Percussion Revolvers

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Topics - The Colonial

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Allen & Wheelock / Allen & Wheelock Police Providence
« on: August 02, 2015, 04:15:15 PM »
Providence Police Model

The Providence Police Model revolver was the last of the centre hammer percussion revolvers made by Mr Allen. None of these revolvers bears the Allen marks and current thinking suggests that as Mr Allen knew it would have a limited production life it wasn’t worth the cost.

This compact 5 shot 36 cal revolver was quite potent. If you put the cylinders of the Navy and the Providence side by side it appears that the Providence carried as much powder charge per cylinder as the Navy.

My revolver is numbered 781 with a standard 3 inch barrel a spur trigger and no rammer. These guns came in 3, 4 & 5 inch barrels and according to Flaydermans only about 1,000 were made.

While it has no Allen markings, it’s an Allen. The same cylinder pin latch, the cylinder locking device and the action are all covered by the Allen’s patents [see ‘Ethan Allen and Allen & Wheelock their guns and the legacy’ by Paul Henry. Also the grips have that typical Allen style.

But the biggest mystery about these guns is how they became known as the Providence Police model amongst collectors. There is no known record of these guns ever being used by Rhode Island Providence police.

Cheers, The Colonial

Left Side View

Right Side View

Close Up Of Cylinder Pin Latch

The Navy & Police Providence

Navy & Police Cylinders Front On

Navy & Police Cylinders Side By Side

Marston / Marston Pocket 4th Type
« on: August 01, 2015, 07:23:17 PM »
The New York arms maker, William W Marston, started making firearms in1837.
Marston made percussion revolvers from 1858 till about 1863 with around 15,000 pocket and 1,000 navy models. Flayderman’s lists 7 types of Pocket and 3 types of Navy revolvers.
This revolver sn 4170, is a ‘type 4’, 5 shot pocket with s 5 ¼ inch hexagonal barrel [measured from the cylinder face]. The barrel has a two line address ‘The Union / Arms Co.’ and the cylinder is semi fluted. The iron trigger guard is nice size being larger than the Colt pocket but not as large as the Cooper pocket.
I think Mr Marston was one of the first gun makers to use trade names. According to Sellers & Smith ‘American Percussion Revolvers’ barrel markings on these revolvers where:
Wm. W. Marston / Phenix Armory / New York City;
The Union / Arms Co.;
The Union Arms Co.;
Western Arms Co. New York; and
Western Arms Co. / Chicago. Ill.

All in all this is a very solid, well made and attractive pocket percussion revolver.

Left Hand View

Right Hand View

Sn 4170

The Union Arms Co. markings

Originals / 44 Cal Starr Mold
« on: July 22, 2015, 03:30:44 PM »
There are not many of these odd bullet molds around and when you look at it you'll see why.
The wood handle and its small and awkward to use sprue cutter have probably added to its rarity. I think that people would have preferred to buy cartridges.
It’s definitely not as practical as the Colt mold.
This one is the best I have ever come across.
Cheers, The Colonial

Rodgers & Spenser / 'US' Marked Rogers & Spencer
« on: July 22, 2015, 01:53:59 AM »
Well this is my Rogers & Spencer, in average used condition with all the standard military inspection marks. But it has two odd features.
First the barrel, sn 4687 is mismatched to the rest of the gun, sn 5032. Judging by the high serial number I’d say that it was in the last batch delivered to the US military.
The second feature is that it has two ‘US’ marks, one on the right hand side of the frame, in line with the cylinder stops and the second on the upper section of the right hand grip.
Does this mean that this gun was actually issued? I’d like some opinions.

The Colonial

Left Hand Side

Right Hand Side

Butt Plate

Mismatched Barrel

'US' Marks under a low light

'US' Marks photographed with a flash to highlight marks

Massachusetts Arms Company / Mass Arms Co., Dragoon
« on: July 12, 2015, 01:22:39 AM »
This is my Massachusetts Arms Co.’s Wesson & Leavitt dragoon or Army percussion revolver, sn 284. It’s a bit on the rough side but the story that came with this old gun was that it was recovered from a rubbish dump some 50 or more years ago.
Being only a 40 calibre six shot revolver with a six inch round barrel you would expect it to be a bit more compact and light than it is, but that is not the case. Using the wife’s kitchen scales it comes in about only 5 ounces lighter than my Colt 2nd model dragoon.
Its technical details are:
   40 caliber;
   6 inch round barrel with brass blade front sight;
   single action six shot side hammer;
   seven grooved rifling;
This gun has some other unusual features. The first being how the barrel is attached to the frame and the abor pin. Pictures tell a better story. The other is the cylinder, tapered at the rear and domed at the front.
The back of the cylinder also has six holes that accept a locking pin that engages upon firing. This hold the cylinder in place.
But this gun has one other feature that I have never seen on any Mass Arms Co. gun. It has a safety! In front of the trigger guard there is a small brass thumb screw that when turned sends another locking pin into the base of the cylinder, thus locking it up. The only way you can cock the gun is to disengage the pin by reversing the turn on the thumb screw. The photos are better at explaining this.
I have seen other Mass Arms Co., guns with a filler screw at the front of the trigger guard but never another one with this brass thumb screw.

Cheers from The Colonial.

Dragoon Right Side

Dragoon Left Side

Top Strap Address

Main Components

Cylinder Close Up

Rear of Cylinder

Cylinder Rotation Plate and Pins

Thumb Screw

Thumb Screw With Locking Pin Engaged

English Makes / Joseph Lang Revolvers
« on: June 01, 2015, 04:13:57 PM »
Joseph Lang [1821 – 1874] was a London gun maker who mainly produced high quality shotguns but also made handguns. At the Great Exhibition of 1851 he exhibited some four and six barrel revolvers, presumably pepperboxes.
Like many others he did not take long to start copying some of Colt’s designs and ideas.
A result of this was his transitional type revolvers. When encountered these rare revolvers are often mistaken for transitional revolvers. They are in fact quality handmade open-frame single action revolvers.
Features of the revolver in this post are:   
38 bore, [ 50 cal ]
         6 shot clustered cylinder
         7 inch sighted, front and rear octagonal barrel
         20 grove rifling
         offset hammer
         hinged butt cap
As well has having the barrel attached to the arbore pin by a wedge the barrel also has a spring on the barrel lug which seems to force the barrel onto the wedge.
As you can see from the photos the revolver is also very ornately engraved, including the hammer and the butt cap. Also each chamber is numbered as well.
The address on the barrel ‘J BEATTIE, 205, REGENT STREET, LONDON.’ Is one of several retailers who sold these revolvers.
Finally these revolvers are rare! You will be lucky to find one as they only come up for auction in the UK every few years.

1851/61 Navy's / New South Wales Police 51 Navy
« on: May 14, 2015, 04:58:04 AM »

There were a lot of 1851 Model Colt Navies made and a lot of posts on this site about them. But this 51 Navy is different, it’s got some Australian history.
The colony wide New South Wales Police force was formed in July 1861 and this revolver was in the first batch of 51 Navies bought for the NSW Police that arrived at the Sydney docks on November 10, 1862.
It has the New York barrel address but with British proofs on the cylinder and barrel and ‘NSW POLICE’ right hand barrel lug and ‘No 304’ on the left.
These NSW Police Colts were only issued to mounted police and so saw much hard service though out their working life. As a result most have mismatched numbers resultant from in field repairs. It is very rare to find an all number match NSW Police 51 Navy. Mine only has the barrel and frame numbers, 130386, as a match.
If you have access to the book ‘Col. Colt Downunder, by Hayden Hughes & Robin Rapley’ you will see this gun shown on page 59 as being part of the Bernie Mack collection. Mr Mack is now deceased and this gun has passed into my collection.
Recent research has uncovered a reference to this revolver ‘NSW Police 304’ in police armourer’s records from 1879 stating that this revolver came in for repair from the Western Districts, a good indication that it was out there in the field chasing various thieves, murderers and other such low life commonly called bushranger in Australian history, as Ben Hall and Mad Dan Morgan.
Cheers, The Colonial

Pettengill / Here Is The Hammer
« on: April 19, 2015, 12:29:39 AM »
The Pettengill Army was definitely an odd gun and not a commercial success either. The start of its problems was its weak frame, made of malleable steel, a steel that could be cold worked. Also being a scaled up version of the earlier pocket and navy Pettengill making it a very heavy, 3 pounds, awkward to hold and fire revolver.
Loading the Pettengill would also have been a problem. The standard Colt or Remington 44 cartridge would easily fit both revolvers having a 0.460 chamber opening, but the Pettengill is a very tight fit with a chamber opening of only 0.448. Also there is no channel cut into the frame for capping the nipples.
Given all these problems and its lack of accuracy [see Civil War Revolvers, Myth vs. Reality – by Peter Schiffers] its easy to see why by late 1863 most of these revolvers where withdrawn from service.
The attached photos are of my Pettengill and some of its components. I also noticed on one post that ‘Griswold’ asked ‘where’s the hammer?’ see photo 4.
Cheers from The Colonial

Mr Allen’s Colt – The Allen & Wheelock Side Hammer Pocket

Sometimes called Mr Allen’s Colt because of its resemblance to the Colt Root, that is, a side hammer, solid frame and rear entry cylinder pin, these odd looking pistols were made before the centre hammer revolvers and came in a five shot 28, a five shot 32 and a six shot 36 cal.
These side hammers carried three new Allen Patents, 1) the combination trigger guard and bullet rammer, 2) a rotation disk that turns the cylinder & a locking device for the rotating disk, 3) a modification to the front of the cylinder pin to prevent fouling by powder residue.
Although Flayderman says that a combined total of less than 3,000 Allen side hammers were made there is a surprising amount of variation in this small number. Apart from barrel lengths the variations encountered are:
   Two latch locking systems for the trigger guard/rammer;
   Four cylinder types;
   Two types of knurling on the hammers;
   Six different side plates;
   Six different types of cylinder pin; and
   Three different cylinder scenes.
To add to the confusion about variations a Navy side hammer with no cylinder rotation disk has been found!
My little gun is a single screw side plate 28 cal with a 2¾ inch barrel, the barrel is so short that the patent stamping does not all fit!
The ten photos attached of my little gun show some of these features.

The Colonial

What Is It? / An Unrecorded Bliss?
« on: April 03, 2015, 11:54:52 PM »
I’d like some comments from some more experienced collectors about this little nickel plated gun I bought a while back. The tag read ‘Bliss & Goodyear, .28 cal serial number 625’.

It definitely looks like a Bliss & Goodyear, the barrel measures 3 inches but:
there is no Barrel address;
the cylinder measures 25 instead of 28 calibre and
the cylinder stops are slightly different than in photos I’ve seen of other ones.
Could it be an unrecorded ‘F.D. Bliss’ percussion revolver made after the partnership with Mr Goodyear dissolved and before Mr Bliss started production of his 25 calibre rimfire revolvers?

Cheers, The Colonial

Starr / Different Starrs
« on: March 28, 2015, 11:56:12 PM »
G’day folks and welcome to my first real post.

There are a couple of little known or seldom mentioned differences between the 58 Starr Navy and Army revolvers, apart from the calibre off course.

It’s hard to see if you lay the revolvers side by side, see the photo below, but the 58 Navy is actually ¼ inch longer than the Army. Hard to believe I know but if you look at the photo of the cylinders side by side you’ll see that the top cylinder, which is the Army, is quite a bit shorter than the Navy on the bottom.
Also to accommodate the longer cylinder the Navy has a longer frame resulting in the Navy being about 4 ounces heavier than the Army.

Finally, the Navy and 58 Army, up to about serial number 3000, are marked STARR ARMS CO. NEW YORK on the right side of the frame and STARR’S PATENT JAN. 15. 1856 on the felt, not the other way around as with all the 63 Starrs and later 58 Armys.

Cheers, The Colonial

Introductions / G'Day from Australia
« on: March 21, 2015, 08:42:13 PM »
G’day [that’s Australian for hello] and greetings from the Land Down Under. I’m a collector of antique arms, mostly American percussion revolvers and Australian colonial era guns. Being now over sixty I’m fortunate to have reached the no kids part of my life cycle relatively whole and sane. I know my kids would question that sighting my seeming obsession with percussion revolvers, come to think of it the wife probably thinks the same way sometimes. Well so be it. I only collect the originals and once I’ve mastered this posting messages and photos business I hope to become a regular contributor.

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