December 6-8, 2023 Firearms & Militaria
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This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 12/6/2023
Numbered in the same range, only approximately 850 No. 2 and No. 3 Belt Model revolvers are believed to have been manufactured by Samuel Colt's Patent Arms Manufacturing Co. of Paterson, New Jersey, circa 1837 to 1840. This particularly extraordinary specimen of a No. 3 is accompanied by an extremely scarce, original, presentation case and accoutrements. The blued 5 - 1/2" octagon barrel is roll stamped on the top flat "Patent Arms M'g Co Paterson N-J Colt's Pt" between a pair of small bowtie motifs. .31 caliber bore with 11 groove rifling. Front sight is a small German silver blade. Hammer notch rear sight. The 5-shot rounded shoulder cylinder displays a crisp and largely legible rolled cylinder scene featuring the "COLT" horse head trademark, as well as a pair of centaurs armed with a Colt rifle and revolvers engaged in combat with horsemen and foot soldiers. Polished blue frame with solid recoil shield and folding trigger. The 1-piece smooth varnished walnut grips are flared at the base and numbered to the gun. Revolver is housed in a correct beveled lid varnished mahogany presentation case lined in brown crushed velvet and complete with original accountments. A matching spare cylinder is secured by a dowel in the upper right corner. To the left of the revolver, retained by iron mounts, are an iron single cavity round ball mold with 3 walnut handles, Paterson combination tool (screwdriver, ball starter, nipple wrench, and pick), and threaded wiping rod with turned walnut handle. The first pattern bass capper is embossed around the lid edge "COLT'S PATENT / PATENT ARMS M(?)NG CO PATERSON. N.J." between rings with a central rampant Colt motif and a pair of crossed Paterson revolvers. Complete with a correct 5 - 1/2" long No. 3 cylinder charger, with gold plated knurled bands at each end and a central band marked in script "Patent Arms M'g. Co. Paterson N.J. - Colt's Pt.". Importantly, this cased set features an inlaid presentation plaque on the lid, inscribed in fine script "W. Watson / from A. P.". Inscription is well executed and appears original. It compares favorably with another known cased presentation, No. 3 serial number 24, which appears to be done in the same hand. "W. Watson" is widely attributed to William Watson, a New York City attorney who is documented as representing Samuel Colt in disputes with Patent Arms Mfg. Co. treasurer and majority shareholder John Ehlers. By 1841, the fledgling company was financially insecure and Samuel Colt likewise, requesting personal funds from Ehlers to continue trying to secure a government contract in Washington DC. Although the New Jersey contract for 100 carbines was eventually secured, the funds needed for Colt's rent were not. William Watson was authorized to collect this sum of $100, with Samuel Colt advising that he bring a witness along as Ehlers "may turn out a rogue". Further research suggests the "A.P." who presented this revolver to Watson is Andrew Parsons, a minority shareholder in the P. A. Mfg. Co., owning 10 shares of the company as is recorded on an August 1837 list. Parsons was an influential New Jersey politician who represented Passaic County, home of Colt's Paterson factory, in the Upper House of the New Jersey Legislature. He served back to back terms as Vice President of the Council of the New Jersey Legislature in 1837 and 1838, next in line to fill a vacancy in the Governor's mansion. Although Parsons and Watson are both associated with Colt, the exact reason for the presentation of this revolver is unknown. In an included 25-page letter by R.L. Wilson detailing this gun, it is speculated Parsons may have presented the gun to Watson on behalf of Colt, perhaps as payment or to secure loyalty. Presentation revolvers remained an important part of Colt's marketing into the Hartford years and, at the time, Ehler's was cracking down on trials and loan guns due to the company's financial woes. Or perhaps, Parson, being a stockholder, may have presented the gun in appreciation of Watson's assistance to Colt in moving the company in a direction he found favorable. PROVENANCE: From the personal and advanced collection of Dr. Jim Watson of Scottsdale, Arizona. CONDITION: Very fine overall. Significant portions of original blue are retained on the barrel, largely drifting to pleasing brown patina. Both cylinders show evidence of use with some fulminate pitting on the rear faces and nipples. Cylinder scenes remain strong and largely legible. Frame and grip straps display approximately 60% bright blue. Some light pitting present on the recoil shield, with heavier pitting present on the hammer channel and sides of the hammer covered by the recoil shield when uncocked. Grip is fine, the left side retaining approximately 90% original finish. Right side retains approximately 50% varnish, having sat in contact with the case liner for 180 years. Bore is dark with strong, well-defined rifling. Mechanics are crisp. Matching numbers present on the barrel lug, breech face of both cylinders, left side of the trigger, wedge, and, as seldom seen, on the base of the left grip. A "6", stamped larger than the serial number, is also on both cylinders and the cylinder turning ring. Case remains in likewise very good condition with scattered dings and scuffs from storage and handling, with a period coat of added varnish. The case liner is in a very nice state or preservation. Some mild wear and oxidation stains from contact of the gun and accoutrements are present. Iron tools have a dark patina with scattered minor pitting, portions of original blue visible on the mold. Capper displays good detail and an overall attractive age mellowed patina. Charger likewise exhibits an attractive mellow bronze patina with traces of gold present in the knurling, significantly more retained on the top. Overall a truly outstanding example of a highly desirable Colt Paterson with fine original accessories. Very few such sets are in private hands, even fewer with Colt associated presentations. This is an extremely rare opportunity for the discerning collector.

Item Dimensions: 11 x 7 x 3"
Case, accessories
Barrel Length
5 - 1/2"
.31 Percussion
FFL Status
No. 3 Belt
Binder of Research
Serial Number
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $130,000.00
Final prices include buyers premium:
Estimate: $250,000 - $350,000
Number Bids: 1
Auction closed on Friday, December 8, 2023.
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