View Full Version : Pair of old Colts: updated
February 28, 2007, 07:24 PM
Howdy, I have inherited a pair of old Colts that belonged to my Great Grand Father. they are cap and ball? with a octagonal barrel. I'm not sure how to identify them. Some simple markings such as:
1. Colt name and New York address along top of barrel
2. Serial numbers on various parts
3. Left side of frame says "Colts Patent" but no numbers present
Thats about it I believe for both guns. Wood handle, brass trigger guard and strap. Pretty fair condition I would think but then I'm not a gun collector. Just a little bit of light rust on one of the guns, some wear or alteration to one (such as the front sight appears to be worn/filed down). There are family "heirlooms" and I am just curious about them.
I also have a cap and shot? side by side shotgun but I have not looked at it much yet.
Thanks for any help.
PS - After looking more closely at the second revolver I see that it is marked as .36 cal and has the patent stamp on the cylinder. Also, there is I believe a small "S" stamped on the left front of the trigger guard on the second revolver. The guns appear identical except for the lack of markings on the one. All serial numbers appear to match on both guns.
February 28, 2007, 09:45 PM
As I continue to look into these revolvers I am beginning to wonder if the one in noticeably better shape might be a replica? What with the lack of some markings. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing these in my GGF's collection when I was pretty young, maybe 1975 or so. Not sure when he bought them but I always had the impression that he was well past his active collecting days. He was 89 in 1980 when he passed. Also, I guess at .36cal these would be considered "Navy" models.
February 28, 2007, 10:33 PM
The description fits the Model 1851 Colt Navy, a very popular revolver that was made right up into the cartridge era. Of course, it has been one of the most popular reproductions as well, with new ones made by at least a dozen makers, mainly in Italy, as well as by Colt itself.
It is entirely possible that the guns are original, but it would take good pictures to be sure. If there is rust, apply some light oil, but DO NOT attempt to remove the rust. You could be removing a couple of thousand dollars in value if you are not careful.
Original Navy Colts in very good condition (90% and up) can run anywhere from around $6000 to over $20k depending on the exact model. Ones in lesser condition still bring good prices. Even if you have no intention of selling heirlooms, it still is good to know they have value.
If you can show some good pictures, particularly closeups of the bottom of the gun with the serial numbers lined up and the sides of the barrels where the wedges are, it would help to identify the guns.
Needless to say, any markings like "Black powder only" or "Made in Italy" would appear only on reproductions.
February 28, 2007, 11:14 PM
Thanks for your reply. There are no markings about being "black powder only" or made outside the US. The only address is on top of the barrels for Colt in New York. I will try to get some good photos in the next day or so to help with identification and grading.
March 1, 2007, 08:08 PM
Here are some pictures of the two revolvers. The handles have some wear but not to bad. Is there anything I should do to restore the one with slight rust without unduly reducing its value?
March 1, 2007, 11:37 PM
The pics are not quite in focus, but here are my thoughts. They are based SOLELY on the pictures, so if I am wrong, maybe some better pics will help.
The first one appears to have no cylinder scene and some corners are rounded, plus the frame is blued, indicating to me that at some time it was polished and reblued, severly reducing the collector value. The bottom gun, while apparently in worse shape, would appear to actually be more original and more desireable.
There is one thing I don't understand. The first pistol appears to have a capping groove, though it is a lower number than the second, which has no groove. Both should have it as 123xxx is mid Fourth Model, and 173xxx is late Fourth Model. Maybe not a big thing, and others may be able to explain, but it is an anomaly.
As to "restoring" anything, DON'T. I use a product called G96 Gun Treatment to kill active rust but once that is done, don't do anything to the guns.
March 2, 2007, 09:26 AM
Thanks for the input. Neither cylinder appears to have had a scene as best I can tell. You can still see the patent stamp on the cylinder on the gun with light rust. You are correct in that the better looking example does have the cap groove while the other one does not. I had not even noticed this difference!
Fortunately, I'm not really worried about actual "collectors" value with these since they are family pieces. If they end being worth something that would be great. They are nice looking in any event. I am saddened that I did not get a chance to talk about any of the guns my GGF had before he died. Other family members have some including a pair of pearl handled revolvers, Colts also I think.
PS - You had asked for pics of the serial numbers on the bottom so I added them to the simple page I created and linked above. All visible serial numbers match on both guns but I have not broken either of them down at this time. The wedge is very tight on both of them.
March 2, 2007, 10:44 PM
Thanks. Those pics ended any doubt I had about those guns being original.
March 3, 2007, 12:01 PM
Do you happen to know how common it was for this period Colts to not have a scene engraved on the cylinder? I have seen lots of examples that have this on the net and am curious about these two not having, or seeming to have, anything.
Also, just to restate, the serial number on the bottom of the handles does match the rest of the numbers for each gun. If I am brave enough I may break them down and check the insides out but I don't have appropriate tools here at the house. I might find what I need at my work's shop though.
PS - I may not have mentioned and it might not be clear in the pics but one of the retaining wedges is in "backwards" if it even really matters.
March 6, 2007, 05:46 PM
I would be careful about taking them apart beyond taking the wedge out so you can get the barrel and cylinder off. If the screws are frozen, a regular screwdriver will bugger up the heads, and even if you get proper bits to fit the screwheads, if the screws are rusty, you might shear off the heads or break the screws if too much force is used. Since they are not shooters, it really is not necessary to take them apart, but if the screws come loose without too much torque, it might not hurt anything. On old Colts I have seen, what happens is the cylinder scene wears off, as it was not engraved very deeply. But serial numbers on the cylinders are deeper and might appear. Wedges were made to go in only one way, and there is supposed to be a screw under them to keep them from falling out I think. I got ahold of an old pitted worn 49 Colt 32 cal. once, cheap, that some dolt had applied cold blue to. Well I stripped the cold blue, which left bare steel, but it looked better than cold blue over a rough pitted surface. Alot of the old Colts are bare steel looking, either because the blue wore off, or back in the day "restorers" stripped the brown patina off of them. My aunt had some CW guns and relics treated that way back in the 60's, and I could kill the dolt that did it. Think he sandblasted a perfectly good Ames Cav. sword. Someone had painted the sword gold so that it did provide some protection, instead of just stripping the paint, he sandblasted it off or something. Kill Kill! Aaaargh!
March 6, 2007, 07:32 PM
Tom, thanks for the input. As far as breaking down either of the Colts it only be as far as removing the wedges and checking for any other numbers. The one Colt is missing the retain screw for the wedge and it is the one that is backward.
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