This is a Civil War era Model 1849 Pocket revolver with a desirable Hartford barrel address. 4" octagonal barrel, 5-shot cylinder in .31 caliber. The numbers are 100% matching including wedge, arbor pin, and walnut grips. These Pocket-sized Colt Revolvers were very popular during the Civil War as thousands were carried by soldiers from both the North and South. The sheer volume of ambrotype photographs that have turned up over the years showing soldiers displaying these guns (usually across their chest) gives us a pretty good glimpse into how these men felt about their Colt Revolvers. See photo of Confederate soldier from Georgia displaying his 4" Colt Pocket. The Model 1849 was produced from 1850 to 1873 with over 340,000 produced. This particular gun has a great serial number which is in the in the 176,000 range and dates production towards the end of 1860 (160,000 to 184,000).
The timeframe in which this revolver was manufactured and most likely shipped was perhaps one of the most volatile moments in US history. This one was right there on top of Abraham Lincoln's Republican victory in November of that year. Skipping around the debate of grievances from the South, nonetheless, the 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 the following April, 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. 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 northern states alike. 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 southerners 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.
At that time leading up to the War, it's been theorized Sam Colt, who was not only a great inventor but a shrewd businessman, altered his 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. The reasoning behind these southern buyers was that NYC 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. Hartford, CT. To our estimation with revolvers seen over the years, the Hartford address seems to appear around 1858 and lasts until ???? That's right...you guessed it...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 to early 1861 Hartford address window.
While Colt has no shipping record for this particular gun, its serial number in the 176,000 fits right in between two Colt 1849 pockets mentioned by their number in letters written by their southern and northern owners 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 as number #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. See photos.
Overall condition is NRA Very Good with the metal worn evenly to a light gray patina with strong markings and sharp edges. It has a good clean overall look about it. Several of the screws even retain a fair amount of their original fire blue. Screws are VG to Fine overall with several showing some original fire blue. Cylinder Scene is Excellent with 90-95% sharp engraving and gives a full depiction of Colt's stagecoach robbery scene complete with stagecoach, horses, robbers, heroes, and even a damsel in distress peering out the doorway to the coach. The back of the cylinder retains 4 of its 5 safety pins...3 very good...1 fair (slightly mashed), and 1 poor (smudged but still partially standing). Nice working action. Wedge still locks the barrel up to the frame tightly. The brass trigger guard and backstrap have no original silver plating externally visible and have aged to a nice mellow patina. The action has good mechanics. Good Bore with very decent lands and grooves that are a bit frosty but with no major pits or damage. Walnut grips are Excellent with 95% original varnish remaining with only minor handling wear. No chips, cracks, or repairs. These are the original grips that are numbered to the gun underneath the backstrap. See photos. All in all, a respectable 100% original example of Hartford Address Colt produced just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War and could have quite possibly shipped south.