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I have just come across a Colt revolver. It has a 7 1/2 inch barrel, ships engraved on the chamber, the words 'Sam L Colt NYC' and 'Engaged 16 May 1843'. I was told it was a cap and ball revolver. I can't find any information on it. Can anyone tell me anything?
 

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The scenes of the Naval engagement of May 16, 1843, were engraved on several Colt cap and ball models, including the 1851 Navy, 1860 Army & 1861 Navy. We need more info such as caliber, patent date markings, cylinder length, number of chambers, presence of cylinder flutes, etc., to help further; or, even better, post pictures, too. Be sure to give the *exact* markings: use capitals and spacing exactly as found. Also, double check your barrel length measurement to be sure it's 7.5" and not 8".

Steve
 

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Thanks Steve,
I was told it was a 40 caliber, and it has 6 cylinders. It has the words 'Colt's Patent 19868' and 'Engraved by W.L. Ormsby'. On the grip are the numbers 9868. The barrel is indeed 7.5", and the cylinder is smooth except for some grooves at the top. There are no dates except 1843 that I can see.
 

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Let's get some labels straight, and then produce some more tantalizing clues. First, any revolver has only one "cylinder" which has multiple holes in it, each of which is called a "chamber". Yours is a 6-shot, but not .40 caliber. Colts were .31, or .36, or .44. Is the entire barrel composed of flat surfaces, or is it a round barrel? Is the rammer, located under the barrel, purely a hinged rammer or does it have a few teeth that push agains the bottom of the barrel?

Bart Noir
 

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Sorry, showing my girlish side! I know nothing about guns, and I don't have the gun in my possession at the time. I am relaying my mom's description of it, which I am getting over the phone. We are trying to determine if it is worth the $300 the owner is asking so my mother can buy it for my dad. The barrel has 8 flat sides, and the hinged thing has two teeth. Thanks, Tracie
 

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Thanks, Bart
There are no stamps saying made in Italy. The gun is in great condition, looks almost new, which is why I told my mom to wait until I could find out more. Thanks for taking the time to give me so much information. I tell my mom what you've told me and let her make a decision.
 

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I'd like to help you and your Mom in this quest to buy such a present, but there is a complication. The gun-makers in Italy have been making copies of the cap-n-ball Colts for years, of varying quality. Usually they have the Made In Italy stamp and other Italian proof marks, but there were other reproductions made by Colt, and then by a company licensed to use the Colt name. These are modern manufactur but without the Italian labels. Any of these non-Italian-marked repro's might be worth the 300 if in fine shape, but maybe not.

Now, if it is a real Colt from the 1850's, then it is likely worth over 300 if all the pieces are still clinging to each other. But I am not an expert and suggest you don't pay that much attention to my views! Your public library might have a book of used guns and their values.

Bart Noir
 
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