Copy of the Colt 4th Model 1851 .36 Navy revolver, made in about 1870 in Alsace-Lorraine by a gun maker named Steinbrenner (possibly Steinbrenner?) with serial number 762xx. The dimensions are those of the Colt Navy with the usual 7 ½” octagonal barrel. An original Colt cylinder fits and functions perfectly.
The details of the loading lever catch and the larger trigger guard points to the 4th Model.
Cylinder is stamped PATENT instead of Colt’s Patent, blued and case hardened with the standard naval battle cylinder scene, scalloped cylinder. Floral engraving applied over a pebble finish to the metal, with gold bands inlaid in the cylinder, barrel and wedge. The details of the loading lever catch and the larger trigger guard points to the 4th Model. Assembly number 692 on grip, frame, barrel and cylinder pin. The owner believes that the number 2 is also stamped on the rear of the frame on the left side of the grip screw. The muzzle end of the barrel is also scalloped.
The only differences noticeable from the actual Colt are a slightly thicker profile to the hammer and the lack of the slight rearward curve at the bottom of the walnut grips.
I have deep doubts about the name Stonebrenner. Steinbrenner in Alsace-Lorraine is much more probable. Unfortunately a gunsmith with that name is unknown to me and could not been located when doing researches.
Alsace-Lorraine has changed several times between France and Germany. When the gun was made, I would say at the end of the 1850s and not in about 1870 this part of Europe belonged to France whereas, after the war of 1870/1871 Alsace-Lorraine was occupied by Germany.
It might be possible that this gun was manufactured in France or Germany but personally I would search for its origins in Belgium.
This Colt Navy is probably the unique specimen however, its high number 762xx suggest a large production.
Colt’s were manufactured under license in Austria, Belgium and Russia. Belgium got parts by Colt in a certain degree whereas the most of the licensed and unlicensed European manufacturers created their part. It is not obvious that a manufacturer who made his parts himself stamped such a high number on it. Therefore the use of original Colt parts is to assume. Under this presumption the parts were made in 1857. The owner has found features of the 4th Model on his gun therefore the features of the 4th model which began at serial number 85xxx must have been known to the maker and could have been made as of 1858.
Colts, made in Belgium were of fine quality. In 1853, at the time when J. Samthill became Colt’s sales agent for Belgium Colt supplied partially manufactured parts to the trade. Assembling and finishing were made by local gunsmiths. Known for manufacturing arms using Colt’s parts are:
Ancion & Co. (probably Jules, Dieudonné and Alfred) This company belonged to the Société des Anglais 1854 – 1863 which was founded by Jules Ancion, Renkin Frères, Auguste Francotte and Pirlot Frères. They delivered 150’000 Enfield Model 1853 to the English government.
Collette (probably Victor Collette
Dandoy (probably Charles Dandoy who meets Alexandre Le Mat who was searching for manufacturer for his famous Le Mat revolver)
Drisson & Co. (probably Ferdinand Drissen)
Francotte (Auguste Francotte) copied Adam, Tranter, Smith & Wesson at the beginning of its career
Hanquet (probably Ferdinand Hanquet or Martin Hanquet & Co.)
Lemille (Joseph Lemille)
Petry (J. Auguste Petry of J.A. Petry Fils) the later made licensed C. Sharps pistols
Pirlot Freres (copied Sharp’s 1859 pistols)
Belgian companies which made Colts already earlier than 1853:
Gilles Decourtis (same as Gilles Decortis ?)
Guillaume Mariette (manufacturer of the well known European Mariette Brevete pepperboxes with ring hammer)
L. Ghaye (probably Lambert Ghaye)
N. Gilion (eventually Nicolas Joseph Gilon)
P.J. Fagard *
* Fagard, Harar and Rennotte-Desart supplied the arms trade with partially manufactured parts. The assembling and finishing were made by individual gunsmiths.
Many of the Belgian Colts were made in and around Liege and the Liege proof marks could be found on the barrel, cylinder and on the face of the recoil shield.
... and legend are the names of the indivudal gunsmiths