Item #28383

Rare Colt 1851 Navy Prototype Enlarged Caliber Revolver

  • Price: $9,995.00
  • Maker: Colt
  • Model: 1851
  • Caliber: .40 Cal

  • Description: Serial #95060 – Prototype #2, .40 caliber, 5 5/8” octagon barrel with a fine, bright bore that has some dark freckling about halfway down. The barrel of this all matching revolver retains about 90-95% of the original blue finish with some flaking to plum-brown and some mild silvering along the high edges and muzzle; the prototype serial number (“2”) is also stamped into the lower left side of the barrel assembly beneath the wedge. The loading lever retains about 50-60% of the original color case-hardening with bright colors on the flat sides near the hinge, and 20-25% original blue remains on the cylinder whose naval battle scene is still crisp and fully visible. The frame retains 95-97% of the original bright color case-hardening, and about 60-70% remains on the hammer, mostly visible on the protected areas under the spur. The backstrap and trigger guard have retained 97-98% of the original silver finish with some specks of underlying brass visible on some of the high edges. The walnut grip is likewise in excellent condition with only minor handling marks marring the original piano varnish finish, and a single small chip at the toe on the left side. The gun is tight and the action functions flawlessly. The production of an “Enlarged Caliber” belt pistol took place in 1859, when Samuel Colt began work on a new series of revolvers in order to expand his product line and, although they never progressed past the prototype stage, served as the basis for later “New Model” revolvers. While ostensibly referred to as .40 caliber guns, they were, in fact, closer to .38/.39 caliber revolvers (this particular example has the following measurements: .374” at the chambers with a .385” bore diameter). Only a handful of these revolvers are known: serial #3 is in the possession of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, CT; another example, listed simply as “5 1/2”, 40/c (Pistol)”, was known to have been transferred to the Connecticut State Library in September of 1864; serial #5 is preserved as part of the Colt Collection at the Museum of Connecticut History (interestingly, this revolver differs in having a fluted and rebated cylinder, and round barrel). Two other revolvers are known, built on serial numbers 91868 and 91869, and have rebated .44 caliber cylinders, 8” rounded contour barrels, and creeping style loading levers. A comprehensive analysis sheet accompanies the gun which details the physical characteristics of the revolver, contains an extensive bibliography, and lists the ownership provenance: Alexander F. Thuer; Walter Thuer; Allen S. Kelley; and John S. Dumont. This is an unbelievably rare Colt revolver, the only known example available for public sale, and presents a once in a lifetime opportunity for the advanced and discriminating collector. {Refs. “Samuel Colt Arms, Art and Invention” by Herbert G. Houze, 2006; “Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company” Journal B, Connecticut State Library; “ARMAX The Journal of the Winchester Arms Museum” (Houze) Vol. 1, No. 2; “ARMAX The Journal of the Winchester Arms Museum” (Houze) Vol. 1, No. 1} Antique