Pistol Patent Day is celebrated on February 25th of each year in honor of Samuel Colt’s U.S. “revolving gun” patent granted February 25, 1836 (numbered 9430X).
Samuel Colt (July 19, 1814 – January 10, 1862) was an American inventor and industrialist from Hartford, Connecticut. He was the founder of Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company (now known as Colt’s Manufacturing Company), and made the mass-production of the revolver commercially viable for the first time.
Colt’s first two business ventures ended in disappointment. His first attempt at manufacturing firearms in Paterson, New Jersey, occurred during an economic crisis in the US leading to poor sales, and was further hampered by his mismanagement and reckless spending. His next attempt at arms making, underwater mines for the US Navy, failed due to lack of US Congressional support. After the Texas Rangers ordered 1,000 of his revolvers during the American war with Mexico in 1847, his business expanded rapidly. His factory in Hartford built the guns used as sidearms by both the North and the South in the American Civil War, and later his firearms were credited in taming the western frontier. A second plant in London closed after four years because of poor sales to the British military.
Colt died in 1862, before the end of the Civil War, as one of the wealthiest men in America. The company he founded is still in business as of 2012. In 1867, his widow, Elizabeth Jarvis Colt, commissioned the building of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Hartford as a memorial to him and is on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2006, Colt was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Colt’s manufacturing methods, directed at beating his competition, were at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. He was one of the first industrialists to successfully employ the assembly line due to his use of interchangeable parts. Beyond building arms, his innovative use of art, celebrity endorsements and corporate gifts to promote his wares made him a pioneer in the fields of advertising, product placement and mass marketing. He received criticism during his lifetime and after his death for promoting his arms through bribes, threats and monopoly. Historians have stated that his patents acted as an impediment to arms production during his lifetime, and that his personal vanity kept his own company from being able to produce a cartridge firearm until 10 years after his death when a patent, filed by a gunsmith he had fired, Rollin White, expired in 1872.