Original U.S. Merwin & Hulbert 1876 1st Model 1st Version Frontier Army Revolver with Bone Grips c.1876
Original Item: Only One Available. To some these are some of the most beautiful Revolvers ever made. Wonderful design, great workmanship and so easy on the eye. Merwin, Hulbert, & Co. or Merwin & Hulbert was an American firearms designer and marketer based in New York City which produced revolvers and rifles from 1874 through 1916. The firearms were manufactured by a subsidiary company, Hopkins & Allen of Norwich, Connecticut.
Their famous line of revolvers began with the "Frontier Model" Open Frame cartridge revolver, which took the proprietary .44 Merwin & Hulbert cartridge. This was known as the "1st Model", and was followed in 1878 by the "2nd Model", which made some improvements, but more importantly introduced a version that took the very popular Winchester .44-40 centerfire cartridge, which quickly became the most popular calibre.
This example however is definitely a First model, chambered for the .44 Merwin & Hulbert. It is also what is known as a First 1st Model, or the 1st Version of the 1st model, the earliest type they produced, with many features that were later changed or removed. It has the two screws on the left lower side of the frame for trigger removal, the "humped back" trigger spur, and the small ball bearing detent on the barrel release catch. These were all removed by the end of the run of the 1st model, making this a very hard to find revolver.
This revolver was originally nickel plated, probably with hard rubber grips, however it has seen long use on the frontier, and almost all of the nickel plating is gone, except for some on the lower frame. The original grips were replaced by bone, which after long years now has matured to a lovely amber color, with cracking and wear that simply cannot be duplicated.
The top of the barrel still has faint markings, which originally would have read:
MERWIN HULBERT & Co. New York, U.S.A. Pat. Jan, 24. Apr. 21. Dec. 15. 74. Aug 3. 75. July 11. 76. Apr. 17. 77. Pat’s Mar. 6, 77.
The "Hopkins & Allen" marking on this revolver is completely worn away along with the finish. The serial number markings on the gun are mismatched, with 34?? under the grip scales, and 3165 on the bottom of the grip, while the cylinder is marked 345 and the barrel 996. It's possible that parts were swapped, or that these are not serial numbers, but assembly production numbers. Being from very early production, a lot of things are possible, and accurate records were not kept.
Made in single action only, the Frontier Army was hoped to be accepted by the U.S. Government, however by this date Colt had most all of the Government Contracts in its pocket. There was stiff competition from Remington, Smith & Wesson and Forehand & Wadsworth, however Mervin and Hulbert did succeed in getting some Police Contracts. As this is a First 1st Model, it is in .44 Merwin & Hulbert, so there is no need to look for markings on the frame indicating it is for a Winchester .44-40.
The revolver functions well, though as with any revolver of this age it can be finicky at at times due to wear on the internal components. The barrel rotates and pulls away correctly for spent cartridge removal, and can then be removed entirely. However there is a lot of slop in this mechanism, and the sliding plate under the frame latch is missing. The bore shows the effects of long use on the frontier without cleaning, with very little remaining of the rifling, and extensive oxidation. This is definitely a revolver for display only.
With an ingenious reloading system it became a favorite with many individuals and even more so with Collectors of today. Merwin died in 1888 whereupon the Company became Hulbert Bros Co., but was liquidated in 1896.
A lovely and rare large Single Action U.S. Revolver, very early with loads of patina!
Years of Manufacture: circa 1876
Caliber: .44 Merwin & Hulbert (.44-30)
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 7 inches
Overall Length: 12 1/2 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver
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