Those familiar with the life and times of Brigham Young, first governor of the territory of Utah and a famed leader in the Latter Day Saint movement, would not be surprised to hear that he owned his share of firearms. Rock Island Auction Company (RIAC) recently announced that Young’s personal Colt Model 1849 pocket percussion revolver is up for auction—owned currently by several of his direct descendants. According to the auction house, the revolver is backed up with a letter of provenance from Young’s great-grandson, and was presented to him by H.E. Dimick & Co., one of the largest gun dealers in the area at the time. Additionally, the exquisite engraving on the revolver was done by none other than Gustave Young, one of the most prominent firearm engravers of the 19th century.
“This is an iconic piece of Americana,” says RIAC President Kevin Hogan. “Its direct ties to the settling of the West, and to the early Mormon Church are incredible. Frankly, we’re fortunate this piece isn’t already housed in a museum. It is an unrivaled opportunity to own a newly discovered national treasure.”
Brigham Young, often referred to as “The American Moses,” is well-known for leading the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on its migration to Utah. It is believed that over the course of his lifetime, Young supervised the arrival of nearly 80,000 pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley, helped to found over 400 settlements, and establish all the basic necessities—such as roads and telegraph lines—the made living in the frontier possible. Even so, living in Utah at that time was fraught with dangers, and many mountain men, hunters, traders and pioneers preferred a reliable firearms for both hunting and protection. H.E. Dimick was especially popular among these crowds, and Colt firearms had already earned a legendary reputation.
This revolver was presented to Brigham Young during his term as Governor of the Utah Territory. On the backstrap is the inscription “Presented to Gov. Young/by H.E. Dimick & Co,” while engravings of frontier imagery dance about the rest of the frame and cylinder.
“This is the personal Colt revolver that Brigham Young received as a gift; that he personally cleaned, loaded and kept at-the-ready and would undoubtedly have used when necessary to protect himself, his family and those who might need it from nefarious persons as was his Constitutional right,” RIAC stated.
The firearm still has about 97 percent of its blueing and is in excellent to near mint condition. When pressed for an estimate, RIAC expects the revolver to bring in $550,000 to $850,000 at auction. The auction will be held, along with other items, from April 29 to May 1.