One of the 70 Saber Rifles made between October/November 1861, J. Henry & Sons provided these to the Catasanga Home Guard, an unidentified Pennsylvania Militia Unit. This example is in great condition, mechanically sound, with the distinctive J. Henry & Sons stamp on the lock plate and top of barrel. Due to a lack of a number on the barrel, this weapon was made without a matching saber bayonet when sold to the Home Guard.
In Depth Look:
This is an early breech-loading cartridge Derringer made by L.B. Taylor and Company of Chicopee, Massachusetts. These were produced for just a short duration, circa 1868-1870. Flayderman’s Guide estimates production to be around 1,800 units. This one is an early production, #511, with matching numbers on the frame and barrel. It’s in .32 caliber with a 3.5″ octagon barrel. Top of barrel is clearly marked “L.B. TAYLOR & CO. CHICOPEE MASS.”
Typical of many pistols and revolvers we see from the 1850’s and 60’s, it has a cast brass frame and steel barrel. The barrel slides forward out of the frame via a machined rail attached underneath. It’s released by depressing a lever on the bottom of the frame. As you’ll note in the photos, the pocketknife style housing for this lever is what gives these Taylor pistols their unique appearance. Conceptually, they operate on the same principle as the Williamson Derringers produced by National Firearms (circa 1866-70) as both pistols have frames to accommodate a sliding barrel. It would be just a few decades later that this design would be reversed with the barrel sliding backwards in the first semi-automatic Colt and Browning pistols. Another unique aspect of this pistol is that incorporates a split chamber. As you’ll see in the photos, the rear face of the breech and barrel are slightly stepped. The offset section of the frame is rimmed to hold the cartridge and serves as a stationary extractor.
Overall Condition grades to Antique Good Plus with some finish remaining, still showing good clean lines and sharp markings and hammer knurlings. The barrel retains almost 90% of its bluing. When new, the frame was originally plated with a light coat of silver which probably quickly wore away. However, there are traces of silver on the sides of the frame. Grips are in Good condition retaining much of its original finish which has a nice age darkened patina. There is a small crack on the bottom of the left grip and a crack running lengthwise on the right from the screw receiver. Good mechanics and bore.
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