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DRice.72
November 18, 2009, 09:09 AM
I am helping a friend research some antique firearms he owns. One is a .36 cal Colt navy pistol from the Civil War era. It has some wear, but the serial numbers all match. Where is a good place to go get information on this gun. Not concerned with getting a value as much as getting its history. He has other guns but we are starting with the Colt pistol.

Thanks in advance.

Jim Watson
November 18, 2009, 09:31 AM
If the serial number is between 98,000 and 132,000, he can get a factory letter from Colt that will describe the original configuration and where it was shipped to from the factory, usually a dealer or maybe an army purchasing agent. That is $300 for not a whole lot of information, of most use in showing the gun is in original configuration to support a resale price.

Real history as to who carried the gun and where is not likely to be found if it has become separated from the family of the original owner. They didn't have gun registration in those days.

DRice.72
November 18, 2009, 09:37 AM
Thanks Jim,

I was wondering just what those "archive services" did for someone. I went to the Colt site to see if I could research the serial number on my own. All I found was the services I mentioned. I would really just like to place the year of manufacture, was an 1851, or an 1861 Navy. The gun isn't in prime condition, but good condition. Then I was going to ease over to gunbroker.com and see what similar guns sold for. He has no plans to sell it, is just interested for interest's sake.

Jim Watson
November 18, 2009, 10:52 AM
There is a serial number chart versus year made at www.proofhouse.com
I don't know how accurate it is, but it will get you in the ballpark.

The '51 was made from 1850 until 1873 when the SAA came out. Naturally a gun made before or during the Civil War would be of more historical interest because of its likely military combat use.

Fingers McGee
November 18, 2009, 11:58 AM
"'51 Colt Navies" by Nathan Swayze is a good reference book for the 1851 Navy revolver. There were 4 distinct models of the '51 as well as a number of variations. A Colt letter doesn't come cheap anymore; but could tie it to Civil war use.

DRice.72
November 18, 2009, 02:24 PM
Proofhouse turned out to be accurate on the DOB of this pistol. I placed a call to Colt, and they confirmed a DOB of 1861.

Thanks for the help!

Ed K
November 18, 2009, 03:02 PM
Try the Colt Forumn