Very Fine Warner 2nd Model 1st Type Percussion Pocket Revolver
- Product Code: FHG-B148-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
On 28 July 1857, James Warner received US Patent #17,904 for a percussion revolver. This represented Warner’s 4thfirearms patent and yet another venture into the world of firearms production which he had been intimately involved for most of his life. His first firearms patent had been granted in 1851 for a percussion revolver design, while he was working as the chief designer for the Springfield Arms Company. It was at this time that Warner had his first run in with a patent infringement lawsuit, in this case brought by Samuel Colt and the Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company. The end result of the suit was that Warner and Springfield Arms were forced to stop manufacturing percussion revolvers whose mechanisms rotated the cylinder as part of the cocking action of the hammer. In an attempt to circumvent the patent issue, the firm adopted the double trigger mechanism that allowed for manual rotation of cylinders, but this did not materially increase sales or prove to be a particularly successful design. At the same time Colt was pursuing Warner and the Springfield Arms Company, he was also pursuing the Massachusetts Arms Company. Colt won that suit as well and Mass Arms temporarily adopted the use of Dr. Edward Maynard’s automatic tape priming system in an attempt to circumvent Colt’s patent protections.
Colt’s revolver patent would plague Warner until its expiration in 1857, limiting the features that could be included in the revolving firearms that he produced both with Springfield Arms Company and on his own. As a result, most of Warner’s production, both handguns and rifles, had to have manually rotated cylinders to comply with the court order to cease producing revolving arms that violated the Colt patent. In 1857, with the expiration of the patent, Warner received a new one and started to produce a small frame, 6-shot percussion revolver that would be his most successful firearm. The initial variant or “1st Model” was a .28 caliber single action handgun with a 3” octagonal barrel. The revolver included safety notches machined on the rear edge of the cylinder which the hammer nose could be placed in for safe carry. This feature would appear on all of the Warner Pocket Revolver variations. Only about 500 of the “1st Model” revolvers were produced before the introduction of Warner’s “2nd Model” Pocket revolver. These guns were also single action percussion revolvers, but adopted a more streamlined round barrel, which was available in several lengths from 2 5/8” to 4”. The initial production or “2nd Model, 1st Variant” was also in .28 caliber. Again, only a few hundred were produced before a “2nd Variant” in .31 caliber was adopted. This final version would be produced through the late 1860s with at least 9,000 of the guns being manufactured.
Over the next few years Warner would receive several more patents, including one for a three-leaf rear sight (#37,782 2/24/63) and two related to the gun that Warner is most famous for, his breechloading metallic cartridge carbine. The two patents, #41,732 and #45,660 were both granted in 1864, on February 23 and December 27, respectively. The first patent covered the hinged breech block system and the second one covered the firing pin system. The design was well enough thought of by the US Ordnance Department to secure a contract for 1,500 of the guns, followed by another contract for 2,500. The second contract was delivered too late to see Civil War service but some of the deliveries from the initial contract made it into the field with the 3rd Massachusetts and 1st Wisconsin Cavalry.
At the conclusion of the Civil War, Warner attempted to move forward with the self-contained metallic cartridge designs. He introduced a cartridge version of his 2nd Model, 2nd Variant Pocket Revolver, but again ran afoul of a previously held patent. This time it was the Rollin White patent for the bored through cylinder, held by Smith & Wesson. As with the earlier Colt lawsuit, Warner lost and was forced to pay royalties to Smith & Wesson and to mark all revolvers on hand and produced after the conclusion of the suit with the Smith & Wesson patent. Only about 1,000 of those guns were produced, before the model was abandoned.
Offered here is a VERY FINE to NEAR EXCELLENT example of a scarce James Warner 2nd Model, 1st Variant Percussion Pocket Revolver. The revolver is a 6-shot, single action, .28 caliber handgun with a 3 1/8” round barrel. While most of the later production 2nd model revolvers have the “Warner’s Patent 1857” marking on the cylinder, this one is early enough to not have the mark, just as the 1st Model revolvers did not have it. The only external markings on the gun are one serial number and the topstrap, which reads:
JAMES WARNER . SPRINGFIELD, MASS U.S.A.
The single external serial number is 232 and is found under the barrel, concealed by the loading lever. The serial number is also found on the cylinder arbor pin, on the left side of the frame under the left grip, on the hammer, on the hand and inside the right grip. None of these numbers are visible without disassembling the gun. The cylinder has three roll-engraved decorative lines, consisting of a series of horizontal lines with a wavy line running through them. There are no other markings.
The revolver remains in VERY FINE to NEAR EXCELLENT condition and retains about 75%+ of the original bright blued finish. The barrel retains nearly all of the finish with some minor thinning and very light wear. The frame shows some moderate flaking, thinning and loss and retains about 30%+ with the areas of loss blending with a smooth, plum brown and gray patina. The cylinder retains about 75%+ of its bright blue, with the loss again due to flaking, thinning and light wear from use. In particular the cylinder does show a turn ring where the finish has worn. All markings and the engraved lines on the cylinder remain crisp and clear. The metal remains mostly smooth with some scattered oxidized surface roughness and some moderate pinpricking on the rear and front faces of the cylinder, on the hammer nose, in the hammer recess of the frame and along the edges of the topstrap. A few minor areas of surface roughness also appear here and there, with a couple of small spots on the barrel, under the loading lever. Some freckles of minor surface oxidation are scattered through the blue on the cylinder and barrel as well. The revolver remains in FINE mechanical condition and functions crisply and correctly on all positions. The bore of the revolver is in VERY FINE condition as well and is mostly bright with excellent 6-groove rifling. The original loading lever is in place and functions smoothly. The lever also locks securely into place when it is not in use with the ball detent latch functioning perfectly. The original rudimentary notch in the hammer nose that serves as a rear sight remains intact and the original brass cone front sight is in perfect condition as well. The varnished rosewood grips are in FINE condition as well and retain much of their original varnish with some moderate flaking loss. The grips are solid and complete and free of any breaks, cracks, or repairs. The grips do show some light handling marks and minor bumps, scuff and dings but are free of any damage or excessive wear.
Overall, this is an extremely attractive example of an early and fairly low production James Warner 2nd Model, 1stVariant Percussion Pocket Revolver. With only a few hundred of these transitional revolvers produced circa 1858, they do not appear on the market very often. This one is in a really fantastic state of preservation with the large majority of the original bright blue finish and retains clear markings and is mechanically excellent. This would be a wonderful addition to any advanced collection of high condition pocket revolvers and would certainly be a farily difficult gun to upgrade from.