This is a 4th Model Colt 1851 Navy Revolver with a desirable Hartford Barrel Address. Standard 7 1/2" octagonal barrel, .36 caliber, six shot cylinder, with walnut grips. Made in 1861, the serial number is 99,239 with all matching numbers including wedge and arbor pin. You won't find many 1851's with a more interesting serial range not for its configuration but that its production coincides with what arguably must have been one of the most turbulent times in American History. This gun shipped within just a few days of 6 Southern states seceeding from the Union.
Since Colt Records for the 1851 Navy aren't available prior to serial number 98,000, there is just a brief window where one can document a Navy revolver in the months just before the American Civil War begins. Its not too often we can find one that actually letters and gives us a factual glimpse into the past and just exactly where Sam Colt was shipping his revolvers. Many of these Hartford 51's were going to Southern dealers to arm Confederate units in preparation for the Civil War. We've even seen a very similar Navy just a few numbers away from this particular 1851 that shipped to a dealer in Mobile, AL.
After Abraham Lincoln won the Election in Nov. 1860, one by one, Southern states began seceeding from Union which created a strong arms market. As war seemed inevitable, many states and individuals began purchasing weapons in prepartion for the looming hostilities on both sides. While we hear a great deal about these Hartford marked 51's going South, we were a little surprised to learn this one actually shipped in a group of 100 Colts to JC Grubb & Company of Philadelphia, PA on January 14, 1861. Time-wise, this shipment was right in the middle of the first batch of Southern States to secede from the Union. Just look at the events happening during those first weeks of 1861 and try to imagine the Newspaper headlines. South Carolina was the first to secede from the Union on 12/20/60, followed bg Florida on 1/10/61, then Alabama on 1/11/61, Georgia on 1/19/61, Lousiana 1/26/61, and Texas on 2/1/61. One can only imagine the political chaos and uncertainty swirling through the air that created such a strong market for Colt's Six-shooters on both sides of the Mason Dixon line.
Overall, this Colt 1851 isn't going to win any beauty contests but after 146 years, has survived in NRA Antique Good Condition. This one looks like a real War Baby having seen some very hard use. I suspect it may have even been a battlefield pick-up as the right side of the grips and one section of the cylinder appear to have spent some time resting on the ground before someone picked it up. The metal has been cleaned once upon a time and is generally smooth with some scattered pits. Good edges and all markings are legible. Cylinder scene has worn smooth. All screws are excellent. 100% all matching numbers throughout. Quite amazingly, the brass triggerguard still shows about 35% original silver plating around the trigger areas with just traces of silver remaining on the backstrap. If you look closely at the bottomstrap, there appears to have been a name, probably a soldier's which has been scratched out. We can make out a couple of letters...the name appears to start with "H" and end with "T". In spite of the neglect, the grips are in good condition...solid...one minor chip repair on right front toe that is not noticeable. Decent wood to metal fit with good edges and profiles. The action works perfectly. Barrel, wedge, and frame are tight as a drum with no play or wiggle. Good bore with strong 7 groove rifling with some scattered pits. A good example of a very historic Civil War era revolver. A good solid affordable example of an early 1861 production Hartford address 1851 Colt Navy. Comes Complete with a Letter from the Colt Factory Archives (these alone run $300 and a 4-6 month wait).