Original U.S. Allen & Thurber of Norwich 1837 Patent .31cal Percussion Pepperbox Revolver - Serial 58

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, originally setting up shop in Norwich, CT, which as a major gun making center at the time. They were one of the earliest makers of pistols in the city, and sources usually cite 1842 as when they began production, though some use 1835 as the start date.

In 1847 Allen & Thurber moved their operation to Worcester, Mass in 1847. Ethan Allen, no relation to the Revolutionary Ethan Allen, had applied for various patents, most notably early on for a "TUBE HAMMER" ignition system in 1837, which was renewed in 1845.

This is the type exhibited on our Pepperbox Revolver offered here. The weapon is Six Shot in .31 caliber measuring 7" overall with 3 1/2" barrels. Removal of the grips shows that serial number 58 is stamped on the inside of both grip scales, the grip frame, and the mainspring. This number is also stamped on the inside of the trigger guard, while the marking on the cylinder assembly has unfortunately been worn away due to powder burn. However we see no reason to believe that any parts have been swapped out over the years. This is a great example, and also the earliest production example that we have had!

The frame has lovely decorative engraving throughout, on the flash guard as well as the side plates, and even the grip frame. The tube hammer is stamped:


This example is further marked on the flats between the barrels with:




The company was known by various names over the years. From 1842 to 1847 it was known as Allen & Thurber (Norwich), so this pistol is from that period, before the move to Worcester in 1847. The company would then operate as Allen & Thurber (Worcester) until 1854. We estimate that this pistol was probably produced around 1845. Of note is the shape of the pistol grip, which in the Norwich Period had a much less smooth curve, resulting in a somewhat shorter revolver.

Ethan Allen later took into his business another brother-in-law, Thomas Wheelock, and later his two Sons-in-law, Sullivan Forehand and Henry Wadsworth, who 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 very good used condition, with a lovely patina of age, mostly operational but NOT sold for firing. The action is a bit stiff, and the cylinder lock is not firm. Also the end portion of the tube hammer is worn or broken off, so it is not able to strike the cap nipple cones anymore. The cylinder / barrel assembly is really in very nice shape, with the original blued finish faded to a lovely oxidized patina. The action still shows clear details on the engraving, something we almost never see, and the original bright finish is faded to a grayish stained color. There is definitely powder burn around the cap nipples and on the tube hammer, as to be expected.

The walnut grips have a lovely color, and show some great period wear. There is even a small silver escutcheon on the right hand grip, where a name may have been at one point. The original "piano varnish" finish is unfortunately completely missing, and the grip wood now has a lovely waxed glow. This really is a great example, probably the earliest we've seen out of all the "Allen Pepperbox" revolvers we've had, with lovely markings.

A great example of an interesting stepping stone in 19th Century American firearms, ready to add to your collection!


Year of Manufacture: circa 1844-5
Caliber: .31"
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 3 1/2 inches
Overall Length: 7 inches
Action: Double Action Only
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

NOTE: International orders of antique firearms MUST be shipped using UPS WW Services (courier). USPS Priority Mail international will not accept these. International customers should always consult their country's antique gun laws prior to ordering.

  • This product is not available for shipping in US state(s): New Jersey

    This product is available for international shipping.
  • Not eligible for payment with Paypal or Amazon


Cash For Collectibles