Sold For: $3,455.00
Model: 1851, Inspector & U.S. Marked Army Purchase
Serial Number: 55348
Year of Manufacture: 1856 (Proofhouse.com)
Caliber: .36 Caliber Ball
Action Type: 6-Shot, Single Action, Cylinder Loaded Percussion Revolver
Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “ADDRESS SAML COLT NEW YORK CITY”. The underside of the barrel lug, frame, trigger guard plate and toe of the trigger guard frame’s butt are marked with serial number “55348”. The underside of the barrel wedge, loading lever and cylinder pin are marked with the last four of the serial number, also found written on the back of the stock. The left of the barrel is marked “A”, found again on the butt of the stock, right of the trigger guard plate, upper portion of the grip frame’s back strap and outside of the cylinder. The left of the frame is marked “COLT’S / PATENT / U.S.”, the left of the trigger guard is marked “M”, the bow is marked “K”. The cylinder is marked with the serial number and light traces of the Naval Battle Scene engraving and inscription are barely discernible. The butt of the grip frame has a scripted hand scratched “A”. The left of the stock has cartouched “LCA” in oval (Lucius C. Allin), the right has “R.H.K.W.” (Capt. Robert Henry Kirkwood Whitley) cartouched.
Barrel Length: 7 ½”, Octagonal
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a conical brass post, screwed into the barrel. The rear sight is a “V” notch on top of the hammer.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are a one piece oil finished walnut stock with correct inspector marks on the flanks, reflecting the last four of the serial number on the back strap. The stock has a generally pleasant fit to the grip frame but for at the heel and toe areas which may have been smoothed out losses, done long ago. There are some compression and scrape marks present but the marks are very nice for their age. The grip rates in about Good to Very Good overall condition.
Type of Finish: Blue with Case Hardened Frame (The grip frame is brass and would originally have been silver plated).
Finish Originality: All Original
Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright and the rifling is still highly defined, but interrupted by light to moderate depth erosion, becoming more frequent towards the muzzle.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 0% of its metal finish. The brass grip frame would have had silver plating but is now all bare metal, which may have been cleaned at some point, however the markings remain clear; the butt of the grip frame has heavy marks and a hand scratched “A”, marks are also found on the underside of the trigger plate area. The surfaces of the revolver have dark spots of erosion and moderate depth handling marks, with a pleasant natural cocoa and plum patina please see our pictures. The screw head slots range from light to moderately tooled. The cylinder’s Naval Engagement scene is heavily faded, the other marks are clear. Overall, this handgun rates in about Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. There is no play in the barrel to frame fit, the cylinder produces light play in full lockup of all 6 chambers. The hammer has a strong mainspring. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance requirements.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None.
Our Assessment: This is a scarce Colt Model 1851, made in about 1856, with all serialized parts matching, the proper inspector marks for the period and “U.S.” proudly stamped on the left of the frame, with “U.S.” The revolver looks to have seen some interesting times, but was generally well taken care of. The stocks are free from major damages and the action still functions correctly. About 15,000 1851’s were purchased by the Army and one can only imagine how few have survived, especially given the harhness of the era. Given its lack of Navy markings, this would have been one of the 20,000 revolvers purchased by the Army. This should make for a fine addition to your Colt or percussion collection. Please see our pictures and good luck.