sarah Caldwell Colt.


Age 2

Samuel’s brother James Benjamin is born.

Samuel’s brother James Benjamin is born.


Age 7

Sam’s mother dies.

On 16th June Sam’s mother Sarah dies from tuberculosis.


Age 9

Sam’s father remarries. Sam is sent away.


On 12th March, Sam’s father marries Olive Seargant who is from a wealthy family.

Within a year Sam is sent away from home to live with a farmer in Glastonbury, Massachusetts.

Sister Margaret dies.

Sam’s sister Margaret dies at the age of seventeen.


Age 10

Sam works for his father.

Sam works in his father’s bleaching and dyeing factory in Ware Massachusetts.


Age 12

Sam attends Amherst Academy, Massachusetts.

Sam becomes a boarder at Amherst Academy, Massachusetts.


Age 15

Sam leaves Amherst Academy.


During the summer Sam is caught experimenting with a firearm which is forbidden by the school rules. He decides to leave rather than be expelled.

Sam’s experiment at Ware’s Pond.

On 4th July, Sam attempts to blows a raft sky high on Ware pond. The raft moves and only mud is splattered on the spectators. One of the spectators was Elisha K. Root who was elected President of the Colt company, after Samuel Colt’s death in 1862.     

Sister Sarah Ann dies.

Sam’s sister Sarah Ann aged twenty one, commits suicide by swallowing arsenic.


Age 16

Sam sails to London and Calcutta.


Sam crafts from wood a mechanism for a multi-shot revolver.

On 2nd August, Sam aged 16, sails from Boston on the brig “Corlo”, as a plain seaman. He travels to London and then on to Calcutta, arriving in early 1831. He is away for one year.

It was on this journey to London and Calcutta, that Sam crafted out of a block of wood, a design for a single action self-cocking mechanism, for a multi-shot cylinder, by pulling back the hammer to interlock, with the cylinder to bring the firing chamber to lock into a direct line with the barrel.

Sam's Navigation Map


Age 17

Sam returns from his journey.

He returns to Boston. Sam works for his father’s bleaching and dyeing factory in Ware Massachusetts.

Sam makes two revolvers from his design.

Sam makes two revolvers from his design. One blows up.


Age 18

Sam learns about nitrous oxide.

Sam makes his fortune as Dr Coult.

Sam learns about nitrous oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas.

He leaves Ware, Massachusetts to make his fortune as Dr Coult, Chemist, late of New-York, London & Calcutta. He travelled to many places, including on the Mississippi and Ohio river steamers, with his laughing gas show. He intoxicated, as many as twenty thousand people, using himself as a guinea-pig, up to a thousand times. He charged two shillings per person for the privilege.

Sam hires a skilled gunsmith in Baltimore.

Sam experiments with pyrotechnics.

Whilst performing in Baltimore, Sam hires a skilled gunsmith, to manufacture pistols based on his new invention.

In Cincinnati, Sam experiments with pyrotechnics (fireworks) for use in a stage play


Age 19

Sam files a description of his revolving pistol with the Patent Office.

Sam files a description of his revolving pistol with the Patent Office. Sam was perfecting his mechanism for his multi-shot revolver. This was not a unique conception. He knew of the Collier flintlock revolver from many years previous. His aim was to perfect the revolver.


Age 20

John Pearson makes pistols for Samuel Colt.

John Pearson makes pistols for Samuel Colt in Baltimore.


Age 21

Dr Coult was dead. Long live Samuel Colt.

Dr Coult was dead. Long live Samuel Colt.

Sam sells part of his company and takes a loan.

Pearson promoted to foreman.

Sam sells one eighths of interest to Roswell Colt for $2,000 and has a $1,000 loan from Dudley Seldon, to finance his trip to London to register his Patents.

By this time John Pearson had made several guns for Sam. He was promoted to foreman at $12.50 a week.

Sam registers his Patents in Europe.

On 24th August, Sam buys his ticket and sails to London via Liverpool and Manchester. He arrives in Liverpool on 13th September and then to London via Manchester on 16th September. He registers his Patents in London on 22nd October 22 and his rifle patents on 29th and 30th October. The cost was $600. From there he went to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he reputedly fell in love with Caroline M. Henshaw, aged no more than 16 years. He is thought to have married Caroline in Scotland and then they honeymooned in Paris, France. On 25th November, Sam and Caroline, left Paris to go to Le Havre, for one week. They returned to America, aboard the “Albany” from Le Havre. The voyage took thirty four days.


Age 22

Sam returns to America to register Patent 138.

The “Patent Arms Manufacturing  Company” is born.

Texas becomes a Republic.

On 25th February, Colt registers Patent 138, for a revolving pistol in Washington.

On 5th March, the “Patent Arms Manufacturing Company” is established in Paterson, New Jersey with a capitalization of $230,000.

Texas declares its independence, as a Republic, with Sam Houston as its President.


Age 23

Sam is honoured by the American Institute.


Sam returns to England to update his patents.

Sam is honoured with a gold medal, for the best multi-chambered cylinder rifle. In a demonstration by Sam himself, it took under nine minutes to fire fifty balls, loading the same breech and priming with caps. This was one of many awards, that Sam received from the American Institute.

Sam returns to England, to improve his previous Patents.


Age 24

Sam makes commercial sales in Florida.



Sam’s step-sister Olivia dies.

Sam became very ill, also his grand-father, Major Caldwell dies.  

Sam contemplates building a factory in London.

After a favourable report from the Board of Officers of the 2nd Regiment of Dragoons, Sam goes to Florida where the Seminole Indian war was in progress. There, he sold fifty rifles for $6,250 and also sold pistols to the serving officers. On 10th April, when returning to St. Augustine his boat sank, with him losing his draft and nearly drowning. On 21st June, Congress honours the lost draft for $6,250, after originally refusing to pay out.

On 5th April, Sam’s step-sister Olivia dies.

In May, whilst in New York, Sam became very ill. His grand-father, Major Caldwell died on the 26th May.       

At this time, Sam was contemplating building a factory in London.


Age 25

Sam invents a waterproof cartridge

After the experience of the Seminole war in Florida, Sam decided to invent a waterproof cartridge using foil as opposed to paper.


John Colt goes into business.

Sam’s brother John Caldwell Colt forms a publishing company with offices at 14, Cortland Street in New York City.

Sam figures out how to influence business deals.

Sam realized that one way to gain orders for his firearms, was for him to give engraved pistols to influential people and wine and dine them. Dudley Seldon at Paterson disagreed with him, saying that he should abide by the rules of business.


Age 28

Patent Arms Manufacturing Company closed.


Age 29

Sam registers “Sammie” as Samuel Caldwell Colt

On 18th November, Sam and his brother James Benjamin, register John Caldwell and Caroline (Henshaw) Colt’s son as Samuel Caldwell Colt. Is Sam the father? Caroline was not at the christening.

Sam develops the Colt Walker with  Captain Samuel H Walker 

1846 – 1847

Age 32 – 33

With the failure of his Patent Arms Manufacturing Company, Samuel Colt was at his lowest ebb. He was still working on his submarine battery invention for fortifying harbours and rivers, his development of the waterproof cartridge and his telegraphic enterprise. He acknowledged that he was “as poor as a church mouse”. In desperation he tries to use his influence, to have himself nominated as a Captain, in the new regiment of Riflemen that was being formed, to enable him, to further his military inventions, within the army.

Sam writes to Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker, who had been a Lieutenant Colonel of the Texas Rangers. He asked him about the exploits of the Texas Rangers, using his repeating firearms (Paterson pistols) and how his revolver could be adopted by the military, for the war against Mexico. Walker replied in late November, relating the incident in the summer of 1844, when Colonel J.C. Hays with fifteen men fought about eighty Comanche Indians, killing and wounding about half their number. He said “Without your Pistols we would not have had the confidence to have undertaken such daring adventures”. He then went on to say that “with improvements I think they can be rendered the most perfect weapon in the World for light mounted troops… The people throughout Texas are anxious to procure your pistols & I doubt not you would find sale for a large number at this time”.

This was music to the ears of Samuel Colt. He had been waiting to hear news like this, for a long time. On the 7th December, Walker informed Colt that the Ordnance Department had ordered one thousand of his new repeating pistols to be manufactured within three months with possible further orders if the first contract was completed on time.

On 4th January, 1847 the Colt-Walker contract between Samuel Colt and Samuel H. Walker, Captain U.S. Rifles on behalf of Secretary of War was signed. It was for one thousand or more of Colt’s Patent Repeating Pistols with accessories at an agreed price of $25 per revolver. By the 6th January 1847, the Secretary of War had approved the contract and Colt immediately contracted Eli Whitney Jr. and the Whitneyville Armoury, to adapt or manufacture new machinery and tools to produce the revolvers.  Sam made it a condition of the contact, that all the tools and left-over pistols, would revert to him at the end of the contract, with promises of follow-up orders, if the contract was completed on time.

Another contract was made with William Ball of Cabotville, Massachusetts, to manufacture percussion nipples with the same proviso, that all the machinery and tools used in the said production, would revert to Colt after the contract was completed. The steel to manufacture the pistols was ordered from Naylor & Co. of Sheffield, England.

Walker was anxious to return to his command and their return to Mexico. He was also anxious for Colt to give him a pair of newly completed revolvers, off the assembly line, so that he could demonstrate their fire-power, to his military superiors and high-ranking Government representatives. In a letter dated the 30th January, 1847, Walker wrote “I want 100 pair at least to supply the wants of my intimate friends in Texas & New Orleans and will undertake to dispose of that number for you and forward you the money as soon as I receive them any place that I may be in Mexico”. He also said in his next letter dated the 6th February: “I have not the least doubt that 5000 Five Thousand of your Pistols could be sold in a very short time”. Samuel Colt was on a roll. On the 1st March, Colt wrote to President Polk with regards to “…..request permission to raise a regiment in this and other places, where my repeating arms are thoroughly understood, and to arm and equip them with rifles and pistols ….” At the same time, Samuel Walker was on his way to Mexico and anxious to get Colt’s revolvers. Colt, was also worried that the Ordnance Department did not want the revolvers to be dispatched until the war was over and suggested that he should return to Whitneyville and get the guns inspected and take them with him to Mexico by the fastest route.

By the 1st April, Walker was on board the steamer Albertros, with his new recruits and on his way to Vera Cruz. He wrote to Colt in desperation, asking him to send the first shipment of revolvers to him without inspection, saying that he would have them inspected at their destination in Mexico.

On the 7th June, 1847 Samuel Colt wrote to Captain William A. Thornton in New York saying: “I have completed & ready, 220 of my new Model Repeating Pistols ordered by the Secretary of War for the first regiment U.S. rifles”. By the 18th June, 1847, one hundred of the guns had been numbered to their respective companies A, B, C, D and E, inspected and ready to be issued to troops at the battle front.      

By the 6th July, Colt had completed the one thousand revolver contract, with all the improvements that Captain Walker had suggested.  Alongside the military contract, Samuel manufactured another one hundred civilian revolvers to the same specifications, numbered from 1001 to 1100. These, he used for presentation purposes to influential persons in the political and military arena to promote his new product. Colt was never adverse to rewarding, bribing and influencing leading individuals to further his business.

On the 28th July, James B. Colt wrote to Captain Samuel Walker, on behalf of his brother, saying: “My D’ Sir. I send per ship Martha Washington care of the Quarter Master of Vera Cruz, a pair of my repeating pistols which I hope you will receive in due time and that they will prove substantial friends in time of need”. Walker received the guns on about the 5th October, but sadly on the 9th was killed in action at Huamantla, Peubla. Some said he was shot in the back by a sniper, others said that he was speared by the father of a Mexican, that he had slain in combat and a third version was that he was lanced in a charge by a guerrilla chieftain, whom Walker had shot with his revolver. At this time, even-though the shipment of “Walkers” were in Vera Cruz, they had not been issued to any of the companies.

Animosity had built up between Colt and Eli Whitney Jr during the manufacture of the firearms. There were arguments and disputes, with both parties instructing their respective legal teams, to sort out their differences. With the contract completed in July, it took until November, before Colt received the machinery, tools and surplus revolver parts from Eli Whitney Jr. as per the contract and agreement that they made the previous January. Samuel Colt now had the machinery, tools and equipment and the added experience to start his new factory in Hartford, Connecticut. And so, in 1847 the Colt-Walker Dragoon (so named by collectors today because of its romantic connotation with the U.S. Dragoons) named by Sam as the Army or Holster pistol had arrived on the battlefield in Mexico. 

It was 1847, and Sam had money in his pocket. In this year he opened his own manufacturing factory in Pearl Street of his home town of Hartford, leasing two buildings. The large one cost him $250.00 a year and the small one $25.00 a year


Age 34

The Whitneyville-Hartford Dragoon, the Fluck and the First Model Dragoon were manufactured

The Whitneyville-Hartford Dragoon, was adapted from left-over Walker parts. The Second Contract, Fluck or Pre-First Model Dragoons, were manufactured in a serial range, from 2216-2515. From 1848 through to 1849, a total of almost 7,000 Colt First Model Dragoon revolvers, were manufactured in the serial range from 1341 to 8,000.


Age 35

July 18. Sam writes letter regarding engraved guns for exhibitions.



By this time, Sam had travelled to Europe several times. On 18th July, Samuel Colt whilst in Vienna, Austria, wrote a letter to the Hartford factory, requesting the manufacture of about fifty Colt revolvers to be embellished with ‘Exhibition Grade’ scroll engraving.  Fifteen were to be ‘large size pistols’ now known as the Dragoon and thirty five were ‘small size pistols’ now known as the Model 1848 Pocket or Baby Dragoon. These guns were to be used to advertise and promote Colt Firearms at domestic fairs and exhibitions world-wide.

November 12. Samuel Colt becomes Colonel Colt

On 12th November, Samuel Colt was appointed Aide-De-Camp by the Governor of Connecticut, Thomas H. Seymour with rank of  Lt. Colonel. Thereafter he used the name Colonel Colt.

This was a successful year for Samuel Colt with the continuing manufacture of the First Model Dragoon and Baby Dragoon.

By the end of 1849 with his new models patented in England and on the Continent, Colt had manufactured up to eight thousand Dragoon pistols and also eight thousand, of his new model, the Baby Dragoon Model 1848 Pocket revolver. The Californian gold rush, with its western expansion, had increased the need for Colt firearms. Sam’s ambition and energy with his great marketing expertise, had kick-started the American Revolution. Sam was on a “high”. His revolvers were acknowledged as being the best in the world and he was inundated with orders. Life was good and he was having grand ideas about expanding his business empire and reaching a worldwide market.


Age 36

Colt produces the Second Model Dragoon and the Model 1851 Navy.


The Colt Second Model Dragoon was manufactured circa 1850 and 1851. As many as 2700 were produced serial numbered from 8000 to 10700. Also, the manufacture of the Colt Model 1851 Navy in .36 calibre commenced at the end of 1850.

The Colt Model 1849 Pocket evolves.

Sam’s father dies.

By this time the transition from the Baby Dragoon to the Colt Model 1849 Pocket was taking place.

Sam’s father, Christopher Colt dies in Hartford on 5th April, 1850.


Age 37

Production of the Colt Third Model Dragoon is started.

Manufacture of the Colt Third Model Dragoon, started in 1851 and continued through to 1860. More than 10,000 were produced, serial numbered from 10700 through to the 20000 serial range.

Colt sails to London. The Great Exhibiton of 1851 opens.

Sam sails to England to exhibit at the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in London.

The Great Exhibition opens

See “Hero of Two World”

Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert, organised the largest exhibition in the world, to showcase the new technology, that was rapidly developing in Great Britain. By the mid 1800’s, with an improving road, canal and railway system, the Industrial Revolution was in full flow.

The Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London was the venue for the Great Exhibiton of the Works of Industry of all Nations. It was held from the 1st May, to the 15th October, 1851 and was the first international exhibition of manufactured products, showing the development of many aspects of society, which included art and design, education, international trade and relations and tourism. The glass and cast-iron structured building, which housed more than 14,000 exhibitors, from around the world, was designed by Joseph Paxton. Within the vast complex there was 990,000 square feet of exhibition space.  

This was Samuel Colt’s greatest opportunity, to expand his name and business world-wide. He displayed more than five hundred repeating firearms. This awesome display of engraved and deluxe arms, alongside his standard production, was to pre-empt the opening of his London factory ,which would  produce thousands of firearms, to sell throughout the British Empire and beyond. London was to be his gateway to the world.

Colt Stand of more than 500 engraved and plain repeating firearms at the Great Exhibition of 1851 held at The Crystal Palace, Hyde Park, London.


Age 38

Sam returns to the US.

Sam returns to America in February. 


Age 39

Colt’s new factory in London opens on 1st January.  

Colt’s London Factory is established on 1st January, at Thames Bank near Vauxhall Bridge with his sales office located at 1, Spring Garden, Cockspur Street, London.

Europe is boiling over and war is brewing.

In Europe, Russia occupies Wallachia and Moldavia. The Turkish Fleet is sunk by the Russians at Sinope. 

The production of the London Dragoon, London Pocket and London Navy begins.

The 700 Colt Hartford-London Dragoon percussion revolvers were assembled in London from parts manufactured in Hartford. They were numbered from s/n 1 to s/n 700. The manufacture of the Colt Model 1849 London Pocket and Colt Model 1851 London Navy begins at the London factory.


Age 40

The Crimean War begins.

The Anglo-French Alliance is formed and the Crimean War begins in March.

Sam makes first visit to Russia.

In the Autumn, Sam makes his first trip to Russia, where he had talks with the War Department. On 11th November, he presented several gold inlaid engraved revolvers, to Czar Nicholas 1, Emperor of all the Russias, at Gatchina near Petersburg. He also had confidential talks, with view to supply machinery to the National Armoury at Tula, to manufacture firearms. He stayed in Russia until at least 21st November.

Sam presents a pistol to the Sultan of Turkey.

Colt also presented a gold inlaid engraved Colt Dragoon s/n 12406 to the Sultan of Turkey on this trip.


Age 41

New factory in Hartford is built.


Colt trades from No14, Pall Mall, London.          

Illegal shipment of arms to Russia confiscated.

The new Colt Armory with employee housing, is completed on a tract of land beside the Connecticut River in Hartford. Sam builds “Armsmear” as his family home.

From 31st March, Colt trades from No14, Pall Mall, London opposite the Reform Club. 

In August an illegal shipment of 3,480 revolvers with flasks, moulds and caps were confiscated on their way to St. Petersburg via Antwerp at Aix-la-Chapelle. Colt was fined $100,000 by the British Government to cover up the scandal.

The Colt Model 1855 Root revolvers and long-arms go into production.

The Colt Model 1855 Root percussion revolvers and long-arms, which were developed by Elisha K. Root and Sam, went into production at the end of the year.


Age 42

The Crimea war ends.

On the 30th March, the Treaty of Paris was signed ending the Crimean war with Russia.

Sam builds his new home

Sam builds his new home, Armsmear at 80 Wethersfield Avenue, Hartford.

Elizabeth Caldwell

Sam marries Elizabeth

On June 5th Samuel Colt marries Elizabeth Hart Jarvis in Middletown Connecticut.

Sam and Elizabeth go on honeymoon for six months.

On their honeymoon, they travelled to Liverpool, on the steamer “Baltic”. They spent July in London and then travelled to Belgium, Berlin and Prussia. They sailed up the Danube river to the Tyrolean Alps and then embarked at St. Petersburg where they represented the United States at the Coronation of Czar Alexander II of Russia. After six months of touring they returned to the US in November.

The London Manufactory closes.

By the end of 1856, Samuel Colt closes the London Manufactory, with all his sales being transferred to his existing outlet at 14, Pall Mall..


Age 43

Sam & Elizabeth move into their new home.

In 1857 Sam’s estate valued at $793,400.

Samuel Colt Junior is born, but dies after seven months.

Sam & Elizabeth move into their new home named Armsmear.

Sam’s estate in 1857 was valued at $793,400 with 20 dwelling houses, 274 acres of land, 4 stores and $500,000 to include the factory and machinery. 

Samuel Colt Jr. is born on 24th February and dies on 24th September, aged seven months.


Age 44

Caldwell Hart Colt is born.

Caldwell Hart was born on 24th November. He was the only child of Samuel and Elizabeth Colt’s family, to survive for more than eight months.

Sam makes his third trip to Russia.

Sam makes his third trip to Russia to discuss contracts for firearms and manufacturing equipment.

Present from the Czar.

Sam receives a gold and diamond decorated snuffbox from Czar Alexander II


Age 46

Elizabeth is born, but dies eight months later.

The Colt Model 1860 Army percussion revolver begins production.

Elizabeth is born on 22nd February and dies on 17th October, aged eight months.

The Colt Model 1860 Army percussion revolver begins production, in time for the on-coming Civil War


Age 47

The American Civil War begins.


Sam is commissioned a Colonel.

When an attempt was made to re-supply Fort Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina, the southern forces opened fire beginning the Civil War on the 12th April.

On the 16th April Sam is commissioned a Colonel, by the State of Connecticut. He is to form, the 1st Regiment Colts Revolving Rifles of Connecticut. All the soldiers were to be armed with the Colt revolving rifle. The unit was discharged on the 20th June.



Daughter Henrietta Colt is born.

Henrietta is born on 23rd May and dies on 20th January, 1862 aged eight months.

Sam returns from Cuba

Samuel Colt returns from Cuba with an illness diagnosed as gout and inflammatory rheumatism.

The Colt Model 1861 Navy and Colt Model 1862 Police are born.

Towards the end of the year the Colt Model 1861 round-barrelled Navy and the Colt 1862 percussion revolver went into production.


Age 47

Samuel Colt dies.



Daughter Henrietta

Samuel Colt dies at the age of only forty seven years on 10th January, at his beloved home, Armsmear. The funeral service takes place on 14th January. His body was later moved to the family plot at Cedar Hill Cemetery. His estate at that time, was estimated to be worth $15,000,000. He left $2,000,000 to his “Nephew” or “Son”, Samuel Caldwell Colt.

Henrietta: Born 23rd May, died on 20th January, 1862 aged eight months. She dies only a few days after her father died.

Sam’s unnamed daughter is stillborn.

Sam’s unnamed infant daughter, is stillborn on 25th July.

Elisha K. Root elected President of the Colt company

Elisha K. Root is elected President of the Colt company to succeed Samuel Colt.     

Colt Coat of Arms at Cedar Cemetery


Fire at the Hartford Armoury.

On 4th February, the major part of the Hartford Armoury is destroyed by fire


Richard Jarvis suceeds Elisha K. Root.

Richard W.H. Jarvis (Colt’s brother-in-law) becomes President of the Colt company suceeding Elisha K. Root.


“Armsmear” is published.

Elizabeth Colt publishes “Armsmear” in commemoration of her husband.


The new Armory is completed.

The Gatling machine gun is unveiled.

The new Armory is completed.

The Gatling machine gun is unveiled.


Colt moves to 26, Glasshouse Street address.

Von Oppen moves the sales room and depot from 14 Pall Mall to 26, Glasshouse Street, Piccadilly.


Caldwell Colt dies.

Sam’s sole surviving son Caldwell, dies in mysterious circumstances on 21st January, aged 35 years.


The London Agency moves to 15A Pall Mall.

London agent, James Goodbody (successer to Von Oppen), moves the sales office back to 15A Pall Mall, next door to its previous address, at 14 Pall Mall.


Elizabeth Colt dies.

The end of an era. Elizabeth Colt dies on 21st August, 1905.


The London Armoury Company Ltd becomes Colt’s agent in London..

The London Armoury Company Ltd, 31 Bury Street, St. James, London S.W. is appointed  sole distributors for Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in the United Kingdom.


The London Agency closes.

The London Agency was closed on 1st July, 1913.

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‘Pax In Bello’ ‘Peace In War’ by Pete Holder

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Lieutenant Robert John Hudson 7th Yorkshire, West Riding, Rifle Volunteers Corps known as the Leeds Rifles, and his inscribed, deluxe brass-bound cased and factory engraved British-proofed Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver serial number 91995/. Case inscribed: ‘Robert John Hudson Esqre. Roundhay, near Leeds’.

This thought-provoking motto of ‘Pax In Bello’ ‘Peace In War’ which is the title of my exhibit, echoes to me, how this beautiful piece of art, modelled from an iconic firearm of its time, would help to keep the peace in such a turbulent period of Victorian history.

This is the story of one of the “jewels in the crown” of rarities in the world of collecting Colt firearms and the gentleman, soldier, magistrate and business man from Leeds in Yorkshire, England who acquired this magnificent cased set circa 1860.


The set in question is a deluxe brass bound mahogany case inscribed on the lid ‘Robert John Hudson Esqre. Roundhay, near Leeds’ showing the family shield and crest. The case contains a factory engraved British-proofed, Colt Model 1851 Navy percussion revolver serial number 91995/. manufactured circa 1859 and inscribed ‘R.J. Hudson Esqre / Leeds’ on the silverplated iron back-strap. Cased en suite with this fabulous revolver and accessories is its original silver-plated & engraved matching attachable third model canteen shoulderstock numbered to the gun. The carbine stock bears the double inscription of ‘Pax In Bello’ which translates from Latin into English as ‘Peace In War’


Deluxe brass-bound cased and factory engraved British-proofed Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver

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The story of the owner, Robert John Hudson and his magnificent cased pistolcarbine relates as follows.
The Hudson family were a very prominent business family in the Leeds area of Yorkshire, throughout the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century in Great Britain. They owned businesses employing hundreds of workers. In 1815 Robert John’s grand-father Edward, purchased Leeds Mill for £32,000 and in 1822 he is listed as owning his own company named Edward Hudson & Co. which was described as ‘Corn factors, Oil Millers and Malsters’ at Kingsmill near Leeds.
Robert John Hudson was born in Burley near Leeds in 1838. He was the second son born to Robert Hudson (Justice of the Peace) and his wife Elizabeth of Rounday near Leeds. Robert John was one of five sons and a daughter. They included Edward born in 1834, Robert John in 1838, Albert in 1841, Charles Herbert in 1846 and the youngest son, Ernest who was born in 1858. His sister, Fanny Elizabeth was the eldest child born in 1828

By 1841 grandfather Edward and Robert John’s father, also named Robert (born in 1805) along with his wife Elizabeth (born in 1811) and their families had moved their homes to Roundhay near Leeds. In 1843 grandfather Edward formed a new company in the name of Gadeson and Hudson to take over collieries in Stanley near Wakefield. They also owned lime and coke kilns in that area. By 1853 the business was called ‘Edward & Robert Hudson, Oil Merchants’. 
1859 was a very turbulent year in British history following the Crimea War and the Indian Mutiny. There was still much unrest in Europe with wars in Italy and Austria at war with France over the Kingdom of Sardinia. Germany was worried that France might attack the Rhineland and the British were worried that France might invade Britain. With all this unrest, hundreds of volunteer corps were formed throughout the country to combat the perceived threat including the 7th Yorkshire, West Riding, (Leeds) Rifle Volunteers Corps known as the Leeds Rifles which were formed on the 17th November 1859.

Gold labelled Kynoch & Co cap tin containing double waterproofed central fire caps

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The style of uniform worn by the Leeds Rifles

Robert John Hudson joined the following year on 3rd September as a twenty-two year old young man. In those days it was the eldest son who was most likely to run the family business with the siblings (he was the second in line) joining the army or taking up religious studies. Many of the militia companies were raised by prominent local business’s and the Hudson factories probably formed their own company from their workforce.

Hudson enlisted as an ensign which is the lowest rank of a commissioned officer.

Newspaper report showing RobertJohn Hudson’s promotion to Lieutenant

Within days of enlisting he was promoted to Lieutenant. In the Leeds Mercury newspaper on Tuesday the 18th September 1860 it stated the following: “Yorkshire Volunteer Commissions – Last Friday night The London Gazette contains the following commission – 7th West Riding of Yorkshire Rifle Volunteers (Leeds) – Ensign Robert John Hudson to be Lieutenant”. With their barracks next to the Town Hall the unit grew quickly, soon reaching one thousand recruits. It produced an elite volunteer infantry unit which also played a central part in the social life of the city of Leed

During the following six weeks to the end of October 1860 the Leeds Mercury gave a good account of the 7th Rifles. These included shooting competitions for prizes that included a challenge cup, medals, Enfield rifles and Colt revolvers. It was

Newspaper report showing Colt firarms as shooting competition prizes

reported within that period that Lieutenant R. J. Hudson took part in the competitions at least on two occasions and also that he presented some of the prizes, which included a silver cup valued at £10 and a medal for the winner of the Challenge Cup. On the 11th October 1860 the Leeds Mercury wrote ‘A silver cup, value £10 and medal was presented by Lieutenant Hudson for the winner of the challenge cup’. The same was reported in the newspaper the following week. In the report of the 18th October 1860 R. J. Hudson took part in a competition for a Colt revolver and rifle.
Unfortunately he scored zero points out of ten. In a competition for the ‘Mr Wilkinson’s Cup’ he scored only four points out of ten. With all his military experience he does not appear to have been a great marksman. It was also reported that ‘The shooting concluded with a sweepstakes for Lieutenant Hudson’s revolver, for which there were thirty competitors.

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 The distance was 100 yards, two rounds, the winner being Sergeant

Sweepstake for Lieutenant Hudson’s revolver

Little, Captain Robinson being second’.
As the threat of war with France rapidly abated the type of Corps that Hudson was in became gentlemen’s shooting clubs and for one reason or another and probably because of family business Hudson resigned his commission during the late Spring of 1861. On Thursday 27th June 1861 the Leeds Mercury reported:- “Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to accept the resignation of the commissions held by the following officers 

Newspaper report announcing Hudson’s resignation

 – 7th West Riding of Yorkshire Rifle Volunteers : Lieutenant Robert John Hudson”.
Robert at the age of 23 entered the family business and was listed as a ‘Corn

Merchant & Malster of Swinegate’ in Yorkshire. In the census of that year Robert John’s father at the age of 56 is described as a ‘Justice of the Peace and a Seed Crusher’ employing seventy seven men. He also owned a colliery that employed four hundred and nineteen men. This totalled four hundred and ninety six workers employed by the Hudson family. By this time, Robert John Hudson at the age of 22 was married to a Miss Jane Hall, aged 23 and they were living at Barwick In Elmet near Roundhay. By 1881, Robert John Hudson had become a Justice of the Peace for the West Riding Magistrates, living at Oulton. He was also secretary to the family’s Limited Company.

Robert John Hudson’s colliery venture failed in 1882 and by 1889 he and his partner sold the colliery to the Victoria Coal & Coke Company Ltd. In 1891 Hudson had become a magistrate living at Granville Square in Harrowgate. By 1901 at the age of sixty two he had retired to the seaside at Royal Avenue, Scarborough in Yorkshire, returning to Leeds with his wife Jane sometime before 1911. He died at his home at Cleveland House, York Place, Harrowgate in Yorkshire on the 1st December, 1913 from cerebral thrombosis aged seventy four.

Un-opened Ely Bros 500 count cap tin for Colt’s Patent belt and pocket pistols

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Newspaper report announcing Hudson’s death

His wife died only thirty five days after him on the 5th January, 1914. They had been married for more than fifty years without producing any offspring.
It can only be speculated how Robert John Hudson came to own his cased engraved and inscribed canteen shoulder stocked Colt Model 1851 Navy percussion revolver. Maybe it was presented to him by the officers and men of the 7th West Riding of Yorkshire Rifle Volunteers on him receiving his commission or from the Hudson family on his twenty-first birthday in 1859.

Maybe he bought it himself. A clue might be the double inscription of ‘Pax In Bello’ ‘Peace in War’ on the shoulder-stock which also features on the altar wall of St. John’s Church at Roundhay in Leeds where Hudson’s father and grandfather are buried. On the altar wall it states ‘Pax in Bello in memory of Robert Hudson Esq. of Roundhay ……’. My best guess is that the cased set was a present from the Hudson family on his coming of age.

The adoption of ‘Pax in Bello’ by the Hudson family was in fact in deference to the Dukes of Leeds whose motto it was at that time.
This magnificent set can be traced from its manufacture and embellishment at the Hartford factory, Connecticut in 1859 to being shipped to the Colt Agency at 14.

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14, Pall Mall, London and Hudson circa 1860. It remained in the Hudson family until it was bought out of the family in the 1960’s by Ron Dean, the well-known Colt collector and dealer who formerly lived in the Channel Islands and now resides in Phoenix, Arizona. I bought this wonderful set from Ron in 1998 and it has been the prize piece in my collection since then. 

Let’s get technical
An in-depth description of this magnificent set would be as follows: Inscribed, deluxe brass-bound cased and factory engraved British- proofed 4th Model Colt Belt Model 1851 Navy percussion revolver

serial numbered 91995/. manufactured circa 1859 with matching silver-plated engraved & inscribed attachable third model canteen shoulder-stock numbered en suite to the gun.

All serial numbers are matching throughout the set with the dot suffix after the number denoting special finish and engraving.

The revolver is in .36 navy calibre with a 7½ inch, octagonal barrel roll-engraved: -ADDRESS COL. COLT LONDON – . The blued barrel, with the late style bevelled cut-out on the right side has the

Serial numbers with dot, denoting special finish and engraving

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London Barrel address
Note bevelled bullet cut-out

rare dovetail target foresight often seen on shoulder-stocked examples. The British proof marks on the barrel are not stamped in the usual place as on most London revolvers but sit in tandem in a sensible position on the barrel flat just above the loading lever in such a way that they do not obscure the beautiful barrel engraving. The roll engraved cylinder shows Ormsby’s Naval battle scene with the British proofmarks stamped on the shoulders of the cylinder between the nipple recesses. The revolver has the rare four-screw frame with two of the screws extended along with the recoil shield notched on the underside to accept the shoulder-stock. The backstrap is also grooved at the heel to accept the blued iron catch which is tightened by the thumb screw to secure the stock tightly to the revolver.

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The frame, barrel, loading lever, wedge and grip-straps are all intricately engraved in the Gustave Young deluxe coverage of intertwined foliate style in what has been described as unusual arabesque patterns against a granular punch dot back-ground. Both sides of the hammer are engraved with the characteristic wolf’s head motif. There is a large dogs head beautifully engraved into one of the scrolls on the left side of the barrel lug above the loading lever retaining screw and ‘COLT’S / PATENT’ is hand engraved within a kidney shape on the left side of the frame.

The barrel and cylinder are blued with the loading lever, frame and hammer casehardened. The engraved iron back-strap and iron trigger-guard are silver-plated and the fancy deluxe one-piece grips are of select burl wood. The grip-strap is inscribed ‘R.J. Hudson Esqre/ Leeds’. The matching silver-plated & engraved walnut third model canteen shoulder or carbinestock is profusely decorated with intricate scrolls to the yoke and butt-plate and serial numbered en suite to the revolver. The screws, swivel, iron catch and thumb nut are all fire-blued.

Dovetail foresight
Barrel proofs not stamped over engraving
Frame showing hand engraved ‘COLTS PATENT’, four screw frame, recoil shield cut-out, British proof marks on cylinder, and Gustave Young’s Arabesque engraving

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Dog’s head engraved on barrel lug
Silver plated iron back strap inscribed ‘R.J. Hudson Esqre / Leeds'

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Canteen stocks are ultra-rare and only a few were manufactured this way with a metal receptacle to hold water or stronger liquids contained inside the stock. The stock bears an inscription in Latin “Pax In Bello” on the top of the scroll engraved brass yoke between the hammer cut-out and the pewter stopper and also the same inscription is inscribed underneath the yoke between the sling swivel and the serial number.

The revolver, stock and accessories are fitted in a deluxe London-style mahogany case with twelve compartments. The brassbound cornered lid of the case has a central circular brass plaque bearing a shield of Gules on a fess or between three boar’s heads argent three lions rampant sable. The shield has an accompanying crest on top of a lion rampant holding between the forepaws a boar’s head. It is surrounded by a sunken circular carrying ring inscribed: ‘Robert John Hudson Esqre. Roundhay near Leeds’.
The interior is lined in green baize with the makers label for ‘DIRECTIONS FOR LOADING COLT’S PISTOLS’ in the lid. Accessories in the case include a Dixon bag type flask marked ‘COLTS NAVY FLASK’, a .36 blued steel bullet mould

Serial numbers on stock, showing engraving and fire blue butt screw

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500 count Ely Bros cap tin for Colt’s Patent belt and pocket pistols

marked ‘COLTS / PATENT’, a nipple key and screwdriver combination tool, two 500 count Eley Bros. cap tins, one of which is unopened, a deluxe KYNOCH & Co small cap tin, pewter oil bottle stamped ‘Dixon & Sons / Sheffield, a ivory turned screw topped container with many spare nipples marked ‘COLTS’ on one side and ‘PATENT’ on the reverse. Wooden cleaning rod with ebony tipped circular knob and brass pull- through screw-on tool plus two additional screw-on accessory cleaning tools. Also a spare new blued main-spring compliments the set. This magnificent

cased set and accessories is in excellent plus condition and retains overall 90% plus of its original finish.

The collecting and monetary value of any antique firearm, or any antique in general is determined on three specific counts and this magnificent set encompasses all three.

1) Condition:- Overall excellent plus condition with more than 90% plus original finish to case, revolver, carbine-stock and accessories.

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Right side of pistol carbine
Inscription: ‘PAX IN BELLO’ on underside of yoke

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Lid inscription, with shield and coat of arms

2) Rarity:- One of only a few specimens known to have the before mentioned features and possibly unique. See enclosed table on rarity.

3) Provenance:- Interesting story of the owner who was a British army officer, an industrialist, a magistrate and a gentleman living through the Industrial Revolution of 19th century Victorian Britain. The full provenance of the set stretches one hundred and fifty years from its date of manufacture in 1859 through until today in 2009.

Pictured in ‘COLONEL COLT, LONDON’ by Joseph Rosa on page 175.

Pictured in ‘Colt and its Collectors’ on page 91.

Exhibited at ‘Colt: The Legacy of a Legend’ at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center at Cody Wyoming during 2003.

This was the biggest ever display of Colt firearms exhibited since 1836.

Pete Holder
September 2009

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Left side, showing fitted canteen stock

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Photography and production: David Watson, Graphic Solutions, UK.

Mr Keith Miller Head of Department, Weapons, Equipment & Vehicles, National Army Museum, UK.

Brian Wallis (genealogist), Ossett, West Yorkshire, UK.

Michael Pickard (genealogist) Yorkshire, UK.

Ron Dean, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

Phil Boulton, Southampton, UK.

Paul Wilcock, Arms and Armour Research Group, University of Huddersfield, UK


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The Hero of Two Worlds

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I first saw a photograph of this iconic engraved panel scene Colt Second Dragoon percussion revolver whilst visiting a friend of mine in Sweden more than Twenty years ago. I expressed my interest in buying the revolver but was told that is was owned by a collector friend of his and that it was not for sale at that time. My friend contacted me in February 2003 to say that the collector was contemplating selling the gun and asked me if I was still interested in buying it. By May of 2003 and after two visits to Stockholm, I had completed the purchase and had the gun in my possession. The collector told me that he had bought the revolver in London after the Second World War in 1947.. It had remained in his collection for more than fifty years. This magnificent revolver was a true ‘sleeper’. I couldn’t wait to search the archives, to identify the panel scene portrait and uncover the story behind this elaborately engraved revolver.

The Colt Second Model is the rarest of the Colt Dragoons, with only approximately 2,700 manufactured circa 1850 and 1851, from around serial number 8000 to 10700. Only a few examples are known to have been specially engraved by the Hartford Factory (2). Out of these, only three are known by me to have been commissioned by Samuel Colt to be engraved with added rarity of a panel scene. Two are consecutively numbered 10222 (Third Model) and 10223 (Second Model),  and 10333, which is also a Second Model, and is well-known to collectors and documented on several specialised gun books.

commissioned by Samuel Colt to be engraved with added rarity of a panel scene. Two are consecutively numbered 10222 (Third Model) and 10223 (Second Model),  and 10333, which is also a Second Model, and is well-known to collectors and documented on several specialised gun books.

Exhibition grade engraved Colt Second Model Dragoon .44 percussion six shot revolver serial number revolver #10223, was manufactured circa 1851, with the rare panel scene of the Marquis De Lafayette.

When I acquired the gun I did not know the name of the gentleman in the panel scene. It was only on a visit to the Connecticut State Library, Hartford in October 2003 that the Museum Administrator, Dean Nelson conclusively identified Layfayette’s portrait in the panel scene. This discovery far exceeded my expectations and led to further research to reach the following conclusions.   

The revolver is heavily embellished in the distinctive early factory donut or cloud style of large scroll engraving with stylistic borders to the barrel, loading lever, frame, hammer, back-strap, trigger-guard, wedge and screws. The frame is profusely scroll engraved with ‘COLTS / PATENT’ hand engraved within two of the scrolls on the left side of the revolver.

Rare panel scene of Marquis De Lafayette
Rare panel with George Washington

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The rear of the recoil shield is heavily engraved with a clam shell design within scrolls on the left side and scrolls on the right. Both sides of the recoil have an exhibition type double border with diagonal markings.

The serial number (with no dot after the number on the bottom) on the frame is underlined with a floral pattern and bordered by fine lines within a rectangle. The hammer has the serpent design with wings, scrolling and scales on the top of the hammer spur.

The seven and a half inch part round and part octagonal barrel with a German silver blade front sight has two coronets engraved amongst the many scrolls on the left side. The rare panel portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette (3) is engraved within an oval on the right side of the barrel lug surrounded by scrolls. The two side flats of the barrel are engraved with scrolls within a hatched background and an exhibition style border at the breech end. The address on the top flat has an undulating border running parallel with ‘ADDRESS SAML COLT. NEW-YORK CITY’ with a stop after Colt with three leaf motifs pointing into the valleys.

The serial number on the barrel is surrounded by fine straight lines on three sides with a flowing scroll and sunset effect above the number.

The muzzle end of the barrel has a special double border with V shaped motifs running around the barrel.

The loading lever with the plunger screw entering from the right side is scroll engraved within a bold roped border on both sides of the flats around the barrel screw. The vertical catch that attaches the loading lever to the barrel at the muzzle end is finely cross- hatched or knurled within a rectangular border.

The cylinder has rectangular stops and is roll engraved with the Ranger and Indian scene with MODEL U.S.M.R. and COLT’S PATENT, forming a cartouche with the serial number 10223 stamped within.

The silver plated brass back strap is heavily engraved on the shoulders with fine flowing scrolls from top to bottom with a quartered shield positioned in the centre. The top right and bottom quadrants left are engraved with six horizontal lines.

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The base of the back-strap is scroll engraved within a rectangular border with a circular border around the butt screw head and a line along the top and bottom of the serial number.

The silver-plated square-back trigger-guard is engraved on the base of the guard with scrolls and with two engraved borders running parallel the full length of the side flats. The serial number is bordered within an oval encompassed with scrolls.

‘Charles. Nephew & Co. Calcutta’ (1) is finely inscribed in script lettering running from behind the triggerguard and down towards the toe of the butt.

All the screw heads, except the butt screw, are engraved both ends with rosette motifs with eight petals engraved at the entry end. The wedge which is numbered 223, is also engraved at both ends with two curled scrolls and cross hatching within a rectangular border on the left side where it enters the barrel. It has scrolling to the other end where it protrudes on the right side of the barrel.

The grip strap is elongated with the toe of the grip facing slightly down as opposed to being level as found on most Colt Dragoons. This magnificent engraved hefty revolver is complimented with rare one-piece rosewood grips and weighs four pounds and two ounces.

The revolver is in very good condition with very faint traces of original finish in protected areas. The grip straps retain 80% original silver plating. Engraving and markings are sharp with clear lettering and numerals. The cylinder retains approximately 60% of its Indian and Ranger scene. All numbers are matching including the wedge. The butt screw has probably been replaced. The bore is bright showing the barrel’s progressive rifling and the action is tight. The later flat style mainspring retains all its deep fire blue finish. All six safety pins on the rear of the cylinder are intact. The revolver internally is in excellent condition and shows very little use. The one piece rosewood grips which appear to be oiled and not varnished are in excellent condition with no chips or cracks.

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The embellishments on Colt Second Model Dragoon #10223 are thought to be by the hand of the master of bank note engraving and personal friend of Samuel Colt, Waterman Lilly Ormsby (4). The portrait of Lafayette (5) on #10223 appears to be the head and shoulders of the full length engraved image of him which is featured in plate numbered 24 from W.L. Ormsby’s book (6) on bank note engraving and counterfeiting.

That full-length image of Lafayette was taken from a well-known painting by the French artist Ary Scheffer (1795-1858). He created this masterpiece (6) in 1822. The life-size portrait painting which hangs in the House of Representatives in Washington was a gift to the nation from a grateful Lafayette on his return to America in 1824. A smaller version hangs in the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

On all accounts, engravings of the portrait of Lafayette (7) were cherished by his admirers on both sides of the Atlantic. His images can be found on numerous objects such as on bank notes, ceramics, glassware, ribbons, stamps, playing cards, medals and commemorative objects.

There are also many items portraying the head and shoulders portrait of both George Washington and Lafayette (8) side by side on the same item.

The connection between Washington and Lafayette is what makes # 10223 a very interesting and important subject of investigation.

The above mentioned Colt Second Model Dragoon has a ‘non identical twin’ in the form of the earliest known Colt Third Model Dragoon # 10222 which is consecutively numbered to # 10223. It is also similarly engraved with a panel scene portrait of George Washington on the left side of the barrel lug. This gun is presently on display at the Autry Museum of Western Heritage in Los Angeles, California (9).

Herbert G. Houze the noted author and historian informed me that Larry Sheerin (10) first saw #10222 at a gun show in Jacksonville or Vero Beach, Florida in the late 1940’s. After corresponding with the owner for about a year, he purchased the piece for $900 (an amount he described as being as “big as a wagon wheel” at the time). He said that Larry was fascinated by the Washington portrait even though “it wasn’t a Benjamin West”. He thinks that the gentleman may have originally bought it in England during the war. He couldn’t recall the owners name, but if it came to mind he would let me know.

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The connection between George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette goes back to the American Revolution. Lafayette was a wealthy French aristocrat and courtier at the court of King Louis XVI who fought alongside the American colonists against the British. He fought with distinction at the Battle of Brandywine, Pennsylvania in 1777 where he was wounded and conducted a masterly retreat from Barren Hill in 1778. He joined Washington’s staff and became a staunch friend of George Washington who developed a fatherly affection towards him. Lafayette brought a 6,000 man expeditionary army from France and was given the command of an army in Virginia where in 1781, he forced the British commander Lord Charles Cornwallis, who commanded a much larger army, to retreat across Virginia entrapping him at Yorktown and ultimate surrender. After this defeat the British cause was lost. On his return to France in 1782 Lafayette had become a “Hero to two worlds”. At the tender age of only twenty four he assisted in the negotiations that won America independence from Great Britain.

On a plaque on a monument of La Fayetteville that stands outside the Connecticut State Library, Hartford, Connecticut states: “To the Marquis de La Fayette… A true friend of liberty, who served as a Major General in the Continental army with ‘All possible zeal, without any special pay or allowances’ until the American colonists secured their freedom. And whose frequent visits to this State, as aide to Washington, as liaison officer with supporting French troops, and in the pursuit of freedom, are gratefully remembered”.

Taking all the above information into consideration it is my theory that Colt Second Model Dragoon #10223 and Colt Third Model Dragoon #10222 were engraved especially for exhibition purposes as per Samuel Colt’s letter (11) that he wrote to his brother Elisha on 18th July 1849. My feelings are that they were exhibited side by side at the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations held at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London from 1st May to 15th October 1851. It is my submission that these two revolvers were the figurehead display of the exhibition of ‘large size pistols’ by nature of their quality, the intensity of the engraving and the rarity of the panel scenes.

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Samuel Colt’s greatest opportunity to expand his empire world-wide was to display more than five hundred pistols at the Great Exhibition of 1851 at Crystal Palace, London. This awesome display of engraved and deluxe arms alongside his standard production of firearms was to presage the opening of his London factory which would produce thousands of firearms to sell throughout the British Empire and beyond. London was to be his gateway to Europe and the rest of the world.

Colt’s dazzling panoply of firearms exhibited at the Crystal Palace in London (12) in my opinion would show Colt Second Model Dragoon #10223 with square-back trigger-guard, rosewood grips and Lafayette panel scene (on the right side of the gun) on the left facing towards the newly designed Colt Third Model Dragoon #10222 with rounded trigger-guard, burl walnut grips and George Washington panel scene (on the left side of the gun) on the right. In this position both panel scenes would be visible at the same time. Maybe the above-mentioned revolvers are the top two pistols featured on the left side wall display (12) with one facing to the right and the other one facing to the left.

It may have been Samuel Colt’s sense of humour that made him decide to have a portrait of Washington and Lafayette (who were instrumental in humiliating the British army in the War of Independence) engraved and displayed on two of his magnificent ‘large size pistols’ at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London whilst the echoes of the American Revolution were still ringing within living memory of many people in Great Britain.

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Comparisons between #10222 and #10223

Colt Second Model Dragoon # 10223:

a) Square-back trigger-guard with rectangular cylinder slots makes it a Second Model.
b) Panel scene of the Marquis de Lafayette engraved on right side of barrel.
c) Inscribed behind trigger-guard: ‘Charles Nephew & Co. Calcutta’.
d) No British proof marks.
e) Provenance: Bought in London by a Swedish collector from Stockholm after the war circa 1947. I bought it from a friend of the collector in Stockholm in May 2003. The revolver was a sleeper having been out of circulation for more than fifty years.
f) Rosewood grips.
g) Complimentary style of engraving to #10222.

Colt Third Model Dragoon # 10222:

a) Rounded trigger-guard with rectangular cylinder slots makes it the lowest numbered Third Model Dragoon known. eventhough it falls in the Second Model range. The start number for the Third Model Dragoon according to R.L. Wilson is around #10700.
b) Panel scene of George Washington engraved on the left side of the barrel.

b) Panel scene of George Washington engraved on the left side of the barrel.

c) No inscription.d) No British proof marks. e) Provenance: Bought in London by a Florida collector during the Second World War. Larry Sheerin bought it from him in 1947 for $900.f) Burl walnut grips.g) Complimentary style of engraving to #10223.To show that #10222 and #10223 were exhibited at the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations held at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London which took place from 1st May to 15th October 1851 I have had to establish when both revolvers were manufactured.

According to ‘Colt’s dates of Manufacture 1837-1978’ by R.L.Wilson production of Colt Dragoons were as follows:

Colt Second Model Dragoon

a) 1850 Serial number 8000 to 9499 1499 produced.
b) 1851 Serial number 9500 to 10699 1199 produced.
Total 2698 produced.

Colt Third Model Dragoon

c) 1851 Serial number 10700 to 11999  – 1300 produced.

The Lafayette Bank five dollars banknote showing Washington on the left and Lafayette on the right

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According to the above figures 2499 Dragoons (b + c) were manufactured in 1851. Therefore on a pro-rata basis 48 were produced per week. On that basis serial numbers 10222 and 10223 were both manufactured by the middle of April 1851. The committee to organise and administer the Exhibition under the Presidency of Prince Albert was set up well before 1851 giving Samuel Colt plenty of time for preparation. Allowing for a pre-Exhibition rush by the factory and three weeks shipping to England there is every chance that both

revolvers would have been on display by the first of May 1851.

With the panel scenes on #10222 & #10223 on different sides of the barrel it suggests that both guns were engraved especially for exhibition purposes so that they could be displayed facing each other showing both panel scenes at the same time. It also suggests to me that these two revolvers may have been one of the figureheads of the exhibition by nature of the quality, intensity of the engraving and the rarity of the panel scenes.

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By displaying #10222 and #10223 together as above, apart from both panel scenes being visible it would also show the standard Second Model with square-back trigger-guard on #10223 on the left facing the new design Third Model with the rounded triggerguard on
# 10222 on the right along with contrasting grips of rosewood on # 10223 and select burl walnut on # 10222.

It is doubtful that both revolvers were originally cased in a traditional double casing for presentation to an individual as only one panel scene would be visible at any time and also other differences such as the trigger-guard and the shape of grip-straps would make it very difficult to make the set look symmetrical.

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The two revolvers facing each other at the top of the display are possibly the "Lafayette" and "Washington" Dragoon revolvers

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Image of Lafayette taken from a well-known painting by the French Artist Ary Scheffer (1795-1858) who painted him in 1822

It is doubtful that both revolvers were originally cased in a traditional double casing for presentation to an individual as only one panel scene would be visible at any time and also other differences such as the trigger-guard and the shape of grip-straps would make it very difficult to make the set look symmetrical.

Inscription: ‘Charles, Nephew & Co. Calcutta’.

After the Great Exhibition closed on 15th October, 1851 most of the display guns were either presented to prominent persons and institutions or to serving British officers that were leaving for the far outposts of the British Empire in South Africa, India or Australia. I have evidence to suggest that Charles and Park Pittar (his nephew, hence the name) who were the principals of Charles, Nephew & Co., Calcutta were good friends and business colleagues of Samuel Colt and probably also exhibited their company’s products at the Great Exhibition. As retailers the company were acknowledged for their creative design and superb finish as one of the most prominent jewelers, 

watchmakers, gold and silversmiths in the world. From 1848 to 1870 they had business offices in Calcutta and at Simla in India and also at 10 John Street, Adelphi in London. They are also known to have retailed firearms during this period.

Serial number 10223, along with Colt Second Model Dragoon # 10333 engraved with a panel scene of a Dragoon soldier hunting buffalo were both inscribed ‘Charles, Nephew & Co., Calcutta’. Probably both revolvers along with other engraved and non-engraved examples went to India together sometime after the Exhibition ended. Maybe the two inscribed Dragoon revolvers in question remained in London. The friendship and business relationship between the Pittar’s and Colt continued for at least two years after the Exhibition when Sam presented Park Pittar with a cased engraved Colt Model 1851 London Navy Square-back revolver serial number 207 inscribed “Presented / to / Park Pittar EsqR / by / ColL Colt”. I had the privilege of having this beautifully engraved revolver in my collection for many years.

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Known engraved Colt Second and early Third Model Dragoons circa 1850 & 1851.

8478 Cased and engraved with burl walnut grips. Locke Collection page 51.
8487 Cased and engraved. Little John’s auction in May, 2012.
9343. Engraved and inscribed ‘Col John Hays’. The inscription is questionable.
9516. Engraved with ivory grips.
9616. Cased and engraved with ivory grips.

9623 Double cased, profusely engraved Second Model along with engraved Colt Model
1851 Second Model Squareback s/n 843. Presented to HRH Prince Albert.
9625 Engraved similar to Albert’s revolver. Tower of London.
9646. Engraved.
9923 Partially engraved to loading lever, hammer and screws.
10222 Engraved with panel scene of George Washington (Autry Museum of Western
Heritage). First Third Model with rounded trigger-guard. Earliest known Colt Third
Model Dragoon. Recognised range of third models start at #10700.

10223  Engraved with panel scene of Lafayette.

Plate from W.L. Ormsby's book on banknote engraving and counterfeiting

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10333 Engraved with panel scene of Dragoon on horseback shooting a buffalo ( pictured
in ‘The Colt Engraving Book’ . Volume I by R.L. Wilson, page 45. Inscribed
‘Charles Nephew & Co. Calcutta’ on the back-strap. John Woodard (now deceased),
told me many years ago that #10333 was originally found in India. With the ‘Charles
Nephew’ inscription this fits in with pattern of movement of guns following the end of
the Great Exhibition of 1851.
10338 Engraved.
10477 Engraved Third Model with rounded trigger-guard with ivory grips.
10478 Engraved Third Model with rounded trigge-rguard.
10535 Engraved and inscribed ‘Asa Law’.
10597 Engraved with ivory grips.
10742 Highest known engraved Second Model Dragoon.

The above serial numbers were given to me by Philip Boulton of Southampton, England from his extensive research on the serial numbers of all Colt percussion revolvers. His database lists 12.308 % of the production of Colt Second Model Dragoons as of February 2004.

Engraved Colt Second Model Dragoon serial number 9343 according to the description by Christie’s East, New York has a later inscription on the back-strap of: ‘Presented to Col. John C. Hays Compliments of Sam. Colt, Nov.24, 1849’ and ‘Defender of Texas’. If this gun was manufactured by November 1849 it would confirm that the production of Colt Second Model Dragoons commenced earlier than 1850 and that Colt would easily have reached #10233 several months before the start of the Great Exhibition of 1851

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Having researched the following revolvers for several years I have concluded that in my opinion both Colt Second Model Dragoon #10223 and Colt Third Model Dragoon #10222 were especially engraved by W.L. Ormsby himself for display purposes on Samuel Colt’s stand at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. These two revolvers were the figurehead of the exhibition of his ‘large size pistols’ by nature of the quality, intensity of the engraving and the rarity of the panel scenes. My reasoning is based on the following evidence and reasoning:

A) The revolvers are consecutively numbered 10222 and 10223.

B) Colt #10223 is a Second Model and #10222 a Third Model Dragoon.

C) Colt #10223 has one piece rosewood grips and #10222 has one-piece burl walnut one-
piece burl walnut grips.

D) Both revolvers have Exhibition style engraving.

E) Both revolvers have ultra rare panel scene portraits.

F) The panel scene on #10222 is of George Washington and the panel scene on #10223 is of
The Marquis de Lafayette.

G) Washington and Lafayette were friends and allies who were instrumental in defeating the British in the American War of Independence. They were often found pictured together on such things as bank notes and commemorative items.

H) The panel scene on #10222 is on the left side of the barrel and the panel scene on #10223 is on the right side of the barrel. These revolvers were engraved for display purposes so the both panel scenes were visible when facing each other on a wall or table top display. If they had been cased in a traditional double case only one panel scene would have been visible at any one time. Both revolvers have different characteristics: Square-back and round trigger-guard, shape of grip-straps and different material to the one-piece wood grips being oil finished rosewood and varnished select burl walnut.

I) According to the Swedish collector and Larry Sheerin both revolvers were found in London either during the Second World War or just afterwards. This suggests to me that both revolvers are likely to have been in England or a country within the British Empire since the Great Exhibition of 1851. It is doubtful that a British dealer or collector in Colt firearms would have brought both guns to England from America prior to World War Two. They were probably sold to “modern day collectors” sometime after the end of World War Two

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J) None of the 1851 Exhibition guns were British proofed including #10222 and #10223. The five hundred guns that Colt displayed in the 1851 Exhibition were allowed into England by the British Government without being proofed providing they were not sold on the open market. After the Exhibition the guns were allowed by the British government to be presented to individuals, institutions or serving officers that were leaving Britain to serve in far-flung countries of the British Empire such as India, South Africa or Australia..

K) There is sufficient reasoning to believe that both revolvers were manufactured before 1st May, 1851 in time for the opening of the Exhibition.

L) The ‘Charles, Nephew & Co. Calcutta’ was inscribed on #10223 after the Great Exhibition ended. The inscription does not have any bearing on #10223’s ‘Exhibition’ status. Engraved panel-scened Colt Second Model Dragoon #10333 also has the inscription of ‘Charles, Nephew & Co. Calcutta’ inscribed on the back-strap. This inscription also does not have any bearing on #10333’s ‘Exhibition’ status. This revolver was found in India which supports my theory.

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I have had great pleasure in researching this magnificent and historical revolver which tells its story for he first time since its manufacture over one hundred and sixty three years ago. I am sure that much of my findings and suppositions will receive some criticism and I look forward to debating the subject matter in the future.

Pete Holder    May 2014


1) ‘Charles Nephew & Co, Calcutta’. The makers of Indian Colonial silver by Wynyard R.T. Wilkinson, FSA.Scot. A Register of European goldsmiths, silversmiths, jewellers, watchmakers and clockmakers in India and their marks 1760-1860. 1987 W.R.T. Wilkinson, 99D Talbot Road, London W11 2AT.

2) The Book of Colt Firearms by Sutherland & Wilson on page 90 states that ‘A few Second Model Dragoons were specially engraved by the factory’.

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3) The panel scene of Marquis De Lafayette was identified by Dean Nelson, the Museum Administrator of the Colt Museum Collection and also the chief librarian at the Connecticut State Library, Hartford, Connecticut in October 2003. Their findings were confirmed by Warren Anderson.

4) During a conversation with John (Jack) Malloy in Hartford, Connecticut in October 2003 he confirmed my feelings that in his opinion the engraving on Colt Second Model Dragoon #10223 and #10222 were both by the hand of Waterman Lily Ormsby.

5) Plate from W.L. Ormsby’s book on bank note engraving and on counterfeiting. Image number 24 is a full length image of Lafayette. See: The Colt Engraving Book’ Volume I by R.L. Wilson on page 211.

6) Scheffer, Ary (1793-1858), French: Lafayette 1822. Oil on canvas. Harvard honors Lafayette.

7) Marquis de Lafayette Collections at Lafayette College. Website:

8) There are numerous items showing both Lafayette and Washington together including bank notes such as the five dollar note issued by the Canal Bank of New Orleans, ten dollar note issued by the Commercial Bank of Columbia (1847) and the twenty dollar note issued by the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Company (1840).

9) Bryson Strauss, Assistant Curater of the Autry Museum of Western Heritage kindly gave me the following information that was on the museums database: Colt Third Model Dragoon #10222. Ca. 1851. “Donut” style scrollwork. Engraved bust of George Washington on left side. Serpent design on each side of hammer. No dot marking with serial number. Burl walnut grips. Heavily engraved overall. Scene of white men shooting indians on horseback, on cylinder. Formerly in the collection of Larry Sheerin and on loan display at Whitney Gallery of Western Art, Cody, Wyoming.

10) In Larry Sheerin’s  ‘Collection of early Colt revolvers’ lent by him to the Whitney Gallery of Western Art in the 1960’s he lists: 10. Third Model Colt Dragoon- Engraved with Washington Bust $10,000. This compares with: 3. Colt Walker U.S. Army-1847. Only known complete cased specimen $20,000. This gives an idea of prices of antique Colt revolvers in years gone by. 

11) Samuel Colt Presents Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford. Page 236. Copyright 1961 by Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford. Samuel Colt wrote to his brother Elisha whilst in Vienna on July 18th, 1849 requesting the manufacture of about fifty Colt revolvers to be embellished with ‘Exhibition Grade’ scroll engraving.  Fifteen were ‘ large size pistols’ (Dragoons) and thirty five were ‘small size pistols’ (Baby Dragoon). These guns were  to be used to advertise and promote Colt Firearms at domestic fairs and exhibitions world-wide. In the letter Colt wrote  ‘… I want to have specimens of our arms prepared….& exhibated in their boxes at the anual fairs of the American Institute &  the Mecanicks institutes of N.York, also the fairs to be hild this fall in Boston & Philedelphia & any other places where they award gold medols in premeum for the best inventions.Theis medles we must get & I must have them with me in Europe to help make up the reputation of my arms as soon as I begin to make a noyes about them…….’. 

12) Colt’s stand at the Great Exhibition of 1851  from a lithograph produced by the Illustrated London News.

13) I would like to express my thanks to Philip Boulton of Southampton, England. He has done extensive research on the serial numbers of all Colt percussion firearms. His database, lists 18% of the production of Colt Second Model Dragoons as of July 2014. Phil has also very kindly proof-read this article. Thanks also to Dave Watson who first produced this article as a booklet.

Copyright Pete Holder July 2014.


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Colt Second Model Dragoon serial number 10223
Colt Third Model Dragoon serial number 10222

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