GUSTAVE YOUNG Engraved Antebellum COLT Model 1851 NAVY Revolver ft. DOGS
Manufactured in 1856 in Hartford, Connecticut!
Here we present an Engraved Antique Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver, made in 1856 in Hartford, Connecticut.
Truly, the Colt 1851 Navy revolver ushered in the era of the gunfighter. Among the many guns that were used on the western frontier, none was more popular in its day than the Colt percussion revolver designated the 1851 Navy. This single action revolver weighed in at roughly 42 ounces. Prior to the Navy’s introduction, hand gunners had to make do with the Colt Walker and Dragoon revolvers, both of which weighed over four pounds. These big guns were best suited for carry in pommel holsters on the saddle. The Colt Navy was the first popular single-action revolver that could be worn comfortably on the belt. Prior to the beginning of the Civil War, the state of Missouri was a hotbed of trouble that often broke out in shooting fights. Bill Anderson, Jesse and Frank James, and the Youngers all cut their teeth on this border trouble and were ready to go when leaders like William Quantrill enlisted them in his guerilla band during the war. The boys from Missouri became quite proficient with their six-guns and generally carried a brace of Dragoons on their saddle pommels and a brace of Navy revolvers on their hip.
This revolver features Colt factory engraving with the recognizable touch of the master himself, Gustave Young. Young was born in Berlin, Germany (then Prussian) in 1827. He would begin working in his field at the age of 8, finish his apprenticeship by 14, emigrate to the US at the age of 19, and by the age of 25 begin working for Samuel Colt in Hartford, Connecticut. He would quickly become Colt’s primary engraver, developing his own unique style as well as supervising a team of engravers working under him (1852-1869). These are Young’s trademark motifs that you will observe throughout this piece, beginning with the dog’s head on the left barrel flat. The hammer, too, bears the likeness of a dog on each side. There is profuse scroll throughout with symmetrical fountain-like scroll on each side of the barrel. The interior terminus of each scroll usually blossoms into a flower.
This 6-shot Navy is equipped with a figured walnut grip and a very functional dovetailed front sight. There is a deeper than usual groove on the top of the hammer to act as the rear sight. There is a punch-dot next to each serial number on the bottom of the gun, which was the Colt factory’s internal queue (1849-1861) that the piece in question was designated for special treatment such as engraving. Two interesting things about this revolver is that it has “U.S.” stamped under the “COLTS PATENT” marking on the left side of the frame. This is indicative that this frame may have originally been slated for a US government contract and was part of the overrun (too many were made to be accepted). The other unique thing about this ornate revolver is the 5-9/16” barrel length rather than the usual 7-1/2”. This was performed during the period of use but it is unclear whether the factory did this or if it was done later at the behest of the user. One thing is for sure, it is a very nice size and may have been requested as an upgrade. This revolver was certainly carried, though very well kept.
The overall condition is fine. The engraving remains crisp and clear. The roll-engraved cylinder scene is still visible. The numbers match throughout. Much of the silver plate on the brass grip frame and trigger guard remains with some visible blue and gray patina on the steel. The action is excellent. The bore is reflective with sharp rifling. This is a fantastic example of one of Samuel Colt’s most famous revolvers, engraved by his most famous engraver.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 5-9/16 inches.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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