DescriptionCased, Inscribed and Custom Made Set of Colt Model 1851 Navy and Model 1855 Pocket Sidehammer Revolvers, Property of Loren Ballou, a Trusted Employee of Colonel Samuel Colt
The Model 1851 Navy revolver bears serial no. 37301 and is a London-made revolver. The backstrap bears the inscription, "L. Ballou/London." On the Model 1855 Sidehammer revolver, instead of a serial number marking, the name "L. Ballou" is stamped within the cartouche on the cylinder, and on the buttstrap.
Both revolvers have the special and unusual finish of case-hardening: The Model 1851 has a case-hardened cylinder, as well as frame, hammer and loading lever, with the barrel browned, and the steel gripstraps plated in silver. The grips are varnished walnut, of a select, best quality grain and finish. The Model 1855 has an equally rare combination of a casehardened frame, loading lever and hammer, with blued cylinder and barrel.
Barrel marking of the Model 1851 Navy is
- Address. Col: Colt. London -
while that on the Model 1855 is
Address Col. Colt/New-York U.S.A.
The latter's cylinder scene is the standard stagecoach holdup, with .31 caliber and 5-shots. The round barrel of 4 1/2-inch length has a blued steel front sight on dovetailed base. The grip is of oil-finished walnut.
The Model 1851 Navy bears London proofmarks on the left side of the barrel lug, as well as on the cylinder breech. The cylinder has identical proofmarks on the breech, and bears the standard naval engagement roll scene. Its 7 1/2-inch octagon barrel has a similar front sight to the Model 1855, blued steel blade on a steel base, dovetailed at the muzzle.
Rare and unusual oil-finished brassbound walnut case, lined in burgundy velvet, with embossed Navy size stand of arms powder flask, blued steel double cavity bullet molds for .31 and .36 calibers, one packet each of combustible envelope cartridges. tin of Eley Bros. percussion caps with green paper label and paper wrapping, blued L-shaped screwdriver/nipple wrench, pewter oil bottle, and miscellaneous lead projectiles. The lid of the case is inlaid with an escalloped brass plaque, inscribed
Background and History of Loren Ballou and His Colts
The cased set is accompanied by artifacts, documents, records and a three-ring binder with letters, photo-copies and other material. All this records in some detail the career of Loren Ballou (b. August 24, 1828, Hinsdale, NH; d. August 18, 1880, Syracuse NY; he was then employed by the W.H. Baker Gun Co., as foreman of the factory).
Beginning as early as 1851, Loren Ballou served as a trusted and well-placed employee with Colonel Colt and his company, not only in Hartford, but in London. Ballou's rare Engineer's and Contractor's Pocket Book for 1858 (inscribed and dated to him by Colonel Colt) and Ballou's passport are among the memorabilia.
Quoting from a highly detailed five-page letter dated November 25, 1964, from author and historian R.L. Wilson (then Curator of Firearms, at what is today known as the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford): ". . . L. Ballou was an important Samuel Colt representative and employee in whom the Colonel placed great trust and for whom he obviously had great respect."
Ballou was in the company's employee as late as 1878, at which time his eighth, and last, child was born. As recorded in Ballou History and Genealogy, Loren Ballou was a "very ingenious mechanic" and "his talents and skills were in demand in various prominent localities."
With Colt's, Loren Ballou was a manufacturing engineer. His years of service are believed to have begun c. 1851. In approximately May 1856 and continuing through March of 1860, various records provide more details on his services.
The Colt factory Ledger Books and Journals bear record of him again, beginning November 1861, and ending February 1866. The gap in 1860 and 1861 may be due to illness; his granddaughters, the Misses Doty of Newington, Connecticut, advised Wilson that "L. Ballou had been in a hospital for a long period. Or, it may be that he was then with another company."
According to Wilson's research: "L. Ballou was in Europe from approximately May 1856 to February 1859, and I believe he was involved in straightening out the details of the closing-up of Colt's factory [operations] in London, as well as acting as Colt's European representative with a major responsibility of investigating other manufacturing possibilities for the company."
The Wilson documenting letter lists Ballou's salaries with Colt's in 1856, 1857, 1858, 1859, 1860, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and 1866. The figures ranged from $1,500 to $2,000. Quoting the Wilson letter:
A comparison of salaries paid through the above period confirms the estimated importance of Ballou at Colt's. In 1857, his salary ranked third beneath E.K. Root, Vice President (@$5000), and L.P. Sargeant, Secretary (@$3000). In 1862, the pay scale ranked Ballou above Sergeant (@$1500), and third only to Root, now President (@$5000) and Hugh Harbison, Secretary (@$1800). The 1866 scale had W.B. Franklin, Vice President, @$6000, and Harbison next @$2500; Ballou was third @$2000.
On leaving Colt's in 1866, the company saw fit to present Ballou with a shotgun. Quoting from Colt's Journal B, page 342:
Presentation a/c [account]
30 in 75/c Shotgun and Appendages
presented to Loren (sic.) Ballou
The same Journal B (page 352), documents a presentation by the factory to Ballou of a Sidehammer (New Pocket) Pistol:
3 ½ in NM Pocket Pistol and Appendages
Presented to Loren Ballou
As to the New Pocket Pistol, in the cased set, Wilson notes:
The Colt-Root Sidehammer pistol . . . was . . . custom made at Ballou's personal request. It is the only Colt percussion weapon I have ever seen with a name marked in place of a serial number. It is further distinguished by the case-hardened frame, and the unfinished walnut grips. Both characteristics add to the uniqueness of this weapon. The 2806 on the bottom of the barrel is the [production] serial. "L.BALLOU" on the butt and the cylinder is in place of the normal serial markings.
The Wilson letter further describes Ballou's Model 1851 or Old Model Navy revolver:
Cased with Ballou's personal Sidehammer pistol was a London-made 1851 Navy. This weapon has L. Ballou [inscribed] on the backstrap, in identical lettering to that on [the Colt-Root Pocket] pistol. The use of block letters in the percussion period is another great rarity (script was the customary[inscription] marking). On the Navy's barrel is a custom reddish-brown finish, the likes of which I have never seen on a Colt percussion revolver [except for cutaway examples, as on Model 1851 Navy serial no. 68684 on pages 192-193 of Magnificent Colts Selections from the Robert M. Lee Collection]. [The Loren Ballou Model 1851 Navy] was exhibited in our . . . Samuel Colt Presents [exhibition], though it is not in the catalogue because it [arrived] too late to be included. Had I known then of this Ballou Sidehammer . . . it would have been exhibited in Samuel Colt Present as well.
These special features on your Root and the Navy are, to my knowledge, unique for these models. Custom finished and markings as above are indicative of Ballou's closeness with the manufacturing end of the Colt operation.
In date, the Navy would be c. 1856, the Root c. 1860. Ballou must have had the Navy made for him at the Colt London factory, and the Sidehammer made for him here in Hartford. They represent his work for Colt in the Colonel's European and American operations. Ballou had these weapons fitted in a double case-as scarce a Colt combination (Navy and Sidehammer) as the famous "book casings." The lid was inlaid with an escutcheon on which was engraved "L. Ballou."
Wilson goes on to state that:
The entire cased set was in the possession of the Ballou family until approximately fifteen years ago [c. 1949], when it was sold to Alec Redfield, of Hartford. At present, the case is in a Midwestern collection while the 1851 Navy is still in the collection of Mr. Redfield.
Matched Pair of Superbly Cast Steel Rampant Colt Sculptures Made for Colonel Samuel Colt
Mounted on select walnut bases using Colt pistol grip wood of the highest quality. Each sculpture is of gun metal steel, and was given a special patina finish, simulating bronze, and perhaps the same as a browned finish on steel. Each figure stands 5 7/8-inches high and measures 5 5/8-inches wide. The bottom of each varnished select walnut base is covered with a tan fabric, much like that used for firearms case linings. The bases are 3/4-inches thick, and 5-inches long by 3 3/4-inches wide. Quality throughout is exquisite, and the chased castings are a tribute to the quality of Colt's casting shop and finishing workmen.
According to the Ballou family, from which most of the collection of documents and memorabilia (see the Historic Loren Ballou Cased, Inscribed and Custom Made Set of Colt Model 1851 Navy and Model 1855 Pocket Sidehammer Revolvers), was purchased over many years, the Rampant Colt Sculptures were presented to Ballou by a grateful Colonel Samuel Colt.
No other known set of rampant colt sculptures like these has survived from 19th century Colt history and artifacts.
Rare Book Presented by Colonel Colt to Loren Ballou, and other Artifacts
Entitled The Engineer's and Contractor's Pocket Book, this volume has a special significance and is a fitting companion to the cased Sidehammer and Model 1851 Navy revolvers. The inscription inside the cover testifies to the friendship of Colonel Colt and Ballou, and its subject points out the nature of Ballou's services to the Colonel.
To quote Wilson:
To my knowledge, this is the only Samuel Colt presentation-inscribed book in existence. Until recently this rare volume belonged to L. Ballou's granddaughers.
Tea Chest, Traveling Desk Set, Sewing Box and Trunk of Ballou or His Wife
A tea chest and traveling desk set, and a sewing box and trunk are also part of the Ballou firearms and artifacts collection. Manufacture of these items was by the casemaker employed by Colt's for its firearms casings. Wood for the tea chest, traveling desk set and sewing box incorporates the three types of wood most often employed on the company's London gun casings: oak, mahogany and birdseye maple. Further, the brass fixtures, including hinges and lid inlays, were as used on the London Colt firearms cases.
The tea chest was made at Ballou's request for his wife. The selected wood was that used most often for firearms cases: oak. Like the gun cases, the tea chest was reinforced with brassbound corners and other mountings. Inlaid on the lid is a brass escutcheon, inscribed "H. Ballou/London."
Built by the same casemaker, again for Mrs. Ballou, was a sewing chest, primarily of varnished birdseye maple, with brass corners and mountings. The escalloped brass lid plaque was inscribed "H. Ballou/London." The interior is intricately and superbly outfitted, in matching woods, and fabrics, again sharing several similarities to the London Colt firearms casings.
Ballou's portable writing desk, of brassbound varnished mahogany, was yet another masterfully built case by the Colt London case maker. The writing desk bears many similarities to some of the best single and double cases made for the London Model 1851 Navy, Pocket and Dragoon revolvers. Inlaid in the lid is a brass escutcheon, inscribed "H. Ballou/London."
Accompanied by artifacts, documents and records, revealing the career of Loren Ballou with the Colt company, not only in Hartford, but in London. Ballou's rare Engineer's and Contractor's Pocket Book for 1858 (inscribed and dated to him by Colonel Colt), and Ballou's passport are among the memorabilia and papers.
The painted green wooden foot locker measures 38 1/2-inches wide by 16 1/4- inches deep by 13 3/4-inches high. On the front the painted name, "L. Ballou." Hinged lid, with steel handles at each end.
Documenting Letters, Envelope, and Passport of Loren Ballou
A letter dated London 1853 requested Loren Ballou's services as Foreman of the Machine Shop of the London operation of Colt's Armory, as well as "General Assistant throughout the Manufactory." The letter indicates that both Colonel Colt and Elisha Root were trying to hire Ballou for the London operation. Note the assurance of great potential in the proposed employment.
An envelope addressed by Colonel Colt, to "Mr. Ballou," and a letter dated November 10 1856, from Brussells, from Colonel Colt, was attempting to arrange a meeting by Colt with Ballou.
U.S. Passport No. 3908, is dated 24 and 25 October 1856, with the signature of Loren Ballou at the lower left, and that of U.S. President James Buchanan, at the lower right. Notes in the left margin provide Ballou's physical features.
A letter dated April 17, 1866, from Hartford, grants permission to L. Ballou to travel to Europe and return any time within one year period, beginning April 17. Ballou left Colt's in February of that year.
Manila Folder with Various Documents
Included with the Ballou records are numerous papers, composed of correspondence between Al Cali and R.L. Wilson, as the latter pursed extensive research relating to the Ballou Colt revolvers. The folder includes several letters from the Doty sisters, granddaughters of Loren Ballou, which led ultimately to Cali's purchase of all the letters, records and memorabilia. The correspondence also led to Cali's purchase of the matched pair of rampant colt steel sculptures, mounted on deluxe, select walnut gunstock wood bases, featured in another lot of the present sale.
Among the correspondence and data:
Letter dated February 22nd 1965 from H. Arline Doty, Newington CT, including reference to: "Mr. Wilson had told us some months ago that he was in communications with 'someone' on the West Coast who was interested in Grandfather. In fact, he brought along a book I believe is the one you mention - presented by Sam Colt. . . . The truth of the matter is that Larry knows more about him than my sister and I do . . . ." The letter goes into some detail about the family, particularly in regard to their grandfather, Loren Ballou. And notes: ". . . . My sister and I have a double connection with Colonel Colt, for he and our Grandfather Doty were such good friends that our father was named for him . . . Samuel Colt Doty!"
Letter posted April 17th 1968 to Mr. and Mrs. Al Cali, from H. Arline Doty.
Letter posted April 22nd 1968 to Mr. and Mrs. Al Cali, from Miss H. Arline Doty.
Christmas card posted December 22nd 1968 to Mr. and Mrs. Al Cali, from the Misses H. Arline Doty and Margorie B. Doty. In this card is stated: "Are you still interested in the Colts? . . . ." It was that query, noted by Mrs. Cali to her husband, which led to their purchase of the pair of cast gunmetal steel rampant colt sculptures.
Letter posted May 11, 1969 to Mr. and Mrs. Al Cali from Miss Margorie B. Doty.
Photocopy of letter from Alfred J. Cali to Joseph G. Rosa, author and researcher on Colonel Colt London, in regard to Mr. Rosa researching Loren Ballou, on behalf of Mr. Cali.
Letter of August 30, 1967, from L.C. Jackson, Dallas TX, to Al Cali, in regard to acquisition of the double brassbound walnut case for the Loren Ballou set of the Model 1855 Sidehammer revolver and the matching Model 1851 London Navy. With related papers.
Several letters from R.L. Wilson to A.J. Cali, on the letterheads of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and of the Colt factory, reporting on the progress of various research by Wilson on the Loren Ballou firearms and memorabilia. Dating from as early as June of 1964 and as late as June 23, 1965.
Photocopies of letter hand-delivered from Samuel Colt dated Brussels (Belgium) Nov. 10 1856, from Hotel deBelle Obue, to Loren Ballou, with notation "the Bearer awates an answer."
Copy of document from Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Co., Hartford, April 17, 1866, regarding Loren Ballou life insurance policy no. 45141.
Three-page letter to Loren Ballou, from the Colt company, London, May 1853, urging him to accept offer of assignment in London at Colt's factory, of Colonel Colt.
Photocopy from page 924 of book of genealogy on "Descendants of Abner Ballou," regarding Loren Ballou, including statement: "Loren Ballou was a very ingenious mechanic, and rose to be a trusted superintendent of several important mechanical establishments, viz., Colt's Armory in London, Eng., another in Syracuse, N.Y., & c. We have been favored with only a very meager outline of his characteristics, but infer from this that a full delineation would give him a rich record. It seems that his talents and skill were demanded in various prominent localities. . . ."
Photocopies from An Elaborate History and Genealogy of the Ballous in America . . . ., by Adin Ballou, n.d.
Letter from Onondaga Historical Association, Syracuse NY, to R.L. Wilson, dated 27 November 1964, with research data on Loren Ballou and W.H. Baker & Co. gunmakers.
Extra sets (three), photocopies, of R.L Wilson documenting five-page letter on the Ballou Colts and related matters, dated November 25, 1964.
Various extra photocopy pages from the letters on life insurance policy, Syracuse research, and the letter to Ballou of May 1853, urging him to accept business offer from Colonel Colt.
And several miscellaneous papers and documents.
No ensemble from the days of Colonel Samuel Colt has the same appeal, content and fascination as the unique Loren Ballou Cased Model 1851 Navy and Model 1855 Sidehammer Pocket revolvers. This historic grouping within the Cali Collection contributes a great deal of information on the workings of Samuel Colt's factory. It also shows how important Colt's trusted lieutenants were in making the Colt Armory enterprise into the foremost privately owned firearms factory in the world at that time.
References to the cased set of revolvers and memorabilia:
R.L. Wilson, Samuel Colt Presents A Loan Exhibition of Presentation Percussion Colt Firearms. 1961. Pages 124-125 illustrate and describe a Model 1851 Navy (with attachable carbine breech) and a Model 1855 Sidehammer revolver, cased together. Serial nos. 69640 (Navy) and 4473 (Pocket).
R.L. Wilson. American Arms Collectors Percussion Colt Revolvers and Their Rivals The Al Cali Collection. Pp. 54-57.
References to the Matched Pair of Superbly Cast Steel Rampant Colt Sculptures Made for Colonel Samuel Colt:
R.L. Wilson. American Arms Collectors Percussion Colts and Their Rivals The Al Cali Collection, pictured, on the half title, title page, and pages vi-vii and x, as well as on page 54..
R.L. Wilson, The Rampant Colt The Story of a Trademark. 1969
Ballou family heirs, Margorie B. Doty and H. Arline Doty
Jonathan M. Peck
The Model 1851 Navy in the collection of Alec Redfield, Hartford, Connecticut
The case in the L.C. Jackson collection
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