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    Description

    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
    Serial number 5886. .28 caliber, 5-shot cylinder with stagecoach holdup roll scene. 3 1/2-inch octagon barrel with brass pin front sight. Top of barrel stamped:
    [pointing hand motif] Colt's Pt/1855
    and
    Address Col. Colt
    Hartford CT U.S.A.
    The backstrap inscription documents the gift of this set to J.I. Spies. Engraved in Gustave Young style on the barrel, frame and hammer. The backstrap presentation inscription to Spies was executed in elegant script, including specific reference to:
    Charter Oak Stock
    from I.W. Stuart.
    Richly blued, with case-hardened hammer, and loading lever. The grips of single piece varnished Charter Oak.
    Varnished mahogany case, lined in dark green velvet. Embossed eagle and shield powder flask, blued steel double cavity bullet mold, tin of Eley Bros. percussion caps with green paper label, blued L-shaped screwdriver, and key.
    The accompanying historic Charter Oak cane has an inscribed silver collar, in script:
    To Col. I.H. Wright
    From the Democrats of Colts Armory
    Apr. 2d, 1860
    On the other side of the collar, also in script:
    Charter Oak
    Overall length, 37-inches, with decorated tip engaging the sidewalk.
    Accompanied by a collection of numerous other items related to the historic Charter Oak tree. A manila folder contains several references, papers, and photographs. Among these materials are:
    Quotation from the Encyclopaedia Britannica about the Charter Oak and its history.
    Photocopy from the World Book Encyclopedia about the Charter Oak including two illustrations.
    Snapshot in black & white of the Charter Oak framed print, the same which has at its bottom border a signed note from I.W. Stuart.
    Brown sack paper with notations in regard to the print, "The Charter Oak on the Morning After its Fall," photograph by N.A. Moore.
    Small plastic container with portion of receipt from Schmirk & Bower and miscellaneous.
    Small catalogue sheet within file container.
    Letter from arms dealer/collector Fred Sweeney in regard to the Charter Oak cane, with provenance data.
    Photocopy of detailed description of Charter Oak cane, from catalogue of antique arms dealer, collector and author Norm Flayderman. Item 1036A.
    Cardboard folder with photographic prints in black & white and color, and negatives, of the Charter Oak cased set and revolver.
    Photocopy of article by William Hosley in Folk Art magazine, Fall 1996, "The Romance of a Relic: Sam Colt's Relic Furniture."
    Photocopies from Geer's Hartford City Business Directory relating to various enterprises, lodges, etc., with Charter Oak in their names. Year date undetermined, but likely c. 1891.
    Two page letter from Arnold M. Chernoff to Fred Sweeney, congratulating him on purchase of the Charter Oak cased set, no. 5886. Dated March 16, 1974, the letter provides details or provenance on nos. 5886 and 5887 (the latter a presentation to arms dealer A.W. Spies).
    Letter from Spies, Kissam & Co, 279 Broadway, New York, to The Sharps Rifle Co., New Haven, Connecticut, dated April 28th 1875, ordering ammunition.
    Memo from Spies, Kissam & Co., 279 Broadway, New York, dated January 23rd 1877, to Sharps Rifle Co., with payment on account.
    Four-pages including advertisement for The 1935 Connecticut Tercentenary Half Dollar, which includes a depiction of the Charter Oak on the reverse.
    Memo indicating publications relevant to the no. 5887 Charter Oak Model 1855 Colt revolver, from R.L. Wilson's the Antique Arms Annual 1971, Book of Colt Engraving, Colt Engraving and Samuel Colt Presents, citing page nos. to each title.
    Photocopy from book, section entitled "The Classical Period in American Eagle Pommel Swords 1793-1815," likely from work of E. Andrew Mowbray, page 77, illustrating a deluxe sword with eagle hilt, signed by A.W. Spies, 91 Maiden Lane, New York City, as importer.
    Copy of May/June 1993 Man at Arms magazine, with "Roll of Honor" centerspread illustration on cased and inscribed Colt Root revolver, no. 5887, presentation to A.W. Spies from the Inventor.
    Miscellaneous memorabilia described as follows (see accompanying illustrations):
    1. "Proceedings at the Dedication of Charter Oak Hall from the South Meadows Grounds of Colonel Samuel Colt with the Address on the Occasion by Messrs. Hamersley, Stuart, and Deming." Edited by J. Deane Alden. Hartford, and printed by Case, Tiffany and Company, dated MDCCC.LVI. Page 78 of The Colt Heritage illustrates the monograph's frontispiece, a hand-colored foldout print depicting the newly completed Colt factory, in 1856. The civic-minded Colonel Colt footed the expense for this publication, and, of course, for the celebration. On the title page of "Proceedings at the Dedication of Charter Oak Hall," the inscription indicates presentation from Colonel Samuel Colt. Presently the publication is missing its metallic blue cover.
    2. The Charter Oak brochure dated 1856, Hartford, Arlow Collins, measures 4 1/8-inch wide x 6-inches high. Total of 12 numbered pages, plus beige paper cover. The text and poetry includes references to I.W. Stuart, and is an overview of the tree's history. Some of the material quotes from Hartford newspapers of the period.
    3. Framed image of "The Charter Oak," lithograph by E.B. and E.C. Kellogg, with signed base indicating the frame "from wood of the Charter Oak/presented by Hon. I.W. Stuart. An accurate representation/I.W. Stuart." 18 5/8-inches wide including frame, by 14 7/8-inches high. In an envelope on the back of the frame, a letter of April 1, 1974 to Fred Sweeney, from Arnold M. Chernoff, regarding purchase of the Charter Oak revolver from L. Allan Caperton, and about the Charter Oak lithograph. Another letter, dated March 16, 1967, from Norm Flayderman to Chernoff, gives the history of the item, as he found it.
    4. Framed period photograph taken shortly after the tree toppled. Two men and lady standing in front of the sizeable trunk, at left. Crowd of several before the tree, particularly at right. Note artist making drawing or painting, seated in chair, and stepladder at lower right. Frame measures 11-inches x 14-inches.
    5. Charter Oak, print based on painting in the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, by Charles DeWolf Brownell (1822-1909), dated 1857; oil on canvas. Colt factory dome visible in distance over hills to right. Frame measures 15 1/2-inches x 15-inches.
    6. Statement of authenticity signed and dated by I.W. Stuart, of a piece of the Charter Oak. Note reference to the date, Oct. 6th 1856, and the address, "Charter Oak Place." The branch measures 5-inches diameter x 6-inches height.
    7. Souvenir of the Centennial Exhibition or Connecticut's Representation at Philadelphia, 1876 Embracing a Condensed History of the Origin and Progress of the Great International Exhibition . . . ., Hartford CT, published by George D. Curtis, 1877. Page 211 stated the following relevant to the Charter Oak tree:
    About the year 1800, a local writer describes the tree as measuring twenty-one feel around the trunk, with a cavity large enough to contain a child, but the opening had a tendency to close, "as if it had fulfilled the divine purpose for which it was reared." During succeeding years, the venerable tree began to yield to the ravages of time, and was preserved from destruction only through the unceasing care of Hon. I.W. Stuart, upon whose estate it stood. At one o'clock in the morning of Thursday, August 21, 1856, it finally yielded to age and the elements, and fell to the ground. The occurrence was thus described in the Hartford Evening Press of that date: "At that hour there was a sudden and terrific gust of wind, and two policemen who saw the tree fall, say that when it struck the tree there was a slight crackling noise from the trunk, hardly as loud as the report of the explosion of a percussion cap, when the Charter Oak, the pride of the city and State, and the Mecca of Patriot Pilgrims from every part of the country, fell slowly to the ground with a crash which startled the sleepers in the neighborhood." The news spread throughout the city like wildfire, and throngsof people rushed to the scene. As a manifestation of regret that the life of the venerable tree had departed, Colt's Band was ummoned, and played the "Dead March in Said," and other appropriate airs, and at sundown the bells of the city were tolled. Mr. Stuart was besieged with requests for relics for weeks afterward, and requests came from not only the northern States, but Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, California, and other distant sections to which electricity had flashed the news. Eulogies were printed in the leading newspapers of the country . . . .
    A piece of the Charter Oak tree is included within this book, on page 209. These pieces were made by renowned carver John H. Most, as documented on the same page with a statement from Most.
    8. Post card printed in commemoration of another Charter Oak Chair. (not illustrated)
    9. Connecticut anniversary commemorated by a depiction of the Charter Oak Chair.
    10. Site of the Charter Oak on the property of I.W. Stuart. Commemorative post card.
    11. Commemorative Charter Oak teaspoon, with commemorative envelope, imprinted with image of the famous tree.
    12. Reverse surface of the Charter Oak commemorative teaspoon.
    13. A commemorative medal struck in honor of the tree.
    14. Postcard, measuring 5 1/2-inches wide by 3 1/2-inches high, dated on the back, with a note, July 7, 1918. Published by Morris Berman, New Haven, Connecticut.
    15. Celebrating the Centennial of the fall of the Charter Oak. (not illustrated)
    16a and 16b. Tercentennial of the Charter of the Colony of Connecticut; note coins with the Charter Oak. Images show both obverse and reverse.
    17. Souvenir Charter Oak Almanac for 1890.
    18a and 18b. Relief-carved Charter Oak Cane with inscribed silver collar, in script: "To Col. I.H. Wright/From the Democrats of Colts Armory/Apr. 2d, 1860." On the other side of the collar, likewise in script: "Charter Oak." Born in Boston, January 1814, Isaac Hull Wright became an eminent military officer and political figure. The occasion of the presentation was a rally held in Hartford regarding controversy over the firing by Samuel Colt of 66 employees who voted Republican in his employ. A detailed poster, which related to the state of affairs, was printed by the Republican Mechanics and Workmen (see footnotes). At the end of the poster: "Let your voice be heard, in tones whose import can not be mistaken, on the first Monday of April next!" The first Monday of April, according to an 1860 calendar, was April 2, 1860 - the date inscribed on Wright's presentation cane. Overall length, 37-inches, with decorated tip for engaging the sidewalk.
    19. Framed postcards commemorating the Charter Oak; that at top of the standing tree, at center, the fallen tree, and at bottom the monument erected on the site of the tree, approximately a mile from the blue-domed Colt factory on the Connecticut River. Frame measures 9 1/4-inches x 16-inches.
    20. Directions for the Charter Oak Sewing Machine, a product of Colt's Patent Fire Arms Mfg. Co, Inc. (not illustrated)
    21. Evan a line of stoves was developed, with the Charter Oak name. But rather than manufactured at Colt's factory, these were in St Louis, Missouri. (not illustrated)
    22. Yet another model of stove, in the line of Charter Oak Ranges. (not illustrated)
    23. Block of U.S. postage stamps celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Charter Oak. Note cost of mailing a standard envelope, in 1935.
    24. Rare invitation from Colonel Colt to the Inauguration of Charter Oak Hall, May 6th, 1856. At lower left, jacket buttons with Charter Oak theme, and at right, a medal struck to honor the famous tree, issued by the Hartford National Bank and Trust Co., itself a venerable institution.
    Conclusion - The Charter Oak Colt Presentation Set
    No more exotic and appealing Colt firearms were made than those used for presentations or for display purposes by the Colonel himself. Whether a standard model distinguished solely by an inscription or a dazzling, gold-inlaid, engraved, inscribed, and cased special-order masterpiece, the aura of rarity and historical importance is mainly due to the gun's deployment by Samuel Colt as a personal or business presentation.
    Closely allied to the wave of sentimental gifts made to heroes of America's mid-century wars and her westward expansion, the Colt revolver was rivaled only by the deluxe sword in this mini-avalanche of presentation items.
    And of all the presenters, no one individual or institution would ever surpass, or indeed come close to matching, the largesse of Samuel Colt.
    From a cautious, probing start in the Paterson period to an open, flamboyant style in the Hartford years, Sam Colt presentations came to be recognized as a novel and highly desirable status symbol.
    The ultimate collector's item in Colt presentations is a fully engraved and inscribed revolver, cased with accessories, in mint condition, and presented to a famed personality of the day. Surviving specimens of Colt presentations have given the modern collector the most exotic of categories in the American antique-arms field. No other specialty in the collecting of American firearms can touch it.
    The Charter Oak inspired the marketing imagination of Colonel Colt, and among the most sought-after of all Charter Oak artifacts are Colt revolvers.
    Literature:
    R.L. Wilson. American Arms Collectors Percussion Colt Revolvers and Their Rivals The Al Cali Collection, pages 50-53.
    R.L. Wilson. Samuel Colt Presents, page 149, illustrates serial no. 5887, which was presented to A.W. Spies by the Inventor, and also had the inscription "Charter Oak stock/From I.W. Stuart."
    --------------, ed. Antique Arms Annual 1971, "The Charter Oak," by Arnold M. Chernoff, detailed study of the Charter Oak Colt revolvers, citing no. 5886.
    Provenance:
    Charles L. Bricker
    Arnold M. Chernoff
    S. Lewis Hutcheson
    Richard P. Mellon
    L. Allan Caperton (accompanied by two-page letter from John Bachner of N. Flayderman & Co., New Milford, Connecticut, March 16, 1967, to Arnold Marcus Chernoff, regarding the Charter Oak lithograph, printed by E.B. & E.C. Kellogg, within an authentic Charter Oak wood frame. A later letter from Chernoff, April 1, 1974, corroborates the Flayderman information, and indicates the lithograph had come from that dealer "many years ago.")
    Fred Sweeney
    Al Cali




    Condition Report*: Excellent. Cylinder roll scene and markings sharp. 98% high polish blue with minor patches patina. Vibrant case hardening. Grips excellent; 100% varnish. Minor storage marks. Unfired. Case and accessories fine to excellent. Accompanying Charter Oak Collection of artifacts, monographs, photographs, "Dedication of Charter Oak Hall," and signed print by I.W. Stuart of the fallen Charter Oak tree, all in fine to excellent condition.
    *Heritage Auctions strongly encourages in-person inspection of items by the bidder. Statements by Heritage regarding the condition of objects are for guidance only and should not be relied upon as statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty, or assumption of liability by Heritage. All lots offered are sold "AS IS".

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    Auction Dates
    September, 2011
    18th Sunday
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