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VERY NICE EARLY “SLIM JIM” CARVED HOLSTER FOR THE MODEL 1851 COLT NAVY PISTOL – AN EYE CATCHING DESIGN IN VERY GOOD CONDITION:  This “Slim Jim” or “California” style holster perfectly fits a Model 1851 Colt Navy Pistol, and is of the style used from the 1850’s through the mid-1870’s.    

Compared to the numbers of surviving Civil War and Indian War US Army holsters, surviving examples of original mid-19TH Century civilian holsters are considerably scarcer.  This is particularly true of the holsters which carried the larger framed percussion revolvers on the western frontier.  Many of those early holsters were used to destruction in the harsh environs of the West, and for those limited numbers which did survive, there was no comparable method such as the government surplus sales system which routed the military holsters of the same era into the hands of modern collectors.  The civilian percussion revolver holsters faded from use as they were eclipsed by the technology and size of the later revolvers, and put aside as single artifacts of a bygone era.  It is only through good fortune that holsters like this one escaped the hands of young boys exploring their grandparents’ attics or the trash pile as estates were cleaned out.     

As can be seen in the photograph below, the Colt Navy Pistol sat deep in this holster, with the trigger guard completely covered – a feature of the early pattern holsters.  While the holster shows evidence of having been regularly worn, it has survived in very good solid condition, with a bright shiny surface on the body.  The front of the holster is completely covered with finely executed carving in an attractive floral pattern.  The elements of the design are all distinct; to include the hand stamped pebbled background.  It appears the holster was originally made with a narrow flap, evidenced by the two parallel lines of stitching on the upper part of the reverse side, however there is no finial or strap on the face of the body to which the flap would have been secured.  The top edge of the opening appears to have been worn through the years from the pistol being holstered and drawn, and the worn edge may have been trimmed through the years.  The belt loop, made to fit a 1 ¾” belt,  shows wear as expected from bearing the weight of the holstered pistol, with some crazing on the leather surface, however the loop is still strong and pliable. The stitching on the belt loop and down the side seam is intact, with no breaks or separations.  The leather is solid and supple, the holster holds its shape, and the reverse has an overall smooth surface.  There is no evidence of stitching at the toe of the holster, and it may well be that a plug was not part of the original design.  It is interesting that there is wear to the toe of the holster - concentrated only on the reverse – consistent with holsters worn by a mounted man and the toe of the holster rubbed against the seat or skirt of the saddle.   

Any early, original civilian holster from the frontier period is a notable find.  This  specimen, having survived in very good condition with a particularly nice carved decoration would be an added value to display with a gently used Colt Navy.  (0909)  $850

NOTE:  The Colt Navy Pistol shown in the holster is not included in this offering. 



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