SAMUEL COLT - AUTOGRAPH LETTER DOUBLE SIGNED 04/12/1847 - HFSID 350596
Sale Price $9,775.00
Samuel Colt Autograph Letter Signed to Edward Wesson Regarding the Development of a Dragoon Form Revolving Carbine.
ALS signed: "Saml. Colt-" on page 1 and "S.C." on page 2. The letter is four integral pages written on pages one and two and addressed on page four, 8" x 9.75", New Haven, Connecticut, April 12, 1847, and postmarked the same day. Very fine condition. Framed by the Gallery of History, 31½x39.
Samuel Colt writes asking that Wesson bore and rifle two long barrels that Colt expressed to him that day. Colt explains that "I want them for moddles [sic], & not having as yet any convenience for boring & rifling anything but pistol barrels" he is giving the tooling commission to Wesson. Colt gives specific instructions asking that Wesson make the barrel of one gun to accommodate "a round ball 50 to the pound loading at the britch [sic] & must not be any larger in the bore than the sample pistol barrel I send you." Shortly after this letter was written Colt moved his operations from New Haven to New York and began the production of the Colt Dragoon Revolver.
In full: “Dr Sir I send you to day by Express a box containing two Rifle barrels which I would like to have your bore & Rifle, for me as soon as you can. I want them for moddles, and not having as yet any convenience for boring & rifleing anything but pistol barrels, you will confer a favor on me by doing this work as soon as you can, for which I shall hold myself in readiness to pay you your prices & be happy at any future day to do you as great a favor - I dont care to have you do anything to them except simply to bore & rifle them - one of them I want of a size to carry a round ball, 30 to the pound loading at the britch & must not be any larger in the bore than the sample pistol barrel I send you - The other I want of a size to carry a round ball 100 to the pound - Let me hear from you as soon as you receive the barrels & inform me about how soon you can send them back to this place - Yours Truly / Saml. Colt-
P. S. As yet I hear nothing from you regarding my proposition for you to move to New York & carry on your business more extensively, which fact is rather ominous I fear of you determining not to make a change for the precinct - Some four days after I visited your establishment I received a letter from a Mr Frances Clark applying for the berth of Superintendent of the manufacturing I am about establishing in New York & recommended himself as being fully qualified for the duties requi-red, that he was particularly well acquainted with the boring, straitening & finishing barrels &c- Do you know such a person & if so what do you think of him. what are his peculiar qualifica-tions- I am in want of good Gunsmiths at this time & shall be still more so, on or about the first of June- Should you know of any one wanting employment you will confer a great favour by sending them to me, here on in New York S.C.”
SAMUEL COLT (1814-1862) As a teenager yearning for high adventure, Colt persuaded his father to let him go to work at sea. At that time, he conceived, by observing the action of the ship's wheel, a practical way for making a multi-shot pistol. He is credited with patenting the first practical revolver, first in England and France in 1835 and in the U. S. in 1836. After obtaining U.S. Patent No. 138 for his invention, he persuaded several New Yorkers to invest some $200,000 to incorporate the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey. The company provided guns used to fight the Seminole Indians in the Florida Everglades, however sales were too meager to sustain the company, and in 1842 it closed. In the 1930's Colt developed his Submarine Battery and waterproof ammunition cartridges. The latter was well received by Congress which spent one quarter of its $200,000 state militia appropriation on Colt's new ammunition. With increasing income from the government, Colt built his own factory in the summer of 1847, promising to turn out five thousand guns a year. His innovative spirit saw the new methods being used in New England's machine-tool industry and he quickly adapted the system of interchangeable parts to the mass production of guns. Perfecting the technique to the point where eighty percent of his gun making was done by machine alone. With his new factory, Colt functioned as president and salesman extraordinaire, and he appreciated the necessity of creating demand through aggressive promotion. He travelled abroad extensively, gaining introductions to government officials, and making them gifts of beautifully engraved weapons. He was the first American manufacturer to open a branch abroad, choosing a location on the Thames for supplying arms to the English government and his two factories supplied around two hundred thousand pistols for use in the Crimean War. By obtaining a seven-year extension of his basic American patent and crushing attempts at infringement, Colt had become a millionaire in less than a decade. By 1857 Colt was turning out nearly 150 finished guns a day at a price of $24 each. As the American North and South raced toward a civil war, he was busy making enormous profits by filling the demands of both sides. His new Connecticut factory, the Colt Armory, earned an average of $237,000 annually until the outbreak of the Civil War, when earnings soared to over $1,000,000. Colt's ambition was to be first and best. and he seldom reflected on the moral implications of dealing in weapons of death and destruction. A Yankee peddler who became a dazzling entrepreneur, the success of his many mechanical inventions and refinements was due less to their intrinsic merits than to his showmanship in telling the world about them.
Colt writes to Edwin Wesson, brother of Smith & Wesson co-founder Daniel Wesson, asking that he bore and rifle two long barrels for an experimental rifle. The letter was written at the start of Colt's journey which ended with the introduction of the Colt Revolving Rifle 1855. At that same time, Edwin Wesson and Daniel Levitt had been producing their Wesson & Leavitt revolver with The Massachusetts Arms Company. Interestingly, only a few years after writing this letter, Colt filed and won his patent infringement lawsuit against the Massachusetts Arms Company for producing the Wesson & Leavitt revolver, which infringed on Colt's original revolver patent. The move bankrupted the company and left Colt's revolver with few competitors - until Daniel Wesson and Horace Smith opened the Smith & Wesson Company in 1854 and began producing their own revolvers and rifles.
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