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Rare Plant's revolver USA Civil War Era

Another rare and interesting revolver! This is an antique Plant’s Mfg. Co. Revolver, made circa 1864 in New Haven, Connecticut. Makers of revolvers during the American Civil War had three choices:
1) they could take their chances violating the Smith & Wesson owned Rollin White Patent for the concept of a “bored through cylinder” to accept metallic cartridges. Those that did were invariably sued.
2) they could continue to make percussion guns with all of their disadvantages until the Smith and Wesson patent expired.
3) they could invent their own concept that was both an improvement over percussion guns and circumvented the Rollin White Patent. This is the option that Plant’s Mfg Co chose.

Plant’s Mfg. Co. was financed and represented by the famed firearms agents Merwin & Bray, hence their name on the top of the barrel which is extant but faint. Their revolver featured a “cup-primed” and front-loading concept, which was among the best attempts to get around S&W’s 12-1/2-year stronghold on cartridge revolvers. Although there was some advertising stating government purchase this is not confirmed but Soldiers were able to privately purchase any firearm for their own use during the Civil War.

Code: 50597

1250.00 GBP


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Rare Werder Model 1869 Pistol .

This massive and rare pistol is the Werder pistol model 1869 in obsolete 11.5 mm calibre. This was an infantry and light cavalry falling block pistol, invented by Johann Ludwig Werder in Bavaria and based on his rifle design of 1868. It was one of the first centre fire pistols to be adopted for use by a European military force. This pistol was introduced during the transition from percussion pistols to self-contained metallic cartridges and in interesting on many levels.
Although it was originally known as the "Bavarian Lightning pistol" because of its rate of fire, the Werder pistol proved too heavy for practical use. The rate of fire was said to be 20 rounds a minute and it occurred to me that this was quite ambitious. For pure interest I considered that I was sheltering behind my horse and using either a revolver with a loading gate and this pistol and timed myself loading it. The conclusion that I reached was that if an enemy was advancing and you had a cool head, the Werder would outshoot the revolver every time in respect of speed of loading once you achieved proficiency with it.
With typical Teutonic efficiency the pistol is stamped with a plethora of matching serial numbers on every part easily or not so easily reached including screw heads and inside of the trigger guard.
There is some original colour but mostly mellowed to a plum platina, the cavalry cartouches are still evident on the butt and the screws are all clean and not messed with. The bore is clean and the mechanics are excellent.
To fire the pistol the hammer on the right of the frame is pulled back and the trigger pulled. The front trigger is then pressed with the trigger finger and the Martini style breech then opens with some violence to extract the spent cartridge ready for reloading. You can easily see that this form of pistol would later evolve into the modern slab sided automatic pistols such as the Bergmann and Mauser C96.
This is only the third Werder I have offered for sale in forty years.
A very interesting and rare martial firearm that really is anachronistic for its time.

Code: 50596

2650.00 GBP


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Rare Square Back Trigger Guard Colt Navy

This is a very good example of a very early square back trigger guard Colt Navy revolver manufactured in 36 calibre.

In Patrick Swayze's excellent Tome titled "51 Colt Navies published in 1967 he states

The design of the square back trigger guard was probably made with the question of appearance alone in mind, for it certainly does not does not seem to have any useful or practical value. In fact, it would seem that such a design would be highly impractical because of the chances of the pointed rear of the trigger guard proper becoming fouled in the holster, or pocket, from which it was being drawn. The square back design is attributed to Colonel Talcot of the Ordnance Department of the U.S. Army, who seemed to have a fondness of the symmetry and beauty of the design. Since Colonel Talcot had much to do with the purchase of handguns for U. S. Army - a potential purchase of some size - Sam Colt was certainly one to cater to the whims of those who could help him sell his handguns; so the square back trigger guard it was! The story is that when Colonel Talcot was convicted by a court(s) martial, Colt immediately discontinued his production of the square back design and changed to the small rounded trigger guard.

This particular revolver has an excellent bore, and is mechanically sound with all matching serial numbers on the arbour, rammer, butt, frame and cylinder. The wedge has a different number but is contemporary and with a number close to the revolver.
The action is tight and although the finish is faded away there is some silver plating extant in protected areas. The revolver has a strong mainspring and cocks and locks perfectly, the latch spring on the rammer is particularly tight. There is evidence of the cylinder safety stops and they have not been totally worn away as is often seen. My view is this was a working gun that was well looked after by the state of the bore and I would say that it could have been issued to some official body.
There is an inspectors stamp "G" below the frame serial number stamp.
The 7.5" barrel is roll stamped with the early address
"-Address Saml Colt -New-York City-"
The I of the city is extant and this indicates an early revolver as this eventually wore out and examples stamped C TY are not unusual.
The brass square back trigger guard indicates it is one of less than 1000 manufactured and given survival rates is a difficult Colt to find for any collection.
Expect to pay at least 50% more for an example with any original finish left.
A desirable revolver.

Code: 50547

SOLD


Werndl Carbine Model 1878

Please see my notes on the Werndl rifle.
This is a good model 1878 Carbine with the later internal hammer, modified lock and breech.
Good stock and mechanically sound, an interesting Carbine that was still in use by secondary troops during WW1.

Code: 50594

995.00 GBP


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Good Werndl Rifle pattern 1866/7

The Werndl rifle and its development.



The Werndl rifle was adapted as a consequence of the first war between two major continental powers in seven years.
The Prussian Army used von Dreyse's breech-loading needle gun, which could be rapidly loaded while the soldier was seeking cover on the ground, whereas the Austrian muzzle-loading Lorenz rifles could only be loaded slowly, and generally from a standing position.

The main campaign of the war occurred in Bohemia. Prussian Chief of General Staff Helmuth von Moltke had planned meticulously for the war.
He rapidly mobilized the Prussian army and advanced across the border into Saxony and Bohemia, where the Austrian army was concentrating for an invasion of Silesia. There, the Prussian armies, led nominally by King William I, converged, and the two sides met at the Battle of Königgrätz (Hradec Králové) on 3 July. The Prussian Elbe Army advanced on the Austrian left wing, and the First Army on the centre, prematurely; they risked being counter-flanked on their own left. Victory therefore depended on the timely arrival of the Second Army on the left wing. This was achieved through the brilliant work of its Chief of Staff, Leonhard Graf von Blumenthal. Superior Prussian organization and élan decided the battle against Austrian numerical superiority, and the victory was near total, with Austrian battle deaths nearly seven times the Prussian figure. Austria rapidly sought peace after this battle.

Traditionally the Austrian tactics were to present a long skirmish line, which attacked with the bayonet. In contrast the Prussians latest strategy presented smaller units who held their ground with volley fire. During the earlier Franco Prussian War it was believed by the French that the Dreyse fired high, so a charge had a potential successful outcome, but this intelligence was vastly overrated by the Hapsburg Army.

During the first twenty minutes of the Battle of Konninggratz the Hapsburg Army lost 10,000 men. This was because Dreyse’s needlefire rifle was capable of being fired at a rate of 12 shots a minute compared to the average rate of fire of 3 rounds a minute for the Lorenz muzzle loader which also required the rifle to be reloaded standing up presenting a large target to the Prussians.

By the end of the War it was apparent to the Hapsburg Army that it was significantly outgunned by the use of breach loading rifles and an urgent trial was accelerated in which 33 different breach loading rifles were being evaluated.
Initially the front runner for adoption was the Remington Rolling Block Rifle which was robust and relatively easy to manufacture. There is no doubt that Austrian pride and political machinations and intrigue behind the scenes about the USA resulted in the adoption of an Austrian design which was the Werndl.
The Landwehr had up until this time used the muzzle loading Lorenz rifle and latterly a number of breech converted Lorenz rifles converted with the Wanzl system whose large bore rimfire cartridge proved unpopular also arriving too late to be of influence in the Austrian Prussian War.
The rifle was designed and patented by Josef Werndl (1831–1889) and Karel Holub (1830–1903) later bought out all the rights, but was involved in name only.
It was the first successful small bore breech loading rifle of the Austrian Army
The new rifle designated the Model 66/67 was rated during trials at 14 aimed shots a minute or 20 un-aimed shots and was determined to be capable of hitting a man sized target at 200 paces and a horse at 200 paces.
The original cartridge case was 11.15mm x 42 mm rimmed and fired a 308 grain bullet at a velocity of 1430 feet a second. Unusually the carbine version was issued with a different case which was only 36 mm long. In contrast other manufacturers such as Remington used the same cartridge as their rifles with a reduced charge. Interestingly the carbine cartridge was also used in the huge Montenegro Gasser revolver.
The rifle has a robust mechanism with an extractor on the left hand side. The “tang” is actually a flat spring which serves to lock the breech with a secondary locking mechanism of the hammer. The firing pin is canted through the breech block and is centrefire.
A disadvantage is the inordinate trigger pull which usually measures at over 10 pounds. The rifle has a half cock safety feature.
The rifling has 6 grooves with one turn in 29”and the barrel is fitted with a bayonet lug to take a sabre style bayonet.
In 1878 the rifle was modified to take a 58 mm long cartridge which fired a patched bullet increased in size from 308 to 370 grains which was more in parity with the competing Rolling Block rifles. The old stock of rifles was rechambered for the new round and the sights changed.
Josef Werndl’s father founded the Steyr factory and an initial order for 600,000 units placed by Josef Werndl basically formed the foundations of the Steyr factory that is still extant today.

In 1869 a journalist from the British Times Newspaper visited the Steyr factory and it is reported that Wendl test fired a rifle to illustrate its accuracy and then threw it out of the top office of the factory into the cobbled courtyard and fired it again without loss of accuracy and this was repeated three times. The journalist reported that there was only cosmetic damage to the rifle stock, but the mechanism was undamaged, and it held its accuracy.
The rifle remained in service until the Mannlicher straight pull bolt action rifle was introduced as its replacement in 1886 but was still in use with secondary units as late as 1918. It is reported that a large consignment was acquired by the USA Bannerman company who supplied several USA militia units with the rifle.
This particular rifle is in very good condition and mechanically sound and is unit market. There is no doubt the rifle has seen field use and has the bumps and dents in the walnut stock to show this but fortunately nothing major to report and this isn’t one that was thrown out of a top office window!
An interesting rifle developed and introduced as a result of an overwhelming defeat.
See also my example of a later Werndl Carbine.

Code: 50593

1200.00 GBP


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Rare Swedish Husqvarna Model 1862 Rifle

Husqvarna was founded in 1689 and has some history!
Amongst collectors and shooters they are well known as manufacturing the model 1867 ( Gever Modell 1867) rifle which was manufactured using the Remington Rolling Block patent.
The chosen calibre was 12.17 mm as they Swedes had 30,000 brand new model 1860 muzzle loading rifles stockpiled in this calibre. By far the majority of these muzzle loaders were converted to breech loading and the original rifles are seldom seen.
Some missed the modernisation process and I have seen them "sporterised" for hunting but seldom do you see an original untouched rifle and certainly not in this condition.
This is comparable in many ways to the Enfield Pattern 1853 and shoots as well.
This example dated 1862 has an excellent bore with good rifling and good woodwork. The rifle is mechanically perfect.
Overall it would be difficult to improve on this rifle and certainly not easy to find another..

Code: 50591

1350.00 GBP


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US Arms revolver hidden in book!

This is a US Arms Co Model 38 pocket revolver in 38 rimfire calibre. US Arms were a prolific maker of small handguns of some quality. The makers name is stamped on the barrel as is the model on the top strap. The walnut grips are in good condition as can be seen.
The revolver is in good working order and profusely engraved.
The revolver is cased in a "book" that would have been no doubt hidden on a book shelf to give unwanted visitors an unpleasant surprise.
The leather bound book is contemporary to the revolver and contains some empty rimfire cases. The spine is a little distressed but could be glued if you wish.

Overall an interesting and curious vintage firearm manufactured in the mid 1880's.

Code: 50590

975.00 GBP


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Rare Tranter Developmental revolver

This is an extremely interesting development 5 shot pocket revolver model by William Tranter. It is not featured in Stewart's excellent book on Tranter nor is there an image in Berk's book. Passing mention is made in Stewart's book to 5 shot development revolvers and he describes a revolver without a ejection rod.
This revolver was manufactured in obsolete 320 British Calibre which was discontinued by 1900 in favour of more effective calibres.
It features William Tranter's patent mark and his initials WT stamped on the frame. It has Birmingham proof marks.
Overall in excellent condition both mechanical and cosmetic with much original finish, some finish loss and light storage pitting with nothing significant and a good bore. It is notable from the 1868 models by an absence of an ejector rod either on the body or in the butt. There are no screws for an ejector system and the butt screw is the original screw. Another feature is the slightly different frame to the mass produced models.
Overall a very interesting and rare addition to any British revolver collection.

Code: 50586

1400.00 GBP


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Starr Double Action Revolver Civil War issue.

The Starr revolver was advanced and ahead of its time when introduced at the start of the US Civil War. The first revolvers issued to the US Federal Army were double action and employed a unique "lifting lever" to cock the hammer and revolve the cylinder. Eben T. Starr obtained his initial patent in 1856 and the patent date is stamped on both sides of the revolver. In his patent Starr claimed two unique features to his design: a “lifter lever” which looks exactly like a traditional revolver trigger and a real sear-releasing trigger which is the triangular-looking metal projection at the rear of the trigger guard. In short, pulling the trigger-looking "lifter lever" of a Starr double action revolver only rotates the cylinder and brings the hammer to full cock. In fact, you must use the "lifter lever." You cannot thumb cock the hammer of a double-action Starr. In reality there are many similarities in design to the British Adams "automatic" or self- cocking revolver.
At the point of raising the hammer, you have a choice to make. You can either continue pulling back the lifter lever until it contacts the small, projecting trigger at the rear of the trigger guard and fires the piece, or you can remove your finger from the lifter lever and place your finger behind the lifter lever and directly on the little, projecting trigger and fire the piece. You cannot simply pull back the hammer of a double action Starr revolver like a conventional single action revolver, the lifting lever has to be used in a deliberate manner.
Starr also mortised the top frame of the revolver and this gave the revolver incredible robustness and durability and was the predecessor of modern top break revolvers. The top breaking frame secured by one large knurled cross screw allowed rapid disassembly of the firearm for cleaning and maintenance and also for loading spare cylinders.
The elaborate cocking mechanism however frustrated Federal troops who were used to pulling back the hammers of single action Colt and Remington Army revolvers and the government asked Starr to manufacture his revolver in single action which I am sure he considered being a retrograde step but he did comply. More than 32,000 single action .44 Starr revolvers were then manufactured which together with the 23,000 double action revolvers such as this example, made Starr the third most popular revolver in the Civil war the most popular revolvers being Colt and Remington. Starr also manufactured a popular carbine.
I usually pass Starr revolvers by because they are often seen with badly pitted bores even if the exterior looks good. I could not pass this one by as it has a perfect bore, sharp and mirror bright and functions as it was originally made. Clearly it was cherished as a "shooting iron" and someone took the trouble to clean and maintain it after shooting. The revolver cocks and locks fine and is mechanically sound. If I wanted to shoot a Civil War revolver this would probably be the one. The overall condition of the revolver is excellent as can be seen from the photographs, there are no messed up screws or "later editions". The revolver has several matching serial numbers. There are several military acceptance marks and three crisp cartouches on the walnut grips. There is a considerable level of original finish making this one of the best I've handled.
The Starr was considered the workhorse revolver of the Federal Army and was well made, better I consider than Colt or Remington. This is a quintessential Civil War Sidearm that has much eye appeal and has clearly seen action but was subsequently looked after. A good piece.

Code: 50585

2700.00 GBP


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Good Soper Rifle

This is a very good Soper rifle and a nice example of a military version as it has a bayonet lug. Bore is good with strong rifling and mechanics are perfect. Chambered for 450 Soper this is an obsolete calibre rifle. Reputed to be one of the fastest shooting rifles of it's time assisted by the rifle firing from a falling block, Sgt Warwick of the Berkshire Volunteers shot 60 shots in 60 seconds with a Soper rifle at the 1870 Olympia Exhibition. Soper was marred by bad luck and timing and there was a possibility at one time that this rifle could have replaced the Martini rifle by the British Army had Soper supplied an example early enough and made different business arrangements. See following an article from "The Engineer". It would appear that the author had partisan interest elsewhere!
The Soper Rifle

The Engineer, 13 December 1867

The rifle invented by Mr. W. Soper, of Reading, and illustrated in Figs. 1 and 2, was one of the number sent for the recent competition at Woolwich, and was rejected on the ground of "complication of breech arrangement." In this rifle the breech-piece is formed of a block of steel R, working freely up and down in a vertical slot at the rear of the barrel, and secured to a lever fixed at the bottom of the lock, which is placed in the center of the stock. The striker J is mounted inside the breech-piece, and works easily without any spring. The cock is also secured to the breech lever in such a manner that the breech-piece and cock are worked simultaneously.

The attachment is effected by the swivel H, furnished with a projection and recess for working the extractor L, so that the one movement of drawing down the lever opens the breech, cocks the piece, and throws out the cartridge case. The trigger A is mounted on the lever, and has no connection with the sear E until the breech is placed home, and thus the rifle cannot be fired until the safety catch B is pressed. For cleaning purposes the lock and breech-piece can be removed by withdrawing a couple of screws. Fig. 3 shows a section of the rifling, the calibre being that of the service rifle.

The trials of this rifle at Woolwich were satisfactory. For rapidity twelve rounds were fired in thirty-nine seconds with three mis-fires; the mean deviation of eight shots fired for accuracy from a shoulder rest at 500 yards, with Boxer cartridges, No. 3 pattern, was 2.30ft. Many excellent results have also since been obtained. Nevertheless we cannot but agree with the committee that the mechanism of the breech and lock is too complicated for a purely military weapon, and, moreover, that they were perfectly correct in doubting the value of the safety catch as a substitute of the ordinary half-cock. Mr. Soper has expended a great deal of ingenuity, and has produced a weapon which gives good results, but we think it cannot be denied that it is unsuitable for the use of the soldier.

Breech-loaders V. Muzzle-loaders

The Engineer, 6 August 1869

On Saturday, July 31st, a very interesting competition took place in the presence of Major Sir C.S.Paul Hunter, Bart., between Corporal Bainbridge and fourteen picked men of the battalion using long Enfield rifles and three men using the Soper direct-action breech-loader. The targets were similar to those for the file firing, but only half the usual size. Distance; 200 yards; time, three minutes. Each party to fire as rapidly as they please. The scores were as follows:- Enfield Rifles: 1st squad of five men, 84 points; 2nd squad of five men, 94 points; 3rd squad of five men, 94 points; total, 272. Soper’s breech-loader: Sergeant Soper, 140; Private Warrick, 138; Sergeant Gostage, 110; total, 388. Majority in favour of breech-loader, 116 points. It will thus be seen that two men with the breech-loader scored six points more than the fifteen men with the Enfield. Private Warrick having fired eighteen shots the first minute, twenty one the second, and seventeen the third, making a total of fifty-six shots in the three minutes; and Sergeant Soper having scored five bull’s-eyes before a single shot was got off by the squad opposed to him.

This rifle is in good overall order and has a plated barrel identical to the one sold at auction last year ( £4250 + premium) The bore is good with strong rifling and mechanically it is excellent.
The plating is faded in places as can be seen and would be possibly worthy of restoration although personally I would leave well alone.
A rare rifle.

Code: 50580

3950.00 GBP


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