Original U.S. 19th Century Allen & Wheelock 1845 Patent .31cal Percussion Pepperbox Revolver - Serial 144

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Pepperbox revolvers were so named because of the similarity of the front view of the weapon was so reminiscent of a Pepper Pot of the time being a circle of round holes. This example was made by Ethan Allen of Massachusetts (1808-1871). Allen developed his Gun business by taking his brother-in-law Charles Thurber as his partner, and they moved the plant to Worcester, Mass.

Ethan Allen, no relation to the Revolutionary Ethan Allen, applied for various patents, most notably early on for a "TUBE HAMMER" ignition system in 1837, which was renewed in 1845. After Charles Thurber passed away in 1856, Ethan Allen later took into his business another brother-in-law, Thomas Wheelock, who worked with the company until 1865. As before, the company was known for its rotating cylinder/barrel revolvers.

This is the type exhibited on our Pepperbox Revolver offered here. The weapon is Five Shot in .31 caliber measuring 6 1/4" overall with 2 7/8" barrels. The side of the barrel assembly and the inside of the trigger guard show serial number 144, and the tube hammer still has relatively clear markings:

APRIL. 16. 1845.

These typically had further rows of markings between the barrels, however most are unfortunately worn away. The one remaining one is only partial, and reads:


The company was known by various names over the years. From 1856 to 1865 it was known as Allen & Wheelock (Worcester), so this pistol is from that period, after the patent renewal was granted. The low serial number suggests it was made very early after the name change, so this revolver was probably mace around 1857-1858.

Later, his two Sons-in-law, Sullivan Forehand and Henry Wadsworth, continued the business after Ethan Allen's death in 1871. Most interesting that all these names have become an integral part of the U.S. arms industry.

The Pepperbox is in good condition, fully operational but NOT sold for firing. It is relatively worn on the outside, and the grips have been glued back together. It still cycles correctly, though as with any firearm of this age, it can be finicky. The trigger return spring is a bit weak, so the trigger may need to be pushed a bit forward at times.

An interesting stepping stone in 19th Century American firearms.


Year of Manufacture: circa 1858
Caliber: .31"
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 2 7/8 inches
Overall Length: 6 1/4 inches
Action: Double Only
Feed System: 5 Shot Revolver

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    New Jersey

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