Early Colt London Armory 1849 Pocket .31 Cal Percussion Revolver, Antique
SOLD FOR: $1184.99
Make: Colt, made at Colt’s London Armory
Model: 1849 Pocket, London Model
Serial Number: 697
Year of Manufacture: Ca. 1854
Caliber: .31 Caliber Cap and Ball
Action Type: Single Action Percussion Revolver
Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “ADDRESS COL: COLT. / LONDON” with finials to each side. The left of the frame is marked “COLT’S / PATENT”. The bottom of the barrel assembly, frame, trigger guard, backstrap and cylinder arbor, as well as the top of the loading lever and bottom of the barrel wedge are each marked “697”. The outside of the cylinder has a roll-engraved stagecoach scene and “COLTS PATENT / No 390”. The backstrap inlet of the grip has “697” hand-written. The left of the trigger guard has “F” inspector’s mark, the left-rear edge of the barrel has “3”, behind the bottom-left trigger guard screw is “1”, the front face of the frame between the indexing studs has “2”, the rear face of the barrel assembly has “3” and there is a “7” in the groove above the rammer on the bottom of the barrel. The left of the barrel assembly has two British proofs and there are British proofs on the outside of the cylinder between each nipple.
Barrel Length: 6″, Octagonal
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a conical brass post threaded to the barrel at the muzzle. The rear sight is a “V” notch at the front of the hammer.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grip is one-piece smooth walnut with swells toward the top on each side (wasp-waisted), typical of the London produced Colts. The grip has light handling wear with scattered small nicks, scuffs and scratches, mostly not through the finish. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grip is in Excellent condition as Antique.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Original to the parts. The cylinder is not original to the pistol, but is a London-type cylinder. The screw connecting the rammer to the lever is American-type, though American parts saw use on the London ’49s through about serial 1000.
Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright. The rifling is deep and sharp where not interrupted by erosion. There is scattered light erosion and infrequent minor pitting in the bore.
Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 35% of its metal finish. Remaining finish is scattered and strongest in well protected areas, on the butt and at the top of the backstrap. There are some smaller spots of finish around raised features such as the front sight, wedge, lever, guard, etc. The top and side flats of the loading lever shows some good case color, there is infrequent case color visible on the frame. The cylinder is mostly worn to white. There is scattered light surface oxidation and minor erosion. The nipples are in good shape and the nipples themselves do not appear to be obstructed, however there is erosion build-up in the bottoms of two chambers which don’t allow much light to pass through the flash-hole. There are some light nicks, scuffs and scratches. There are tool marks on and around the wedge. Each side of the lever latch has notable wear. The safety-studs on the rear face of the cylinder are in generally good shape. The face of the hammer does show some wear and erosionThe action shows operational wear. The markings are clear, with good detail left in the stagecoach scene. The screw heads range from sharp to lightly tool marked with strong slots. Overall, this revolver is in about Fine condition as Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The cylinder lockup has light play on all 6 chambers. The barrel has no play to the frame. We have not fired this revolver. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None.
Our Assessment: The 1849 Pocket and its predecessor the 1848 Baby Dragoon revolvers were the most popular percussion pistols in Colt’s history with more than a third of a million produced. While their Dragoon, Navy and Army revolvers may have become iconic, the every day Colt customer was well served by these little pocket revolvers. In addition to the hundreds of thousands made in America, the 1849 was also part of Colt’s plan to expand sales overseas. Samuel Colt himself took several hundred revolvers with him to the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in London. He would go on to extol the virtues of his interchangeable parts and assembly-line manufacturing process. In an effort to make it more cost-effective, and less tax-intensive, to sell his revolvers in England, he would establish Colt’s London Armory which would produce 1849 revolvers from 1853 until 1857. Much like the 1851 Navy revolvers which were also to be made in London, earliest examples were assembled from parts produced in Hartford, and some U.S.-made parts are found on guns up to about serial 1,000. This example is quite early, serial 697 and, with the exception of the screw connecting the lever to the rammer, all other parts have features which indicate production at the London Armory. These models have distinctive features such as the domed-heads of their screws, the palm-swells on their grips, the knurling pattern on the hammer spur, and, of course, Colt’s London barrel address and British proof marks. This example has well preserved, retaining some original finish, mostly matching serialized parts (the cylinder has been replaced, though with another London-made cylinder) and strong mechanics. The new cylinder still has fairly good safety studs on the rear face, allowing the hammer to be securely left down between two chambers. Approximately 11,000 model 1849 revolvers would go on to be assembled or produced at the London Armory, compared with some 326,000 produced domestically, making them significantly less common than their American-made counterparts. This scarcity is enhanced by the fact that there are certainly fewer in America today than were produced and possibly fewer than remained in England or Europe. An example in this condition would make a great addition to a Colt collection, especially if it is focused on Colt’s percussion revolvers or foreign sales. Please see our photos and good luck!