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 reserching antique pinfire pistols - thoughts?
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dblodgett
Starting Member

USA
11 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  11:12:11 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have 2 antigue pinfire pistols I'm trying to learn more about.

Both pistols are open frame, folding trigger, 6 shot, 7mm, guns and measure about 7.5" overall with 3.25" barrels. They both carry the ELG crown proof, but no manufacturers name (I guess that was common with these Belgian made pistols of that period).

The round barrel pistol with the engraving also has a T w/crown stamp on the chamber, while the octagonal barrel pistol has a W w/crown and a K w/crown stamp on the barrel. The octagonal pistol is missing the spring clip that holds the bullet loading door closed, and the ejector rod is slightly bent. There is clearly rusting/pitting on the guns.

I believe the guns are from 1860 - 1890 time frame, (I believe I read that around 1893 the crown stamp changed to a star(?) but haven't found more definitive information.

If I understand it correctly these pistols were made by the thousands, maybe tens of thousands, and often collectively by many manufacturers, hence no one company takes credit for the gun. I've read they were used by militia (even imported to the US during the civil war) as a backup or last resort gun when their rifles jammed, and also popular with gamblers & 'ladies of the evening' due to their small size. We found these tucked away in the basement and I think there may have been a story behind them, but we'll never know.

Any thoughts on where I might find more history about these guns?

-dave







Spider7115
Moderator

USA
24947 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  11:32:16 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Pinfire revolvers made by Lafaucheux and other makers were used by both the North and the South during the Civil War.

You may find this website to be of interest: http://www.horstheld.com/0-pinfire.htm

Civil War: Federal Purchases of pin fire revolvers:
LEFAUCHEUX marked 12mm revolvers, 11,833 pieces probably in the serial # 25,000 - 37,000.
Additional were bought in Europe from different dealers, no makers and numbers available,
and most today offered to be "Confederate used" are dubious.
A lot of the inexpensive and not marked revolvers were actually made during the 1870's.
Please see Chris Curtis' book "Systeme Lefaucheux"
+ William Albaugh's book "Confederate Handguns"


The website owner, Horst Held, is an authority on these and should be able to help you. He is also a GunBroker Forum member and can be reached through his profile: http://forums.GunBroker.com/pop_profile.asp?mode=display&id=13060

-"SPIDER"

ALLAH KA-BAR!


GunBroker.com Moderator
The Largest Auction Gun Store Online including Pistols, Shotguns, and Rifles


Edited by - Spider7115 on 12/01/2010 11:35:10 AM
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rufe-snow
Advanced Member

15925 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  11:46:31 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I don't recall the name now, but there was a book published on pinfire pistols in the 80's, here in the States. You might due some research to see if you can find it. Unfortunately firearms reference books during that time frame, were only printed in limited numbers, for a short period of time. Since they have been out of print for years, used book dealers ask ridiculous prices for them.

If yours have the oval Liege Proof Mark with the crown they are late production pieces. As the crown wasn't added until smokeless powder proof requirements were established in the 1890's.

The large caliber military pinfires as used in the U.S. Civil War were only used for a relatively short period of time. Late 1850's, early 1870's would be the time frame. Once centerfire ammo became available the larger pinfires fell by the wayside over a short period of time.

Spider nailed it! He has a better memory then I do. Chris Curtis's book was the one from the early 80's, that I was trying to remember.

If there isn't a crown on top of the oval Liege Proof Mark, they were proofed earlier then the 1890's, when the smokeless powder proofs came into use.

Edited by - rufe-snow on 12/01/2010 12:25:47 PM
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dblodgett
Starting Member

USA
11 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  12:01:25 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks guys -

rufe-snow - The ELG stamp is oval on both pistols with a star inside the oval (I mistakenly stated it was a crown in the post above)

There are stampings (T, W, K) on each gun that have a crown above them.

Spider - thx for the link - these guns are very similar to the Noak pictured there.

-dave
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Spider7115
Moderator

USA
24947 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  12:13:13 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I sent an e-mail to Horst. Hopefully, he'll check in with some additional info.

-"SPIDER"

ALLAH KA-BAR!


GunBroker.com Moderator
The Largest Auction Gun Store Online including Pistols, Shotguns, and Rifles

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Pelican
Advanced Member

USA
2581 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  12:20:02 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have one in the store now that I am checking out for a fella. It has a five point star over a letter U proof mark on the cylinder.

Later, Pel

--------------
Just an ole Pelican sittin' on a piling a watchin' the boats go by.
Audemus jura nostra defendere"
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horstheld
Junior Member

193 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  12:32:37 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hello,
during the production period – mostly in the 1870’s - there were up to 400 “kitchen table” manufacturers, and often two or more guys made the parts. The good part is, all were mandatory in Liëge proofed (ELG) The additional stamps are by sub-inspectors.
To avoid paying royalties to Lefaucheux and most of the weapons were cheaply made no maker’s name I shown. It was similar the U.S. manufactured Saturday-Night or Suicide Specials, and the prices are accordingly low.
Better condition weapons are showing maker’s names.
Horst Held

www.HorstHeld.com
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rhmc24
Senior Member

1854 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  12:33:36 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
As a kid in the 1930s I traded for a big single action pinfire, said to be 12mm caliber. Probably a Confederate import. It was in good condition with a lot of blue on it. Couldn't get ammo for it so I sold it I think for $1.50. You could buy a shootable SAA or 1911 for $5 then.

About 1976 in Spain, in the Madrid Rastro (flea market) bought another big pinfire pistol almost the same as the one I had years before. The seller had literally dozens of them piled up, in like new condition for about $5 apiece. Not allowed to take out of the country I only bought one and put it in my brief case.
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rufe-snow
Advanced Member

15925 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  12:34:48 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Pelican

I have one in the store now that I am checking out for a fella. It has a five point star over a letter U proof mark on the cylinder.

Later, Pel




The Belgians identify the inspector who is actually responsible for proofing a firearm with a one or two letter code with a star over it. Chances are that's what the marking on your revolver is. Although the Germans also used the letter "U", ( without the star ), as one of their Proof Marks.

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hrf
Member

825 Posts

Posted - 12/01/2010 :  1:26:54 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A collector of Lefaucheux pinfires frequents this site:

http://www.{burp}.com/forumdisplay.php?f=6

Do a search for "pinfire" and you'll find numerous posts by him, as "Lefaucheux 54"

(I forgot, this forum "burps" out most URL's posted, but the other website is FIREARMS FORUM.COM if that's allowed)

Edited by - hrf on 12/01/2010 1:30:06 PM
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