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This is an 1851 Colt Navy with Iron back strap and trigger guard. It is martially marked. It has a 7 1/2” barrel and the muzzle is rounded not square. All numbers match, including the wedge. The barrel is marked “-ADDRESS SAML COLT HARTFORD CT-“


When I was growing up, my father collected lots ‘o guns. I got this 1851 from his estate 20 years ago right after he died. Now that I myself am nearing retirement, I am selling those items I no longer need. I know that the iron backstrap versions were not that common and that US marked 1851s are also uncommon. My expertise in firearms doesn’t lie in this area, so I am looking for some input from the esteemed members of this board as to what exactly I have and what it would be worth. I did search the forum but didn’t find anything on point. I thank you all in advance for your time and trouble commenting.













 

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I don't have a direct answer to your question. I have no idea what it would be worth. You might go to gunbroker.com and enter Colt Navy 1851 .36 to get an idea. Be sure you are comparing it to actual Colt models (originals of the 1800s) and not Italian replicas (Pietta, Uberti, etc. And even Colt not too long ago had Italians make them replicas to put their original Colt stamp on it)

Very nice gun! As it has U.S. stamp on it, it MIGHT have been used by the U.S. 2nd Cavalry. For a time, during the 1850s, under Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, the Cavalry was issued the .36 1851 Navy as a lighter alternative to the heavier Colt Dragoon models. The 2nd Cavalry, stationed on the frontier in Texas under the commands of men like Albert Sydney Johnston and Robert E. Lee, in particular was issued the Navy.
Then again, it may have been just sitting in a U.S. armory ;)
 

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I can't tell you much but if the serial # is 80198, it was built in late 1857. The finish looks pretty clean - to the extent I'm wondering if it wasn't cleaned by someone somewhere along the way. If you find what you need to know and determine a price, give me a holler as I'm looking to get my first 1851. I'm also retiring but I love to shoot and my kids love the guns so they'll go to a good home one way or another.

If it has been cleaned, the price goes way down. I've seen this model anywhere from about $1,000 to $1,750 but I'm a newbie so I don't know how far or close I might be. If you don't have an appraiser nearby, one suggestion would be to put it up at the higher end price and see if you get a bite. If not, lower it 10% and try again. Look around for an hour or two on the net to get a better idea of price.
 

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Interesting. For starters, your gun was made in 1859 (90000 sn range). This serial number is in the range of US Navy purchased 1851 Colts (89500 to 91000), these had only a US marking as does yours, but not any other government inspection markings as previous govt purchased Navies had. The theory is the US Navy directly purchased these and they were not purchased through the bureau of Ordnance which would have placed more govt inspectors markings on them. This serial range is what Swayze in his book "1851 Colt Navies" calls "black navies" due to their dark finish, including dark wood.
I have to mention this now as it is irritating me:rolleyes:, but your wedge is in backwards! carefully take the screw out, carefully take the wedge out, coat it lightly with oil, tap the wedge 1/4 way in from the left side of the gun, put the screw back in, and then tap the wedge back in. Okay, got that off my chest!
Your gun has LOTS going for it. First of all it has a cylinder scene, nothing appears buggered up, the wood is not gouged, nor does it have notches cut into it (aargh!). The rounded end of the barrel is probably due to holster wear. Cant see the front sight, and also you did not mention whether it functioned or not (a big concern) or bore and cylinder internal condition (big concern). Another biggie...this is a martial Colt!
The negatives? The wood appears sanded a bit...the rounded edges that go below the area the frame protected (next to the frame) are a big clue here. Finish is all gone but there is no bad pitting. Also the barrel seems to tighten up a bit too close to the cylinder, this is very common with wear and is due to an enlarged cylinder arbor slot or a shortend cylinder arbor end tip.
Value? I wont be of much help because these things started to price them selves out of my market. Here in Ohio any Navy with no finish but no problems and without a cylinder scene starts around 1000 and goes up. Add a cylinder scene and I dont see them under 1500 anymore. Remember major problems (of which IMO your gun has none) reduce that. So add your martial markings, in the corect serial range as your is, and presumably no problems (bore, nipples, function) and also the nice touch of matching wedge serial number and I cannot imagine seeing it under 2000 and maybe even 2500 but I am working blind here as my market for 1st generation Navies (of which I own 1 and it has no cyl scene) is limited by my willingness to "go big" and start plunging serious money into what essentially would be a safe queen for me.
 

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In my opinion the old percussions have taken a larger hit than most collectables in todays economic malaise. In the Texas shows you used to see table after table of them, now if you see more than 10 at a large well advertised and attended show you are very lucky indeed. If you decide to sell and establish a price please let me know as I am interested. And as previously stated put the wedge in right. By the way is the front sight still in place?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I apologize for the late follow-up to this thread, but right after I posted my last response, I went on vacation. Two weeks later, when I returned, I had completely forgotten about it and never checked up to see if there was any follow up. (I plead special circumstances because for whatever reason, the forum doesn’t notify me of responses. I will have to check my settings.)

Anyhoo, to answer questions, I have not fired the gun, but the bore looks good, chambers and nipples are also looking good (to me anyway). The front sight is present but is small and looks brass. I have also properly inserted the wedge, thanks to those who pointed that out. Finally, I checked the serial number on the wedge and it is not matching. I recall my father had two such revolvers, the 1851 and an 1849. I guess it was the 1849 with the matching wedge.

Also, to follow up questions, if you are interested, PM me. I know sales should be in the “For Sale” forum, but I thought this would be a better follow up for completeness for anyone who searches the archives in the future.

Regardless, I am posting photos with more details. Enjoy.















 

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It's possible that the steel straps are an overrun from the London factory which closed in 1857.

Rio
 
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