This is an incredible Model 1860 Army Revolver cylinder in .44 caliber that was found in a box of parts from a lifelong Colt collectors estate. We have a couple of hunches of what it once belonged on or with. Take a look at the photos and you'll see that it surpasses anything from the 2nd and 3rd Generation Colt Reproductions from the 1970's and 80's. It is so finely polished and finished that in my opinion, it's nicer than most of the original 19th century production...certainly better than the military contracts of the Civil War which form the bulk of the Model 1860's production. The roll-engraved scene is 100%, the safety pins are 100% there, and the blue is about 98% save for one spot on the serial number. The blue is from the old heat/charcoal method which is quite rare today given the amount of prep work, polish, and bake time necessary to achieve such a finish. My guess is this cylinder was from a restoration done by Colt's custom shop during the post WW2 era. The story that I've heard was from approximately 1946-1955, Colt would restore just about anything you sent them (so long as it was a Colt of course). From 1955 on, it's my understanding that they limited their rebuild program to just the Colt Model 1873 Single Action Army Revolvers so not many percussion models were done. Over the years, we've had what we believed were three of these 1946-1955 era Colt restorations. How could we forget...nothing we've ever seen came close to quality and type of finishes used and they were remarkably similar to what we see on this cylinder. These three incredible guns consisted of a Model 1860 Army, an 1851 Navy and a Model 1861 Navy. The art in this level of old world craftmanship has unfortunately been largely lost to time. Here are the links of these three revolvers for comparison and you'll see why we think this cylinder originated from this batch:
One other possibility is that it came from Tommy Haas who was well known for his Colt restorations decades ago. How or why this cylinder didn't end up on a gun is anybody's guess. Perhaps it was a spare that was never used. Either way, if someone needs one for a restoration, I don't believe this one could be surpassed.