As a collector, I envy those who are disciplined enough to chose one area of collecting and stick rigidly to it. I have never been able to do, although my primary focus is British and Commonwealth militaria of the twentieth century, as regular readers will know I have a tendency to pick up foreign militaria, or items from outside this period if they particularly take my fancy. Today’s item is no exception, being foreign and from outside my normal eras of collecting- it is however (in my opinion) very interesting.
The nineteenth century saw many experiments in firearms technology, with designers trying to find something more successful than single shot flintlock weapons. One of these technological advances was the pinfire revolver. The pinfire system was one of the first self-contained cartridge systems that worked reliably enough to go into mass production. It was developed by Casimir Lefaucheux and was refined inn 1846 by Benjamin Houillier. In the pin-fire system the cartridge was made of brass with a pin protruding radially from the base of the cartridge. When the pin was struck by the hammer of the revolver this struck the primer and set off the main propellant, firing the projectile:
My example of a pin fire revolver is in poor condition, but has a lot of character:Who made it or when is a mystery, but I am guessing its French or Belgian and from about 1860. The chamber holds six cartridges, with small grooves radiating from each chamber to allow the pins to be positioned in the correct position relative to the hammer:A simple pin at the end of the barrel acts as a rudimentary sight:On the right side of the frame is a protruding mounting for the ejector, now sadly gone:This would have been sprung and was used manually to push each spent cartridge out of the chamber. The trigger is hinged to fold flat against the body of the gun so the gun can’t go off accidentally, this was very common in the nineteenth century and was used in place of the more familiar trigger guard:The thing which surprised me most when I received the revolver through the post was how small it was compared to my other WW2 revolvers, it is very much a pocket gun. As can be seen the gun is very rough, however it is 150 years old and was very cheap. I have found an example of an identical revolver, in much better condition, that sold a few years back for ten times the price I paid for mine:
With the introduction of reliable centre fire cartridges in the 1860s and 1870s, the pin fire revolver fell out of use and as such weapons like mine are classed as antiques and don’t need to be deactivated in the same way as a modern weapon using ammunition that can still be acquired. As I said at the start, this gun doesn’t really fit in with the rest of my collection, but its such an attractive little object that I really don’t care.