GUSTAVE YOUNG ENGRAVED COLT 1851 NAVY Revolver .36 c1861 Civil War Antique
Made in the First Year of the ACW
Here we present an antique Young Engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver, made at the start of the American Civil War in 1861 in Hartford, Connecticut. This one was engraved by Gustave Young’s shop. Gustave Young was one of many German immigrants who came to the United States and worked in the firearms industry. However, Young’s talents were most assuredly in engraving and his style set him apart from his contemporaries. This influx of German engravers starting in about 1850 was perhaps the beginning of what R.L. Wilson has called the “golden age of arms engraving in America”. Other names such as Bodenstein, Helfricht, Nimschke, and several Ulrichs would also make their enormous contributions to the craft, imparting their Germanic influence and become legends as well. Wilson goes on to say that “Young is generally considered to have been the best arms engraver active in 19th Century America.” Young was “Colt’s chief engraving contractor from 1852-1869.”
This one features Gustave Young’s signature “No. 2” style engraving and coverage. This entails the wolf’s head on each side of the hammer, as well as effusive curling scrolls on the hammer, frame, grip frame, barrel and loading lever. The largest scroll on the left side of the barre; reaches its terminus and features a man’s head. Much of the background is punch-dotted. Each of the serial numbers is marked with a punchdot, which was the Colt factory’s own notation to indicate that the given piece would receive the special treatment. Also, of note are the hand-engraved “COLTS PATENT” marking on the left side of the frame, rather than the usual roll marking.
The 1851 Navy, like the 1860 Army and the 1861 Navy, bears the roll-marked cylinder scene of the Battle of Campeche naval battle, which took place 16 May 1843, during the Mexican-American War. Samuel Colt used cylinder scenes to create interest in his revolvers but also as a kind of anti-counterfeiting measure as this was difficult to duplicate.
The overall condition is near fine. Sharp engraving with plum patina throughout. The action is excellent. The bore is in good condition: patinated with good rifling. The grip is solid and shows superior grain compared to the standard Colt Navy grips. Numbers match throughout. Punch marks stamped below the serial numbers on the barrel lug, frame, trigger guard, butt, and back strap indicate that the components were designated by the Colt factory for engraving and special finish.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 7-1/2 inches.
Caliber: .36 Percussion
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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