Original U.S. Civil War .36 Caliber Tranter Percussion Revolver - A. B. Griswold & Company New Orleans

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. The Tranter revolver was a double-action cap & ball revolver invented around 1856 by English firearms designer William Tranter (1816-1890). Originally operated with a special dual-trigger mechanism (one to rotate the cylinder and cock the gun, a second to fire it) later models employed a single-trigger mechanism much the same as that found in the contemporary Beaumont-Adams revolver.

Early Tranter revolvers were generally versions of the various Robert Adams-designed revolver models, of which Tranter had produced in excess of 8000 revolvers by 1853. The first model of his own design used the frame of an Adams-type revolver, with a modification in the mechanism which he had jointly developed with James Kerr. The first model was sold under the name Tranter-Adams-Kerr.

Design and operation:
The Tranter revolver was a "solid-frame" design, very similar in appearance to the Beaumont-Adams revolver. Over the course of the 3 models Tranter developed, the only significant change was to the attachment of the ramrod- In the first model it was detachable, on the second model it was attached to the frame by a hook on the fixed barrel, and in the third model (1856) it was attached to the barrel by a screw.

This revolver is particularly scarce in that it introduced the addition of a single action feature to what had previously been a double action only model up until that time. The revolver features a double trigger set up where the lower trigger, outside the trigger guard, revolves the cylinder and drew the hammer back. However, this did not leave the hammer cocked, and due to a spring safety on the left side of the frame, the hammer cannot reach the cylinder unless the lower trigger is pulled back, so releasing the lower trigger cannot fire the weapon.

Only by depressing the upper trigger on the inside of the trigger guard while the lower trigger was pulled back would the hammer then fall and discharge the weapon. The trigger pull on the inner trigger is much lighter, and in a way this is almost a hybrid of double and single action. On most double-trigger Tranter revolvers, the hammer is spurless, but in this particular case the hammer is equipped with one. This allows the hammer to be cocked without having to pull the lower trigger first, allowing for somewhat greater control.

Overall, the fit and finish of this gun are far ahead of its time. Truly a great collector’s piece in superb condition.

The American Civil War:
With the beginning of the American Civil War, the demands for foreign weapons in the Confederate States of America increased, as the Confederacy no longer had access to the weapons factories in the North and had almost no local small-arms manufacturing capability of their own. At the outbreak of the war, Tranter had a contract with the importing firm Hyde & Goodrich in New Orleans to import and distribute his revolvers commercially. Following the outbreak of the Civil War, Hyde and Goodrich dissolved their partnership, and its successors, Thomas, Griswold & Company, and A. B. Griswold & Company, continued to distribute Tranter's guns.

As a reliable, functional, and proven design, Tranter revolvers soon enjoyed a great popularity among the Confederate military. The Tranter was originally produced in six calibres, with .36, .44, and .50 being the most popular, with Tranter developed an Army model (.44 calibre) and a Navy model (.36 calibre) for the American market.

After the American Civil War, production continued of the Tranter percussion revolver (despite the increasingly availability of cartridge-firing designs) because many people thought percussion firearms were safer and cheaper than the "new-fangled" cartridge-based designs of the time. In 1863, Tranter secured the patent for rimfire cartridges in England, and started production using the same frame as his existing models. As early as 1868, Tranter had also begun the manufacture of centrefire cartridge revolvers.

By 1867, his company expanded its production with a new factory in Aston Cross (England) under the name "The Tranter Gun and Pistol Factory" and, in 1878, he received a contract from the British Army for the supply of revolvers for use in the Zulu War. This was the last official use of Tranter revolvers by the British military, and Tranter retired in 1885, with his patent rights -Between 1849 and 1888 Tranter secured 24 patents firearms design patents and 19 cartridge patents- as well as the Tranter factory later being acquired by munitions manufacturer George Kynoch.

This example number 21845 is offered in wonderful fully functional condition.

The top strap is nicely engraved:


The revolver is marked in at least two places "Tranter Patent" and the revolver is fitted with a Beaumont loading arm on the left side of the barrel. The condition is just spectacular with virtually all its original high gloss dark blue finish to the frame and it still retains the original checkered walnut wood grip in almost like new condition. Almost certainly a revolver intended for a Confederate Officer its caliber being approximately .36 the standard caliber of the Colt Navy revolver of that time.

Of added interest is that there is a set of initials that appear twice on the revolver R.E.R. which with some research may lead us to the Confederate Officer who originally purchased this magnificent weapon. A Confederate Private Purchase Revolver in perfect preservation, making this example exceptionally rare and desirable.

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