- Range of serial numbers: 1 – 42,910
- Date of manufacture: 1853 to 1857
- Total production: Approx. 42,910
- Length of barrel: 7½ inches
- Caliber: .36
- Address: Several variations including: ‘-ADDRESS SAML COLT. NEW-YORK CITY-’
and the standard address ‘ADDRESS. COL. COLT. LONDON’ with spear finials at either end.
- Weight: 2 pounds 10 ounces.
Colt Model 1851 London Navy Percussion Revolver
The Colt Model 1851 London revolver was manufactured in London at Samuel Colt’s only manufacturer outside the U.S. from 1853 through to 1857. The revolvers were numbered in their own serial range from serial number 1 through to 42,910. The component parts for the early First Model Colt Hartford-London Navies were manufactured in Hartford with the parts being shipped to London where they were assembled and finished at Colt’s London factory. These are found in the serial range of 1 through to 2000 and mainly have a brass back-strap and small rounded trigger-guard. They are stamped with a mixture of the Hartford barrel address of ‘ADDRESS SAM’L COLT NEW-YORK CITY’ with a dash at either end and the London address. A few of these early examples are found with a brass square-back trigger-guard and are often called the First Model London Square-back Navies.
The Second Model London Navy is in the serial range from approximately 2000 to the end of production. All the parts were manufactured in London with silver-plated or blued steel back-strap and large rounded trigger-guard. All revolvers had the standard barrel marking ‘ADDRESS. COL COLT. LONDON’ with a pointed arrow facing inwards at each end. British proof stampings are found on the breech end of the cylinder over each chamber and also on the left side of the barrel lug with a crown over a V and a crown over GP. Most revolvers are blued with case-colored frame, hammer and loading lever with silver-plated or blued steel back-strap and large rounded steel trigger-guard. A very few including #23655 are known to be silver-plated. The grips are of one-piece varnished walnut and some feature select walnut. Many London Navy revolvers were factory engraved in a distinct style of engraving executed by the finest English engravers of the day.
The late London Navies were assembled back at the Hartford factory after the London factory closed in 1857 and the surplus parts were shipped back to Hartford. They were then shipped back to London with subtle changes to be sold through Colt’s Agency at 14 Pall Mall, London.
There were contracts made with Canada to supply the Upper and Lower police and with Australia to supply their police force in most states. The Austrian government ordered arms for the Kreigs Marine and the British Government ordered Navies (many stamped WD with the Broad Arrow and other markings) for the army and Navy in the Crimean War and later the Indian Mutiny.
Philip Boulton of Southampton, England has collated and recorded a survival rate of at least 4.33% of the original 42910 production of London Navy revolvers. For in-depth reference on Colt Model 1851 London Navies see ‘Colonel Colt, London’ by Joseph G. Rosa, ‘51 Colt Navies’ by Nathan L. Swayze or ‘The Book of Colt Firearms- 3rd Edition’ by R.L. Wilson. For values, check out ‘Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms… and their values’ by Norm Flayderman.
More Colt New Model Army and Navy Percussion Revolvers
The majority of revolvers were blued with casehardened hammer and loading lever. The grips were of one-piece varnished walnut or select burl walnut, ivory on engraved or special order guns. The most sought after grips came from the famous Charter Oak tree.
The production of the Colt Model 1849 Pocket revolver in America commenced in 1850 and continued through to 1873. This was the successor to the Baby Dragoon and a total of approximately 326,000 ’49 Pockets were manufactured at the Hartford factory.