Colt Firearm's Collection 50th Anniversary
On March 7, 1957, the gift of the Colt Firearms Collection by the Pratt and Whitney Foundation to the State of Connecticut was officially accepted by Governor Abraham A. Ribicoff at a ceremony at the State Library. That date also marks the official establishment of the collection in the State Library's Memorial hall and the official opening of the collection to the public.
By August of that same year, the Library reported that nearly 10,000 people had visited the exhibit located in Memorial Hall. As reported in the Hartford Courant on August 11, 1957, "Most of the small fry seem to be fascinated by a huge single action Army '44 with a 16-inch barrel... Adults, especially women, spend more time gazing at the three gold-inlaid presentation pistols, set off by themselves in a special case." In the Fall of 1957 the exhibit was reinstalled with additional cases donated by the Pratt and Whitney Foundation.
The collection was first opened to the public in 1940 at the Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Co., Inc. plant in Harford. The company was sold to Penn-Texas Corporation in 1955, and the Pratt & Whitney Company Foundation became the owner of the Colt Museum. At the time the collection was donated to the state, it consisted of more than 2,000 firearms and thousands of documents and other historical material relating to the history of the Colt company. Fifty years later the collection constitutes one of the finest assemblages of early Colt prototypes, factory models, and experimental firearms in the world, and it continues to be a major attraction at the State Library's Museum of Connecticut History. More information about the Colt Firearms Collection can be found at http://www.museumofcthistory.org/. A research guide to materials about Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company can be found at http://www.cslib.org/colt.htm.
Kendall F. Wiggin, Connecticut State Librarian