Extraordinary Civil War period, Cased Exhibition Grade Engraved, Colt Model 1860 Army percussion revolver s/n 151385/IE with ultra-rare ebony grips, belonging to Second Lieutenant Huntingdon Frothingham Wolcott, Company One, Second Massachusetts Cavalry. Lieutenant Wolcott was Aide de Camp to Brigadier General Gibbs and participated in General Sheridan’s raids into Virginia in 1864. He marched with his regiment in the grand review in Washington, seemingly in glowing good health, however the very next day he was stricken with camp fever and died on June 9, 1865.
Noted Colt author R.L. Wilson wrote “The ebony grips are a considerable rarity in any model of percussion Colt revolver. Only a handful are recorded in the Colt ledgers. On page 314 of “The Book of Colt Firearms” is a Matthew Brady photograph showing a display of firearms lent by Schuyler, Hartley & Graham for a benefit fair in New York City, during the Civil War. A panoply of eight Model 1860 Army revolvers within that photograph includes some examples similar to number 1517188/E” (and subject revolver serial number 151385/IE).
The pinwheel of eight Model 1860 revolvers is also shown on page 92 of “Fine Colts / The / Dr. Joseph A. Murphy / Collection” and on page 256 of “The Colt Engraving Book / Volume One” by R.L. Wilson..
Serial number 151385/IE calibre .44. Blue & case-coloured frame with eight inch round barrel, German silver front sight and one-line New-York US America address. Left side of frame is engraved “COLT’S PATENT” in a pillow shape and it has the calibre marking “44 CAL” on left rear web of the trigger guard. The silver-plated brass trigger guard and iron back strap contain a one-piece ebony grip with last four digits of the serial number in the back-strap channel.
The revolver is engraved by Gustave Young in late vine style with full coverage foliate arabesque patterns on frame with several patterns terminating in flower blossoms. The hammer also received Mr. Young’s deluxe treatment with foliate arabesque patterns on sides of the shank and wolf’s heads on each side of the hammer nose. The top edge of hammer is engraved in fish-scale patterns and the spur is hand chequered. Mr. Young’s deluxe patterns extend about four inches up each side of barrel, terminating forward of the barrel address.
The left side of barrel lug has one scroll that terminates in Mr. Young’s distinctive dog’s head pattern and another in a flower blossom. The right side of lug has a scroll terminating in his distinctive bird head pattern and a scroll terminating in a flower blossom. There is also a dash and line pattern border around muzzle. Rammer pivot is lightly engraved to match. The cylinder is usual 6-shots with rebated rear section and has the “Ormsby” Naval battle scene roll marking on the major diameter. Top of back strap is engraved with Mr. Young’s deluxe fan pattern with flower blossoms on sides of back strap shoulders. Top of back strap, heel, butt strap & trigger guard are also engraved in foliate arabesque patterns. None of the screws are engraved although the frame screw holes are outlined with a narrow borders on both sides. The serial number on the bottom of barrel lug, frame, trigger guard and butt strap are all accompanied by a small “I” and “E” indicating that the revolver received special polishing for engraving and the “I” usually indicating ivory grips. However, in this case, it simply means special grips.
Accompanied by a fine, original, burl mahogany Colt casing with green velvet lining, compartmented in bottom for the revolver, a fantastic “COLTS PATENT” angle spout flask, a blued steel 2-cavity “COLT’S PATENT” mould marked on right side “44H” and a small “D” inspector mark. Also included is an L-shaped nipple wrench / screwdriver and a sealed tin of “Eley’s” caps with marbled brown and buff coloured paper wrapping. Right front compartment contains cast lead bullets & balls.
This revolver is engraved very similarly to a series of Models 1860 Army percussion revolvers that are extremely famous & well known, all with ebony grips, including the cased pair for Gen. Joseph R. Hawley and the one made for Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. All appear to be in the 151,000 serial range. The Hawley Armies are serial numbered “151388” and “151389” and are not quite so elaborately engraved as this one. Note that this gun, serial number 151385/IE has an engraved loading lever. The Grant Army is numbered “151718” and is substantially more elaborate than this revolver. Also accompanying is a burgundy silk sash with long braided knots and tassles at each end.
Accompanying the set, is a spiral bound self-published 119 page booklet titled “Family Jottings / Roger Wolcott”. It was apparently privately printed in 1939 and this is a reproduced copy. Also accompanying is a three ring binder of information including military records of Lt. Wolcott.
This revolver was the property of 2nd Lieutenant Huntington Frothingham Wolcott, Company One, Second Massachusetts Cavalry. Lt. Wolcott enlisted as 2nd Lieutenant in March 1865 at the age of nineteen. Apparently, he had attempted to enlist earlier but was rejected for being too young. He did volunteer as a surgeon’s assistant for two summers prior to enlisting. Upon his enlistment he was assigned as Aide de Camp to Brigadier General Gibbs (a relative) just in time to participate in General Sheridan’s raids into Virginia. Lt. Wolcott was, by all accounts, a dashing and brave young officer who regularly participated in the thickest of the fighting and was part of the unit that captured seven thousand prisoners, nine pieces of artillery and ten battle flags as reported by General Gibbs on May 9, 1865. Apparently young Wolcott had to be restrained by orders from superior officers from even more active and vigorous participation. The war ended in early June 1865 and Lt. Wolcott survived.
He marched with his regiment in the grand review in Washington, seemingly in glowing good health, however the very next day he was stricken with camp fever and died on June 9, 1865.
Among the information accompanying this lot is a signed Bill of Sale from Susan Dexter (nee Wolcott) of Ladue, MO, dated Jan. 20, 2000. The Bill of Sale is for a sword with belt and officer’s belt plate, a leather flap holster, sash & sword along with a revolver. Attached to the sword belt is a very old, very dark brittle tag, which accompanies, that reads “Belt and holster carried by Lt. H.F. Wolcott in the Civil War. The revolver also his but not carried in the Civil War.” The Bill of Sale states that the leather rig & holster are in poor shape. The sword, scabbard and sword belt were lost in transit some years ago and are no longer accompany this grouping.
The Bill of Sale states “Lt. Huntington Frothingham Wolcott was my great uncle. My father, Roger Wolcott, Jr., mentions ownership of this item plus the Colt revolver, sword and sword belt sash in his book, Family Jottings, privately printed in 1939″. and signed “Susan Dexter”. Mrs. Dexter explains in another letter dated Jan. 6, 2000 that the reason Lt. Wolcott was using this sword was that it is a replacement for the orig that was lost when Lt. Wolcott was fording a stream.
CONDITION: Revolver is extremely fine plus, all matching including wedge, cylinder and grip. The barrel retains about 85-88% glossy original Colt blue with the losses flaked, not worn, to a medium patina. Top right side of barrel has a line of fine surface rust. Rammer & handle retain about all of their brilliant original case colours. Frame retains about all of its original case colours, brilliant on right side, moderately faded on left side. Hammer is about identical with strong bright colours on right side, brilliant on rear edge and lightly faded on left side. The cylinder retains about 90% original blue thinning & turning plum in the rolled areas, strong & bright with fine surface rust on rebated area and with five crisp safety pins. Trigger guard retains about 60% thinning original silver with the exposed areas a light mustard patina. The back strap and butt strap are flaked to a medium steel patina with light rust on the heel & butt strap. Grip has a large chip on left heel with a couple of small dings in the left edge and a chipped right toe with light nicks & scratches and overall retains about 90-92% original varnish.
Mechanics are crisp, brilliant shiny bore, probably unfired. The case has two grain checks in bottom, otherwise is completely sound with only light handling and storage surface mars and retains virtually all of its original factory varnish. Flask is equally new, retaining 96-97% crisp original finish. The mould appears to be unused retaining most of its original blue with a few scattered spots of light surface rust. Nipple wrench is fine. Cap tin is faded with light water damage to the label and missing one edge of the label. Interior of case is dark and clean inside the lid with bottom lightly faded and soiled with minor damage from front sight. The burgundy sash is in poor condition with frayed spots on the edges with holes.
Similar engraved Colt Model 1860 Army percussion revolvers, with ebony grips.
Serial number 151385/IE.
Serial number 151387
Serial number 151388/IE & 151389/IE Major General Joseph R. Hawley.
Serial number 151718/E featured on page 119 in “Colt Percussion Engraving Styles” by Robert M. Jordan.
Huntington’s younger brother Roger Wolcott (1847 – 1900) was a Republican lawyer and politician from Massachusetts. He was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts from 1893 to 1897, becoming Acting Governor in 1896 upon the death of Governor Frederic T. Greenhalge. He was elected governor in his own right in 1897, serving until 1900. He was a leading figure in the Young Republican Club, which revitalized the Massachusetts Republican Party in the 1890s.
Roger Wolcott was born in Boston, Massachusetts on July 13, 1847. He was the son of Joshua Huntington Wolcott (1804-1891) and Cornelia (Frothingham) Wolcott, and was descended from Connecticut Founding Father Oliver Wolcott. His father was a successful businessman, having long been associated with the textile firm of A. & A. Lawrence.