RAMPANT Spring 2015
The Official Publication of the Colt Collectors Association
Cowan’s Auctions proudly announces the acquisition of Little John’s Auction Service
We’re proud to announce that Cowan’s and Little John’s Auction Service have combined forces to bring the collecting community an unbeatable team. Look for John Gangel and Jack Lewis at all major trade shows, and don’t hesitate to contact us about consignments for any of our frequent sales of firearms and accoutrements!
Honesty. Integrity. Expertise.
President & CEO Little John’s Auction Service
Director of Firearms and Militaria Cowan’s Auctions
Upcoming Live Salesroom Auctions
Firearms and Accoutrements March 11, 2015 Historic Firearms and Early Militaria April 29-30, 2015 Always Accepting Exceptional Consignments Contact firstname.lastname@example.org | 513.871.1670 x227 6270 Este Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45232
Live Online Bidding for All Auctions
President’s Message Secretary's Message Directors and Board Members Show Report
Collecting the New Police and Pocket Breech Loaders
We're Coming to Texas! October 2015
by Scott Waller
by Richard B. Roe
Sam Colt 1814 -1862 Commemorating a Legend (Part 2) by Peter G. Smithurst
The Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless Automatics
Historian's Corner Review of The Book of Colt Memorabilia
A Production History by Ric Stafford
by Ken Condry
45 The Colt Python Revolver A Brief History of the Model by Gurney Brown
52-53 54 55
Packing Colt Iron/New Members The Colt Kiosk Advertising Information About our cover:
The complete description of these Glahn and Helfricht engraved auto pistols is presented on page 38 by author and owner, Ric Stafford. Photo by Paul Goodwin
Advertising Manager: Dick Roe The Rampant Colt is produced by Paul Goodwin Creative Services Seattle, Washington
The word “Colt” and the “Rampant Colt” design and trademark are registered trademarks of The Colt Company and are used by the Colt Collectors Association, Inc. with the permission of The New Colt Holding Company, all rights reserved. The articles and material presented within are the conclusions and opinions of the individual authors and do not necessarily express the opinions of the Colt Collectors Association and/or its membership as a whole. While we attempt to vet the works for accuracy and appropriateness, the CCA does not take responsibility for their veracity in print. The Rampant Colt is published quarterly for members of the Colt Collectors Association, Inc. to inform the membership of the acts of the Association, to disseminate information of a general and related nature and to encourage research in the field of Colt collecting. ISSN 1934-7421. Copyright 2015 by the Colt Collectors Association, Inc.. All rights reserved. Postage paid at Mattoon, Illinois and additional offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Karen Green, 25000 Highland Way, Los Gatos, CA 95033
The Co l
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Secretary’s Message Karen Green
ow that Spring is around the corner it is time to think about the NRA Show in Nashville. Cam and Josie Cogsdill are representing the Colt Collectors with their display of Colt Double Action Revolvers.
e have only a few statues left of Samuel Colt ("Sam the Man"). They are $80 each; call me for availability. The statue has become very popular and highly sought after among our collecting members.
While we are of the subject of the NRA, the Colt Collectors Association has a permanent display at the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax Va. Anyone visiting the Washington D.C. area should stop by and see it.
Our web site is getting a major overhaul and will now be more user friendly. Past issues of The Rampant Colt magazine will have full descriptions of their contents, making it easy to find articles of particular interest. And using Pay Pal for renewing memberships will be less confusing! Carol Wilkerson and Peter Holder are working long and hard to bring us the latest and greatest on line. We also now have a Facebook page - check it out at www.facebook.com and type Colt Collectors Association in the search box.
Plans are underway for the annual Colt Show in Frisco, Texas this October. Texas has the second largest number of members and we expect this to be a great show ! We are looking for help from our members in Texas to help promote the show for displayers and attendees. Anyone that goes to local shows in Texas that could pass out flyers should contact Carol Wikerson for flyers. We will be offering free admission to the show to active Military and Law Enforcement. We will be voting for Board members at the General Membership meeting on Friday evening. Please plan to attend to vote for the people that you want to run your association. Anyone interested in serving on the board should contact Joel Hankinson or Dave Grunberg to be added to the ballot. We are still looking for someone to be the Publication Chairman. Our new Website should be up and running now. Our Facebook Page is generating a lot of interest in our organization and our membership is growing. Enjoy the good weather that is coming !
The yellow rose of Texas is blooming! Get your trade and/or display table and hotel reservations for the upcoming CCA show in Frisco, Texas, October 1-4, 2015 at The Embassy Suites Hotel, Conference Center & Spa, 7600 John Q. Hammons Drive, Frisco, Texas, telephone 1-800-921-1443 or 1-972-963-9175. Request the CCA special room rate of $149/night – that price includes a full cooked-to-order breakfast, a nightly complimentary happy hour and all-suite accommodations. Table reservation inquiries are handled by Kevin Cherry at 336854-4182 and table reservation applications are available on our website. Check our web site for updates on the show details. KAREN GREEN
This We Believe... We believe in the Colt Collectors Association objectives and that the collecting of arms and related collectible items is a right guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. We believe that the collecting of arms preserves their historical significance and artistic value for both present and future generations and that it contributes to the understanding of this great country. We believe that the collecting of arms promotes friendships and camaraderie and teaches the values of integrity, responsibility and self-discipline. We believe that the collecting of arms encourages life-long involvement and that we all have a responsibility to give something back to this activity. We believe that the collecting of arms requires that we educate our youth on their responsibility to continue this tradition. We believe that the collecting of arms is a safe, enjoyable, lifetime family-oriented Constitutional right. Some thoughts from a Past President and Charter Member of our organization. The late Les Quick wrote this declaration of beliefs for the club. It was endorsed by the Colt Collectors Association Board of Directors on July 30, 1999.
We're Coming to Texas! October 2015
The Rampant Colt
Colt Collectors Association Officers
Officers & Directors
Joe Canali, President (16) P.O. Box 1868 Hartford, CT 06144 Work: (860) 244-1343 Fax: (860) 244-1439 Cell: (860) 490-7967 E-mail: email@example.com Dr. Tom Covault, Vice President (16) 202 South 600 West Hebron, IN 46341 Home: (219) 988-4435 Work: (219) 462-5599 Fax: (219) 531-2874 Cell: (219) 510-2775 Karen Green, Secretary (15) P.O. Box 2241, Los Gatos, CA 95031-2241 (408) 353-COLT (2658) Fax: (408)353-3613 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Kevin Cherry, Treasurer (15) 3408 West Wendover Avenue, Suite N Greensboro, NC 27407 Office: (336) 854-4182 Fax: (336) 854-4184 E-mail: email@example.com Publication Chairman ( ) Position Vacant Don Jones, Historian (15) P.O. Box 7461, Ewing, NJ 08628-0461 Home: (609) 538-0024 Cell: (609) 947-9516 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Scott Woller, Show Chairman (16) 8725 Scarsdale Drive, Charlotte, NC 28227 Home: (704) 545-1025 Work: (704) 847-4181 Fax: (704) 847-0131 Cell: (704) 905-5364 E-mail: email@example.com Joe Pittenger, Past President P.O. Box 249 Orient, OH 43146 Home: (614) 877-4420 Work: (614) 581-COLT (2658) Fax: (614) 877-0775 Cell: (614) 581-COLT (2658) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Directors at Large Barbara Hinesley (15) 1201 C.R. 244 Florence, TX 76525 Work: (512) 424-2396 Cell: (512) 771-8255 E-mail: email@example.com
Doug Carlson (17) P.O. Box 71035, Des Moines, IA 50325 Work: (515) 224-6552 Cell: (515) 240-9307 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Joel Hankinson (17) 177075 Kings Court Lakeville, MN 55044-7140 Home: (952) 435-6110 Email: JHANK@frontiernet.net Brandon Ginther (16) 7030 Cedarbrook Drive, Matthews, NC 28215 Home/Cell: (704) 309-7354 Work: (704) 847-4181 E-mail: email@example.com Carol K. Wilkerson (16) 5402 N.W. 60th Terrace Kansas City, MO 64151 Home: (816) 746-4790 Cell: (816) 225-5145 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Charles B. Layson (16) 1913 Lakes Edge Drive, Lexington, KY 40502 Home: (859) 269-2013 Office: (859) 276-1419 E-mail: email@example.com Pete Holder (17) P.O. Box 1199, Guildford, Surrey GU1 9JR, United Kingdom Home/Office: 011 44 1483 277788 Cell: 011 44 7778 008 008 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Richard (Dick) B. Roe, Advertising Manager (17) 7810 Cub Drive, Marshall, VA 20115 Home: (540) 364-6274 Email: email@example.com Dave Grunberg (16) April - November 2 Mark Circle, Vernon, CT 06066 December - March 8461 Arborfield Ct., Ft. Meyers, FL 33912 Home & Fax: (860) 872-1492 Cell: (860) 798-8288 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Bob Baker (15) P.O. Box 704, Gig Harbor, WA 98335 Home: (253) 851-4570 Work & Cell: (206) 412-7233 E-mail: WALAWMAN@aol.com
Show Report Scott Woller
We're Coming to Texas! October 2015
want to thank everyone once again for the success of the Concord show. My team, our board and you work to put on a quality event, but as Members you make the show a winner. Our terrific CCA members knocked the Concord meeting out of the park! Now onward to Texas! We are planning the upcoming show in Frisco, Texas (see ad opposite) and we're hard at it assembling another fun filled week. We will have tables full of great Colt merchandise as well as many world-class displays, fabulous tours, an exciting auction and delicious Awards Banquet. Great special
events are in the works and I can tell you more details in the next issue. To our many Texan members, reach out to your friends and invite them to celebrate our Texas event. Organize and exhibit your collections! See Fred Sweeney's exhibit guide in our last issue. It will be a wonderful opportunity in your backyard. So members, get your table reservations in, your rooms at the Embassy Suites reserved and mark your calendars to ensure you don’t miss a day of a fun filled week of celebrating all that is the CCA! CCA is Texas Bound! Regards, Scott
In Memoriam Larry P. Jones 1937 - 2014
y wife Nancy and I first met Larry at a Houston Gun Collectors Show in August of 1977. I had been asked by a friend to help him put together a collection of Colt’s with emphasis on Commemoratives. Larry had several tables of Colts for sale and after some friendly negotiations; I was able to buy several guns from him. He gave me a business card and over the next few weeks we spoke on the phone numerous times and he sold me a few more guns. This began a friendship that was to last until his untimely death on December 27, 2014. In 1980, Larry called me to tell me about a letter and invitation to the very first Colt Show. I did not receive my letter until the next day but we decided while we were on the phone that we would attend and support this new show with full force. Together, we had eight tables out of the forty or so that were sold in addition to a display of Colt Commemoratives. We were both asked to serve on the original Board of Directors. He was a founding and charter member of the association. Over the years we did many a show together and they probably number well over a hundred. Larry in 1978 introduced me to Wally Beinfeld’s Antique Arms Show and we did that show together for many years. Many people know of the famous country and western singer, George Jones, who had the infamous reputation for being a no-show at some of his performances and as a result was tagged as “No Show Jones”. On several occasions at the Vegas Show, I would get a call either right before or even during a show from Larry telling me that he wasn’t coming. So, we tagged him “No Show Jones”. We had some great times together and they were not always at shows. One year our families vacationed together at Hilton Head and on other occasions we would meet to play golf. On one gun show trip to Salt Lake City, on Saturday night we drove quite a distance to Wendover Nevada to play Blackjack and then back to Salt Lake. The next morning at breakfast we heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was performing across the street at the Tabernacle. So off we go to hear the performance and were told as we entered that it was a recording
TheTh Rampant ColtColt e Rampant
session, so we would not be able to leave until the session had concluded. It was a great trip; a gun show, playing blackjack at the Stateline casino and a recording session with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Several years later, we would co-author the Book “The Colt Commemoratives 1961-1986”. That brought some ups and downs in our relationship but our friendship survived the book. We also bought gun collections together and traveled to many shows where we had great times. Larry was the consummate perfectionist in his preferred areas of collecting and always had the eye for detail. In the last few years he chose to dig deep into Second Generation Single Actions. As always he did his research and bought some great guns. He was an attorney and a very good one. Larry’s Dad told me that Larry could have been a world class litigator but refused to do the research. He always chose to be a sole practitioner because he never wanted a boss. He also was a very good golfer and generally took a club or two when he went to guns shows just in case he could get away to hit a few balls. He maintained his golfing proficiency right up to a few weeks before his death. We lost Larry way too soon. Nancy and I had him up to our room to watch a Georgia Tech game on Saturday night during the Colt Show. Tech won and he was very happy. His dad had played for Tech in the thirties and he was rabid Georgia Tech fan. The last conversation I had with him was over the phone to discuss the Tech victory over the Georgia Bulldogs. He was aware of his impending demise at that time but never said a word. I know Tech’s victory brought him a lot of pleasure at a time when the future held only weeks for him. Larry is survived by his wife Sandi, his daughter Kristen, sons Casey and Luke and their spouses, five grandchildren and his sister Carol J. Pettys. I know that his passing will leave a big hole in their lives. Nancy and I personally will miss our friend, but I’m sure he’s up there saying “I’m for the Yellow Jackets; how about you?. Ken Condry
The CCA is Texas Bound in 2015
The CCA is Texas Bound in 2015
Join Us October 1-4, 2015 for the Annual All-Colt Gun Show & Meeting
Join Us October 1-4, 2015 for the Annual All-Colt Gun Show & Meeting
Info at www.coltcollectors.com or e-mail email@example.com
EmbassyEmbassy Suites Suites
Hotel, Conference Center & SpaCenter & Spa Hotel, Conference John Q. Hammons John Q.Drive Hammons Drive
Frisco, Texas Frisco, Texas (28 miles NE of DFW Airport)
(28 miles NE of DFW Airport)
(Free Admission for Active Duty Military and Law Enforcement Personnel)
The Rampant Colt
COLLECTING THE NEW POLICE AND POCKET BREECH LOADERS
Richard B. Roe
Photography by Paul Goodwin All illustrated revolvers are from the author's collection.
or years, collectors called these .38 caliber, metallic cartridge revolvers the “small frame conversions” until noted collectors John Breslin, William Pirie, and David Pace pooled their research in the 1990’s, and resolved what was a confusing array of frames, barrels, serial numbers, etc., into a semblance of order. These fellows determined that these were both newly made guns as well as conversions of percussion revolvers, and there were seven different variations or Types of these early breech loading revolvers. Differences in frames, barrels, hammers, and cylinders were noted and within the types, some were made in both new and conversion forms while some were only newly made and others only conversions. Whichever these were, they all were derived from the 1862 New police and 1865 New pocket percussion revolvers with one exception that used some parts from the 1849 percussion pocket pistol. All were either .38 caliber rimfire or centerfire. It isn’t hard to see, given the number of variations, why collectors had been so perplexed when trying to sort out these early cartridge revolvers as seen in Figure 1. Starting with my first article on the New line, New House, and New Police models in the Fall 2012 issue of Rampant Colt, and continuing with my second article on the Model 1877 Double Action in the Winter 2013 issue, I’ve tried to introduce the beginning collector and hopefully as well as veteran collectors, to Colt models other than the ubiquitous model P, the Single Action Army (SAA), the darling of Colt collectors about which volumes have been written. Rather, I’ve focused on models on which either little has been written (the New Lines) or upon which nothing has been written in ages (the Model 1877). In this article I’m introducing the reader to a model which, to my knowledge, has not been addressed since Breslin, et al, published their outstanding book in 2002. This is not an attempt to expand on their research but to summarize their findings for the benefit of the collector since it has been over a decade since the book was published. Though my original intent in writing these articles was to introduce antique Colt pistols of more modest expense, I admit straying from that objective here as these “New Breech Loaders” are not inexpensive, and one type is rare and pricey.
Development of the New Breech Loaders In 1869, Rollin White’s 1855 patent for a bored through cylinder to which Smith and Wesson had obtained exclusive rights, expired though the actual date was delayed until1872 through legal maneuvering by Smith and Wesson. In 1871 Colt began production of a .41 rimfire revolver, the House pistol and a .22 caliber revolver, the Open Top. However, there remained an opportunity for a smaller caliber than the .41 and both the 1862 New Police and 1865 New
Fig. 1. Type 1 Breech Loader, 4½” round barrel, s/n 184.
Pocket percussion revolvers provided that opportunity. Both were .36 caliber which could be converted easily to .38 caliber. However, Breslin, et al, found that although Colt did convert 1862 and 1865 percussion guns to cartridge, the Company also manufactured new guns utilizing some parts from the two percussion types. In fact, more newly made revolvers were manufactured than percussion guns were converted! Furthermore and adding to the confusion, there were seven different “Types” of these breech loaders manufactured depending on which components were used from the New Police and New Pocket models. As we shall see, some Types were both newly made and made from conversions. One Type was only newly made, and one Type was made only as a conversion. And, to complete the confusion, one Type left the factory in one configuration but exists today only in a modified form, begging the question as to who did the modification and when!
Summary of the Types: Type 1. Round modified 1862 New Police barrels, fluted cylinders, loading gate with internal spring, ejector. Type 2. Round modified 1862 New Police barrels, round cylinders, loading gate with external spring, ejector. Type 3. Newly made using modified 1865 New Pocket barrels with loading gate and without ejector. Type 4. Conversions only using modified 1865 New Pocket pistols without loading gate or ejector. Type 5. New “solid”*, round, 3½” barrels without loading gate or ejector. Type 6. Round barrels turned from octagon barrels, with loading gate and ejector. Type 7. New long, round, solid barrels with loading gate and ejector. * Colt used this designation to define barrels without the loading cutout from percussion barrels.
COLLECTING THE NEW POLICE AND POCKET BREECH LOADERS
Variations in Components: Barrels: There are 5 barrel configurations: 1.
Round 1862 barrels with ejectors in 4½”, 5½”, and 6½” (Types 1 and 2). 2. Octagonal 1865 barrels in 3” and 4½” (Types 3 and 4). 3. Newly made round solid (without the wedge) barrels without ejectors, 3½” (only Type 5). 4. Octagonal barrels turned round with ejectors in 4½”, 5½”, and 6½” (Type 6). 5. New solid barrels with ejectors in 5½” and 6½” (Type 7). There are three barrel addresses: 1. ADDRESS COL SAML COLT NEW YORK U.S. AMERICA (Types 1, 2, 3, and 4). 2. COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG.CO HARTFORD CT. U.S.A. (Types 5, 6, and 7). 3. ADDRESS COL. COLT LONDON (Converted Types 1 and 2 only). Frames: There are three frames: Style A – Loading gate with internal loading gate spring, small hammer screw (Types 1,2, and 3). Style B – Loading gate with external loading gate spring, large hammer screw (Types 1,2,3,6, and 7). Style C – No loading gate, large hammer screw (Types 4 and 5). [Note – Types 1, 2, and 3 were made in two frame styles]. Patent Dates: 1. Early guns had this stamp: COLTS PATENT. 2. Most common was the two line stamp: PAT. JULY 25, 1871(in two lines) PAT. JULY 2, 1872 3. And, very rarely found: PAT. SEPT. 10, 1871 (in two lines) PAT. JULY 2, 1872 These dates refer to C.B. Richards’ patent # 117461 of July 25, 1871 on “the additions used in altering Colt percussion cap revolvers for the use of flanged metallic self exploding cartridges”. ( I am not sure what the September 10 patent date references.) The second date cites W. Mason’s patent # 128644 of July 2, 1872 on “Improvements in the ejector rod of converted Colts”. This patent also applies to the SAA and the Models of 1877 and 1878. (Haven and Belden.) Conversion Rings: Conversion rings were machined for either rimfire or centerfire and milled for loading gates whether or not employed (Types 4 and 5). The ring was fastened to the frame with a screw. Cylinders: Fluted (Type 1).
Grip Straps and Trigger Guards: These were brass, sometimes nickel plated (all Types). Calibers were stamped on the left side of the trigger guards; usually marked 36 CAL or 31 CAL. Some were double stamped 38 over 36, or 36 over 31. Hammers: Case hardened, sometimes plated. There are three different firing pins: Pinned rimfire. Pinned centerfire (flat). Conical, screwed in, centerfire (used only on early production of Police or ejector pistols). Cylinder Arbors: 1. Newly assembled guns had the assembly number on the arbor. 2. Converted guns had up to four digits of the serial number stamped on the arbor. Assembly Numbers (Assem. No.): Best summarized by Type: Types 1 & 2 - On original cartridge pistols the Assem. No. is on the loading gate, on the frame under the trigger guard, on the back of the conversion ring, and on the cylinder arbor. Very early guns had the number on the outside of the ring and outside the gate. On guns assembled from parts the Assem. No. is on the gate, the frame, the ring, and the arbor. Type 3 - On the gate, frame, ring, and the arbor. Type 4 - On the frame and ring. Type 5 – On the frame, ring, and on newly made guns, the arbor. Type 6 – On the gate, frame, ring, and on guns made from parts, the arbor. Type 7 – On both newly made and assembled from parts, the gate, frame, ring, and arbor. Serial Numbers: There are five serial number ranges in which breech loaders are found: First Range - #1 to approximately #13825 on round barrel ejector guns newly made as cartridge pistols, primarily Types 1,2,6, and 7. Second Range - #1 – approx. #5420 on non ejector, octagonal and round barrel guns made originally as cartridge pistols, Types 3 & 5. Third Range - #14600 -#21200 on new model pocket guns made from converted old model pocket percussion pistols without ejectors, and continuing the 1865 pocket serial numbers, Type 4. Fourth Range - Majority between #36000 - #48000, on guns made by converting 1862 Police pistols, conversions using the B frame, Type 2, some Type 7, and very few Type 6. Fifth Range - #297000 - #328000; Type 5 guns made from 1849 old pocket percussion pistols with new, solid 3½” barrels. Serial numbers are found on the barrel, frame, trigger guard, back strap, cylinder, and on Type 4 and conversions of Types 1, 2, 5, and 7, on the arbor.
Round, roll engraved (Types 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7). Round, roll engraved and with two serial numbers (some Type 4).
The Rampant Colt
Richard B. Roe
Fig. 2. A New York dealer casing of a Type 5 Breech Loader.
Finishes: Guns were finished in blue with casehardened frames, or nickel. Engraving and Casings: A number of engraved guns were found in the study, some having been engraved as percussion pistols and retained in conversion. Casings are unusual and more common with British guns; period U.S. casings were more likely done by dealers.
Description of the Types: Type 1. Newly made from percussion and new parts, or converted from percussion revolvers.
(b) Converted pistols had B frames, type 2 patent stampings, large hammer screw, loading gate with outside spring, mostly 4½” barrels but some 6½” occur, 85% were rimfire. About evenly divided blued or nickeled. Serial numbers range from 28000 to 48000. Production estimated at less than 500. Type 2. Identical to Type 1, both (a) and (b) except for round cylinders. (a) Newly made guns had A or B frames, 60% had 4½” barrels, 85% were rimfire, equally divided in blue or nickel finish. Serial number range 1 to 13500. Production estimated to be at 5,400.
Type 1 Breech Loader, 6½” round barrel, s/n 1673.
(a) Newly made guns have round, 1862 New Police barrels with ejectors, A frames with small hammer screw, loading gate with internal springs, fluted cylinders and early type 1 patent stamping, (serial numbers 1 to 5000); or B frames with large hammer screw, loading gate with outside gate spring, type 2 patent dates, and fluted cylinders (serial numbers above 5000). Barrels were generally 4½” but some have 5½” or 6½” barrels. Most (90%) were made in rimfire. 60% were blued with case hardened frames, the rest were nickel. Production is estimated at 2,500.
Fig. 4. Type 2 Breech Loader, 4½” round barrel, s/n 5719.
COLLECTING THE NEW POLICE AND POCKET BREECH LOADERS
Type 2 Conversion Breech Loader, 4½” round barrel, s/n 42754.
(b) Converted pistols were the same as newly made guns including barrel lengths, were evenly divided between rimfire and centerfire; some 66% were nickel. Serial numbers between 23000 and 48000. Production estimated at 2,400.
Type 3 Breech Loader, 4½” octagon barrel, s/n 389.
Type 3. Newly made guns only, no conversions. Octagon barrels (from the 1865 New Pocket), without ejector, all 4½”, with loading gate, and round cylinders. Either A frames with small hammer screw, inside loading gate spring, and type 1 patent marks (serial numbers 4270 to 4980) or B frames with large hammer screw, outside loading gate spring, and type 2 patent marks (serial numbers 1 to 1650 and above 5250). 85% were rimfire, 15% were centerfire and 75% were blued. Production estimated at 3,075.
Type 4 Breech Loader, 4½” octagon barrel, s/n 16533.
Type 4. All converted from 1865 Pocket percussion revolvers. C frames, no loading gate, large hammer screw, type 2 patent dates, octagon barrels without ejectors, 3” and 4½” lengths. Evenly finished in blue or nickel; 95% rimfire. Several serial number ranges; 1997 to 2715, 6270 to 6489, and 9680 to 9700, (all engraved), and 14500 to 21200 following the old 1865 Pocket numbers. Production estimated at 2,000. Type 5. New, round, 3½”, “solid” barrels , no ejectors. C style frames without loading gate, large hammer screw, type 2 patent dates. Made as new pistols or converted from percussion revolvers.
Type 5 Conversion Breech Loader, 3½” solid round barrel, s/n 329000.
Type 6 Breech Loader, 4½” turned round barrel, s/n 12495.
The Rampant Colt
(a) Newly made, nearly all .38 rimfire; most found today are nickel plated though factory records show they were blued when shipped. Serial numbers range from 1750 to 5450. Production estimated at 3,425. (b) Converted guns same as newly made except the trigger guards were from 1849 Old Pocket percussion pistols marked with .31 CAL on left side and 1849 serial numbers. The majority (some 60%) are centerfire. About evenly distributed between blue and nickel. Serial numbers from 297000 to 329000. Production estimated at 6,700. This is the most common Type found today. Type 6. Mainly made as new breech loaders with round barrels turned from octagonal 1865 Pocket pistols with ejectors; B frames with loading gate, outside spring, large hammer screw, and type 2 patent dates. Round cylinders. Some made with 4½” barrels but most were 5½” or 6½”. Somewhat more than 50% were rimfire, 75% were nickel, 25% blue. A very small number were made
Richard B. Roe from converted percussion (approx. 200) most all were newly made. Serial numbers: A test run of some 250 were numbered between 2885 to 3250 in the second serial number range; the rest were from 7000 to 13500 in the first serial number range. Production of the newly made guns is estimated at 4,300. Type 7. Newly made and converted from percussion. Both versions had “new” long round, solid barrels with ejectors, B style frames with large hammer screw, loading gate with outside spring, type 2 patent dates. All are centerfire (one conversion was found in rimfire). Though factory records show these as being shipped with 4½” barrels, some are in rimfire some are in centerfire, examples found today have 5½” and 6½” centerfire barrels! Newly made are found in 70% nickel, 30% blue, and converted are 40% nickel and 60% blue. Serial numbers for newly made are from 8800 to 13900; converted numbers are between 39000 and 47000. This is the rarest of the Types with an estimated total production of 1,500.
somewhere around $100.00 for it. It wasn’t until I met Bill Pirie and purchased his book that I realized I had bought a Type 5 new breech loader. I still have that gun!
References: Breslin, John D., William Q. Pirie, and David E. Pace. Variations of Colt’s New Model Police and Pocket Breech Loading Pistols. Andrew Mowbray Publishers, P.O. Box 460, Lincoln, R.I. 02865. 2002. Haven, Charles T. and Frank A. Belden. A History of the Colt Revolver and Other Arms Made by Colts Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company from 1836 to 1940. Bonanza Books, New York. 1940.
Who made the barrel changes and when, remains a mystery. The authors found that Colt shipped some 1,934 New Breech loaders to Winchester in February 1882 and most of Type 7 guns found in the study were in that shipment. These were shipped with 4½” barrels in rimfire but the 51 guns found from that shipment have 5½” and 6½” barrels with rifling identical to the .38 caliber New House, New Police, and 1877 models rather than the rifling found in the Type 1 to 6 guns which was the same as the 1863 Police and 1865 Pocket percussion pistols. Another Colt mystery yet to be solved!
Conclusion and Summary: After absorbing all this information on the “New Breech Loaders” I suspect the reader can appreciate the bewilderment and confusion collectors have gone through over the years trying to make sense of the myriad differences in the so called “small frame conversions”. As it turns out, many of these were not conversions at all but newly made revolvers, using some parts from the 1862 Police and the1865 Pocket percussion pistols but also newly made parts. The new gun was Colts attempt to introduce a new metallic cartridge, the .38 caliber, to satisfy the rapidly growing demand for cartridge pistols. And further, to use up percussion parts on hand. The first to be marketed, probably in 1871, was undoubtedly the Type 1 which used 1862 New Police barrels and fluted cylinders. During the period 1872 through 1877, Types 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 were developed using New Police and New Pocket barrels and other parts. The enigmatic Type 7 was probably produced in 1882. That both newly made and converted percussion guns were made by Colt is clear. The quantity of on-hand percussion guns was certainly not large enough to have contributed solely to the somewhat 32,000 breechloaders made and in fact, the researchers found that over 19,000 of these guns were not conversions at all but newly made. Despite the quantity of these revolvers made, Colt faced the introduction of better designed guns and in larger calibers, much of its own doing. The introduction of the .45 caliber Model P in 1873 started a new trend of solid frame, better designed pistols which was followed in 1877 by the new double action “self cocker” in .38 and .41 centerfire calibers. These new and better revolvers essentially doomed the “New Breech Loader”. As an antidote, my first Colt revolver was purchased at a gun show in Jackson, MS in the mid 1960s. I thought it was cool and though it looked like a percussion gun, it clearly was not with no loading lever and having a cylinder bored through for cartridges. I think I paid
Period ammo box and Kittredge Ad reproduction above are from the author's collection and resources.
SAM COLT 1814-1862 Commemorating a Legend (Part 2) Peter G. Smithurst
Curator Emeritus, Royal Armouries Visiting Research Fellow, University of Huddersfield Board Member, The Sam & Elizabeth Colt Heritage Center, Hartford, Connecticut
aving committed himself to fulfilling the government’s requirements but with no money to back him, he had taken the bold step of contracting to have the lock frames and other parts forged and he had even persuaded Eli Whitney, Jr., who he had approached earlier about the possibility of making these guns and who had declined, to change his mind. The Colt “Walker” became known as the “Whitneyville-Walker” as a result, incorporating the name of the place where Whitney had his factory. It was also at this time that Sam designed a machine for machining the two part-spherical portions of the standing breech, features which distinguished a Colt revolver and those of his copyists from nearly all other revolvers and which were difficult shapes to machine. The Whitneyville Walker, with modifications requested by the government led to the series of shorter “dragoon” pistols and it was around this time that the pocket model of 1849 also began to appear in response to the “Gold Rush” and a perceived, and probably real, need for self-protection of the prospectors. Also at this time Colt’s new manufactory at Pearl Street got under way and in 1849 he hired as foreman Elisha K Root, the same who had saved him from a wrathful crowd in an earlier escapade, and who was able to improve methods, devising new machines and processes to speed production and reduce costs. Root is often credited with the invention of the universal milling machine amongst other innovative machine tools and did much to develop the technique of die forging iron and steel components. It was here, and then at Grove Street, that Colt began manufacturing his range of pistols that were to become so well-known then and remain so to this day. However there is some disagreement on the proper terminology of the some early models which included various pocket pistols, the model 1855 Root being one of them of course, and a belt pistol - the ubiquitous 1851 Navy, which was to find world-wide use. At the same time the “safety pins” at the rear of the cylinder were introduced though on many surviving pistols these are missing. Demand for Colt’s revolvers was beginning to outstrip his capacity for producing them so in 1851 he purchased land on South Meadows, close to the Connecticut River to build his New Armory which was completed in 1855. As part of this project he had to build a mud embankment which he consolidated by planting willows – and then induced willow workers from Germany to come to Hartford and operate his Willow-ware Manufacturing Company – another example of his entrepreneurial flair!
The Rampant Colt
Fig. 12 Colt New Armory at Hartford, Connecticut, on the Connecticut River with its landmark “onion” dome. The Connecticut River Valley, from Vermont down to the Atlantic Ocean, was to become one of the primary regions for industrial and manufacturing innovation in the United States, earning the name “Precision Valley”. [(United States Magazine; New York, 1857. Vol IV, No 3, pps 221 – 249)]
In 1864, the Armory was largely destroyed by fire, often thought to have been started by Confederate saboteurs. Rebuilding was completed in 1867. The most distinguishing feature of both buildings is the “onion dome”, now resplendent once again after restoration with its gold stars glinting in the sun and topped by a gilded ball, upon which is the rampant colt trademark. Attempts are being made to develop the building as a museum and heritage centre, focussing on Colt not simply as a gunmaker but as a pioneer, linking many of the pioneering achievements which pushed forward frontiers of all kinds in American History.
Fig. 13 The Colt East Armory as it appeared in 2011 (courtesy Jim Griffin, Director, Sam and Elizabeth Colt Heritage Center, Hartford, Connecticut)
The year 1851 was in many ways a momentous year for Colt. The announcement of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Art and Industry of all Nations to be held in London that year was a golden opportunity for him to indulge his flair as entrepreneur, salesman and showman to a world-wide market. As part of that
Fig. 14 The emblem of the Sam and Elizabeth Colt Heritage Center featuring the onion dome which Colt had built to celebrate his being presented at the Russian court in St. Petersburg
salesmanship he presented many revolvers to influential people and dignitaries, and without doubt the most important recipient was Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort and patron of the Exhibition. These beautiful pistols still survive and form part of the Royal Collections and are probably the most important Colt presentation revolvers in existence from the British perspective. (see following centerfold for cased pistols) Such was the enthusiasm for Colts revolvers that he set up a factory at Bessborough Place on the River Thames, the first to be
Another extremely rare London factory variant is the ’51 Navy shown in Fig. 18. As can be seen, this has had a spur fitted perfectly contoured to the trigger guard and secured by screws; in addition it is cut for the 1st pattern shoulder stock. Either feature make it rare; combined it is possibly unique. Sadly the stock is not with it and any information regarding who owned it was lost when the museum was damaged by bombing in World War II.
Manufacture Gunmaking in America followed a very different path from that in Europe, though its inspiration came from 18th century France and a man named Honoré le Blanc. He had designed the classic French model 1777 musket. But he had also gone a few steps further. He was developing the means of making the parts using special tools and jigs so that they were not just similar but were exact reproductions of each other. It was the birth of precision manufacturing standards and interchangeability. Unfortunately the gunmakers of France saw the use of machines not as a technological innovation but as a threat to their livelihoods, and to keep the peace, le Blanc had to abandon this major technological breakthrough. Le Blanc’s ideas were not to die however. In 1785, his musket and his experimental approach to its manufacture came to the attention of
established by an American manufacturer outside the U.S. and the first to be established in Britain by a non- British citizen – it perhaps marks the beginnings of the global economy. It began operations in 1853 and closed in 1856 as sales began to decline with the end of the Crimean War. Before the London factory actually got manufacturing underway, it was initially supplying revolvers made in Hartford but under the new serial number range allocated to London. As a result, some
Thomas Jefferson, the United States’ representative in Paris. He sent a report to John Jay, Secretary for Foreign Affairs, in which he comments: (above) A magnificent pair of a Dragoon and a ’51 Navy revolver presented to Prince Albert. (Supplied by Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2014) (Photograph by Chris Streek, Royal Armouries)
of these early revolvers exhibit interesting discrepancies from the normal London products. As an instance, they have silver plated brass instead of the iron trigger guards and backstraps; they lack the calibre stamping on the trigger guard; they have loading lever screws on the right hand side; they have small bullet cuts and no cap channel in the standing breech. An example of these features can be found in the revolver shown in Fig. 17 which also has the low serial number of 184.
“ An improvement is made here in the construction of muskets . . . It consists in making every part of them so exactly alike, that what belongs to any one, may be used for every other musket in the magazine.1 Jefferson’s comment, combined with the view of Alexander Hamilton “If there be anything in a remark often to be met with, namely, that there is, in the genius of the people of this country, a peculiar aptitude for mechanic improvements, it would operate as a forcible reason for giving opportunities to the exercise of that species of talent, by the propagation of manufactures.”2 text continued on page 16
A magnificent cased set of a Dragoon and a ’51 Navy revolver presented to Prince Albert. (Supplied by Royal Collection Trust / © HM Queen Elizabeth II 2014) (Photograph by Chris Streek, Royal Armouries)
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