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Original British Victorian .44cal Single Action Transitional Percussion Revolver by James Beattie of London - circa 1850

Regular price $2,395.00

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a truly lovely example one of the many "Transitional" revolver designs of the first half of the 19th century, which effectively bridged the gap between single shot pistols and the modern revolver designs such as those made by Adams, Colt, and many others. These were main divided into two types: those that used a revolving cylinder / chamber with a single barrel, and the "Pepperbox" style, with a barrel cluster that revolved around a single arbor pin. Transitional revolvers utilized many features that were not carried on to the period of modern revolvers, which makes them a very interesting piece of firearms history.

Here we have a lovely British single action transitional revolver, which looks quite a bit like the revolvers made by Springfield Arms Co. in the United States, based on the patents of Joshua Stevens and James Warner. The overall design is similar, and it definitely shares some major features, such as the tip up barrel and hinged top strap. Other parts of the design, such as the ratchet action on the rear of the cylinder, are quite different. Instead of the hook used by the Springfield Arm design, the cylinder is held in place by a sprung arbor pin latch, which was a registered design (No. 3389) of Benjamin Cogswell. This is indicated on the top of the barrel strap, which is marked:


James Beattie is a known gunmaker who worked in London during the 19th century, working from 1849 to about 1879. In 1865 he took his son into his business, when it became known as J. Beattie & Son. Transitional revolvers were really only made during the 1850s, as by 1860 the "modern" revolver concept was really starting to solidify.

Our example is a definitely lovely, and it features beautiful engraving on the hammer, on the frame, and on the trigger guard. There is also some on the end of the barrel, which has a bore of about 0.44", showing a large number or rifling grooves. The revolver features a lovely curved checkered wooden grip, which is in excellent condition, bearing an oval silver escutcheon on the back, and an iron butt cap with a compartment for patches or bullets.

The cylinder is numbered 1 to 6 over the chambers near the front, while the rear is marked with alternating CROWN / GP "Gunmaker's Proof" and CROWN / V "Viewed" markings from the London Gun Company proof house. There is another pair of these markings on the top of the barrel just forward of the top strap. The finish on the metalwork is very good, showing some of the original finish, while most if it now displays a gray lightly oxidized patina. The barrel shows some light peppering on the exterior, but nothing major.

We tested the action, and it functions beautifully, and does not appear to have any issues with indexing or cycling. The cylinder lock up is very secure, and the revolver easily breaks open for cleaning and reloading. The bore is in very good condition, showing a mostly bright finish with clear lands and grooves. There is not much wear, and just a bit of past fouling and oxidation in the grooves. All 6 cap nipple cones are intact, showing fouling and oxidation from use.

A lovely example of a rare stepping stone in revolver evolution, and definitely a gun for someone of some importance, as these were only really available to the well-heeled. Nicely engraved decoration, and a fantastic look. Ready to display!


Year of Manufacture: circa 1850
Caliber: approx .44"
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 4 3/4 inches
Overall Length: 11 7/8 inches
Action: Single
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

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