Chapter 1.6.4.1 – 3-Screw Frame Uberti Colt 1861 Miniatures

On this page we are discussing the Uberti Colt 1861 Navy miniatures of 3-screw pattern. Chapter 1.6.4.1.1 addresses the more or less period correct models whereas in chapter 1.6.4.1.2 the exceptionally cute miniatures nonetheless are replications of pistols that never were, i.e. they are fantasy guns or GTNW (Guns That Never Were).1) Colt never fitted his 1861 Navy models of the 3-screw pattern with cuts in the recoil shield for the attachment of a shoulder stock, or squareback triggerguards .

Four Uberti Colt 1861 Navy miniatures (from top): GTNW #PM290 note notches in the recoil shield, engraved, nickel plated, one-piece ivory grips; GTNW #PM224 note notches in the recoil shield and toe on butt, engraved, gold inlays, charcoal blued cylinder and barrel, frame and loading press case colors, one-piece mother of pearl imitation grips; GTNW #PM1781 note squareback triggerguard, charcoal blued cylinder and barrel; period correct #PM326 1861 in "Cowboy-Quality"

Colt 1861 Navies in duet displayed on the Connecticut State flag (top down): Original Colt 1861 Navy "father" from 1863 #16124 (courtesy Lutz Viertel Collection) vs. Uberti miniature "son" #MP14; note the "round" recoil shields without notches of both pistol, the grip frame is brass on the original only but steel on the miniature

All the blued, charcoal blued and nickel plated triggerguards and backstraps of Colt 1861 Navy miniatures in the Hunzinger Collection are made of steel. They represent the majority of Hunzinger's 1861 models. Only one specimen in the collection has a grip frame made of brass, namely #PM1781

This observation could lead to the conclusion that the Uberti miniatures of the Colt 1861 Navies fitted with steel triggerguards and backstraps represent the majority of the total production of this model. Statistically this may or may not be the case. If true it would be in contrast to what you find in the Hartford originals of the 19th century. Because there the majority of the pistols documented has brass grip frames whereas steel was the exception.

1.6.4.1.1 Historically correct 3-screw frame Colt 1861 Navy miniatures: To bring the size of subject miniatures of the Hunzinger Collection somewhat into perspective specimen #MP14 was compared to original #16124 of 1863 production and others a U.S. 1.00 $ coin. Whenever present their marks, marking and stamps are highlighted.

Two views of a pair of period correct Colt 1861 miniatures in cowboy quality (from top): note "round" recoils shields of #MP14 and #PM324

Four views of #MP14: U.S. 1.00 $ coin added for size comparison; note New-York address top of the barrel marking with cylinder legend ENGAGED 16 MAY 1843 on 1st close-up, 2nd close-up shows details of the knurling of hammer spur, 3rd close-up features PATENT No and ORMSBY address between naval engagement scene's ends of the cylinder, COLT'S PATENT in two lines on forward left side of the frame, 36 CAL on left shoulder of steel triggerguard

Two views of miniature #PM324: U.S. 1.00 $ coin added for size comparison; on close-up note markings MODEL 1861 NAVY on left side of barre lug, cylinder with PATENT No and ORMSBY address between naval engagement scene's ends, 36 CAL on left shoulder of steel triggerguard

1.6.4.1.2 Fantasy miniatures of 3-screw frame Colt 1861 Navy pattern: I am pretty certain that Aldo Uberti knew the original 19th century Colt percussion revolvers inside out. Actually, his entry into the replica industry in 1959 with partner Vittorio Gregorelli was with replications of steel frame Colt 1851 Navies and their Confederate States counterparts Griswold & Gunnisons with Colt 1851 Navy pattern brass frames. 

Their U.S. partner Navy Arms arranged their import and successful launch in due time before the centennial festivities of the Civil War of 1861 to 1865. 

As initiates will confirm Colt 1851 and 1861 Navies share the same type of steel frame.

Two views of a consecutively numbered pair of Colt 1861 miniatures in cowboy quality (from top): #320 and #321 share the fantasy notches of the recoils shields but also the historically correct 36 CAL stamped on left shoulder of the triggerguards

We believe Uberti was well aware that Colt 1861 Navies with 3-screw frames and cuts in the recoil shield to attach a shoulder stock were never assembled at the Hartford factory of the 1860s and early 1870s. But that is exactly what he did with the miniature variants we are sharing with you here.

And he did not stop there. When you scroll down you can take a close look at another irregular feature, a Colt 1861 miniature fitted with a squareback trigger guard, something never happened in the Hartford of yesteryear.

Colt 1861 Navy miniature #320 displayed with a U.S. 1.00 $ coin for size comparison

Twin Colt 1861 Navy miniature #321 displayed with a U.S. 1.00 $ coin for size comparison: Note nicely grained grips

Why were these strange Colt 1861 Navy variants added to his assortment of miniature revolvers when at the same time Uberti did not produce the full size replicas with these features? 

Why did he make them en miniature only?

In line with Samuel Colt's policy never to waste any inventories of parts this is considered good housekeeping. To the collectors it means a source of rare and sought-after variants today. 

Two views of nicely embellished Colt 1861 Navy miniatures with irregular features (top down): engraved #PM290 with fantasy notches in the recoil shield, fire blued #PM1781 fitted with a period correct brass grip frame assembly but a fantasy squareback triggerguard 

The way I see it Aldo Uberti in Gardone applied Sam Colt's Hartford no-waste principles to his stock management program in Gardone. Looking at it from that angle it is my considered opinion that 3-screw frames with notches in the recoil shields are left-overs from the 4-screw frames fabricated for the making of miniatures of Colt 1851 London Navies and Colt 1861 Navies with shoulder stocks.

Likewise the brass squareback triggerguards found fitted to Colt 1861 Navy miniatures are left-overs from the early model Colt 1851 Navy project.

What do you think?

Five Impressions of beauty #PM290: displayed with one U.S. $ coin added for size comparison. Note deep engraving art, nickel plating and ivory one-piece grip; engraving of right (1st close-up) and left side (2nd close-up) with cylinder roll-engraved with Ormsby naval engagement scene, PATENT No 290 and Ormsby address line between the scene's ends; two line COLT'S PATENT stamp on frame and 36 CAL on shoulder of triggerguard; top of the barrel marking NEW-YORK address (3rd close-up) and knurling of hammer spur; 4th close-up features details of engraving on rear side of recoil shield and backstrap

Three impressions of fantasy Colt 1861 miniature beauty #PM1781 displayed with one U.S. $ coin for size comparison: Period correct 3-screw frame with round recoil shield is combined with an irregular squareback triggerguard. Nice fire blued barrel, cylinder and frame, hammer and loading lever assembly case colors, polished brass of triggerguard and backstrap. Note marking on left side of barrel lug reading MODEL 1861 NAVY

Another exceptionally attractive fantasy pistol #PM224: notches in the recoil shield are fantasy and unheard of, toe on butt, engraved with gold inlays, fire blued barrel, cylinder, backstrap and triggerguard, frame, hammer and loading press case colors, one-piece mother of pearl imitation grips with Colt emblem "prestige" grade embellishment 

October 9, 2019/WDN

Incidentally. three (3) out of six (6) Colt 1961 3-screw frame miniatures presented on this page above are fitted with triggerguards with a toe on the buttstrap. Triggerguards found with toes are steel made. Assumingly they are left-overs from the Uberti Colt 1851 4-screw frame London Navy and the 1861 4-screw Navy miniature program.

Butt view of six Colt 1861 Navy 3-screw frame miniatures displayed on 1st gen. Colt 1861 pages of the Colt Bible THE BOOK OF COLT FIREARMS THIRD EDITION (from left): #PM324 toe on butt, #321 toe on butt, #MP14 no toe on butt, #320 toe on butt, #PM290 no toe on butt, #PM1781 no toe on butt

Close-up of above picture featuring (from left) #PM324 and #321: Note toes on butt