Original U.S. Civil War Colt 1851 Navy Revolver with Cylinder Scene Linked to Illinois Cavalry - Serial No 43561
Original Item: Only One Available. The Colt Navy Model 1851 Percussion Revolver in .36 caliber was widely used by both sides in the U.S. Civil War. The Colt Revolving Belt Pistol of Naval Caliber (i.e., .36 cal), later known as the Colt 1851 Navy or Navy Revolver, is a cap and ball revolver that was designed by Samuel Colt between 1847 and 1850. Colt first called this Revolver Ranger model; but the designation Navy quickly took over. It remained in production until 1873, when revolvers using fixed metallic cartridges came into widespread use.
This very nice example is in choice condition, and has matching serial numbers 43561 on all parts including barrel, frame, grip, barrel wedge, trigger guard and cylinder! This indicates production in 1855, according to Colt firearms records. There is also most of the original "Naval Engagement" engraving on the cylinder! The water, ships, and sails are all there and easily visible. It's very rare to see one in this condition!
Top of the barrel still has the original Colt markings clearly visible:
- ADDRESS COL. SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S. AMERICA -
Then under a strong light we made out the Inspector's stamp appearing on the right grip which showed R.H.K.W., which it turns out to be that of ROBERT HENRY KIRKLAND WHITELEY, who was ranked as a Captain. Further research showed that this revolver falls right into the serial range of those especially ordered by the U.S. Government for issue to FIRST and SECOND Regiments of the Illinois Cavalry between 1855 and 1856. The order was for about 2,000 units.
A similar gun, made for the same contract, inspected by the same inspector that was in wonderful condition that sold for $22,500.00 and can be found illustrated on the internet under icollector.com.
The revolver not only looks great but it is in tight fully functional condition, though as with any gun this age, it can be finicky. Fully cleaned, ready to cherish and display! Examples like this do not come along very often at all!
History of the 1851 Navy Colt Pistol:
The .36 caliber Navy revolver was much lighter than the contemporary Colt Dragoon Revolvers developed from the .44 Walker Colt revolvers of 1847, which, given their size and weight, were generally carried in saddle holsters. It is an enlarged version of the .31 caliber Colt Pocket Percussion Revolvers, that evolved from the earlier Baby Dragoon, and, like them, is a mechanically improved and simplified descendant of the 1836 Paterson revolver. As the factory designation implied, the Navy revolver was suitably sized for carrying in a belt holster. It became very popular in North America at the time of Western expansion. Colt's aggressive promotions distributed the Navy and his other revolvers across Europe, Asia, and Africa. As with many other Colt revolvers, it has a six-round cylinder.
The cylinder of this revolver is engraved with a scene of the victory of the Second Texas Navy at the Battle of Campeche on May 16, 1843. The Texas Navy had purchased the earlier Colt Paterson Revolver, but this was Colt's first major success in the gun trade; the naval theme of the engraved cylinder of the Colt 1851 Navy revolver was Colt's gesture of appreciation. The engraving was provided by Waterman Ormsby. Despite the "Navy" designation, the revolver was chiefly purchased by civilians and military land forces.
The .36 caliber (.375-.380 inch) round lead ball weighs 80 grains and, at a velocity of 1,000 feet per second, is comparable to the modern .380 pistol cartridge in power. Loads consist of loose powder and ball or bullet, metallic foil cartridges (early), and combustible paper cartridges (Civil War era), all combinations being ignited by a fulminate percussion cap applied to the nipples at the rear of the chamber.
Famous "Navy" users included Wild Bill Hickok, John Henry "Doc" Holliday, Richard Francis Burton, Ned Kelly, Bully Hayes, Richard H. Barter, Robert E. Lee, Nathan B. Forrest, John O'Neill, Frank Gardiner, Quantrill's Raiders, John Coffee "Jack" Hays, "Bigfoot" Wallace, Ben McCulloch, Addison Gillespie, John "Rip" Ford, "Sul" Ross and most Texas Rangers prior to the Civil War and (fictionally) Rooster Cogburn. Use continued long after more modern cartridge revolvers were introduced.
Year of Manufacture: 1855
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 6 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 13 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver
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