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Rollin White Revolver --Made for S&W during Civil War--

Here is a scarce little Rollin White pocket revolver. White manufactured just 4,200 units between 1861-1864 for Smith & Wesson. This was to help S&W with large orders the company couldn't keep up with during the Civil War. Rollin White was famous for his 1855 patent for a "bored through cylinder"...which would pave the way for America's first cartridge gun. In 1856, White entered an agreement with Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson that gave S&W exclusive rights to his patent in exchange for a small commission for each revolver manufactured. Ironically, in 1852 while working for Samuel Colt, he showed his idea to his famous boss, which Colt dismissed as a "novelty". After finishing employment with Colt a couple years later, he sought and received a patent...one which would make Smith and Wesson rich and lock out all other competitors from manufacturing cartridge revolvers until the 1870's. Unfortunately for White, part of the agreement he made with S&W stipulated that he had to legally defend his patent against all infringements. This proved costly as White spent most of his earnings to pay for legal prosecutions of Manhattan Arms, Moore Firearms, and even Lowell Arms Co., the company that bought his liquidated plant and illegally continued production of White's own revolvers. Citing costly legal fees, White appealed to the United States government in 1870 for a relief act...amounting to an extension of his patent. It passed the US House of Representatives except for President Ulysses Grant who refused to sign off on the extension before returning it to the Senate. Understandably, Grant had strong reservations about extending a patent; one that had all but suppressed competition and the development of cartridge revolvers for more than a decade...all of which would have been of great benefit to the Union Army during the Civil War. Thus, White's extension was not granted.

This particular example is in NRA Antique Fine Condition and much nicer than most Rollin White revolvers I've come across. Barrel has 40% original blue and cylinder shows 65% original blue. Brass frame has a perfect 150 year old uncleaned patina that's butterscotch in color with nice marbling. Traces of original silver plating can be seen in protected areas of the frame. Barrel is marked: Made for Smith & Wesson By Rollin White Arms Co, Lowell, Mass. See photos. Cylinder is rolled with White's 1855 patent along with what I'm assuming to be S&W's 1860 patent? See photos. The grips, which appear to be rosewood retain 60% of their original varnish. No chips, cracks, or repairs. The action works but the little spring for the cylinder stop is weak. Bore is Fine to Excellent with strong rifling and little to zero pitting. A nice example that's well above average for a Rollin White. While later produced illegally by Lowell Arms, the inventor's original production run for S&W is even rarer than the early Smith and Wesson Model Number One, First Issue revolver. An important gun for any Smith and Wesson collection.

Item# 1495




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