Original U.S. Civil War Whitney 2nd Model Navy Percussion Revolver in .36 Caliber - Serial 12577
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice condition example of a Whitney Navy percussion revolver. It was purchased from a private collector, and appears to have seen service and use long past the Civil War.
The Whitney Navy is a 6-shot, .36 caliber, single action percussion revolver that was manufactured from the late 1850s through the early 1860s. The revolver went into production after Colt's patent on his revolver mechanism expired in 1857. The first 1,500 or so (aka "1st Model" Whitney Navy revolvers) were manufactured without a loading lever and were of lighter construction than the later 2nd Model revolvers. Between the Whitney desire to improve upon the guns, and the habit of making design changes when parts on hand ran out, both the 1st and 2nd Models were manufactured in a number of different "types" with a clear pattern of evolution that took place throughout their production. Some 33,000 Whitney Navy revolvers were produced during the production run, with many seeing US government use. The US Army acquired 10,587 of the revolvers between 1861 and 1864 and the US Navy purchased an additional 6,226 between 1863 and 1865. The state of New Jersey purchased 920 Whitney Navy revolvers in 1863, but 792 of those guns were subsequently resold to the US Army in 1863 and 1864. Those guns are included in the US Army purchases listed above.
A number of Whitney Navy revolvers also appear to have been acquired by the South and saw service during the American Civil War. Some were purchased prior to the outbreak of hostilities, and these guns tend to early production 2nd Model revolvers produced prior to the spring of 1861. A good example is Whitney Navy #3110, which was owned by Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart, and is now in the collection of the Virginia Historical Society. However, Confederate forces acquired many more Whitney Navy revolvers after the conflict started. These later production guns were no doubt obtained through a combination of capturing weapons and purchasing the guns surreptitiously from secondary retailers rather than Whitney. At least two-dozen Whitney Navy revolvers are known to have been repaired for use by the 4th Virginia "Black Horse" Cavalry, and a handful of identified Whitney Navy revolvers with Confederate provenance exist was well.
It is not surprising that the revolver found favor on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line, as the robust design with a reinforcing top strap, a solid frame with a screwed in barrel and the simple turn of a wing nut to release the loading lever and cylinder arbor were all significant improvements over the open topped frame and wedge-retained barrel of the Colt design. The popularity of the revolvers in the south is further indicated by the fact that the design was copied by Confederate gunmakers Spiller & Burr and T.W. Cofer, both of whom produced Whitney-like revolvers for the south.
This gun retains strong traces of original finish. The metal of the gun is almost entirely smooth throughout, with wear throughout. It has been cleaned several times, which unfortunately has made some of the markings illegible.
The loading lever retains a good amount of its original case coloring with a clear serial number stamping of 12577 on both parts of the lever. The other components have lost their serial numbers, due to age and wear. The Cylinder does not show any of the original engraving, and no serial number can be read. The grips also seem to be period replacements, without any serial markings on the inside.
The top of the octagon barrel is still clearly stamped:
The action of the revolver is mechanically sound and the gun times, indexes and locks-up exactly as it should. It is however 150 years old and worn, so it can be finicky. A quick hammer pull will ensure it lines up correctly. All of the original nipples are present, however they are worn and partly plugged. The original brass-post front site is still intact.
The bore is in very good condition, and shows strong rifling, with some pitting and powder fouling. The original arbor pin retention thumbscrew is in place and operates. The small brass trigger guard (correct for this model) has a pleasing aged patina.
Overall this is a very good example of a scarce Whitney Navy that was used in the Civil War. This will be a fine addition to your collection of Civil War arms of a really hard to find revolver offered in fully functional condition.
Year of Manufacture: 1863-64
Ammunition Type: Cap and Ball
Barrel Length: 7 5/8 inches
Overall Length: 13 1/2 inches
Action: Single - Percussion Cap
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver
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