This Colt 1849 Pocket revolver was born right at the outbreak of the Civil War around the middle of 1861. With war clouds on the horizon following President Lincoln's election in late 1860, Colt enjoyed strong sales to southern states from the end of 1860 through April 1861. At the time, there was an acute need for arms of all types and Colt 1849's were one of the most commonly purchased handguns for soldiers marching off to war. Most 1849's were used in a backup role for personal protection and probably as a source of extra firepower during battles. Over the years, we've seen countless photographs of soldiers with these Colts proudly displayed by soldiers who fought in the War and it's clear this was the weapon of choice for combatants on both sides. In the year leading up to the War, it's believed that Sam Colt changed the company address on the barrels of his revolvers from New York City to the factory address in Hartford as a gesture towards his clients in the South...many of whom were not fond of NYC's pro-abolition sympathies. When war broke out in April 1861, Colt quickly shifted his sales towards the Union and promptly changed the barrel addresses back to the original New York marking. That's not to say that some of those first New York guns didn't ship South...some did. Over the years, I've heard Confederate collectors say that only guns with Hartford addresses went South. However, that's not entirely true. A few years ago, we sold a full-fluted 1860 Army revolver with a New York barrel address that lettered as shipping to New Orleans on April 9, 1861. Here's the link:
This particular gun is similar to that full-fluted 1860 Army. It was also made around mid-1861 and has the newly changed New York barrel address with a 4" barrel with a 6-shot cylinder. The serial number is in the 190,000 range which is towards the middle of production for that year and could have easily been shipped South or stayed in the North. It has 100% matching numbers...right down to the arbor pin and barrel wedge. We didn't stop there...we even checked underneath the grips to find it had matching numbers as well. See photos. Left side of the frame is marked "COLT'S PATENT" while the top of the barrel reads in one line "ADDRESS COL SAML COLT NEW-YORK U.S AMERICA."
Overall, NRA Antique Very Good+ condition. The brass trigger guard and backstrap still retain 70% of their original silver plating. Frame and loading lever still show approximately 30% faded case colors with the balance turned to a smoky gray patina. Barrel and cylinder have turned to mostly a gray patina. Cylinder has 85% of the stage-coach robbery hold-up scene intact. No safety pins remain upright on the back of the cylinder. Barrel to frame is still tight. Good mechanics. Very good bore. Excellent grips retain 95% original varnish with perfect fit to the metal straps and no chips, cracks, or repairs. Just a nice example of a mid-1861 production Colt that could have shipped North or South.