SOLD FOR: $3501
Model: 1851 Navy
Serial Number: 124886
Year of Manufacture: 1862 (https://colt.com/serial-lookup)
Caliber: .36 Caliber Cap and Ball
Action Type: Single Action Percussion Revolver
Barrel Length: 7 1/2?, Octagonal
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a brass post with a base dovetailed to the front of the barrel. The rear sight is a “V”-notch in the hammer. The front sight is not original to the gun.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grip is one-piece smooth ivory. The grip has small losses at the bottom-front corners on each side and a larger loss at the bottom-rear corner on the right. The material shows some discoloration from age and handling. There are a few light nicks and scratches. Overall, the grip is in Very Good condition as Antique.
Type of Finish: Blued, Case Color & Silver-Plated Brass
Finish Originality: The front sight is not original to the gun, but the metal finish is Original.
Bore Condition: The lands are gray, the grooves are semi-bright. The rifling is strong. There is scattered light erosion and pitting in the bore, mostly on the lands. In this writer’s opinion, this bore rates a 6 out of 10.
Most antique firearms have bores that will show erosion. This is not only due to age but to the use of black powder. When fired, black powder reacts corrosively. NRA Antique Firearm Conditions Standards are quite lenient for bores. In some cases the NRA standards disregarded the bore’s condition for collectors firearms.
Overall Condition: This revolver retains about 15% of its metal finish, all in the grip frame. Finish remains in protected areas, most notably on the portions of the barrel around the loading lever, the outside of the forcing cone, the top of the loading lever and the portion of the frame covered by the cylinder. There is some dark silver plate remaining in the corners of the trigger guard and backstrap. Most other surfaces are worn to white or going to a light patina. There are scattered light nicks and scratches. There are tool marks on each side of the wedge, the top of its spring has broken off. The grip frame has the crystalline appearance of old brass. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool-marked with strong slots. The markings are generally clear, nearly all of the cylinder’s naval scene has worn away. Overall, this revolver is in about Very Good condition as Antique.
Mechanics: A copper shim has been installed in the wede-slot and the tip of the wedge’s spring has broken off. The action functions correctly. With the shim installed, the barrel has no play to the frame. The cylinder locks up with little play on each of the chambers. 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 Colt 1851 Navy revolver was produced by Colt up until 1873 when Colt cartridge revolvers were introduced. It got its name from the Navy battle scene on the cylinder that Colt added to commemorate the victory of the Second Texas Navy at the Battle of Campeche in 1843. Texas had previously ordered the Colt Paterson revolver, Colt’s first big success, and Colt wished to show gratitude. The 1851 Navy was carried as a belt gun by armies on both sides in the Civil War and was a favorite of General Robert E. Lee. This revolver is a Colt Model 1851 made in 1862 as the Civil War was raging and each side would institute conscription.
Just as with its smaller cousin, the 1849 Pocket, the 1851 navy was a popular canvas for engraving. This revolver has the characteristic small square marking at its primary serial numbers which is a marking which has been seen on few examples, but appears to serve the same purpose as the apostrophe and “I” markings used on the Pocket models, indicating factory engraving and ivory grips. Jordan and Watt note in their book on the Pocket models that they had seen only one such marking on a Pocket model made in 1862, coincidentally the same year that this revolver was produced. This would put it during the period that Gustav Young was engraving for Colt and has some characteristics of his style, though there is a human face on the left of the barrel assembly where Young was partial to animal heads.
The gun is in Very Good condition with some original finish remaining and strong mechanics, though a shim has been installed in the wedge-slot. We only wish it could tell us its story. It will make a nice display piece with other Civil War-era small arms and factory engraved Colts. Please see our photos and good luck!
Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California -Bud