Autry Museum of the American West

Samuel Colt’s service bell

Samuel Colt’s service bell

Samuel Colt’s service bell

Inscribed: S. Colt / Dec. 25th 1861
Maker: unknown

Samuel Colt was a tireless worker. Even as his business was thriving, Colt pushed himself to the limit. Exhaustion and a severe case of rheumatic fever took its toll, and beginning in 1860, Colt’s health began to decline. During the Civil War, when the demand for firearms was at an all-time high, Samuel Colt seemed to be working day and night. The strain ultimately proved to be too much, and on January 10, 1862, Colt passed away. This service bell, apparently a Christmas gift inscribed with his name, was at Colt’s bedside at the time of his death. More than 600,000 Colt revolvers were made during the inventor’s lifetime, and another 400,000 of models he created continued to be made following his untimely death.

  • engraving detail 1

    engraving detail 1
  • engraving detail 2

    engraving detail 2
  • Samuel Colt (July 19, 1814 – January 10, 1862)

    courtesy of Connecticut State Library


Jeffrey Richardson

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Marlene Head

Special Thanks

Greg Martin, R. L. Wilson

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