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1836 Colt revolver sets world record price for a gun

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Written by Auction House PR   
Monday, 26 September 2011 15:31
Two views of the cased Colt Patterson revolver that sold for a record $977,500. Image courtesy of Greg Martin Auctions/Heritage Auctions.

DALLAS – An exceptional, rare and fine ivory-gripped Texas, or Holster Model No. 5, Paterson Revolver from the Al Cali Collection realized $977,500 as part of Greg Martin Auctions/Heritage Auctions Signature® Arms & Armor Auction in Dallas on Sept. 18, setting a world record price realized for a single firearm sold at auction. All prices include 15 percent buyer’s premium.

It was purchased by an anonymous West Coast collector, who auction house officials will identify only as a Silicon Valley mogul.

“There are certain collectibles that transcend genre, period and form and exist simply as great works of art,” said Greg Martin, president of Arms & Armor at Greg Martin Auctions/Heritage Auctions, “and clearly this supremely beautiful firearm is such a thing. The nearly seven-figure final price realized proves just how great a piece this is, and well worthy of being the world record holder.”

The auction, altogether, realized more than $8 million, with 583 bidders vying for 378 lots, translating into a 90 percent sell-through rate by lot value. Altogether, the top four lots of the Cali Collection brought more than $3.28 million.

The revolver, with a 9-inch barrel and attached loading lever, is the finest known surviving example of Samuel Colt’s first revolver, produced by the legendary gunsmith in Paterson, N.J., in 1836.

“This is as desirable as any piece that exists, and as desirable as any piece I’ve seen in my more than 40 years of buying and selling the very best firearms in existence,” said Martin. “Out of maybe 3,000 similar pieces made, with most likely less than 300 surviving, this is clearly among the very best, and the market realized that.”

A pair of Colt revolvers came in a tie for the auction’s second most valuable lot, both realizing $805,000 prices realized , and both also originating in the amazing Al Cali Collection.The first was an exceptional historic, cased, engraved and presentation inscribed Colt Model 1861 New Model Navy Revolver, From the Colt Co. to E.W. Parsons, of Adams Express Co., doubling its $400,000-plus estimate. It was followed by a historic cased Gustave Young-engraved and ivory-gripped Colt Third Model Dragoon Revolver, Inscribed "Colonel P.M. Milliken," which also performed well above its $500,000-plus estimate.

Another famous Colt pistol brought the admiration of gun-aficionados and the serious consideration of many high-end collectors; the fine and exceptional historic Colt Walker Model Civilian Series Revolver, more commonly known as “The Thumbprint Walker,” One of only 100 made, out of the mere surviving examples, most are in poor condition. This must be the the finest known, and it soared to $690,000.

“Prices like these, which show that craftsmanship, rarity, beauty and historical importance bring a true premium,” said Martin, “also show that serious buyers know that pieces like these are real investments, certain to appreciate in value as the years progress, and certainly worth serious consideration when it comes time to bid.”

Further highlights include:

• Cased, inscribed and custom-made set of Colt Model 1851 Navy and Model 1855 pocket sidehammer revolvers, poroperty of Loren Ballou, an employee of Col. Samuel Colt. Realized: $575,000.

• Fine and exceptional cased and engraved Colt Model 1851 Squareback Navy or Belt Model Revolver. Realized: $373,750.

• Fine and historic cased, engraved and inscribed Colt Model 1855 Pocket Sidehammer Revolver with charter oak grip, presented by the inventor to arms dealer J.I. Spies. Realized: $345,000.

• Fine and exceptional cased, engraved and relief carved and checkered ebony-gripped Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver, known as “The Black Beauty.” Realized: $322,000.

• Exceptional and fine cased, engraved and carved ivory-gripped Colt Model 1862 Police Model Revolver Serial number 37951/E. .36-caliber, 5-shot semi-fluted and rebated cylinder, 4 1/2-inch round barrel with brass pin front sight, top of barrel stamped with single line "Address Col. Saml. Colt New-York U.S. America." Realized: $253,000.

• Fine and exceptional U.S. martially marked Colt Model 1851 Navy Revolver, the First Model Attachable Shoulder Stock, with Canteen Insert: Realized: $207,000.

For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit

Last Updated on Monday, 26 September 2011 16:38

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