Private Sam Wilson’s Walker Colt and flask
The all-time auction record for a Colt Revolver was made his week at James D. Julia, Inc. in Fairfield, Maine, when a Colt Whitneyville Walker, marked “Company A #201,” issued at Vera Cruz in 1847 to Texas Ranger Private Sam Wilson sold for $920,000.
Samuel Colt produced, between 1847 and 1849, roughly 1100 massive .44 caliber revolvers along the lines suggested by Texas Ranger Captain Samuel Walker.
The Walker Colt could be argued to have been the most powerful handgun in the world up until the introduction of the .357 Magnum in 1935. Its use by Texas Rangers in the Mexican War and in frontier battles with the Comanche Indians combined with its rarity and extraordinary size all combine to make the Walker Colt the ne plus ultra of 19th century collectible revolvers.
Antique and Auction News explains why this particular example was so desirable.
With the Wilson/Kenly Walker there are some specific attributes that make this example stand far above all others known. First of all is its spectacular condition. The Walker was so revered during its period of use that one of the first actions that occurred as a Texas Ranger fell in battle was the retrieval of his Walker pistol. The thousand martial Walker pistols originally produced saw a tremendous use in future years. Those few examples that have survived are almost all in extremely worn and well-used condition. Very rarely is there even a hint of finish left on the revolver. It is not uncommon to find many or most of the markings worn off, parts replaced, etc. The Wilson/Kenly Revolver, however, is in extraordinary condition, retaining 40-60% of its original finish, and of equal importance, retaining all of the inspector marks, proof marks, and other fragile idiosyncrasies almost never seen on other surviving Walkers. This resulting masterpiece literally makes it a reference study in what a real martial Walker looked like at the time of issue.
A second very appealing aspect of this important revolver is its impeccable provenance. The gun was originally issued to Samuel Wilson, a private in the Texas Rangers. Not only is it recorded that the Walkers were issued to his Company, Wilson also scratched his name on the brass trigger guard of this most prized of his possessions. Wilson unfortunately died in late 1847 or early 1848 at Jalapa and Major Kenly, at that time Jalapa’s Garrison Commandant and in charge of the hospital, obviously obtained the gun at Wilson’s demise. He kept this and other items he collected throughout the battle for his entire life, and passed them on down to his descendants. The consignor, an octogenarian from Libby, Montana, first saw the gun in 1941 when he and his mother retrieved it along with the Walker Flask from the family homestead. It had been in the possession of his mother’s aunt (Kenly was a great-uncle to this aunt). The Colt Walker A Company No. 210 has never been outside the family, nor ever offered for private sale before. October 7, 2008 will be the first time. The Walker will be offered with a $500,000 to $1,000,000 pre-sale estimate.
James D. Julia press release
Maine Morning Sentinel story
Shooting a replica Walker Colt 9:01 video