This 1860 Colt Percussion Revolver is one of the few we've seen with an Iron Trigger guard. These were built for the British market in what seems to be fairly small numbers following the Civil War. As you can see, this style closely follows the Iron-Strapped Models 1849 and 1851 Navy produced by Colt's London Plant circa 1853-57. The serial number is in the 156,000 range which dates its manufacture to 1866. There is a small letter "L" below several of the serial numbers which we're assuming stands for "London"...or Colt's Agency in London. The barrel and cylinder seem to support this somewhat because they bear British Proofs from the London Proofing House/ C through P and Crown over "V". Therefore, without a shadow of a doubt, we know this was proofed in London. However, the rather interesting thing about this gun though is that normally, these Iron Strapped guns have the Colt London Barrel address....and this one has a standard New-York address. The serial number is just below a few other iron-strapped 1860s. This is pure speculation on my part, but I think this one is probably from the first batch ordered by the London Agency before they had a chance to build a new roll-die and apply the new marking. In the past, we've seen copies of letters from Colt's London Agency (probably pertaining to the Pall Mall Single Actions) requesting immediate orders for Colts with standard barrel markings...followed by additional orders with a new London Address. This killed two birds with one stone so to speak as you couldn't just call up Colt from overseas with a special order. Going back to 1866, unless you could afford several hundred dollars to send a transatlantic cable (10 words cost $100), most correspondence was snail mail by ship. My only guess is that Colt's London Office wanted London Addresses on their products to keep customers and competitors from circumventing their market and buying directly from the United States.
Overall, its in NRA Antique Good condition with some restoration work. We don't have much history on this gun other than it was in Damon Mills collection for several years. It was basically found with 5 chambers still loaded which forced us to keep the cylinder apart from the gun. The lead balls were oxidized in place and the metal was pretty rough...almost a semi-relic in appearance with heavy pitting in places. The mechanics were also in need of attention but several of the screws were almost cemented into place. Given the precarious situation we faced with the loaded chambers, we couldn't even it ship it to a customer. After some deliberation, we decided to deliver this (by hand) to an old friend who is an expert when it comes to gunsmithing on Colt Percussion Revolvers.
Initially, our main intention was to get it safely unloaded and back to working order again, however, our friend far surpassed our expectations and what he returned to us was greatly improved. His approach or scope to this restoration was confined to bringing out the best in what was already there (meaning original components), repairing and improving in the mechanics, improving metal surfaces, and tightening up tolerances. The goal here was to simply preserve the gun for future generations, and not trying to make into something new. In the end, he was able to accomplish these objectives No major components were replaced nor were any of the markings re-stamped. At the end of the process, the metal was colored and aged dark so that it would look its age. All in all, he spent many hours rebuilding this gun and all I can say is "wow", I didn't even recognize it when we got it back. It amazes me what a person with 40 years of experience is capable of doing with their hands, and in this case, managed to bring back a rare and historic variant of a Colt Revolver back to life again!
From a couple feet away, it looks as sharp and crisp as the day it was made, the tolerances are all back in line...the original grips (which were pretty nice to begin with) fit the metal perfectly. All numbers are matching with the exception of the wedge...which had initially come with a homemade replacement...now a correct one that is un-numbered. The metal is mostly smooth now with sharp edges. There are still some light scattered pits here and there...but the bad ones were repaired by an aircraft-certified welder. Barrel address is light and doesn't jump out right away, but still mostly legible if you are attentive. It reads, "-ADDRESS COL SAM L COLT NEW YORK US AMERICA-" The Left side of frame is marked "COLT'S PATENT". The cylinder has about half of its serial number visible with almost no scene (2-3%) remaining. However, you can see most the London Proofs at the back of the chambers and on the side of the barrel. Hammer knurling is good and sharp and overall, the edges are good and sharp too. The mechanics are just amazing...they work like new. He reported that aside from oxidation and neglect, that the bulk of the mechanical components were in very good shape. Bore is a bit frosty but exhibits strong lands and grooves. Grips are in Fine condition as refinished with some restoration to the top right panel where some of the walnut was damaged by over-zealous cleaning years ago. You would never know it now as this small repair is invisible. There are no chips or cracks and they fit the metal perfectly. Overall, this Colt has a very pleasing appearance and from a couple feet away you might think this to be a $4500 example. As we've noted, its not, but is an original gun with a rare iron guard, that has been carefully rebuilt to a very pleasing standard.