As you guys (our friends and loyal customers who check the website) know, we try our best to find you guns with a bit of an edge over the usual run-of-the-mill items we seem to find all over the market. Sometimes that edge is historical in nature, rare, nice condition, and once in a while...simply..."WOW!" I'm certain we've achieved that on this item but we'll let you be the judge. For us, this is one of the BEST examples of a Moore Single Action belt revolver we've ever encountered. It's STUNNING to look at! For a gun to survive 150 years in such high condition takes multi-generations of careful handling and storage away from moisture, oxygen, large fluctuations in temperature, sunlight, pets, floods, fires, and most importantly; human hands. We find so few of these at this level of preservation that I've often wondered how it's a small miracle for all of these factors to come together.
This early cartridge revolver was manufactured for only 2-3 years between 1861 and 1863 by Moore Patent Firearms Company of Brooklyn, New York. The gun is physically well-balanced and of excellent quality with nice touches such as silver plating and engraving. As a result, these became quite popular amongst Union officers and enlisted men during the Civil War. See Flayderman's Guide 9th Ed. page 497. Unfortunately, the seven rounds of .32 rimfire ammunition which it chambered did not sit well with Smith and Wesson who had exclusive rights to Rollin White's 1855 patent which encompassed all revolvers with "bored-through cylinders." Rollin White and S&W took Moore to court in a patent infringement lawsuit in the fall of 1862, which Moore lost in court.
What makes this one interesting is that it is among the latter ones produced by Moore which were actually made for Smith and Wesson...presumably as part of the lawsuit settlement Moore owed Smith and Wesson. That is one theory...another one is that Smith and Wesson was having difficulty keeping up with orders for cartridge revolvers during the Civil War and allowed Moore to continue to produce their revolver for a short time. The guns were then marketed by Smith and Wesson. The barrel on this one is stamped "MANFD FOR SMITH & WESSON BY MOORE PAT. FIRE ARMS CO." Furthermore, the cylinder is stamped "PATENTED APRIL 3, 1855 & SEPT. 18, 1860." The first patent is kind of funny because it's Rollin White's patent date for the bored through cylinder which is what Moore violated by producing this very revolver. In other words, S&W is rubbing Moore Firearms' nose into their violation of the Rollin White patent. The 1860 patent date pertains to Moore's loading mechanism which allows the barrel and cylinder to pivot about 15% degrees off an axis pin in the lower portion of the frame for reloading. Some collectors call the Moore one of the first revolvers with a "swing-out" cylinder. I'm not sure I'd qualify this as a true "swing-out" cylinder as the barrel and cylinder both pivot outward and then only slightly. The swing-out cylinder came along some years later and still remains widely used...but this early patent by Daniel Moore was definitely a step in that direction and ahead of its time for such an early breech-loading cartridge revolver.
It's not too often I get to say this about a Civil War era revolver, but this Moore grades to a true NRA ANTIQUE EXCELLENT CONDITION! The gun shows very little loss of condition in terms of wear. For example, the barrel and cylinder have about 95% coverage of blue with only the high spots showing wear but due to some freckling within the blue from natural age, I'd call it 80% bright original blue. The frame and straps have 97% original silver plating with very little of the brass frame peeking through. Nice engraving on the profiles of the frame, recoil shield, trigger guard, and backstrap. The hammer shows 75% mostly strong case colors. The grips are nearly perfect with what appears to retain 98% original varnish with perhaps a very light coat of linseed oil applied over the original finish. Excellent crisp action with a Fine+ bore. Original removable ejector rod is still stored benath the barrel. This would be difficult to improve upon and a great addition to a nice collection of Civil War guns, Smith and Wessons, early cartridge revolvers, or as a good investment.