SOLD FOR: $2040
Make: Victor Colette
Model: Colette Gravity Pistol
Year of Manufacture: Circa 1855-1870, Antique
Caliber: 11.2mm Rocket Ball
Action Type: Single-Action Parlor Pistol with a 20 Round Magazine fixed to the top of the Barrel
Markings: The top of the magazine assembly and frame feature floral engravings. Due to the condition of the grips we did not removed them to inspect for markings.
Barrel Length: Approximately 8”
Sights/ Optics: There is a provision for a front sight at the front of the magazine assembly but none is installed. The rear sight is a “V”-notch integral to the magazine assembly.
Stock Configuration & Condition/ Grip: The wood grip had a metal cap with fixed lanyard ring. There are light-moderate handling marks, nicks and scuffs. Notably, there is a moderate crack that extends from the top tang to the grip’s cap, there is a light chip between the tip of the front tang and grip cap with a light crack to the left of the chip and a light crack on the left side of the grip. Overall, the grip is in Good condition for an Antique.
Type of Finish: Bright
Finish Originality: The gun has undergone a heavy cleaning and is now entirely in the white.
Bore Condition: The bore is mostly bright and has mostly sharp rifling. There is a patch of moderate pitting at the bottom of the bore situated around the midpoint of the barrel in addition to some light erosion concentrated in the grooves.
Overall Condition: The pistol has no surviving metal finish. The gun has residual pitting still visible which concentrated on both the left sides of the barrel and frame. The pistol also has some light handling marks, nicks and scuffs. The markings remain clear. The screwheads have light tool marks but they remain serviceable. Overall, the pistol is in Very Good condition for an Antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The gun has a unique action: there is a fixed magazine where the cartridges are manually loaded on the top of the barrel, the hammer is then brought to a half cock which will bring the breechblock up to the magazine, once the breechblock has been raised the barrel is pointed up and lightly jiggled until a bullet falls into the breechblock (hence using gravity to load the pistol), the hammer is then fully cocked and the trigger depressed. We have not fired this pistol. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance requirements.
Box Paperwork and Accessories: None.
Our Assessment: This is a “Colette Gravity Pistol” which was manufactured in Belgium during the mid 19th century. The gun is popularly known as the Colette Gravity Pistol and is named after Victor Colette whose firm indeed manufactured these pistols, but this is a misnomer for Colette did not invent the pistol. In fact, the “Gravity Pistol” was invented by Jean Nicolas Herman who worked as a gunsmith for Colette’s firm. It is unknown what arrangement Colette reached with Herman, but credit should be given where it is due: to the gun’s actual inventor.
The unique pistol was unveiled at the Exposition universelle de 1855 which was held in Paris, the massive event was meant to surpass the grandeur of The Great Exhibition which had been held in London in 1851. Both Colette and Herman demonstrated the pistol at the massive event (over 5,000,000 people attended the Exposition universelle de 1855). The pistol was designed for indoor target shooting, guns designed for the practice are commonly referred to as parlor pistols. The gravity pistol has a unique action: there is a fixed magazine where the cartridges are manually loaded on the top of the barrel, the hammer is then brought to a half cock which will bring the breechblock up to the magazine, once the breechblock has been raised the barrel is pointed up and lightly jiggled until a bullet falls into the breechblock (hence using gravity to load the pistol), the hammer is then fully cocked and the trigger depressed. The ingenuitive design is now remembered as the “Gravity Pistol,” unfortunately the gun’s unorthodox ammunition soon reached obsolescence and it was overshadowed by other designs, although it was particularly popular in Europe for a time. This is a rare and truly distinct Belgian design that is both ingenuitive and unorthodox. This is a handgun that fans of historical firearms will not want to miss out on. Good luck on your bid!