Original U.S. Colt Third Model .41 Derringer with Inscribed Case to Wm E Bainbridge

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an Antique circa 1885 Colt #3 Thuer Deringer first model, a scarce variation with high spur hammer and tight curl grips. Bore is excellent, .41 Rim Fire; standard model, earliest production with short high hammer featuring plated nickel finish and ivory grips. See Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms page 161. Matching serial number 9650 clearly visible on both barrel and frame indicating year of production in the mid 1880s.

It is cased in a custom made non-factory mahogany box that has provisions for five cartridges that are all present. In fact, there is a sixth cartridge in one of the compartments. The case, complete with working key, is lined in maroon velvet with a maroon satin lining to the lid. The case also has a silver escutcheon on the lid marked with the following inscription:-

Wm. E. Bainbridge


This is a nice little gun and in its day was known as a gambler's vest gun or a lady's garter gun. As per most small caliber handguns of the day, it fired the .41 short rimfire. It was so successful, the only way that Remington could compete was to create the over/under deringer that most people think of today, two shots instead of just one. Production figures are sketchy, even when contacting Colt directly. The approximate breakdown in numbers are as follows: Production began around 1872, 2nd variation produced around 1880 until silver began to be too expensive to plate with. 3rd variation (aka 'standard production') began in mid 1880s in either all nickel or a blue barrel/nickel frame combination, with this production run finishing in 1910. This example is missing the front sight but is in generally good condition and shows its age. In our view was used as a lady's garter gun due to what the research has shown us about the name on the case.

William E. Bainbridge, a qualified Lawyer became the second Secretary at the United States Legation in PEKING, CHINA in 1898 was present during the infamous BOXER REBELLION which broke out in 1900. This was the subject of that marvelous Charlton Heston Movie, "55 DAYS AT PEKING" with David Niven playing the un-daunted British Ambassador with Ava Gardner as Heston's Russian love interest. This great Movie aside, the Boxer Rebellion was a truly terrifying occurrence when a sect of the Chinese peasantry called the Boxers made it their mission to horribly torture and kill, mostly by decapitation, every European in China. Unfortunately, the weak Chinese government and the Empress tried to use this to their advantage that made matters far worse.

Eventually after a siege of the Legations, which famously lasted for 55 days, the U.S. and European Powers sent in troops to relieve the situation. William Bainbridge's wife, Mary was a leading figure during the siege and kept a, now famous, detailed diary. Newspaper reports state that Bainbridge himself always carried a revolver during this period so we speculate that this small Colt was most likely Mary Bainbridge's gun. It appears she was a very feisty woman and it was reported that whilst sewing sand bags for the fortification she was asked to come and pray for deliverance to which she replied that she was perfectly capable and sewing and praying at the same time!

William Bainbridge had a most successful career becoming the U.S. Arbitrator in an international government dispute with Venezuela in 1903 however, whilst on assignment in Paris, France under great strain Bainbridge shot himself in 1909. Mary lived until 1916.

Along with this Cased pistol we include of folder of Research and photographs of The Bainbridges in China during the Boxer Rebellion prepared by Jerry L. Jacobson. Phd.

A fascinating historical period and a small Derringer that probably witnessed much of it.

3rd Model (Thuer) Deringers were all chambered in .41 caliber, manufactured circa 1875-1912, serial number range 1-45000, but precise yearly production numbers are unknown.

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

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


Cash For Collectibles