Captain James E. Luce (1806 - 1879), captain of the SS Arctic, sister ship of the SS Baltic (Capt. Comstock), SS Adriatic, SS Pacific and SS Atlantic of the Edward Knight Collins' (Collins Line) trans-Atlantic side-wheel steamships. Collins' Line was notable for their vessels' luxurious appointments and trans-Atlantic crossing speed records during the 1850s.
This revolver was presented to Capt. Luce on July 12th, 1852, only a few months after winning the coveted Blue Riband for trans-Atlantic speed and one day after the SS Arctic returned to New York from Liverpool. Interestingly, July, 1852 was a significant month for the Collins Line as it had then been granted an increase in US Government subsidies for trans-Atlantic mail service. July of 1852 was also interesting regarding this revolver as it was only a year following the legal decision in favor of Samuel Colt against the Massachusetts Arms Co.
The fate of the SS Arctic was however a tragic one. On September 27, 1854 the SS Arctic collided with the French vessel SS Vesta off the coast of Newfoundland, and quickly sank taking up to 400 lives. Capt Luce's son, and Edward Knight Collins' wife and two daughters were among those who perished.
For Colt collectors, the Collins Line is notable as it was the choice of Samuel Colt who regularly sailed aboard the SS Baltic under the command of Captain James Jesse Comstock (recipient of two presentation Colt revolvers and guest at Colt's wedding in 1856).
Hiram Young (died Dec. 9, 1871), the gentleman who embellished and presented this revolver, is listed on the SS Arctic ship's manifest of July 12th, 1852 as passenger No. 30 - H. Young, Merchant, United States.
Hiram Young and Edward Leavitt were sued by Samuel Colt (U.S. Circuit Court, case 3,032, May, 1852 through Nov. 1852) The case was presided over by Judges Nelson and Betts. This highly important case followed the case of Samuel Colt vs. Massachusetts Arms Co., (case 3,030) U.S. Circuit Court, presided over by Judge Levi Woodbury in 1851.
Contemporary accounts curiously list Hiram Young (New York Daily Times, May 8th and Nov, 10 of 1852; and also The Federal Cases ... , Book 6, pages 171 - 2, published 1894) as Hiram Terry (New York Times and other papers). There was a Hiram K. Terry in Massachusetts who was a goldsmith if indeed that Mr. Terry can be assumed to be the Hiram Terry mentioned in some newspaper accounts of the patent infringment trial. Yet, Hiram Young of New York was a silversmith (essentially the same trade), and that name is etched on this Springfield Arms Co. revolver.
Hiram Young's business was located, in the early to mid-1850s, at 19 Maiden Lane, New York as Young, Stebbins & Co. and later at 20 and 24 John Street, New York City, silversmith, silver-plater (electro-plater) who won an American Institute Silver Medal, 1859 - 1860, and as a judge, in 1866, awarding gold medals to Ball, Black & Co. and Tiffany & Co. 19 Maiden Lane was subsequently the offices of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham. That area of Manhattan was well-known as a center of firearms, engraving, and printing trades in the 19th-century.
Wilson, American Arms Collectors, Percussion Colts and Their Rivals, The Al Cali Collection, pages 100-101
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