Can Anyone Help Identify This


February 7, 2014, 11:16 AM
Looks like a Colt Brevete 31 Caliber it is currently in Europe

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February 7, 2014, 11:24 PM
Likely made in Europe as well, and never by Colt.

February 7, 2014, 11:46 PM
Breveté basically translates to 'copy' made under another company's patent.

Not a real Colt by any means.


February 8, 2014, 01:40 AM
It is a Belgian copy showing a Liege proof mark on the cylinder.

February 8, 2014, 03:17 AM
Made contemporary with Colt? Think the 1862 is a date?

February 8, 2014, 10:58 AM
As my father would say, "That's one of them" what ever it is.

Do you actually have this one?

I am interested in the length of the cylinder and the frame itself. It appears quite longer than the 1849 Colts and I wonder how much powder a chamber held with a ball in place. I also wonder if it might not be in a caliber other than .31. Certainly does appear to be a five shot.

Belgian proof on cylinder for sure, though I do not know any of the other proofs myself.

Neat gun.


February 8, 2014, 12:40 PM
AFAIK, Colt patented his revolver design (the mechanism to rotate the cylinder by means of some action on the part of the shooter, which covered hammer-cocking or a lever, and lock the cylinder in alignment) in France first, then England, then the US. The reason that he took out the patent in France and England first is that, had he taken out the US patent first, both France and England would have refused to grant the patent - they had their panties in a wad over loosing a war or two, it seems.

I have never heard of any patents in other countries. Could be that maybe those countries didn't even grant patent rights.

I believe Colt's patents were all granted in the 1836 or 1837 time frame, and were valid through 1847. In the US, Colt was granted an additional extension until 1857 - Sam Colt schmoozed around with a lot of judges, Generals, and politicians, and also gave away a LOT of presentation pistols to get this done. I've read that, for some models, as much as 20% of his production was used up in presentation pieces.

Note also that Colt's patent extension prevented Fordyce Beals from patenting his revolver design, the one that eventually became the Remington New Model Army, until 1858.

But in smaller European countries, as well as places like Russia, Colt had no patent protection. Also keep in mind that a patent really means nothing unless the holder of the patent sues each and every "infringer" - the government granting the patent doesn't go after the infringers, you have to. So little mom-and-pop shops could have made copies of Colt's pistols in places like Belgium or Spain, whatever, and unless Colt thought that there enough money in that market to make it worth his while to bring a lawsuit, then he probably just gritted his teeth and let it slide.

February 8, 2014, 02:22 PM
Did not Colt grant permission for some manufacture out side his factories though?

The Austrian Navy design that predated the 1851 comes to mind.

I also believe at least one Belgian maker was granted permission.


February 8, 2014, 03:34 PM
I believe this is one of the revolvers that were the subject of an article in the May 1986 Gun Report titled "Adolf Frank's Piston Revolvers". They were sold by the ALFA catalog of Adolf Franks (a European competitor of Francis Bannerman and Sons) in the early years of the 20th century. The article describes them as "perhaps the first true reproductions of Colt percussion revolvers made in the twentieth century".

February 8, 2014, 04:24 PM
I don't have it the owner is in Europe and asked me to help identify it

February 8, 2014, 04:32 PM
Based on the markings, I'd say this is a copy by Antoine Masereel, a Liege gunmaker who made lots of Colt copies; littlegun has a page at , showing a similar revolver, with the same sort of crossed keys under a crown logo.

February 9, 2014, 01:48 AM
"This company, Fabriques d'Armes Unies de Liege, dates from1852 when J. Hanquet signed a contract with Sam Colt to produce Colt’s Patent (Colt Brevete) revolvers in Liege, Belgium." But I believe their revolvers showed a stamp referring to Colt and his New York address.

You might try looking up William B. Edwards and Val Forgett as there may be information under these guys also.

February 9, 2014, 10:34 AM
The double-headed eagle stamped on the barrel looks like Imperial Russian:

February 11, 2014, 08:26 AM
Yes, I believe that Colt did license other manufacturers to use his patented mechanisms. Of course they had to pay a royalty for each one produced.

Think about it. Someone else bears all of the expense for the factory, the labor, the production machinery, the raw materials, advertising, distribution, warranty, et. al, and all Sam Colt had to do was take the money to the bank.

But, if you tried to copy one of his pistols WITHOUT permission, then Colt would hound you through the courts until he broke you. That was why he so freely gave away all of those presentation pieces - to gain the good will of all of those domestic and foreign officials.

Willie Sutton
February 12, 2014, 10:21 PM
Interesting, if this is a FAUL then it's the direct ancestor of the well known Belgian Centaure 1860 copy. Be a nice addition to a collection based on that, if nothing else.



February 13, 2014, 11:15 AM
Will, that’s why I put the names of Edwards and Forgett there hoping that someone would follow up on tracing the Centaur back to the Colt factory in Belgium. But there is another wrench in the works as it appears that he Jean Baptiste Hanquet was only granted a license to make the 51’ Navy.

Man-o-live, there ain’t nothing easy about Colts. :banghead:

However, isn't the frame for the 1860 Army and the 1851 Navy basically the same with the Army having a slightly longer watertable and shaped to accept the larger cylinder?

Jim K
February 13, 2014, 04:57 PM
AFAIK, Colt licensed other makers to use his patent, not his address. I am pretty sure that a gun marked with the Colt name and Hartford/New York address is not an authorized copy but a forgery, intended to be sold as a real Colt.

"Brevete", BTW, just means "Patented"; it is not some special kind of gun. Belgian makers seem to have used the word pretty freely, whether referring to their own patents or to those they may be using, with or without approval.

The frame of the 1860 is a slightly modified 1851 frame. The only difference is the part relieved for the rebated cylinder of the 1860.


Willie Sutton
February 13, 2014, 08:33 PM
"But there is another wrench in the works as it appears that he Jean Baptiste Hanquet was only granted a license to make the 51’ Navy"

That's my understanding, and one of the reasons that I believe the entire Centaure "link" to Colt, as expressed by the importer in the 1960's, is pretty specious. There "might" be a corporate lineage via FAUL, but nothing else.



February 16, 2014, 07:50 AM
"This factory could not only cover with it all the requests and COLT was obliged to protect its patents in Belgium, to grant licenses of manufacture to several industrialists of Liège."
Now does that mean the ONLY way Samuel Colt could protect his patent in Belgium by granting these licenses? It also said a lot of fake Colts were produced because the demand was so high the London factory couldn't keep pace.

But if a licensee in Belgium built it then it was stamped with Colt markings such as on a Jean Baptist Hanquet.

But if its not stamped Samuel Colt and the New York City address how valuable is it?

Willie Sutton
February 16, 2014, 08:25 AM

The way I read this is that Colt licensed the patents to manufacturers in Belgium (taking them out of the patent infringement race themselves), and then let those licensees worry about protecting *their* new intellectual property (their patent licenses) from infringement by their own Belgian neighbors. I'm sure Colt backed them when needed, but who better to keep counterfeits at bay than their locally licensed competition?

Pretty savvy of Colt, I'd say: He obtained free money from the licensees (they were not taking away his own sales, because he could not meet the demand from his own production, and so why not just collect a fee as opposed to collecting nothing at all?), and passing off the patent fight to the locals as his proxies (again, why fight your own legal battles overseas when your proxies are happy to do that in return for protecting their own personal interests?). Not only that, but the small-shop sub-production schemes in Belgium at that time meant that it was likely that the "big licensees" could show a little muscle to their small mom and pop suppliers to encourage them not to sell Colt-Like parts to non-licensed manufacturers. All in all a very sweet deal for Sam.

I'd actually like to add a few of these to my collection, both licensed and not. They show up now and again, and prices generally don't shock me. Be interesting counterpoints to the originals.



February 16, 2014, 05:36 PM
Remember Colt sold more than guns. He sold tooling to Russia and the rights to manufacture. From what I understand he outfitted their entire small arms factory for making revolvers which were the issued revolvers of the Russian army. I have a few picture on my site

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