Lot 15: (1836) Historic SAMUEL COLT Signed Patent Archive of 3 Manuscript Documents

Early American

December 10, 2016, 9:00 AM PST
Rancho Santa Fe, CA, US
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Description: Autographs
Remarkable Samuel Colt Original 1836 U.S. Patent Related Archive Regarding His New 1838 Revolver Improvements! Patent
SAMUEL COLT (1814-1862). Famous American Arms Manufacturer from Hartford Connecticut who in 1836 received a U.S. Patent for a Revolver mechanism that enabled a gun to be fired multiple times without reloading.
Extraordinary original Archive of Three (3) Individual Manuscript Documents, each relating to his original 1836 Patent, each being Signed by Samuel Colt. This Archive contains Samuel Colt's three undated Retained Signed Drafts of what he sent the Commissioner of Patents telling him of his "various improvements" in his 1836 patent for "revolving cylinder guns... being desirous of securing his rights until he can perfect them...". Samuel Colt of Hartford, Connecticut, was granted a patent for "revolving gun" on February 25, 1836. On March 5, 1836, he formed the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company in Paterson, New Jersey, to make the guns in quantity.

This historic Patent Archive comes housed in a Custom Designed black leather presentation case, measuring 11" x 14" x 1.25" with a gold-stamped "Smoking Colt Revolver" displayed on its cover and "Samuel Colt - Signed Original Patent - August 1836" on the spine (these Signed Manuscript Documents are related to that original Patent). Lot includes the Presentation Case containing the Three Manuscript Documents each Signed by Samuel Colt. All items are Choice Extremely Fine. The Three Item Archive Includes:

1. Manuscript Document Signed, "Saml Colt" with four words added in his hand, half-page, measuring 8" x 13", Choice Extremely Fine. It reads, in full:

"To H.L. Ellsworth. Com:(missioner) of Patents - The petition of Samuel Colt of Paterson New Jersey respectfully sets forth that your petitioner has made various improvements in his & other patent revolving cylinder guns and their appendages, and being desirous of securing his rights until he can perfect them, he prays that the accompanying description and drawing may be filed as a caveat in the confidential archives of the patent office agreeable to the act of congress in such case made and provided your petitioner having paid $20 into the treasury and complied with other provisions of the act."

2. Manuscript Document Signed, "Samuel Colt," 2.5 pages, measuring 8" x 13", front & verso on two conjoined sheets. With deletions and additions, having 40 words in his hand, Extremely Fine. It reads, in full:

"Samuel Colts caveat of improvements in various parts of fire arms and their appendages - First my improvement consists in rendering the charges, contained in the cylinder of my patent revolving cylinder gun safe by giving free passage for the escape of the fire which escapes latterly from the cylinder ... My second improvement consists in making the touch hole in the nipple conical ... having the base of the cone at the outside of the nipple, for the purpose of receiving a greater amount of heat and concentrating it when it reaches the load. My third improvement consists of a lever wherewith to force the balls into the chambers of the cylinder ... It is obvious that there are various modes of making such a lever, but one mode is represented for the illustration of the principle. It can be made to apply to all kinds of fire arms that load at the britch or have revolving cylinder chambers such as cochrans and others - My fourth improvement is in the bullet mould ... After the bullet has been cast, the cutter D is pushed to one side which clips off the stem and leaves the bullet finished - My fifth improvement consists in the valves of the powder flask - Instead of one valve, as used in the common flask for measuring the quantity of powder, I make use of two, one at the mouth of the flask stem and the other inside. When one is shut the other is open, and vice versa... It is evident that all the parts above enumerated can be made and altered in various ways not necessary to enumerate; can but the object at present is to elucidate and secure the principle until they can be patented." Colt has handwritten: "The above principle is also applicable and has been applied by me to a flask having a number of tubes or chargers which expedite the loading of many chambered guns of all kinds." Colt has crossed out the short paragraph beginning "My sixth improvement is a military belt..."

3. Manuscript Document Signed, "Saml Colt," measuring 1.5 pages, measuring 8" x 13", front & verso. With deletions and additions, with 12 words in Colt's hand, Extremely Fine. It reads, in part:

"My sixth improvement is in the bayonet = A (fig 1. Plate 2) represents a gun barrel with the bayonet B having a ferule C at its lower end made to slide up and [down] the barrel ... The mortise or notch d. at the britch end of the barrel has its upper side dovetailed..." Cold has handwritten fig 3 is an end view of the barrel and bayonet. My seventh improvement is in a case for containing caps ... This improvement differs from the common cap case in being double, and having an involute channel for the reception of the caps instead of an annular one, and also in having the follower slide upon its axes instead of being fixed ... the cover is opened and the involute channel filled with caps, the catch h is then disengaged and the cover fastened ... The operation is the same on each side but independent of each other, the central pin allowing the axes to work independent of each other.".

On April 27, 1835, Henry L. Ellsworth, son of patriot Oliver Ellsworth, was sworn in as Mayor of Hartford, Connecticut. He resigned after serving for seven weeks, having been appointed the first Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office. Ellsworth became interested in Colt's revolver, so he encouraged the 21-year-old Hartford inventor to file a patent. After receiving his 1836 patent, like a true inventor, he began working on improvements to his firearms. He had specific ideas, but he still had to perfect them.

Colt wrote to Ellsworth, telling him that, while not ready to file another patent, he would like to file a caveat to prevent someone else from filing a patent based upon his ideas, before he files his own patent. Colt described in detail his improvements to his original 1836 patent. Here offered are Samuel Colt's undated Retained Drafts of the three documents sent to Commissioner of Patents Henry L. Ellsworth, each on watermarked laid paper, each Signed by Colt. Ellipses marks (...) are used for omitted words, references to the drawing (not present). Written in manuscript, there are numerous Additions and Deletions in Colt's own hand. (3 Documents).
In 1836, Connecticut-born gun manufacturer Samuel Colt (1814-62) received a U.S. Patent for a revolver mechanism that enabled a gun to be fired multiple times without reloading. Colt founded a company to manufacture his revolving-cylinder pistol; however, sales were slow and the business floundered. Then in 1846, with the Mexican War (1846-48) under way, the U.S. government ordered 1,000 Colt revolvers.

In 1855, Colt opened what was the world's largest private armament factory, in which he employed advanced manufacturing techniques such as interchangeable parts and an organized production line. By 1856, the company could produce 150 weapons per day. Colt was also an effective promoter, and by the start of the U.S. Civil War (1861-65) he had made the Colt revolver perhaps the world's best-known firearm. He died a wealthy man in 1862; the company he founded remains in business today.
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