Antique Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver
The Antique Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver is a .36 caliber cap and ball revolver.
Brief history & description
Also known as the Colt Revolving Belt Pistol of Naval Caliber or simply the Colt 1851 Navy, it was designed by American inventor and firearm manufacturer Samuel Colt between 1847 and 1850.
The Colt 1851 Navy Revolver was significantly lighter than other revolvers at that time, and due to its small size and weight, was typically carried in saddle holsters.
While it has not enjoyed the reputation or unique position among handgun users as the Colt Walker, the 1851 Navy Revolver was used by a number of famous American frontiersmen, soldiers and outlaws, including Wild Bill Hickok, Frank Gardiner and John Henry “Doc” Holliday.
Guide to collectors
The Colt 1851 Navy Revolver was produced from 1847 until 1873 and it is estimated that some 250,000 units were manufactured.
While relatively unusual, when sold through international auction houses, such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s, antique Colt 1851 Navy Revolvers tend to be priced from $10,000 to $20,000.
However, examples of Colt 1851 Navy Revolvers are more common at firearms specialists, such as James D. Julia Inc., based in Maine. Results show that standard Colt 1851 Navy Revolvers made from 1847 to 1873 are typically priced from $50,000 to $100,000. The prices vary substantially and depend on the gun’s condition. Examples that come in their original cases are considerably more valuable. In addition, guns with a unique history (see below) have in the past exceeded $200,000.
There is an enthusiastic community of Colt Walker collectors and there is a large supply of information and sources found on the internet that can be used as a reference tool when searching for Colt Walker revolvers and related memorabilia. Examples include Colt-walker.com and Vintageweaponry.com.
In March 2009, a unique Colt 1851 Navy Revolver, owned by President Franklin Pierce, realised a price of $207,000 through James D. Julia, Maine.
In October 2008, a rare cased pair of presentation Colt 1851 Navy Revolvers sold for $230,000 through James D. Julia Inc., Maine.
In December 2004, at Sotheby’s in London, an historic Colt 1851 Navy Revolver, owned by William Walker, realised a price of £9,600.
In June 2001, a pair of engraved Colt 1851 Navy Revolvers, dating from 1856 and 1860, was sold through Christie’s, New York, for $17,625.