This is a nice example of a blued and case colored Colt New Line Revolver in .41 Colt Centerfire. 2-1/4" barrel. Its in the 8,000 serial range which dates its manufacture to 1877. Later style New Line with the internal cylinder stops and loading gate integrated into the wall of the left recoil shield. Early features include the etched panel which reads "COLT NEW 41" in an oval on the left side of the frame. The grips are nicely varnished dark rosewood. 1874 patent on bottom of the barrel with COLT ADDRESS between the German silver front sight and the frame. Barrel and cylinder are blued while frame is case color hardened. Screws are fire blued. "41 CAL C" for Center fire is stamped on the left side of the frame. Barrel and cylinder have tiny stamps indicating this revolver went through the London Proof House and would have certainly been retailed by the Colt Agency in London during the height of the British Empire. Typically, these British examples are found in better condition, tend to be very well finished and and the grips with finely polished varnish.
Overall, this 140-year-old Colt grades to NRA Antique Fine Plus Condition with 80% bright original blue with a little bit of corrosion on the etched panel. However, it's legible and you can still see original blue on some of the raised wording. 45% original on the cylinder...strong in the flutes and fading on the outer circumference with some minute light corrosion. The frame shows 70% good to strong original case colors with the gripstraps and underbelly of the frame worn to a dark grey patina. Grips retain 98% original varnish with nice wood to metal and no chips or cracks. Screws still show some of their original fire blue. Action works nicely. Loading gate is intact. Bore is Good overall with strong rifling but a few moderate pits in a couple of spots from black powder corrosion...fairly typical for the 19th century.
Colt New Lines are beautiful little pocket revolvers and unfortunately for Colt, their quality and workmanship made them a bit more expensive than the tidal wave of cheap nickel plated single action spur trigger pocket revolvers that flooded the market during the 1870's and 1880's. As a result, Colt only built a few thousand of these .41's and as previously noted, sold many of them to a market where quality was viewed as more important than price: Great Britain. Today, when we see Colt New Lines at shows, they seem to be priced all over the map with .22's being the cheapest for $300-$600 dollars...to .41 Cals running $750 to $2,500; the .30's, .32's, and 38's being somewhere in between. Ones with blued/case finish seem to demand higher prices than nickel plated examples. We typically see ones in excellent condition in large calibers priced well into the mid-$1,000 to mid-$2,000 range. That said, we think this is a bargain for an 1870's vintage Colt. While not Excellent, a similar Colt Single Action from this era or even a Model 1877 Lightning or 1878 Double Action would cost thousands of dollars. Where can you buy an 1870's era Colt Revolver with lots of blue and case colors, an etched panel, and in a desirable caliber like .41 Colt for under $1,000 any more?