This is an early Allen & Wheelock Center Hammer Pistol made at the beginning of the Civil War. As you'll note in the photos, it's in exceptionally nice condition, retaining much of its original blue and case colors on the metal and varnish on the grips. According to Flayderman's Guide, there were only 500 to 1,000 units during the early 1860s. It's in caliber .32 Rimfire which had just been introduced for the Smith and Wesson No. 2 Army Revolver in 1861...making this one of the very first cartridge pistols you could buy in the early 1860's. There are several variants of the center hammer pertaining to barrel configuration, whether or not it has the automatic shell ejector, and the size of the lip or overhand of the frame over the breech. This particular example has a 4" part octagonal barrel with the automatic ejector (still works perfectly), and the short lip at the breech. The only markings on the entire gun are the serial numbers on the various components which are in the 40 range. This may also be a batch number.
Over the years, I've seen a lot of Allen and Wheelock pistols from pepperboxes to side-hammer pocket revolvers...and the one thing they almost always lack is original finish. To stay competitive, it's as if the quality of their finishes was almost an afterthought. That said, while this may not be a big deal to a Smith and Wesson or Colt collector, this little pistol is a SCREAMER of a gun for an Allen and Wheelock! In fact, it's even nicer than the examples illustrated in the Flayderman's...which is the Bible to American collectors of antique weapons. Overall Condition is NRA Antique Fine with 75% original blue on the barrel that is thinning. The blue on the cast iron frame has flaked with 10% blue remaining...mostly along the belly of the frame and in protected areas. Hammer shows 40-50% case colors. Screws and pins are perfect throughout. Both front and rear original sights are intact. The walnut grips show light handling but are in Fine+ Condition retaining 95% original varnish. Perfect wood-to-metal fit with each panel internally numbered to the gun. No chips, cracks, or repairs. Mechanics are perfect with the barrel locking up very tightly to the frame. Ejector still works. Hammer works on full and half cock positions. The bore has Good rifling with some darkness and scattered pitting down in the grooves which may clean up a bit...to be expected on a gun from this era. A beautiful example of a scarce early American cartridge pistol that could have seen use in the Civil War!