This is a Civil War era Model 1849 Pocket Revolver w/ desirable 6" barrel. Best of all, it has survived 150 years with its original Civil War era brown leather flap holster. The serial number is in the 175,000 range with a desirable Hartford barrel address which occurs circa 1860-61. This was manufactured early enough to have shipped South just prior to the Civil War. Standard .31 caliber with octagonal barrel and five-shot cylinder. The Model 1849 was very popular during the Civil War as thousands were carried by soldiers from both the North and South. There are quite a number of surviving ambrotype photographs that have turned up over the years with soldiers proudly brandishing these Colt Revolvers. See photos.
The timeframe in which this revolver was manufactured and most likely shipped was perhaps one of the most volatile moments in US history. Many of these 1849 Pockets with Hartford barrel addresses ended up in the hands of southerners going off to war as they were the last Colts the South could legally acquire before the war started. That said, serial numbers in the 170-180,000 ranges are prime real estate for late 1860 to the first half of 1861 when men were rushing out to purchase guns before joining up with a regiment and heading off to war. This one was probably being manufactured close to the timeframe of Abraham Lincoln's Republican victory in November 1860. Skipping around the debate of grievances from the south, this event triggered eleven southern states to secede from the Union over the next few months. To lend a little perspective to what occurred during the time between Lincoln's election and start of the Civil War in April 1861, here is a brief timeline. The fallout started with South Carolina seceding from the Union on 12/20/1860, followed by MS 1/9/61, then FL 1/10/61, AL 1/11/61, GA 1/19/61, LA 1/26/61, TX 3/2/61, VA 4/17/61, AR 5/6/61, NC 5/20/61, ending with TN on 6/8/61.
THE STORY BEHIND THE HARTFORD BARREL ADDRESS: As war loomed on the horizon and citizens in border states chose sides, there was a frenzy of arms activity with thousands of guns being ordered by Southern and pro-Union states in the north. At that time leading up to the war, it's been theorized that Sam Colt, who was not only a great inventor but a shrewd businessman, changed the barrel address for political reasons. It's believed that his New York headquarters or business address which was located atop the barrels of his guns were not being well received by his southern customers as New York City was regarded as the epicenter of the abolitionist movement. In an effort to appease those sentiments, Colt changed the barrel address over to read "Hartford, CT" where his company's factory was located. To our estimation with revolvers seen over the years, the Hartford address seems to appear around 1858 and lasts until right around April 1861 when the war began and no more Colts could go south. At this moment in time, Colt changed the address back to New York as he began to supply Colts exclusively to his northern customers. That said, this is one of those Colts that fits into that late 1860-early 1861 Hartford address window.
This particular gun with its 175,000 range serial number is very close to two Colt 1849 pockets mentioned in letters to Colt complaining of defects. The first letter written by one Mr. D. Mower from Frog Level, South Carolina on April 4, 1861 where he mentions his Colt Pocket Pistol w/ 5" barrel, #177,621 is having trouble popping a cap on one chamber of the cylinder. The second letter is from one John Mangen or Morgan of Janesville (which we presume to be Janesville, Wisconsin) who mentions a broken nipple on his Colt #174,558. These two letters were published in Sam Colt's biography, The Story of Colt's Revolver in 1957 by William Edwards.
Overall Condition Grades to NRA Antique GOOD CONDITION with 100% matching numbers throughout which include the barrel, frame, loading lever, cylinder, trigger guard, backstrap, arbor pin, and even the grips. See photos. It's our understanding that this revolver walked into a gun shop undisturbed still in this original holster...which is how it was stored probably since the time it was new. Unfortunately, during those many years resting inside the leather, the metal on this gun had attracted moisture and developed quite a bit of rust and scale with some light pits. While we've never been big proponents of cleaning antiques, this was one case where it made sense to do so. Our gunsmith very carefully removed the rust while preserving the markings and edges from harm leaving a smooth silver gray appearance with a nice undisturbed mellow patina on the brass trigger guard and backstrap. The barrel address, Colt's patent on the frame, and serial numbers all survived in very good condition. The cylinder...being the highest point against the leather...did not fare quite as well. As you will note in the photos, there are only traces of the original lightly rolled engraving visible. The walnut grips are in fantastic shape still retaining 93% of their original varnish with perfect wood-to-metal fit. The mechanics needed just a minor tune-up and I remember him commenting how impressed he was with the condition of the mechanics. The barrel still fits up tight to the frame with a good tight wedge and zero play. The bore is Good overall with all of its original rifling intact and scattered pits---normal for a 19th century/Civil War black powder era weapon. For being 150 years old, the holster is in remarkably good condition with all of its original stitching intact including the end plug. The leather is still pliable with the leather flap still solid. Even the leather strap, with its dual slits for positioning the flap over the handle of the gun is intact. The holster, by itself is worth 300-400 dollars but it and the gun have been together since new...through a war...and kept together for 150 years. Sadly, many dealers would take the holster and either sell it off or put it with a better gun in order to make more $$$. It wouldn't seem right to break them up just to make a few extra dollars. That said, here is a chance to own a good-looking Model 1849 with a desirable 6" barrel, Hartford address, with a great manufacture date that identifies strongly with the Confederacy, IN the original holster AT A Bargain Price!