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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi All,
I need some expert guidance on what the correct New York City address looks like on an original Colt M1851 Square back. I have seen three variations and don’t know what is correct. Further, were all Colt Navy
M 1851s made with walnut grips?
Lastly, were the serial numbers on these early navies stamped with individual number dies? Some guns have perfectly aligned numbers while others have numbers not perfectly aligned. Thanks much! View attachment 664567 View attachment 664567
 

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The barrel shown in your photos has the correct (and only) address stamped on squareback 1851s. It is distinctive because all squarebacks had the "NEW YORK CITY" address. Walnut grips as opposed to.....? Walnut was the standard grip material. Special orders were available with ivory, bone, etc. Hard rubber was never used. I believe that all the numerals in all serial numbers were stamped with individual dies.
 

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Would love to see the rest of the gun
 

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Discussion Starter #4
The barrel shown in your photos has the correct (and only) address stamped on squareback 1851s. It is distinctive because all squarebacks had the "NEW YORK CITY" address. Walnut grips as opposed to.....? Walnut was the standard grip material. Special orders were available with ivory, bone, etc. Hard rubber was never used. I believe that all the numerals in all serial numbers were stamped with individual dies.
Blackjack, Walnut grips as opposed to another type of wood. Sorry, wasn’t clear. If the serial numbers were stamped with individual die, would their alignment vary somewhat by which employee was doing the stamping?
Do all square backs have a crowned barrel? Much obliged !
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The barrel shown in your photos has the correct (and only) address stamped on squareback 1851s. It is distinctive because all squarebacks had the "NEW YORK CITY" address. Walnut grips as opposed to.....? Walnut was the standard grip material. Special orders were available with ivory, bone, etc. Hard rubber was never used. I believe that all the numerals in all serial numbers were stamped with individual dies.
A couple more serial examples.
 

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Nice, that's a decent looking Type 1 Navy. Is there a story behind it?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
With regard to uneven serial numbers here’s another typical example.
Blackjack, I’m no expert, but I have seen many Colts with uneven numbers. Was just told by a recognized expert ( dealer )that the numbers should align because they were machine stamped. I thought perhaps Colt started with individual number die hand stamped on the early guns and then later used machines, but the serial number in your last post sure looks hand stamped. Thanks
 

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So, you have (2) squarebacks showing -- 1203 & 2117. I have (3) and on some locations the numbers are lined up almost perfect, and one area that looks similar to the uneven example you show. My earliest one (219) has all s/n's pretty well lined up.

Wasn't aware that any were machine stamped, maybe learned something new here.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So, you have (2) squarebacks showing -- 1203 & 2117. I have (3) and on some locations the numbers are lined up almost perfect, and one area that looks similar to the uneven example you show. My earliest one (219) has all s/n's pretty well lined up.

Wasn't aware that any were machine stamped, maybe learned something new here.
Berkeley, as far as the serial number stamping goes, I’m trying to learn what method Colt used. Just know I’ve seen some Colts with aligned numbers and others that were not aligned. The dealer’s point was misaligned like #2117, can’t be a Colt as they would never do such a poor job. Hmmm, can’t say I agree with that logic, based on all the misaligned serial numbers I’ve seen. But hey what do I know, just a novice trying to learn.
 

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They stamped the numbers one at a time. I guess if someone was in a hurry, the numbers can be misaligned.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
So, you have (2) squarebacks showing -- 1203 & 2117. I have (3) and on some locations the numbers are lined up almost perfect, and one area that looks similar to the uneven example you show. My earliest one (219) has all s/n's pretty well lined up.

Wasn't aware that any were machine stamped, maybe learned something new here.
Berkeley, do any of your squarebacks have this particular barrel address or hammer cross hatching? Thank you!
 

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Blackjack, Walnut grips as opposed to another type of wood. Sorry, wasn’t clear. If the serial numbers were stamped with individual die, would their alignment vary somewhat by which employee was doing the stamping?
Do all square backs have a crowned barrel? Much obliged !
I am no expert on the 1851 Colt Navy. But, yes, the number alignment would not only vary with the employee doing the serial numbering, but also by how many previous numbers he had applied. Most people would (hopefully) try to improve their work quality with each repetition. On the other hand, some might get worse as fatigue sets in!

I can imagine using an alignment guide that surrounded one or both sides of the numbering die square shank. This would require special numbering dies with a square shank that were only about 1/8" flat to flat. Numbers could even be loaded into the alignment guide in proper sequence and struck one at a time. But then we would never see numbers that are tilted, as so many are. I am not saying that alignment guides were never used at Colt, but they apparently were not used consistently on most older models that we see.
 

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All (3) of my Sq Bk's have the same barrel address as yours. Two of them have the same hammer x-hatching (s/n's 27xx & 36xx), but s/n 219 is much different. There is a slightly raised 'mushroom' shaped surface on the hammer that contains the x-hatching. Too dark to get any pictures tonight. I will try to get a picture tomorrow, but my camera pictures are no where as near as sharp as yours.

'51 Navy SB 002.jpg

This is a sketch of that slightly raised surface on the hammer that contains the x-hatching.

Funny, several times last night this sketch would not upload, but tonight uploaded without any problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
All (3) of my Sq Bk's have the same barrel address as yours. Two of them have the same hammer x-hatching (s/n's 27xx & 36xx), but s/n 219 is much different. There is a slightly raised 'mushroom' shaped surface on the hammer that contains the x-hatching. Too dark to get any pictures tonight, and for some strange reason the photo of a sketch I made will not upload here. I will try to get a picture tomorrow, but my camera pictures are no where as near as sharp as yours.
Berkeley,
Would you mind also sending a picture of the barrel address on one or two of your squarebacks? Thank you! Jonl
 

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I am no expert on the 1851 Colt Navy. But, yes, the number alignment would not only vary with the employee doing the serial numbering, but also by how many previous numbers he had applied. Most people would (hopefully) try to improve their work quality with each repetition. On the other hand, some might get worse as fatigue sets in!

I can imagine using an alignment guide that surrounded one or both sides of the numbering die square shank. This would require special numbering dies with a square shank that were only about 1/8" flat to flat. Numbers could even be loaded into the alignment guide in proper sequence and struck one at a time. But then we would never see numbers that are tilted, as so many are. I am not saying that alignment guides were never used at Colt, but they apparently were not used consistently on most older models that we see.
The percussion revolvers were placed bottom side up in a cradle and the fellow stamping the serials would stamp each separate number butt, guard, frame, barrel, then the second number similarly one-two-three-four until done. You'll see some percussion guns where the numerals slant up or down (actually, they seem to slant uphill most of the time).

Colt did not use a jig or "alignment guide" on the percussion revolvers. I don't know about the SAAs or other later guns.
 
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