This is a strong example of an early Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver from the mid-19th century. A good Gold Rush era Colt! Standard 7-1/2" octagonal barrel with six shot cylinder in .36 caliber. The serial number is in the 30,000 range which dates its manufacture to the year 1853 with 100% all matching numbers throughout. It has the small oval triggerguard with the New York barrel address. The cylinder also has a crisp roll-engraved scene depicting an 1843 naval engagement between the Republic of Texas and Mexico. The date of the scene which is near the lip of the cylinder is still sharp and clear...oftentimes, these are worn away. There is also a nice early marking below the serial number which reads "Engraved by W.L. Ormsby New York". Waterman Lilly Ormsby was a bank note engraver whose association with Samuel Colt went back to the very beginning of Colt's manufacture of the Paterson revolver. Ormsby is responsible for creating the roll dies used to engrave cylinder scenes on the 1851 Navy, the 1849 Pocket Revolver, and Dragoon Revolvers. His name shows up in tiny script across the cylinders on many of the earlier percussion era Colts...but is omitted in later production.
Condition: For starters, we'd just like to say the photos of this revolver were taken in poor lighting and did come out well. They simply fail to do this 51' Colt justice. Even when we are able to take good photographs, our customers usually express to us that the item itself is nicer than expected. That should go DOUBLE for this old Colt! Someone will be in for a wonderful surprise upon viewing this one in person.
Overall, this example grades well into the NRA Antique FINE Ranges with 70% original barrel blue mixing with a light brown patina. Cylinder has 95% strong cylinder scene with 10% thinned original blue overall mixing in with gray patina. The is very light so you'll have a hard time seeing it in the photos but it's there. The extreme edges of the cylinder show a very fine texture from black powder and fulminate residue. The frame retains 35% dull faded case colors...with 50% colors remaining on the hammer and 25% on the loading lever. Note that early 1851 Navy revolvers have more conservative case colors that are far less vibrant than the flashy case colors found on late production examples from the 1860-70's. While the case colors were more subdued on these earlier Colts, the silver plating on the gripstraps was far superior to the plating found on late production examples. This one is no exception with 90% original silver remaining on the trigger guard and 65% on the back and lower straps. Very Good screws overall with most retaining portions of their original fire blue...especially ones in protected areas (See photos). Even the barrel wedge has much of its original blued finish intact. Grips are Excellent Condition overall showing minor handling marks with 97% strong original varnish. The wood fits perfectly to the frame and straps. No chips, cracks, or repairs. Mechanics are in Very Good working order with proper timing and lock-up. Bore is in Excellent Plus condition...Bright and shiny with strong lands and grooves. One of the best bores we've seen on an 1850's era Colt. The Model 1851 was produced from 1850-1873. If you look hard enough, there are plenty of nice examples of Colt Navy Revolvers out there on the market...but you won't find many examples as nice as this one from the early 1850's. Most early 1851's lived a rough life as a good Colt could mean the difference between life and death in the law-starved territories of the American West during the mid-19th century. This one is an exception to most we've seen over the years. It was well looked after in terms of period of use and throughout its time in the hands of numerous caretakers over the past 158 years.