Lieut. James Randall Inscribed Civil War Colt 1849 Pocket Revolver, Antique

SOLD FOR: $3025

LSB#: 230914LM173

Make: Colt

Model: 1849 Pocket

Serial Number: 203921

Year of Manufacture: 1862 (

Caliber: .31 Caliber Ball

Action Type: 6-Shot, Single Action Percussion Revolver

Markings: The top of the barrel is marked -“ADDRESS SAML COLT / HARTFORD CT.”-. The left side of the frame is marked “COLTS / PATENT”. The bottom of the barrel assembly, bottom of the frame, butt of the grip frame, and bottom of the trigger guard are each marked “203921”. The top of the loading lever is marked “3921”. The cylinder is marked “COLT’S PATENT / No 203921″ with a roll-engraved stagecoach scene. The bottom of the wedge is marked “3921. The bottom of the cylinder arbor is marked “3921”. The backstrap is Liet. Jas. Randall”.

Barrel Length: 6”, Octagonal

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a brass bead at the muzzle, the rear sight is a “V” notch in the hammer, visible when cocked.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grip is a one-piece smooth walnut. The grip has some notable dings on the bottom with a small loss at the bottom-rear on the left side. The grip otherwise shows light handling wear with some scattered nicks and scratches. The finish is thinning at the bottom edges. There are no cracks. Overall, the grip is in Very Good-plus condition as Antique.

Type of Finish: Blued, Case Color & Silver-Plated Brass

Finish Originality: Original

Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright with sharp rifling. There are some scattered patches of erosion and pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates 5 or 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 handgun retains about 35% of its metal finish. The exposed portions of the steel have mostly gone to a fairly uniform patina, but there is some good blue and case color in well protected areas and around some raised features. The grip frame has handling wear in its silver plate, more notable in the frontstrap. There are nicks on the butt which match up with those in the grip and some other scattered minor nicks and scratches. There is infrequent erosion, most notable on and around the nipples and on the front face of the cylinder. The action shows operational wear. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with strong slots. The markings range from clear to worn, but legible. Overall, this revolver is in Very Good condition as Antique.

Mechanics: The cylinder tends to over-rotate slightly. Otherwise, the action functions correctly. The left barrel stud has sheared off of the front face of the frame. The cylinder locks up with very light play on each chamber. The barrel has no play to the frame. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This revolver comes in a hinge-lid English-fit wood presentation case with powder flask, Colt’s Patent marked bullet and ball mould, UMC cap tin, wood handled screwdriver and cap-wrench. A key is included for the case. A binder is included which holds a printout of the diary of James M. Randall obtained from The Ohio State University. The diary details Randall’s life including several chapters about his service in the Civil War.

Our Assessment: This rather diminutive revolver, an older, yet smaller brother to the 36 caliber Model 1851 Navy, met with the largest sales unit volume in all of Colt’s percussion line. Indeed, no other percussion revolver made in America could match “The 1849” production record. Made from 1850 through 1873, the total manufactured was in excess of 325,000 in America, plus approximately 11,000 in London. Popular as a defense weapon, many thousands were sold in Western America to pioneer families. Soldiers appreciated the compact little pistols, and photographs of Civil War troops frequently show a sprinkling of the Model 1849 tucked into belts or in holsters. This 1849 was made in 1862, after the outbreak of the Civil War.

Despite being a “pocket” model, this example has a 6″ barrel and a six-round cylinder which gives it the same capacity as a larger 1851 or 1860 Model, though notably less power. The serialized parts on this revolver match and it is in much better mechanical condition than some examples we have seen. This is perfect for display as a conversation piece or in a collection of early Colt revolvers, especially with the included display case.

Perhaps most of interest to collectors is the inscription on the backstrap of this revolver for a Lieutenant James (abbreviated “Jas”) Randall. While we do not have any direct connection between this revolver and Lieutenant James M. Randall, Randall was a Lieutenant in the 21st Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry in 1862 when this revolver was made. A copy of his diary is included which gives great detail about his service. James M. While an Enlisted soldier, Randall participated in the Battle of Shiloh with the 14th Wisconsin Volunteers As a Lieutenant Randall led Company G, and was erroneously reported killed by mistake after The Battle of Perryville during Confederate General Bragg’s invasion of Kentucky. A few months after the Battle of Stones River, Randall would be promoted to Captain and participate in the campaign of General Rosecrans’ Army of the Cumberland’s campaign through southern Tennessee and into northern Georgia. His diary details his continued participation through the captures of Atlanta and Savannah, and on to Lee’s surrender to Grant.

If this was Lieutenant (later Captain) Randall’s personal sidearm, it is quite the find for Civil War and Colt collectors. Please see our pictures and good luck!

Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California. -Bud

Lieut. James Randall Inscribed Civil War Colt 1849 Pocket Revolver, Antique
Lieut. James Randall Inscribed Civil War Colt 1849 Pocket Revolver, Antique