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Springfield Arms Revolver -Scarce S&W/Rollin White Patent Infringement-

This is a scarce Springfield Arms Company revolver in .30 rimfire with 5-shot cylinder, silver-plated frame, and blued barrel and cylinder.   Looking at the overall design, mechanics, and finish, it appears to have been designed by someone who had intimate knowledge of Smith and Wesson and Rollin White revolvers...perhaps a former employee.   Its solid frame and removable cylinder pin bear a strong resemblance to the Rollin White revolver which was produced under license for S&W during the Civil War.   The novel features of this revolver are its removable cylinder pin (very similar to E.A. Prescott revolvers but more refined), and its unique folding loading gate.   Essentially, the right half of the recoil shield comprises the gate and folds down exposing the back of the cylinder for loading.   That may seem ho-hum but back in 1863, there were very few guns on the market that utilized this concept...something Colt adopted years later for the Single Action Army revolver.   Unlike the Civil War era S&W and Rollin White models which required disassembly to reload, the gate on the back of the frame must have greatly expedited loading.

Springfield Arms only produced about 6,000 of these revolvers at the height of the Civil War in 1863 right in S&W's back yard, their hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts.   There was strong demand for small-cartridge revolvers during the war as they were quite popular with soldiers who used them as personal and/or backup weapons.   While .30 rimfire was relatively impotent in ballistic department, one great advantage these early cartridge revolvers had over percussion weapons was that fixed ammunition was waterproof.  Well, it appears it didn't take long for the lawyers working for Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson to file a lawsuit for infringement of the Rollin White patent for bored-through cylinders...which was exclusively owned by S&W.   Of course S&W, being the patent holder, rightfully won their case, production was halted, with the last 1,500 guns given to S&W as part of the settlement.   Other Companies that suffered a similar fate to S&W lawsuits were the E.A. Prescott Company, Lucius Pond, Moore's Patent Firearms Company, and Thomas K. Bacon.

Overall, NRA Antique Fine condition with 75% original silver plating on the frame and gripstraps that has tarnished in places.   This would clean up very nicely if desired but some collectors prefer silver uncleaned so I will leave it up to the buyer.   The barrel retains 40-50% original blue with the balance turned to light patina.   Barrel marked "SPRINGFIELD-ARMS-CO. MASS."   German silver front sight.   Cylinder is mostly turned to a smooth brown patina with 25% original blue mixing through in the form of speckles.   Hammer shows mottled case colors.   Grips are in fine condition and retain 90% original varnish.   No chips or cracks.   Perfect wood to metal fit.  Due to the convex nature of the grips straps, the grips appear in the photos to be a little under-sized...can assure you they're not.   Action functions nicely.   The loading gate is complete and working with its fragile latch still intact.   Good bore.   This would make a great addition to any American revolver collection but especially a Smith and Wesson collector with a branch of Patent infringements.

Item# 1129




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