The sale of items from the legendary late collector set new participation records for a Sotheby’s UK auction.
Background & history of production
The Remington 1858 New Model revolver was a percussion revolver issued as a secondary weapon to soldiers of the Union Army during the American Civil War.
First produced in 1862, the gun came into widespread use in 1864 after a fire at the Colt factory in Hartford, Connecticut destroyed much of the building along with existing stock, machinery and plans.
The fire halted production at the factory for some time, and the U.S Government turned to the New Model revolver as a replacement for the Colt 1860 Army revolver, which was no longer available.
The high quality of the weapon saw it favoured by many for its durability, accuracy and the speed at which it could be reloaded using a spare cylinder (around six seconds).
The ‘top-strap’ frame design meant the weapon could withstand the rigours of battle, and many officers purchased the guns with their own money as they preferred it to their original service-issue weapons.
Approximately 132,000 models were made, with production lasting until 1875.
Although known as the Remington 1858 New Model revolver, the guns were first manufactured in 1862 and are merely stamped with the ‘1858’ patent date.
The gun was used predominantly by the Union Army, but many were sold on the black market to Confederate soldiers. The Confederates also produced their own, illegal versions of the weapons using brass instead of steel for the frames.
Steel supplies were low during the war and the Confederate Army used all available gun-metal for cannons and other larger weapons. Brass was in greater supply and provided the necessary strength – meaning many original Confederate New Model revolvers can be identified by their striking brass frames.
Price guide and notable auction sales
The average price for a New Model revolver can vary from approximately $1,000 to $6,000, depending on its condition. Unfired models still in their original boxes can occasionally sell for $7,000 - $10,000.
In June 2012, a Remington 1858 New Model revolver which formerly belonged to the Wild West showman Buffalo Bill sold at Heritage Auctions for a price of $239,000.
Buffalo Bill, real name William Cody, had used the gun whilst serving as a civilian scout for the US army during the American Indian wars. He had originally gifted the gun to his friend Charlie Trego in 1906, and the weapon was sold alongside the original not from Cody which read:
“"To Charlie & Carrie Trego. This old Remington revolver. I carried and used for many years in Indian Wars and Buffalo killing. And it never failed me. WF Cody Dec 13th 1906".
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