This is a factory engraved Model 1851 Colt Navy Revolver in .36 Caliber with Ivory grips. The engraving is almost 3/4 coverage and executed almost certainly by the hands of Colt's Master Engraver, Gustave Young. This revolver was purchased from family in Thomasville, NC where we understand it had been in storage in an attic for many years. As you can see in the photos, this is an untouched find...and has never been cleaned....with over 150 years of dust, dried grease, and crud down in the engraving. This is as pure of a factory engraved Colt 1851 as you will ever find. If desired, it can be cleaned up to a much nicer gun in terms of appearance and should bring several thousand dollars more. What's even more amazing about this revolver is that we actually know who the original owner was. The woman who owned it was a descendant of the original owner, Duncan White..of Norristown, PA.
Overall, this revolver is completely untouched. The engraving in the photos is full of decades worth of encrustation from dirt, dried grease, etc...and is much much sharper than what you are seeing in the photos we've taken. There is still a considerable amount of original blue across the barrel....with lots of speckles of original blue in the engraving itself...leaving no question this is original factory work. The triggerguard and backstrap still retain 90% original silver. The patterns and vignettes are classic Gustave Young. The coverage is quite thorough with engraved panels on all eight sides of the barrel at the muzzle, the loading lever junction to the rammer, both sides of the lug, and upper 3 barrel flats. Even the wedge is engraved. The outside of the frame is almost 100% engraved including the recoil shield. The only place not engraved on the frame is the capping channel. The brass triggerguard and backstrap have numerous panels of engraving only the handle areas left plain. Cylinder has most of its original scene intact would be much sharper if cleaned up a little. You can still read the tiny Ornesby title in the roll die below the serial number. Young must have been a dog or a wolf lover as he was fond of hiding one in deep in his vignettes. This revolver is no exception....only he engraved two dog heads on this revolver. See if you can find them in the photos....Go on...we'll wait. If you can't find them...one is hidden on the left side of the lug at 10 oclock just to the left of the wedge. The other one...I didn't even notice at first...its on the left side of the frame and swoops in below the hammer screw. I guess that makes this one a "double dog" Gustave Young. Both sides of the hammer also have his signature dragon eyes and mouth. If you look closely, you will find through the dirt that most of the screws are in good condition and were also engraved. The only exception is the wedge screw which is was replace long ago. The ivory grips are original to the gun and quite stunning....having yellowed somewhat with age and showing a few age checks but no breaks or chips. The ivory to metal fit is quite good...Ivory shrinks with time...but the shrinkage with these grips are fairly minor and fit just as nicely as a good Colt with its original wood grips. Mechanically, the gun works but the cylinder stop is not working so the cylinder lines up but isn't held in place. However, with the exception of the wedge and wedge screw, this gun doesn't appear to have been taken apart since new. We can have this fixed if desired....but for now, we will let the buyer decide as this gun is so untouched and some collectors may want it left this way.
Duncan White was born in August 16, 1818 in Scotland and died on November 12, 1879. We received a short note from the man who bought it stating a little bit about how he found this Colt, the family it came from, and the name of its original owner with dates of his birth and death. It stated that White was born in Scotland and we were told he had come to America as a young man. We also received one of Duncan White's original business cards which has the town of "Norristown" listed at the bottom. This is the only information we received from the estate but it was enough to piece together the rest of his story through immigration and census records. According to that research, we found a "Duncan White" who sailed to America aboard the ship George Washington from Liverpool to New York in 1840. It lists his age as "22"....which was a perfect match to the family's info we were provided in the sale. A copy of the passenger manifest lists his occupation as a "Cotton Spinner" and his place of birth as "Scotland". This was also a match so we knew we had found the same person. He next turns up in the 1850 Census in Philadelphia as a "Book Binder". Once again, his age corresponds perfectly and his birthplace is listed as Scotland. This time, he's married with 2 children. In the 1860 census, he's moved to Norristown, PA (near Philadelphia) with his wife Catherine and 6 children. Norristown is the name on his business card we were given....so this is also a perfect match. By 1870, White is 52 years old with $15,000 in real estate and a $3000 personal assets. His earlier profession in Scotland as a cotton worker seems to have come full circle as he is now a "Cotton Manufacturer". White dies by the end of the decade so we searched no additional US Census records.
If you're looking for a great untouched factory engraved Colt Navy but don't want to lose sleep at night because you took a chance on a Colt that's been possibly faked or had its engraving re-cut to give it a fresher look, then here is your chance to acquire a real Gustave Young engraved Colt that's right out of the attic! It has never been cleaned up but that's mother nature's seal of authenticity. This is as real as they get and for thousands less than one that's been gone through over and over.