Pinfire Revolver ID Help

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by bigpoppat, Apr 20, 2010.

  1. bigpoppat

    bigpoppat New Member

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    I came across a pinfire revolver and need a little help with any caliber/model/year information you guys may have.

    Unfortunately, it only has one distinct marking on the cylinder, and my camera didn't take a good shot of it. However, I drew it out on paper, to give a rough idea of what it looks like.

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  2. bigpoppat

    bigpoppat New Member

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    The barrel is around 3" long. The gun itself is small, with the grip ending between my ring and pinkie in my hand when I grab it.

    Someone mentioned to me it may have been a civil war officers sidearm, but I can't find anything on it.
  3. RJay

    RJay Active Member

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    :) A civil war Officer's sidearm? :) No, I don't hardly think so. The pin fire had been patented by the time of the civil war but very few if any were used because of the difficulty of obtaining ammo. However , even if was carried by Bobbie himself { it wasn't } with out documentation it is just another pin fire. The ELG is Belgium proof, these small personal defense guns were made by the tens of thousands for export through out Europe and the States. Up until the 1920's/ 1930's Belgium had a very thriving Cottage gun making industry. Many of these unmarked guns were made by a co-operative effort between several makers. One small maker would make the internals, another the barrel and frames, and yet another would make the grips and assemble every thing. Because of the lack of any makers marks { which is not unusual in these type of guns } the actual maker may never be known. Value to someone who is intrested in these old pin fire Belgium guns, WAG 100 to 150.
  4. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    It is probably 7mm pinfire, but those rounds are almost unobtainable even though they were made in Europe almost up to WWII. I think the last I saw at a gun show were $15 apiece and would probably not have fired if anyone tried.

    Since the pinfire was a standard ammunition in Europe for years, many pinfire guns were of very high quality, engraved and gold inlaid, the best possible workmanship. But many were simply inexpensive guns for personal protection, like the "suicide specials" and low quality pocket revolvers made in this country in the same time frame.

    The ordinary pinfire revolver has only a nominal value as a curio; since the gun appears to have no original finish, RJay may even be a bit high in his estimates.

    Jim
  5. lefaucheux 54

    lefaucheux 54 Member

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    7 mm pinfire revolver made in the city of Liège in Belgium .
    ELG is proof mark of this city from 1811 until January 1893
    You must also have a letter on the cylindre , if this letter is with a crown above your revolver was made between 1853 and January 1877
    If the letter is with a star above its after 1877
    Pinfire has been invented by Casimir Lefaucheux around 1830 , Revolver with a cylinder and pinfire by his son Eugène Lefaucheux in 1854, with his 1854 , 12 mm pinfire revolver in Simple Action.
    Yours is Simple Action and Double Action .
    Double action has been invented by Eugène in 1856 ,
    The real production of your revolver started around 1860
    So depending of the lettre that will find on the cylinder you can estimated your revolver between 1860- 1877 or 1877 -1893
    Clic on the links her under it will help you , sorry but it's written in French , but the pictures are telling enough.
    http://www.lesgrosbarbares.info/lefaucheux/index.php?file=Sections&op=article&artid=75

    http://www.lesgrosbarbares.info/lefaucheux/index.php?file=Sections&op=article&artid=56

    If you have others questions about pinfire revolver don't hesitate.. ask , i'll try to answer in my bad english .....
    Greetings from France
    Lefaucheux
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2010
  6. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Just FWIW, the business about Civil War use is not as far-fetched as it may sound. Col. George L. Schuyler was personally appointed by Lincoln as a Union purchasing agent iin Europe. Among his buys were 10,000 12mm pinfire Lefaucheux revolvers (the Model 1853) at $12.50 each along with 200,000 cartridges at $17.45 per thousand. A few more were purchased in England. Even though ammunition would have been scarce (20 cartridges per gun unless more were obtained), they were issued to and used by Union Cavalry.

    At least one Lefaucheux in 7mm was used, or at least owned, by Stonewall Jackson; it was presented to him by his men. It was probably purchased from Hartley, Schuyler and Graham in New York, either before the war or smuggled South. AFIAK, there is no record of its actual use in battle.

    The CS army generally avoided issuing any cartridge revolvers since they did not have the capability of making ammunition.

    Jim
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2010
  7. lefaucheux 54

    lefaucheux 54 Member

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    Hello Jim K
    I'am not completly right with you when you say that the revolver of Jackson was à 7mm .....
    I look in the very good book of Chris Curtis and for me its more a 9 or 12 mm pinfire revolver , like the revolvers that you can see if you clic on the links below.

    http://www.lesgrosbarbares.info/lefaucheux/index.php?file=Sections&op=article&artid=140

    http://www.lesgrosbarbares.info/lefaucheux/index.php?file=Sections&op=article&artid=34

    http://www.lesgrosbarbares.info/lefaucheux/index.php?file=Sections&op=article&artid=12

    LF
    http://lefaucheux.net
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2011
  8. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    My source was Bill Edwards' book Civil War Guns, where there is a picture of the gun as well as the statement that it is 7mm. Without a scale, I can't really judge, but the cylinder and barrel look too slender to be 9mm and much too slender for 12mm.

    I have checked some other sources, but none have an actual picture and none state the caliber of the actual gun, only mentioning 12mm revolvers and then saying that Jackson carried a Lefaucheux without actually saying it was a 12mm.

    It is known that the U.S. procured 12mm revolvers direct from Lefaucheux (not from Belgium), and that the CS army had obtained a few, but several sources say Jackson's revolver was Belgian. Since it was apparently a commercial item, it could have been 7mm, as easily as 9mm or 12mm. Both sides generally avoided pinfires for the simple reason that ammunition was not made in America and was scarce at best. (Schuyler and other Union agents often bought guns not so much for use as to keep them out of the hands of Confederate agents.)

    As to the later claims by Belgian makers that their guns are "Stonewall Jackson models", I would not take such obvious advertising hype very seriously. I do know that far more pinfire revolvers marked "CS" are around than the Confederacy ever obtained.

    If I get a chance, I will call the museum and see if they can provide any information.

    Jim
  9. lefaucheux 54

    lefaucheux 54 Member

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    Hello Jim
    I agree with you , the 3 models that I've got in my collection are Belgium made ....

    LF
  10. AaronN322

    AaronN322 Member

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    Jim,

    Actually hundreds of thousands of pinfire cartridges were made here in America during and for the civil war.

    Chris Curtis has a chapter in his pinfire book devoted to the civil war, and Dean Thomas has a chapter in his civil war era book (round ball to rimfire volume 3) devoted to pinfires.

    Ethan Allen and C.D. Leet were the only two that made any significant number of cartridges, but they were also made by Sharps, A&W (these are different than Ethan Allen ones) and Sharps & Hankins (different than sharps ones.) These were all 12mm.

    After the War they were also made in great quantity by UMC in both 12mm and 9mm.

    I have pictures of some Ethan Allen and C.D. Leet ones on my website under the "12mm Medium" pinfire section. http://www.freemycollection.com
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
  11. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    You are correct; I had read that in Thomas (it is in Part Three, Ch. 5), and had forgotten about it. The contractors seem to have had a lot of trouble getting into production and the only cartridges made in a large quantity (one million) and both acceptable and delivered in the contract quantity were made by A&W for Wilstach.

    The whole CW was a nightmare for Ordnance; it was a transition time, with dozens of weapon and cartridge designs competing for contracts. The purchase and issue of pinfire revolvers was just another headache to add to the many already driving Ordnance officers to insanity.

    Jim
  12. DDGator

    DDGator New Member

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    Sorry to revive and old thread, but you guys may be able to help.

    I also have a Pinfire revolver. It has an octagonal barrel. The only marking I can find is on the cylinder, with a U and perhaps two crowns above it? They both look slightly different, but vaguely like crowns... I can't get a good picture with my phone.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/daiker/5974491520/

    Any idea how old this is or who made it?

    The gun does not seem to work single action, only double-action. Does that mean something is broken? The trigger return spring appears to be broken too because I have to push the trigger forward to get it to reset.

    Any info you can provide would be appreciated! Thanks!
  13. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Unless there are other markings, I can't tell you who made it, but I can tell you it is German, probably the product of a guild or conglomerate of makers, each producing some parts. There are two proof marks, the crown/U being the black powder proof, the crown alone being the proof for revolvers. (The duplication is part of the 1891 proof law, which didn't always make sense.)

    Since there is a hammer spur, and every gun I have seen of that type was both DA and SA, I think it is safe to say something is worn or broken. Those guns, like our inexpensive revolvers of the same period, were not intended for long term service; worn or broken parts are common. There were hundreds of thousands of similar guns, of thousands of designs, by hundreds of makers, so parts will be near impossible to find. You can try to have parts made, and maybe the SA notch fixed, but with a gun worth under $100 that you can't obtain ammo for, that would not be cost effective.

    (I also doubt that any gunsmith would take on the work; too tedious and time consuming for too little money. No one will pay $500 to fix a $100 gun.)

    Jim
  14. Slowhand

    Slowhand Member

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    [​IMG]

    These old Pinfire Revolvers have an interesting history both here and in Europe. I ran into a good deal on this one and added it to my BP Cartridge Era collection. They hastened the development of cartridges in this country. In Europe they hung on until after WWI.

    No range trips for this old gal. At 133 years of age she is a safe queen.
  15. deadin

    deadin Well-Known Member

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