Three of Colt’s retained drafts of documents sent to Commissioner of Patents Henry L. Ellsworth, circa 1837-38, all with a few additions, deletions, or corrections in Colt’s own hand.
First is a manuscript DS signed “Saml Colt,” one page, 8 x 13, no date. In full: “The petition of Samuel Colt of Paterson New Jersey respectfully sets forth that your petitioner has made various improvements in his & other patent revolving cylinder guns and their appendages, and being desirous of securing his rights until he can perfect them, he prays that the accompanying description and drawing may be filed as a caveat in the confidential archives of the patent office agreeable to the act of congress in such case made and provided your petitioner having paid $20 into the treasury and complied with other provisions of the act.”
Second is a manuscript DS signed “Samuel Colt,” three pages on two adjoining sheets, 8 x 13, no date. In part: “Samuel Colts caveat of improvements in various parts of fire arms and their appendages—First my improvement consists in rendering the charges, contained in the cylinder of my patent revolving cylinder gun safe by giving free passage for the escape of the fire which escapes latterly from the cylinder…My second improvement consists in making the touch hole in the nipple conical…having the base of the cone at the outside of the nipple, for the purpose of receiving a greater amount of heat and concentrating it when it reaches the load. My third improvement consists of a lever wherewith to force the balls into the chambers of the cylinder…It is obvious that there are various modes of making such a lever, but one mode is represented for the illustration of the principle. It can be made to apply to all kinds of fire arms that load at the britch or have revolving cylinder chambers such as cochrans and others—My fourth improvement is in the bullet mould…After the bullet has been cast, the cutter D is pushed to one side which clips off the stem and leaves the bullet finished. My fifth improvement consists in the valves of the powder flask—Instead of one valve, as used in the common flask for measuring the quantity of powder, I make use of two, one at the mouth of the flask stem and the other inside. When one is shut the other is open, and vice versa…It is evident that all the parts above enumerated can be made and altered in various ways not necessary to enumerate; but the object at present is to elucidate and secure the principle until they can be patented.” At the conclusion, Colt has crossed out a short paragraph and added the following in his own hand: “The above principle is also applicable and has been applied by me to a flask having a number of tubes or chargers which expedite the loading of many chambered guns of all kinds.”
Third is a continuation manuscript DS signed “Saml Colt,” one page both sides adjoining sheets, 8 x 13, no date. In part: “My sixth improvement is in the bayonet = A (fig 1. Plate 2) represents a gun barrel with the bayonet B having a ferule C at its lower end made to slide up and [down] the barrel…The mortise or notch d. at the britch end of the barrel has its upper side dovetailed… My seventh improvement is in a case for containing caps…This improvement differs from the common cap case in being double, and having an involute channel for the reception of the caps instead of an annular one, and also in having the follower slide upon its axes instead of being fixed…the cover is opened and the involute channel filled with caps, the catch h is then disengaged and the cover fastened…The operation is the same on each side but independent of each other, the central pin allowing the axes to work independent of each other.” Colt has made a few corrections in his own hand, including: “Fig 3 is an end view of the barrel and bayonet.”
The three documents are nicely housed in a leatherbound custom presentation case with a gilt-stamped smoking revolver on the cover. In overall fine condition.
Deeply interested in the young Samuel Colt’s evolving design for a revolver, Henry Ellsworth used his position as the first Commissioner of the US Patent Office to jump-start what would become the mighty Colt empire. Helping Colt secure US Patent No. 138 (later renamed 9430X) in 1836, he provided him with the support he needed to raise nearly $200,000 from investors to incorporate the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey, and begin manufacturing the Paterson pistol. The diligent inventor continuously worked on improving his design, and though not yet ready to file a new patent, he wrote to Ellsworth to file a caveat “securing his rights until he can perfect them.” This collection of draft documents, offering detailed description of some early modifications to his revolver, which would appear in the August 29, 1839, patent #1304—including the 4th improvement for bullet molds, the 5th for the powder flask, and the 7th for improvement caps—captures the incessant drive for improvement that made Colt one of the finest weapons manufacturers of all time. An incredibly rare collection with content of the utmost desirability. RR Auction COA.