Cased ‘Exhibition quality’ factory engraved, Colt Model 1851 Second Model Square-back Navy percussion Revolver s/n 3550/. manufactured circa 1851. One of the finest engraved Colt revolvers in existence and most likely exhibited by Samuel Colt, at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London.
It is my opinion that this revolver, serial number 3550/. is one of the guns mentioned in the letter that Samuel Colt wrote on 18th July, 1849, to the Hartford factory, whilst he was in Vienna. He requested that the Colt factory should manufacture about fifty Colt revolvers, to be embellished with “Exhibition Grade” scroll engraving. Fifteen were to be “Large size pistols”, now known as the Colt Dragoon and thirty five, to be “Small size pistols” now known as the Colt Model 1848 Pocket or Baby Dragoon and also the Colt Model 1851 Navy or Belt revolver.
Serial number 3550/. Is in very good to fine condition, with much of its original silver-plating to the brass back-strap and trigger-guard remaining. The engraving and markings are strong. The cylinder scene is about 80% with a strong Ormsby marking. The pins on the rear of the cylinder remain intact. The action is in good working order.
This fabulous Belt Model Navy, is lavishly engraved in the early vine style of scroll engraving, on the barrel, loading lever, frame, hammer, back-strap and trigger-guard. All the screws and screw-heads are also finely engraved. The frame, recoil shield and trigger-guard all have strong borders of engraving, encompassing early scroll work engraving, on the frame. On the left side of the recoil shield, the intertwined rope effect border encompasses an eight-pointed flower and star. This piece of metallic art is complimented with one-piece, finely figured and finely varnished, select burl walnut, slim-jim stocks. There are intricate scrolls to the breech end of the barrel and a fine scalloped border at the muzzle end. The un-numbered loading lever with the screw entering from the right side is finely scroll engraved within a fine border. The silver-plated back-strap and trigger-guard are completely engraved with vine-like scrolls. Both sides of the hammer are engraved with serpent design with wings, scrolling and scales on the top. The hammer spur is finely hand-chequered.
Serial number 3550/. has the ‘ADDRESS SAML COLT. NEW-YORK CITY’ address. It is in .36 calibre, with six-shot cylinder and a 7½ inch octagonal barrel with attached loading lever. The barrel and cylinder are blued with a casehardened frame, hammer and loading lever. The brass back-strap and trigger-guard Grips are silver-plated. The left side of the frame bears an hand-engraved ‘COLTS/PATENT’ within an oval. On the reverse side the oval is vacant. The roll engraved cylinder scene depicts the battle between the Texas Navy and that of Mexico.
Cased in its original early London oak case, circa 1851, with two brass slide catches at both ends of the front, along with lock and round brass escutcheon and key in the centre. There is an ornate circular vacant brass plaque with a border in the middle of the lid. The partitioned case is lined in pink beige. Accessories include an early ‘G & J.W. HAWKESLEY / SHEFFIELD’ bag-type flask, five hundred count galvanized cap tin, with a green label that reads ‘W. & C. ELEY, Manufacturers, London.’ Around the circumference. In the centre it reads ‘METAL-LINED / CAPS, / Made expressly for / COLT’S PT. / Belt and Pocket / PISTOLS’, brass .36 bullet mould with sprue-cutter stamped ‘COLTS / PATENT’, to cast a one conical and one round lead ball, L-shaped iron nipple key and a brass capper. The case and accessories are all in fine condition. The early cases had no provision for a cleaning rod.