This is a nice .36 Caliber Colt 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver with the desirable Hartford barrel address. Standard 7-1/2" octagon barrel, six-shot cylinder with naval engagement scene, and walnut grips. It's in attic condition with a nice untouched patina that has a great look to it. Serial number is in the 97,000 range which has historical significance in that it was manufactured in late 1860. The production of this Colt coincides with one of the most turbulent times in American history falling between the presidential election of Nov. 1860 and the beginning of the Civil War in April, 1861. During this timeframe, there were many orders for Colt Revolvers in southern states either seceding or preparing to secede from the union. That said, there is a strong Civil War Confederate connection with Colt '51 Navies in the 90,000-100,000 serial ranges as once the war began, the flow of weapons from the industrialized North coming South all but dried up. This particular gun was found on the Virginia-W. Virginia border . Interestingly, we sold another 1851 Navy a few years ago that was only six serial numbers above this one that was found by a GA man in Savannah, GA during the late 1960's. See link:
We have also found one in the 96,000 range that had been in a South Carolina family for almost a century followed by another in the low 98,000 range that came out of North Carolina with a probable ID to a cavalryman from Georgia.
Samuel Colt set up his factory in Hartford, Connecticut in the late 1840's but based his headquarters in New York City. With the exception of the ones produced at his short-lived London factory (1853-57), Colt put his New York (headquarters) address on the barrels of all of his revolvers until sometime during the year 1857 when it was changed to Hartford. Then, just days before the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, Colt changed the marking back to New York again. Why is this? One theory is that Colt's customers from the South had expressed disdain for Colt's association with New York as it was regarded a center for the abolition movement. Whether this was true or not, it's hard to discount the timing of the shift back to the New York address once the Civil War began and no further sales were being made to Southerners.
Overall Condition NRA Antique Very Good Plus to Fine Condition with 90% original silver plating remaining on the backstrap and trigger guard. Original walnut grips show 98% original varnish with no cracks, repairs, or major chips. Frame has aged to a smooth gray patina with a sharp COLT'S PATENT on left side of frame. Barrel has turned to a mostly smooth gray patina with 5% original blue in the form of speckles along the flats and strong traces in protected areas. Muzzle shows some light pitting from powder residue. Cylinder is mostly silvery gray patina with 50-60% of the naval engagement rolled scene still visible. Rear face of cylinder retains all of its original safety pins on the lugs between the cones. Fine screws overall with several still showing portions of their original fire blue. Barrel lines up and fits the frame tightly. Strong mechanics. The bore is Excellent...still bright with strong lands and grooves. Just a nice example of a Hartford Navy that was well looked-after.