Lot 2004: EXTREMELY RARE PROTOTYPE TRANSITION COLT WHITNEYVILLE-HARTFORD DRAGOON PERCUSSION REVOLVER.
March 17, 2009
Fairfield, ME, USALive Auction
Description: SN 1104. Cal. 44. Blue & case colored with unmarked 7-1/2" oct to rnd bbl, early style vertical rammer lever latch with tiny German silver front sight and no bbl markings. Bbl has two cracks about mid-point with a complete circular bulge. This damage is reported to have occurred from an overload during Navy testing and it is further reported that Mr. Colt upon learning of this damage was overheard to say that he would never make anything for the Navy again. It has usual 6-shot cylinder, 2-3/16" long with roll marked Ranger/Indian fight scene and a distinctive pressure ridge. Rear of cylinder has a single safety pin and the number "551" appears on a land between two of the nipple recesses. This indicates that this cylinder was salvaged from a Walker and was the 551st Walker revolver produced. Cylinder is still in the white. About centered on left side of frame is "COLTS PATENT" in an oval and appears to have been stamped over another "COLTS PATENT" stamping. Left recoil shield has a mortised 3-1/2" belt hook secured with a screw. Trigger guard is Walker style with short trigger and square back trigger bow with long angled shoulders. Rear edge of the frame is radiused for the corresponding Walker style grip. Back strap is silver plated iron of Walker design, fitted with a 1-pc Walker grip with heavily beveled bottom edges. Butt strap channel under the grip is marked "10" which appears to be an assembly number which is also found on the right side of front strap under grip, rear face of bbl lug, on inside of the belt hook, on top of cylinder pin and only a "1" stamped on the flat of the rammer. Further disassembly was not affected to check for additional numbered parts. Cylinder pin, which is also serial numbered to the revolver is made without lubricating grooves. Serial numbers appear on bottom of the bbl lug, wedge, cylinder, cylinder pin, bottom of forward frame, trigger guard and butt strap. This revolver was made as a test piece for the U.S. Navy at the request of Gen. John M. Mason, Jr. in a letter to Samuel Colt dated Sept. 21, 1847, wherein he states "I have an instant order from the Secretary of the Navy that you should make & forward to me as soon as may be, one or two pattern pistols for the Naval Service - I would advise to macke (sic) two of somewhat different patterns ---". "---I should think the present Army pistol, you are making or something like it with a hook on the side, to fasten it to the Seaman's belt, would answer the purpose ---" and signed "J. Mason, Jr." Pencil notations on this letter apparently in Mason's hand state "The hook must be on the left side of the pistol ---". Also written in Colt's hand above the date and city "2 arms delivered to Mr. J. Mason October 4.47 & by him to Secy of the Navy". Written on the reverse of the letter in an unknown hand is "No 1104 and 11--". The above information as extracted from the letters which appeared in the Dec. 2006 Man at Arms magazine in an article by Herbert G. Houze, noted author & researcher titled "Walker Colt Breakthrough, an Examination of Previously Unpublished Documents Relating to the U.S. Model 1847 Revolving Holster Pistol". A copy of this article accompanies this lot. Additionally accompanying is a very rare, full, sealed tin of Eley's caps with green & black top label & a gold printed blue wrapping with brown & white side label. Also accompanying this lot is the orig certificate from the Texas Gun Collectors Association Parade of Walkers, Spring 2003 in its orig red leather, gold embossed portfolio. Also accompanying this lot is a fine custom made mahogany & Plexiglas stand with a marquetry inlay border on the base. PROVENANCE: Dr. Joseph A. Murphy Collection. CONDITION: Exceptionally fine, all matching including wedge & grip. Bbl retains about 90% thinning glossy orig blue with a few small scratches and light wear with light peen marks about the left side rupture. Rammer handle & pivot retain most of their orig case colors, turned to dark with brighter colors on the pivot. Cylinder is still in its orig white with only slight discoloration and a full safety pin, retaining about 98-99% Ranger/Indian fight scene. Frame retains most all of its orig case colors, mostly faded to a smoky gray pattern. Hammer retains about all of its moderately faded orig case colors. Trigger guard retains virtually all of its lightly oxidized silver plating and the back strap about 90% orig silver plating with substantial bubbling. Grip has a chipped right toe, otherwise is completely sound with a few dings, mostly on left side and a worn spot on right side, retaining about 85-88% strong orig varnish. Mechanics are crisp, bright shiny bore with a few scattered spots of light pitting and the aforementioned ring. Cap tin is very fine with a few minor chips and regluing of the wrapping with the label showing light wear. Altogether an exceptional and outstanding prototype Whitneyville-Hartford Dragoon. Stand is extremely fine. 4-36404 JR93