Can anyone ID this old Colt?


Joe from N.Y.
May 16, 2011, 12:12 AM
My friend found this old Colt among his fathers belongings after he died a few years back. He said he has had it since sometime in the '60s. Can anyone tell me what it is and maybe a general idea what it would sell for?

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Jim Watson
May 16, 2011, 01:17 AM
Colt 1851 Navy, made 1853 if the number is legitimate.

It looks very white. Has it been nickel plated or polished back to bare steel, or is that just the lighting?

Joe from N.Y.
May 16, 2011, 02:01 AM
Yeah, it is chrome or nickel plated. And I just noticed a strange stamp on the right grip. It looks like a crown with an E8 under it. It almost looks like those proof stamps they use in England. Anyone ever see one of those on an 1851?

Jim Watson
May 16, 2011, 09:20 AM
Lots of countries have crowns in their proof marks, but they are usually stamped into metal, not wood. That is a new one to me. I hope a real collector comes along to pronounce on it.

May 16, 2011, 10:54 AM
Looks like someone wanted to "pretty it up" and may have used :what: steel wool on it (reminds me of an episode of "Pawn Stars"). I'm hoping it's just refinished but hard to tell with the picture lighting. Otherwise a Colt 1851 looks.

Jim K
May 16, 2011, 10:29 PM
With the proviso that the following is my opinion and I am willing to be corrected by someone more knowledgeable:

That gun has been polished and (re) blued with modern tank blue. I can't be sure if it is an original gun that has been "restored" or a repro that has been faked up, but many things are not right. The barrel address looks like it was hand stamped or "refreshed" at some point. Further, the serial numbers are not original; they don't match the font Colt used, and there are signs that the guard, frame and barrel have been worked on in the serial number area.

The five digits on the cylinder would be OK if the number is legitimate, as they used the full number until iit went over five digits, after which only the last four were normally used.


May 16, 2011, 10:42 PM
I noticed the cylinder is engraved with what looks like old 19th century sailing ships...close ups of those?

Jim K
May 16, 2011, 10:52 PM
The "Navy" scene, by Waterman Lilly Ormsby, was roll engraved on all standard finish Model 1851's. The date is that of a naval engagement between the navy of the Republic of Texas and the Mexican Navy. Needless to say, all the repros have the same scene (more or less).


Joe from N.Y.
May 17, 2011, 12:06 AM
It is chrome or nickel plated, you just cant tell from the photos I took. The ships on the engraving are illustrated in this PDF file :

May 17, 2011, 06:31 AM
Hello friends and neighbors // Could it be one of the SS Umberti run, with Colt S#, and a brass grip?

Joe from N.Y.
May 17, 2011, 08:25 AM
sounds possible, since the number stamps dont exactly match with photos i have seen of examples on this site:

what is the "SS Umberti run"?

May 17, 2011, 12:34 PM
Umberti made a production run of the 1851 Navy (and other models) in Stainless Steel but the grip structure was also SS.

Pics looked like SS especially the cylinder.

Jim K
May 17, 2011, 03:38 PM
Nope, that gun shows all the signs of having been polished prior to finishing. It is not stainless steel.


Ron James
May 17, 2011, 05:29 PM
I would be willing to bet that those numbers never saw the inside of a Colt factory.

May 17, 2011, 06:16 PM
It's just a gut feeling, but the marks and the screw heads and so on are just too clean and sharp to be a polished original.

May 17, 2011, 07:34 PM
I'm with Kodiak Beer here, it's just looks too nice to be original. No evidence of any pitting under the nickel.

No buggered screws, no erosion of the forcing cone. That gun would be over 150 years old.

Colt also made runs of black powder arms in the 70's but that serial number seems about 700 too high for one of those.

Jim K
May 17, 2011, 10:49 PM
Joe, if anyone interested in old guns does not have an opportunity to actually look at many of them, it would be a good idea to use that site and look carefully at the number fonts and the other markings, as well as the general appearance. Quite often one can spot a fake without even a close examination, just by the general look of the gun. Wrong shade of blue, wrong case coloring, wrong grip finish, etc., will almost scream fake. Even some good restorations will be very obviously not "right" to the experienced eye. (Often they do too good a job, far better than the factory did!)

I own some original Model 1851 Navies and several repros, and have seen hundreds of originals. I don't say I can't be fooled, but I have enough egoism to think that a gun that would fool me would fool the vast majority of collectors.


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