On December 1, 1871, Colt presented an engraved, nickel-plated revolver to one Lewis Sheldon, who’d been Colt’s bookkeeper and paymaster. A version of the company’s 1861 Navy revolver, it was Colt’s first cartridge revolver. With its cylinder roll-engraved with a Texas Navy battle scene, the pistol bears the serial number 1. Remarkably, it’s been in the original owner’s family for the past 141 years. Rock Island didn’t release a public estimate for the pistol, which indicates the auction house expects an explosive price at its April 20th-22nd sale in Illinois.
Update: The 1861 Colt sold for $368,000.
The auction house was more explicit about a number of other high-valued items at the sale, such as a Cased Presentation Colt No.3 Belt Model Paterson revolver presented to Colt’s attorney (est. $275,000-$450,000), and a rare documented Briggs Patent Henry Rifle originally from the Winchester Museum (est. $180,000-$275,000). Another featured item is a U.S. Inspected Colt Model 1883 Gatling Gun with Field Carriage and Caisson (est.$200,000-$350,000.