This is a very nice as well as "intriguing" Colt 1860 Army Revolver. Serial number is in the 40,000 range and was built by Colt Mfg in 1862. It's in very nice shape with quite a bit of blue remaining on the barrel and case colors left on the frame. It has a number of military sub-inspectors' markings on various components as well as a faint cartouche on the left grip indicating that it was purchased by the US government during the Civil War. The serial numbers are matching on the frame, barrel, cylinder, trigger guard, and backstrap. The barrel wedge is an original but does not match. Arbor pin is not numbered, indicating that it was an arsenal replacement. The cylinder has about 20% of its scene remaining which in our opinion should be stronger on a Colt with so much of the original finish.
That said, we believe this Colt was probably refurbished after the Civil War for either military or civilian use. We know that following the Civil War, the US government had a number of Colt 1860's refurbished and reissued to cavalry units in the American West. This 1860 falls a bit outside the norm for a reissue as these typically have mixed serial numbers and a "US" stamped on the trigger guard. In contrast, this one has almost all matching numbers and no "US" marking on the trigger guard so it's somewhat doubtful it stayed in Army use. Another possibility could be that it was refurbished for a state militia or by a surplus dealer (such as Schuyler, Hartley, and Graham of NY) prior to commercial sale. This seems to be the most likely scenario and there is documented evidence to support this theory. In 2008, author, historian, and former head curator of the BBHC (Buffalo Bill Historical Center) published a book titled Arming The West in which he painstakingly listed all shipments of arms from Schuyler, Hartley, and Graham to gun dealers located west of the Mississippi following the Civil War. I must say that I had no idea that SH&G had surviving records nor the fact that they are housed at the BBHC in Cody, WY. Houze's book gives some absolutely stunning glimpses into what kinds of guns were going out West. In terms of Colt 1860's, we were able to find the following two entries:
On page 22 in the California shipment chapter, Houze notes:
J.P. Claborough & Brothers San Francisco located at 630 Montgomery Street
June 16, 1871 (Journal 1, page 191)
20 U.S. Muskets & Bayts Bright Model 1842 S.B.
18 Colts Army Refinished
14 Colts Navy Refinished
2 Remington Army Refinished
Houze further notes, "Though unidentified, the Colt revolvers were probably of the New Model 160 Army and 1851 Navy pattern."
On page 125, Houze notes:
To Dealer P.E. Thomas of Galveston, Texas
March 14, 1870 (Journal 1 page 117)
10 Winchester Carbines N M Oiled Stocks
32 Colts Army Refinished
3 Remington Army Refinished
1 Remington Navy Refinished
Note: The shipping order for these arms contains the notation "Galveston". The Colt revolvers were presumably of the Model 1860 Army pattern and the Remingtons of the New Model Army, as well as Navy, patterns.
Overall Condition grades to NRA Antique Fine as refurbished nearly 150 years ago. Frame shows 40% light case colors which are turning to a mottled silver gray with some streaks of color remaining. Barrel has 30% thinning original blue that is strongest in the barrel flutes, around the wedge, and to the sides of the rammer lever. Backstrap shows 25% original blue. Strong traces of fire blue on the trigger and several of the screws. Nice clear barrel address. Original walnut grips would grade as Fine with the exception of a small chip of wood at the base of the right grip. Nice action. Rear face of cylinder has all six safety pins present in Fair to Good condition. Fine bore with super strong rifling. Nice example of a Colt 1860 Army that saw use in the Civil War and post war years. Nicest looking Colt 1860 you'll ever find in this price range!