COLT REVOLVERS & RIFLES
The name of Samuel Colt is synonymous with the Wild West, and the revolvers and rifles he produced played an important role in 19th century America.
A Colt Pocket revolver with its original wooden case and accessories are what collectors most hope to find. Among the items included with the gun are an oil bottle, bullet mould, powder flask, caps and lead bullets. On the trade label inside the box are full instructions for loading and cleaning the revolver.
Colt Revolving 5 shot Carbine 19th century
Samuel Colt was born in 1814 in Hartford, Connecticut, and from an early age he was fascinated by firearms. As a youth he joined the merchant navy and while at sea he occupied his mind playing around with a new idea - a revolver that could fire six times without reloading. Colt whittled his early designs out of wood and his crude carvings helped him to develop a revolver which was to become famous throughout the world.
THE FIRST COLT REVOLVERS
Colt engaged the services of an American gun maker called John Pearson, based in Baltimore, who produced the first prototype revolving weapon to Samuel Colt's ideas. It had a single rifled barrel and a revolving cylinder that held six lead bullets and black powder. On re-cocking the weapon in order to fire further shots, the hammer was pulled back and the internal mechanism revolved the cylinder (hence the term revolver) to the next loaded chamber. Thus Samuel Colt's revolver could be fired as quickly as a man could cock the gun and pull the trigger, and it could fire six rapid shots.
Due to a design fault the first gun fired all the chambers off together and the gun blew up, but Colt and Pearson persevered and produced a small group of rifles and revolvers that were the first practical revolving firearms.
In 1835, Samuel Colt visited France and England, taking out patents on his invention. It was at this period that he formed the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company at Paterson, New Jersey, which produced a total of about 2000 Colt revolving arms. All were muzzle loading, percussion weapons: the rammed down gunpowder and lead bullet in each chamber were fired when a small percussion cap was struck by the hammer. Single-action revolvers predominated, although rifles, shotguns and carbines were also made. Carbines are short rifles originally used by the cavalry, and some were self-cocking.
These early products are referred to by collectors today as Colt Patersons and are extremely rare and valuable. In 1842 the Paterson company failed and Colt recovered little more than his US patent rights.
Colt Revolver Fire-Arm Patent Samuel Colt - 1839
Colt Revolver Fire-Arm Patent Samuel Colt - 1839
In 1839 Mr. Colt was issued a patent for his invention from the United States Patent & Trademark Office
(USPTO). There were 8 documents on file for this patent, including 3 drawing specification sheets
and 5 pages which describe the scope of his invention in formal terms...
"Be it known that I, Samuel Colt, of Paterson, in the county of Passaic and State of New Jersey, did obtain Letters Patent of the United States for an Improvement in Fire-Arms...My first improvements appertain to rifles, guns, and pistols; my second to the construction of a cap-primer for containing the percussion-caps and placing the same upon the nipples, and my third to a flask and other apparatus for loading the rifle or
With the start of the American war with Mexico, in 1846, there was an upsurge in demand for weapons, especially revolvers with a repeating action. The improved model that emerged was a single-action percussion revolver, with six-chambers and a .44 calibre nine-inch barrel. It is known to modern collectors as the Walker, Whitneyville-Walker or Model 1847 revolver.
By 1847 Colt had his own factory in Hartford, Connecticut, which is still in production. He also opened a factory at Bessborough Place in London, but this lasted less than four years, closing in 1856.
COLT REVOLVER COLLECTOR'S NOTES
COLT pistol 1926 Panama Canal advertisement
The most famous Colt revolver of all, the .36 calibre Colt Navy, is recognizable by the ships depicted on the chamber. Over 200,000 were produced.
Along similar lines is the smaller 1848 Colt Pocket revolver; the design on the cylinder is
of a stagecoach being robbed. Over 30,000 of these were made.
Two large revolvers - the Colt Walker and the Dragoon - are a priority on any collector's list. Only about 2,000 Walkers were produced and about 20,000 of the Dragoon.
There are plenty of antique percussion revolvers by Colt on the market. A minor variation from normal production can increase value,
sometimes by a great deal. Most early Colts are in museums or private collections but you
may still find a rare rifle or revolver.
In 1860 in an effort to win orders from the US Army, Samuel Colt Introduced his new Colt Army revolver,
which was slightly larger than the earlier Colt Navy model. The calibre had been increased from .36 to
.44. The Colt Army revolver was liked by the military and sold well - over 200, 000 were produced. This and other models could also be supplied with a shoulder stock, converting them to carbines. Samuel Colt
went on to produce revolvers for both Wells Fargo and the police.
POINTS TO WATCH
Beware of fakes. Colt weapons were copied in many countries, particularly Belgium and Spain.
Check to see whether the numbers match throughout the various parts of the weapon -
due to Colt's manufacturing process, all parts were interchangeable, so a mis-match of numbers often occurs.
Condition is of paramount importance and if much of the original finish is still intact the value of the weapon is greatly increased.
Colt Single Action Pistol 'Peacemaker'
Colt Single Action Pistol (Peacemaker to some) with a 7 1/2" barrel,
and 45 caliber. The serial number 6XX34, indicates that it was made in 1881 and that SN# is stamped in different places on the pistol, meaning that all parts are original and not a 'put together' one. On the top of the barrel, it reads "Colts Pt E.A. Mfg Co. Hartford CT U.S.A.". "45 Cal" is stamped on the front of the trigger guard and the patent dates read "Sept 19 1871, July 2
1872, and Jan 19 1875.