Original Colt 1851 Navy

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Joined
Nov 16, 2022
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128
Location
Tennessee
I have an opportunity to buy an original Colt 1851 Navy in .36 caliber that is in excellent condition. According to the serial number, it was made in 1860 and saw use in the Civil War.

What really sets it apart is that the seller has provenance that proves who owned and used it in the Civil War. It was a Federal officer and his name is even in the top strap of the handle.

They are asking $2,000 for it and I wanted to toss this out to see if those of you in the know on this subject think it is worth that?

Thanks
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2022
Messages
128
Location
Tennessee
For the most part, I agree with you. I have been checking on some of the auction house prices for comparable examples and most of them are higher. Although, there was one example of a Navy revolver that was documented to be owned by a Confederate soldier that sold for less than $1,800. Usually CS owned items fetch an even higher price than Federal items. Perhaps it was an anomaly.

I will say that the person selling this is not in "the business." He is an older man whose health is going down hill fast and part of me thinks he may just want to move it while he can.

To be completely up front with all, I have seen enough of these to know that the price is fair. I just wanted to get some input from y'all as to anything I might need to watch for.
 

Johnnu2

Hunter
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They will want to see a ton of high-resolution pictures and a few may react slightly "pompous" at times, but the expertise and information will be worth your time.

J.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2022
Messages
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Location
Tennessee
Ok Folks, here are some pictures of the Navy I mentioned. After joining the Colt forum and discussing it there, I looked closely at the revolver and all of the provenance and bought it.

It belonged to 2nd Lt. James R. Letts of Co. E. of the 100th Illinois Infantry. Lt. Letts was enlisted in Aug of 1862 at Joliet, IL and due to poor health resigned in 1863 in Murfreesboro, TN. He was born November 1st, 1820. This Colt model 1851 Navy has a serial number of 111223 and was manufactured in 1861. There is a large amount of paperwork that came with this and documents that it belonged to Lt. Letts. The seller obtained this from an estate sale held by a descendant of Lt. Letts.

Below are some picts for you to enjoy.........

J R Letts Colt Navy a.jpg
J R Letts Colt Navy b.jpg
J R Letts Colt Navy f.jpg
J R Letts Colt Navy e.jpg
 

MaxMan

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Nov 15, 2023
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Sofla
I have an opportunity to buy an original Colt 1851 Navy in .36 caliber that is in excellent condition. According to the serial number, it was made in 1860 and saw use in the Civil War.

What really sets it apart is that the seller has provenance that proves who owned and used it in the Civil War. It was a Federal officer and his name is even in the top strap of the handle.

They are asking $2,000 for it and I wanted to toss this out to see if those of you in the know on this subject think it is worth that?

Thanks
I think you need to look for people that deal in antique fire arms. Lots of good people here, but I think expert analysis is your best friend on this one. What do you know about the officer? That might make a difference. Really neat, best of luck with it.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2022
Messages
128
Location
Tennessee
I think you need to look for people that deal in antique fire arms. Lots of good people here, but I think expert analysis is your best friend on this one. What do you know about the officer? That might make a difference. Really neat, best of luck with it.
Thank you.
I have researched him quite a bit after buying the revolver.
You might find this of interest so I am attaching a photo of Mr. James R. Letts. and his sons. Around 1898.

James Robinson Letts and his three sons.jpg
 

Johnnu2

Hunter
Joined
Jun 26, 2003
Messages
2,770
Location
NYS
Fabulous gun and story and pics.
CONGRATS on owning a piece of history....
My wife says "everything you own is old"........but she's mostly talking about my clothes.. :)

J.
 
Joined
Oct 20, 2022
Messages
643
Location
Oregon
Love it! I think that's a great buy, but I'm no expert whatsoever. I personally love the history behind vintage guns. They have a "soul" for lack of a correct term. Thank you for sharing!

Side note: as a young kid, I lived next door to an older gentleman who had history. He had a small collection of Civil War items from relatives, including an officer's sword with full provenance. I was enamored with that sword, and he made sure to let my Dad know that when the time came, he would stipulate that I get the sword per his will. Well, before his death one of his nephews had him declared unfit and changed his will so everything went to him. 😡 He had no interest in the history, just saw something he could make a buck on. I was heartbroken, and the old man's wife even tried to get it for me, as she knew her late husband's wishes. But the nephew sold everything immediately. It was so sad- I remember her saying how the vultures descended and she couldn't drive them off.
I don't remember many older people from back when I was about 10, but I will never forget them. I think it was Bert that started my interest in guns- he gave me some black powder 45-70 rounds- but I wasn't allowed to keep them. He had guns too, I'm sure the nephew got and sold all of them too.
 
Joined
Nov 16, 2022
Messages
128
Location
Tennessee
Love it! I think that's a great buy, but I'm no expert whatsoever. I personally love the history behind vintage guns. They have a "soul" for lack of a correct term. Thank you for sharing!

Side note: as a young kid, I lived next door to an older gentleman who had history. He had a small collection of Civil War items from relatives, including an officer's sword with full provenance. I was enamored with that sword, and he made sure to let my Dad know that when the time came, he would stipulate that I get the sword per his will. Well, before his death one of his nephews had him declared unfit and changed his will so everything went to him. 😡 He had no interest in the history, just saw something he could make a buck on. I was heartbroken, and the old man's wife even tried to get it for me, as she knew her late husband's wishes. But the nephew sold everything immediately. It was so sad- I remember her saying how the vultures descended and she couldn't drive them off.
I don't remember many older people from back when I was about 10, but I will never forget them. I think it was Bert that started my interest in guns- he gave me some black powder 45-70 rounds- but I wasn't allowed to keep them. He had guns too, I'm sure the nephew got and sold all of them too.
Thanks for the kind words....

I must say the story you shared was very sad. While it is unfortunate that you did not get the sword that you had been promised, the saddest part is that his nephew would be that greedy, self-centered and cruel as to do that to his uncle and against his wishes. There's a special place in hell for a person that would do that.....
 

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