Factory engraved, Colt Third Model 1851 Navy percussion revolver, serial number 59482, with an apostrophe below the number, denoting that the gun was earmarked, to be engraved and thus received a special finish prior to and after engraving. It has a three-screw frame, with back-strap cut for attachable first model type shoulder-stock. It was manufactured circa 1857 at the Hartford factory in Connecticut with a 7 ½ inch octagonal barrel, with a dove-tailed target front sight and address: ‘-ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW-YORK CITY-’ rolled on the top flat.
The barrel assembly has a beveled cut-out on the right side of the barrel lug. The six-shot cylinder with roll engraved scene depicts the battle between the Texas Navy and that of the Mexican Navy on 16 May, 1843. The revolver is chambered in the standard .36 Navy calibre. It has a large iron trigger-guard and iron back-strap. The back-strap has a larger hammer cut-out and is cut with two rectangular slots to fit the First Model type shoulder-stock. The trigger-guard is tapped with a circular hole (which is filled in), between the serial number and the front of the guard, to fit a swivel. No swivel was ever fitted on this revolver. The barrel has a factory fitted dove-tail three leaf, flip-up rear sight situated at the breech end of the top flat, which slightly obscures the barrel address.
This rare revolver is in fine condition and factory engraved in floral and foliate arabesque patterns, typical of the Gustave Young shop. All parts of the gun are engraved, including the barrel, frame, loading lever, wedge, screws, back-strap and trigger-guard with ‘COLTS/PATENT’ hand engraved in a semi-circle, on the left side of the frame. The barrel and cylinder are blued, the frame, hammer and loading lever are case-coloured. The iron back-strap and trigger-guard are silver-plated. This magnificent revolver is complimented with one-piece varnished select burl walnut grips.
Colt Model 1851 Navy percussion revolver serial number 59482 is one of only five similar examples currently known, which are engraved and cut, to fit the attachable first model type shoulder-stock. The others are serial numbers: 59484, 59487, 59492 and 64095. I have owned two of them including the subject revolver, the other being serial number 59487. Four of the five are serial numbered in a very tight range from 59482 to 59492 (eleven numbers) which suggests very few were manufactured to these specifications. I have seen serial number 64095 which is 4,603 apart from the main cluster. It is cased in the French style, engraved and numbered ensuite with its shoulder-stock..
The First Model shoulder-stock is the rarest of the three variations that were used by Samuel Colt. It is very similar to those found on the Model 1855 U.S. Springfield Pistol Carbine and was first used by the Colt factory on their Dragoon models. It has two prongs protruding from the yoke of the stock which fit into two rectangular cut-out slots on the back-strap. The stock is then secured by tightening the round nut which is knurled on the underside of the yoke. This system was rather fragile and prone to damage if dropped or roughly abused. It was soon improved by the Second Model and perfected with the Third Model Shoulder-stock. There are very few First Model shoulder-stocks known. I have only heard of one engraved example and that is with serial number 64095. These stocks are rarer than the guns that they were made for.
Rare features on serial number 59482
Engraved & silver-plated iron back-strap cut with two rectangular slots for the First Model Type shoulder-stock: Virtually all American 1851 Navies have brass back-straps. Iron is much stronger than brass and the factory possibly decided that the iron back-straps manufactured at the London factory for the London Navy were stronger than their brass counter-parts for holding a stock. These iron back-straps were probably acquired from parts returned to Hartford after the London factory closed down in 1857. Only five engraved First Models have been authenticated at this time.
Large engraved & silver-plated iron trigger-guard: Virtually all American 1851 Navies have brass trigger-guards. Iron is much stronger than brass and the factory probably decided as with the back-strap that trigger-guards manufactured at the London factory for the London Navy were stronger than their brass counter-parts. These iron trigger-guards were possibly acquired from parts returned to Hartford after the London factory closed down in 1857.
Dovetailed front target sight: Rare feature. This sight is only found on special order or deluxe revolvers.
One-piece varnished select burl walnut grips: Only found on special order, deluxe or engraved guns.
Provenance is included. Worthy of the finest firearms collection or museum.