View Full Version : My Family Heirloom

HillBilly Willy
March 10, 2009, 11:47 PM
Hi guys,

Thought I'd share my story (and the picture below) on the 1860 New Model Army Revolver that I received for Christmas. It belonged to my great grandmother. Picture yourself Granny from the Beverly Hillbillies with Dutch ancestry instead of the southern accent, with a never quit attitude, and you've got her pegged. In her later years, she was completely blind in both eyes, but still followed a rope from the kitchen porch to the woodshed to chop kindling wood on the family farm right up until the year she died at age 100.

She used to keep it tucked in her waistband, chasing away intruders with it, one time running off a thief who had just pilfered kitchenware from the farmhouse. She never had it loaded, lucky for her no one doubted her no nonsense demeanor.

Anyway, her story on the pistol is that she caught a hired farmhand cleaning the gun on the steps one day, and demanded the gun from him, stating that she didn't allow guns there. This had to be prior to the mid 1950's, as that was when my great grandfather died, and the farm was no longer worked.

When she died, my great aunt kept the affairs of the farm in order, and when she died, the contents of the farm went to my mother, who is now passing along the family heirlooms to the next generation.

I brought this gun to the Albany, NY gun show this past January, along with the other items in the picture below that were with the gun, and found out quite a bit, but I still have a lot to learn so this seems like a good place to start. From the gun show I have found out that all numbers match on the gun except for the cylinder and the spring on the wedge is broken. Hand carved on one side of the grip is someone's initials which I was told was probably done by the original owner, or not long after, due to the apparent age of the carving. Based on the serial number of the gun, it is from about 1862.

Where the accessories came from is unknown, though it was conjectured that someone in my family had a Remington pistol set at one time, based on the Remington flask and bullet mold included with the pistol. I'm sure my ancestors must have had guns at one time for hunting and protection as the farm dates back to the early 1800's. Even my grandmother and great aunt remember being told to watch out for the Indians who would sit on the fence by the railroad tracks as they walked to and from school.

The gun collector I spoke with at the show valued the gun at about $3000, though he said it would be a tough sell in this market. Not that I would sell. The gun that goes with my pistol-packing great-granny story is surely worth more than that! :D


March 11, 2009, 12:45 AM
Great story! Thanks for sharing.


March 11, 2009, 04:18 AM
Nice stuff and the story makes it even better.

March 11, 2009, 06:25 AM
Man that is a great find & a super great G-ma, keep the memories & write them down so that your lil ones can pass on the heirloom & knowledge.

March 11, 2009, 06:32 AM
The dealer was way off on the valuation. The value of that gun and the accessories is priceless.

March 11, 2009, 01:54 PM
I made friends with an old gent from my former muzzle loading club. He told me all about how he built up his small collection of antique guns back when they weren't all that popular or very expensive. He had become disabled and wheelchair bound the last few times that I saw him. One time was at a gunshow where he was trading in some of his guns because he couldn't really get out and shoot them anymore.
He had at least one original Colt revolver similar to yours which he had just sold to an antique vendor for a lot less than the $3000 price that was quoted above. I recall that the dealer was trying to sell it for about $1200 right after he had traded it in for about $800 cash or so.
Granted that was a few short years ago and the antique market has changed a lot since then, and that each individual gun has a different market value based on the selling venue among other things.
But he was the type that shot them and didn't just buy them for speculation.
And I know that he was disappointed about how much money he received for them, but he was a realist and knew that he wasn't going to get much more unless he tried to sell them himself which he just wasn't capable of doing.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that sometimes there's a considerable difference between what someone thinks an antique gun is worth and how much cash anyone will actually hand over for it, much like the difference between the wholesale and retail price for anything collectable. :)

March 11, 2009, 02:21 PM
He became disabled and wheelchair bound when I ran into him several times.

Surely not.:eek:

Just kidding. I know what you meant.

March 11, 2009, 02:27 PM
I did attempt to edit and clarify that. :)
He developed emphysema and was hooked up to an oxygen tank.
And I met his son who was pushing him around the show in the wheelchair.

Doc Hoy
March 11, 2009, 03:21 PM

You don't miss anything...:p

HillBilly Willy
March 11, 2009, 05:23 PM
Thanks all, for the comments. Now can anyone tell me somewhere, online or otherwise, that I can find out what all the parts of this gun are called? A picture, or exploded view, something along those lines. I have to search the internet for the names of everything I am referencing. It's a PITA.

The name of the dealer I showed everything to at the gun show was Herb Glass. As he stated to me, he sells Colt, but collects Remington. He was VERY interested in the Remington mold and flask, especially the flask as it is in near perfect unused condition.

Another question is about the percussion caps. I assume I am supposed to be able to see through the hole in the center of the cap? Some are blocked with "whatever".

I don't know a lot about guns. I took riflery in summer camp back in the early 70's, shooting 22's, and that's about the extent of it. This pistol from the family farm has always been in the back of my mind though, ever since my great grandmother let me and my brothers hold it, however briefly, when we were kids, so I knew what I wanted when my mother asked what we wanted from the family farm.

BTW, my wife has a Model 1836 flintlock pistol by Asa Waters (pic below), from her first (deceased) husband.. Very nicely preserved and in a display case. I would like to do the same for the Colt. They would look nice next to each other on the mantle. Close-up of the other side of the Colt with the initials carved in the grip. Too bad I don't know whose initials they were, huh?



March 13, 2009, 11:53 AM
Those see thru nozzles are "nipples" which the caps fit on to.

Here's a Euroarms PDF schematic for the 1860 Colt which can be easily magnified at the top of the page:


Here's a VTI Gun Parts diagram for the Pietta 1860 Colt:


March 13, 2009, 12:22 PM
Great story, Sweet collection. Thanks for sharing.

HillBilly Willy
March 13, 2009, 07:59 PM
Thanks arcticap, those sites are exactly what I was looking for. Yes, that was the nipple I referring to. See why I needed it? :o