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Images of Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company Available Online Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Posted by capittsley in digital collections, updates.
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The Connecticut State Library has just added Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company to our online collection and on our new Flickr site.

This collection includes images of company administrators; employees; visitors to the Armory; interior and exterior factory views, including from the fire of 1864 and floods of 1936 and 1938; other Colt properties; events; and promotional material.

Samuel Colt (1814-1862) received U.S. Patent No. 138 in 1836 for the first revolving cylinder pistol and along with other investors founded the Patent Arms Manufacturing Company of Paterson, New Jersey. Due to small sales, the business closed in September of 1842. In 1847 Colt borrowed money from his banker cousin Elisha Colt and other Hartford businessmen to lease a factory on Pearl Street in Hartford, where he adapted the system of interchangeable parts to the mass production of guns. In 1851 Samuel Colt bought property in Hartford’s South Meadows where he built the Colt’s Armory that was completed in August of 1855. The Armory was topped with an onion-shaped blue dome on which stood a rampant colt cast from bronze.

Samuel Colt died unexpectedly in January of 1862. A fire in February of 1864 destroyed half of the Armory and the office. Samuel Colt’s widow Elizabeth ordered the Armory rebuilt exactly as it was. Construction was completed in 1867. In 1901 Mrs. Colt sold the company to Armstrong & Schirmer, a New York financial house. Control of the company changed hands a several times and eventually became a subsidiary of Penn-Texas. That holding company collapsed in 1958 and what remained became the holding company Fairbanks Whitney. By 1960 manufacturing operations moved from Hartford to West Hartford.

Planned future digitization efforts will add images of firearms, including Gatling guns, machine guns, pistols and revolvers and rifles.

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