This is a nice Colt 1849 Percussion Revolver that was manufactured during the Civil War era. .31 caliber with five-shot cylinder. It has the desirable Hartford address and large trigger guard. These were offered in four, five, and six inch octagonal barrels with most 1849's m'fd. with the 4" option. This one has the less often encountered six inch barrel which makes it less of a pocket revolver and more of a small belt revolver. I've always liked these 1849's with the longer barrels as they bear resemblance to a scaled down Colt 1851 Navy Revolver. It comes with its original leather flap holster which is in remarkable condition for 150+ years old. The serial number is in the 181,000 range which dates its production to the end of 1860.
This one was produced during a volatile time in our nation's history. My guess would be sometime around the November 1860 presidential election. While there were probably as many buyers in the North, this five-six month window between the gauntlet being thrown (Nov. 1860) and the two sides coming to blows (April 1861) was a time in which a Colt could have been shipped to the Confederacy. Even the barrel address of this Colt reflects the differing sentiments between Northerners and Southerners during this period. They will usually read "New York" but this one says "Hartford". It is believed that in the leadup to the Civil War, Sam Colt changed the barrel address on his revolver from his headquarters in New York, New York to his factory address in Hartford, Connecticut to appease his Southern customers who regarded the former as the center of the abolition movement. The timing of such a move is hard to ignore as the Hartford address appears around 1858-59...circa John Brown raid on Harpers Ferry. However by April-May of 1861 when the war broke out and Colts were no longer being shipped South, the barrel address is suddenly changed back to New York again.
From there, soldiers on both sides heading off to war were quick to arm themselves with these Colt Pocket Model Revolvers. Thousands showed up to camp on both sides of the Mason-Dixon in 1861 already armed with these 1849's. Today, we can see evidence of their use by the many proudly displayed in belts, holsters, and across the chests of soldiers in old ambrotypes and tintype photographs from the war. Did they truly know what the next four years would bring? Given its period of manufacture (late 1860), Hartford address, and holster, one can't help but think this one was marched off to war.
This revolver exhibits a nice balance of condition coupled with honest use. Everything is original down to the smallest screw with 100% matching numbers. This includes the frame, barrel, loading lever, trigger guard, backstrap, cylinder, and arbor pin. In spite of 153 years worth of patina and vertige from beneath the backstrap, even the original walnut grips revealed its matching original number; hand-inked by a Colt workman back in 1860. See photo. The cylinder still shows 98% of its original scene. The barrel shows 60% of its original blue with a portion of it still in the form of that strong inky blue black towards the front. Frame and loading lever show 30% fading case colors. 50% original silver plating remaining on trigger guard while backstrap shows 95% of its original plating. Cylinder has turned to a light gray patina with a strong 98% original roll engraved scene depicting the stagecoach robbery. See photos. Screws are all original and good to very good condition overall...several showing portions of their original fire blue. Walnut grips have perfect wood to metal fit along the straps and rear of frame. Sam Colt did not like to skimp on the finish for his grips. One older book on Colts I read several years back makes mention of a varnish he had imported from Europe called turpene...the same type as used on violins. It is really amazing to find a worn out Colt from the 1850's that has zero cylinder scene, worn edges to the metal...and yet the wood still holds 25-50% of this amazing 150 year old varnish. Well, this gun is not worn out and it has 98% of its beautiful original amber hued turpene varnish. No cracks or repairs. There are two very tiny chips of the leading edge of the bottom of the grips...perfect otherwise. Great mechanics with perfect timing. Wedge holds barrel tightly to the frame with no play. Bore is nearly Excellent...bright and shiny with strong lands and grooves and just a few minor pits. Fine overall which is remarkable for a black powder revolver from the Civil War era. Cylinder still retains all five of its safety pins. See photo. If you're looking for a nice Colt with Civil War history, this would make a great addition to almost any collection. Coupled with its original flap holster, it should make for an interesting display.