Pepperbox: Repro or Original?
I have a "Pepperbox" revolver that I aquired a long time ago. I am not familiar enough with these to even hazard a guess as to whether or not it is an original antique gun, or a reproduction/kit gun. There are no markings/writings on it, nor is there a serial number I could find. Any help in identifying this Pepperbox revolver would be greatly appreciated.
I believe that it's original and old.
1. There are markings, on at least most of the individual "barrels." I can see them in your pictures. I'd like to see a close-up of at least one of them, for they would tell us where the gun was made, probably about when, and maybe even by whom.
2. The engraving on its frame is hand-done, in an old style. It definitely is not modern. The grip-screw is also engraved, which also is not a modern feature.
3. Its grips are very well fitted into its frame. A modern reproduction would not have a base-plate at the heel of the grips because it would be too expensive to fit it properly.
4. Its nipples are definitely not modern-made and fitted.
Almost looks like sterling silver.
Could you please elaborate on these comments a bit? So you think it is a British Pepperbox circa 1845? What do you mean by "Ref 8272"? I will try to get some more close-up pics and post them. Thanks for all the help!
Originally Posted by pic
Pepperbox: Repro or Original?
Ok, sorry, not sure why I didn't see that picture and the reference 8272 from the British Antique Arms dealer website before, but just saw it now while doing this reply. And I do see the similarities. Here's a couple more closeup pics of the markings on the cylinders, maybe they will help someone here with further identification. I Appreciate everyone's input.
It's a proof-mark of some kind.
I'll do more research tomorrow.
BTW: It's much more likely that the frame is brass, than that it's silver. Wrong color.
According to its proofmarks, your pepperbox pistol was made in Birmingham, England, at some time after 1813 and before 1904.
Because it's a pepperbox revolver, rather than the more modern separate-cylinder style, it is most likely that it was made and proofed after 1855 and before 1868. That's because upon those dates the proof laws changed to accommodate pepperbox and revolver-style pistols. (It still is possible that it was made and proofed before 1855.)
Without close examination, I cannot say anything about its maker.
Since it seems to be unsigned, it was probably not an expensive pistol at the time it was made. However, it is very likely to be quite valuable now.
That is partly because it is in pretty good condition. It is also true because its parts are probably all original, including its old-style nipples.
Do not attempt to refinish or repair it in any way. Do not "snap" its action, as its nipples seem to be already somewhat battered, and should not be abused further.
If there is rust, it may be removed by rubbing with an oiled piece of soft cloth. Serious rust which does not respond to the soft cloth may be removed with the oiled end grain of a piece of balsa wood. Nothing more abrasive than that should be used.
It would be wise to find out whether it is still loaded! This is easily done: All you need is a new pencil or some other stick that is longer than the outside length of its barrels.
First, insert the pencil or stick into the muzzle of one barrel, push it all the way in, and make a mark on it at the muzzle of the barrel. Now lay the stick against the outside of the barrel, with your mark at the muzzle, and see how well the length of the stick correlates to the length of the barrel. It should reach almost to the place where the barrels end, just ahead of the nipples. If it is significantly shorter, the barrel you measured is indeed loaded! Try all of the barrels.
If one or more of its barrels is loaded, remember to tell the next owner about this fact.
Do not try to unload the gun! Leave it alone, or ask a qualified gunsmith to disable (but not remove) its charges. It is a delicate operation, and the old powder and balls are valuable.
Many thanks to Steve M1911A1 and pic for the great info and background on this Pepperbox revolver. Steve's details on the proof marks was especially interesting and not something I previously had any knowledge about. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
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