Page 217 - 4090-BOOK3
P. 217

 LOT 3374
Historic Cased L.D. Nimschke Master Engraved Colt Model 1851 Navy Percussion Revolver with Raised Relief Carved Mexican Eagle Grip Owned by Professor William Henry Brewer with Accessories, Including a Belt with Engraved Silver Fittings and a Tooled Slim Jim Holster - Serial no. 165225, 36 percussion cal., 7 1/2 inch bbl., blue/casehardened finish, antique ivory grips. This fascinating cased revolver was purchased from the descendants of Professor William Henry Brewer (1828-1910). Brewer was a professor of agriculture at the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale University from 1864-1903 where Caldwell Hart Colt and William Wirt Winchester were students. Between 1860-1864, he served as the principal assistant and field operative on the first California Geological Survey led by J.D. Whitney. His work was published as “Botany of California” in 1876 and “Up and Down California 1860-1864” in 1930 along with many essays and academic articles. Within “Up and Down California 1860-1864” is a portrait of Brewer with his equipment, including the belt in this set and a Bowie knife. In another photograph shot ahead of the cover page, he also appears wearing the belt and knife. The first photograph is also featured in Bernard R. Levine’s “Knifemakers of Old San Francisco.”The lot is accompanied by extensive documentation on Professor Brewer and the California Geological Survey as well as a detailed history of the revolver by Colt expert R.L Wilson. In his description Wilson states “the writer has regarded the rare, historic, engraved and cased Professor William H. Brewer Colt Model 1851 Navy No. 165225 as one of the most interesting of artifacts from the Great American West”. It is featured on page 179 of “The Book of Colt Engraving” by Wilson where he notes: “The casing was done in the early 20th century by descendants for display of their ancestor’s historic momentoes.” In his letter he also notes “possibly it was commissioned by Brewer.” The set was purchased by Herb Glass with the help of Wilson from Brewer’s descendants following the publication of an article in Life Magazine on the Samuel Colt Presents exhibit.
Professor Brewer was born and raised in New York and attended Yale and graduated from the first class of the Sheffield Scientific School in 1852 and initially taught at Ovid Academy in New York. He also studied at multiple European universities in the mid to late 1850s. In 1858, he was married in Ovid, New York, and soon received a chemistry professor position at Washington
& Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, but tragically his wife and newborn son soon died. Like Theodore Roosevelt a couple decades later, he found some solace in hard work in the American West after being invited to work under Josiah D. Whitney in the Geological Survey of California and led extensive field expeditions studying the geology and botany of California from 1860-1864 and also worked as a chemistry professor at the University of California in 1863 and 1864 before returning to his alma mater as the chair of the Agriculture Department. He remarried in 1868, and had three sons and a daughter. He also took part in additional adventurous field expeditions, including to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in 1869, Greenland in 1894, Alaska with Edward Henry Harriman in 1899, and the Philippines in 1905. He died at his home in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1910 at the age of 82. He was the president of the Arctic Club, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and president of the Connecticut Board of Health.
This Colt Model 1851 Navy revolver was manufactured in 1863 during the American Civil War. The revolver has the Fourth Model features which include large rounded trigger guard and large recoil shield capping cutout with capping channel. The revolver was engraved by legendary New York Master Engraver L.D. Nimschke and features bold Germanic scrollwork on a punch-dot background on the muzzle and barrel lug, sides of the loading lever, frame, hammer, trigger guard, and back strap along with entwining line designs
on the upper side barrel flats and floral and shell accents. The roll-engraved Texas Navy scene on the cylinder is highlighted by a line and dot border. The revolver was primarily silver plated and was gold washed on the hammer, cylinder, loading lever, and wedge. The revolver has as a relief carved golden eagle perched on a cactus with a rattlesnake in its claws and beak based on the Mexican coat of arms.

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