Help to identify this revolver - Forehand Arms Co...

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by wcoyote, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. wcoyote

    wcoyote New Member

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    My father in law just showed me a 5 shot revolver (with 32 S&W rounds in it) he received from his late brother in law. It has the following markings on top of the barrel.
    Forehand Arms Co. Worcester MASS U.S.A.
    PAT'D DEC.7.86 & JAN.11.87

    Any assistance in identifying more details about it would be appreciated.

    Thanks
    Wcoyote
  2. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    With out pictures only general information can be given. With pictures it will probably be possible to identify the model. Forehand and Wadsworth was established in 1871 and in 1890 the name was changed to Forehand Arms Company.They made several models of revolvers, both large and small frame { also made shotguns }. Most of these firearms were small mail order type firearms which sold for only a few dollars { 2.98$ } In 1902 Forehand was taken over by Hopkins and Allen who continued to manufacture many of the same models, changing only the markings. H&A stopped operations in 1915. That is the general information in a nutshell, a very small nut shell. The history of Forehand and Wadsworth and Hopkins and Allen is filled with the names of Americas early firearm makers. Hope that little bit helps. BTW I would consider the firearm to be black powder only.
  3. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    before answering this question i must state that all forehand & wadsworth and forehand arms company revolvers were made for black powder cartridge pressure only.

    the two patent dates you listed were for ejector mechanism for top break revolver. forehand arms co. called their top break revolvers "forehand automatiic" (for the auto ejection). this must have been one of the first manufactured in 1890 after sullivan forehand took complete control of the company and changed the name, because it is rare to find any forehand arms co. revolver with patent dates. henry wadsworth died in about 1889. the company was not incorporated but was a partnership.

    the only correction i would like to make to what has already been posted is the date Hopkins and Allen purchased forehand arms co. it was early 1899 right after there was a fire in february 1899 at the H&A factory in norwich conn. after that time H&A produced a model called "forehand model of 1901". the same model that was produced under the forehand arms co. as the "forehand automaitic."

    flayderman guide to american antique firearms has a lot of good information on the connection between forehand & wadsworth and ethan allen but does not say anything about the purchase of forehand arms co. by H&A. (unless i am reading in the wrong place). charles carder four books on Hopkins & Allen does have a lot of information on the connection between forehand arms co. and H&A.
    bill
  4. Ripisretired

    Ripisretired New Member

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    My dad just gave me a revolver that seems to be a duplicate of wcoyote above.
    5 shot revolver - with 32 S&W rounds (no longer) in it.

    It has the following markings on top of the barrel - Forehand Arms Co. Worcester, Mass. U.S.A. PAT;D Dec. 7. '86 & JANY. 11. '87

    A1621 is etched in the front of handle - The grips have the letters H&A at the top.

    2 questions please,
    (1) May I presume the gun was made between 1899 & 1915?
    (2) b.goforth said in his post: "forehand arms company revolvers were made for black powder cartridge pressure only." - What does this warning mean?

    Thanks!

    Rip
  5. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    Question 1. yes
    Question 2. Black powder, used before the advent of today's smokeless powder has a lower pressure curve. Modern shells, as a rule, have higher pressure than the old black powder loads. If a pistol was made in the black powder era, or in this case at the beginning of the smokeless era, then it is not advisable to use modern ammunition. The gun will probable not blow up on you, just fall apart from the increased pressure. But, who knows, a hundred year old cast iron, low cost firearm? If you want to fire it, black powder loads can be found but $$$. It's best to clean it, and keep it as a keepsake. JMO:)
  6. Ripisretired

    Ripisretired New Member

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    Much obliged!

    Rip
    ==
  7. b.goforth

    b.goforth New Member

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    i hate to disagree with ron on this one but i am going to have to say unless the revolver itself is marked with the H&A name it was manufactured between 1890 and 1899. when H&A took over F&W there was abundance of grips and they used them well into the 1900's. it is possible these grips are replacement. i don't thing i have ever seen an H&A manufactured forehand model 1901 with patent dates.

    i believe it is actually a forehand arms co. prooduct manufactured between 1890 and 1899. H&A found a spot on the finished products left over at the F&W factory for their name.

    in the past i have used the date february 9 1899 as the date of the fire at he H&A factory. i have discovered a new paper article dated february 9 1900 telling about the recent fire at the H&A factory. so i was wrong and every one else who was quoting the 1900 date were right.

    ron is right about the pressure cruves and all that. the simple reason i do not recommend modern ammo in these revolver is your will harm the revolver or yourself if you fire modern ammo in them.

    bill
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2009
  8. Ripisretired

    Ripisretired New Member

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    Much appreciate both of you taking the time to offer help on this!

    Rip
    ==
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