A rare U.S.-marked Colt 1st Model 1851 Navy 'squareback' percussion revolver

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Lot 5071¢
A rare U.S.-marked Colt 1st Model 1851 Navy 'squareback' percussion revolver
possibly purchased for the Perry Expedition to Japan

Sold for US$ 14,040 inc. premium
A rare U.S.-marked Colt 1st Model 1851 Navy 'squareback' percussion revolver
possibly purchased for the Perry Expedition to Japan
Serial no. 588 for 1850, .36 caliber. 7 1/2 inch barrel with New York address and screw under wedge. Unmarked wedge and rammer. Frame marked Colts/Patent/US. Varnished walnut grips.
Condition: Very good. Showing dark mottled grey patina, the barrel with traces of blue finish remaining under rammer, the frame with slight traces of silvered casehardening. Frame and barrel with sharp markings and scattered areas of light pitting. Cylinder with areas of light pitting and perhaps 20% of scene still readable. Series of dents to capping cut-out. Two frame screws badly marred. Triggerguard/gripstrap retain 95% plus unpolished silver plating. Grips retaining 60% varnish with scattered light marks and minor chipping at forward toes.
See Illustration

Footnotes

  • Note: The small group of a dozen or so 1st Model 1851s with the US frame marking have never been fully explained. Nathan Swayze suggested they might have been purchased by the government and issued to the Medical Corps but admits there is no documentation for this supposition. The group of Colt revolvers purchased by the Navy, or possibly given by Colt, for the Perry Expedition are known in substance but no individual revolvers from the group have been positively identified. As noted by Herbert Houze in Samuel Colt: Arms, Art & Invention, pages 195-6, in the Colt correspondence in the Connecticut State Library, Admiral Perry instructed Commander Charles Morris, his Chief of Ordnance and Hydrography, to purchase one hundred Colt revolvers, including fifty 1851 Navys, as a gift to the Emperor of Japan. It seems logical to assume that as they were not intended for use by the armed forces of the United States, they were stamped US by the Colt factory but did not undergo inspection as arms intended for use by the military would have. It seems quite possible that these US-marked Navys were among the gifts sent as gifts with Perry to the Emperor of Japan.
    George Nikolas in an article in the May 1995 issue of the CADA Gun Journal had suggested just such a provenance for these guns and had tracked some eleven known examples including serial no. 588 from his own collection.
A rare U.S.-marked Colt 1st Model 1851 Navy 'squareback' percussion revolver
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Lot symbols
¢ Curio & Relic

Curio & Relic (C&R – Firearms over 50yrs Old).