This is a VERY FINE example of an extremely scarce American percussion revolver with an interesting lineage. The Alsop Navy percussion revolver was produced in Middletown, CT owned by Joseph W. Alsop and was based on patents granted to Charles R. Alsop and Charles H. Alsop, Joseph’s sons. Charles R. Alsop was granted eight firearms related patents during his career, including four related to revolvers (2 in 1860, 1 in 1861 and 1 in 1862). Charles H. received only two firearms patents, one related to revolvers in 1861 and one for a breechloading firearm in 1868. At first glance, there are clearly some similarities between the Alsop family of revolvers (both the smaller .31 “Pocket” and the larger .36 “Navy” and the Savage Navy revolver. The guns of both makers have an awkwardly shaped grip, with very thin, oddly shaped grip panels and an odd hump or spur near the top of the backstrap. They also both have center-hung hammers that ignite the percussion cap through a hole in the top of the frame of the revolver. In fact all three of the gun makers in the Alsop family (Joseph W and sons Charles R. & Charles H.) were listed as members of the Savage Revolving Firearms corporation in the Savage incorporation papers, so it makes sense that some design similarities exist between the revolvers of the two firms. Approximately 500 Alsop “Navy” revolvers were produced, likely between 1862 and 1863. While most references indicate that the pistols were serial numbered from 1 up, it is more likely that they were numbered consecutively with the Alsop Pocket revolvers, as I have formerly sold a pocket revolver is numbered 758, and estimates place pocket model production at only 300 pieces! The Alsop revolvers featured a complicated and somewhat fragile single action lock work. The cylinder engaged a rotating plate at its rear that indexes the cylinder. This system is similar to the system used on some of the Allen & Wheelock side hammer revolvers. The Alsop firm only produced arms during the early 1860s, and Joseph, who owned the Middleton factory, sold the property and moved to New York at the conclusion of the Civil War.
This Alsop Navy percussion revolver is in VERY FINE overall condition. The revolver is extremely well marked throughout with the typical Alsop manufacturing marks and patent information. The top of the barrel is marked in two lines:
C.R. ALSOP MIDDLETOWN CONN.
PATENTED JULY 17th. AUGUST 7th 1860 MAY 14th 1862
The left side of the frame is marked in a single line below the hammer:
PATENTED JANY 21st 1862
The cylinder is marked in one of its flutes, in two lines:
C.H. ALSOP PATENTED
NOV 26th 1861
This particular Alsop Navy revolver is in VERY FINE condition overall. It is 100% correct, original and fully functional. The gun is .36 caliber (hence the “navy” moniker), with a five shot cylinder, and has a nominally 5 ““ octagonal barrel that actually measures 5 7/16”. The Alsop Navy revolvers were manufactured with barrels that ranged from a nominal 3 ““ to 6 ““ in length, in 1” increments. It was not uncommon for those dimensions to vary marginally, by as much +/- 1/8”. As with most 19th century percussion revolvers, the longer lengths are most desirable in a collection, and tend to bring premium prices. The revolver retains the original brass blade front sight at the end of the barrel, and the rear sight is a simple groove in the top strap of the revolver. The gun retains excellent, sharp edges and all of the markings are quite crisp and clear. The gun retains about 50%+ of its original blued finish overall, with the majority of the finish on the barrel and the cylinder. The barrel retains about 70%+ of its blue, with fading, wear and flanking from carry and use. There are also lightly scattered minor surface scratches in the finish as well, probably from carry and use. There is some light surface oxidation scattered within the finish, which presents as brown freckling. There is also some very lightly scattered pinpricking present, with some minor pitting around the muzzle. The bore of the pistol rates about VERY GOOD, and is mostly bright. It shows crisp rifling as well as some light to moderate pitting scattered along the length of the bore. The fluted cylinder retains about 60%+ of its original blued finish, which has also flaked and worn and has mixed with a smooth brownish gray patina. According to Flayderman’s Guide to Antique American Firearms the standard production Alsop Navy revolver had a round cylinder, and only the earliest production revolvers were manufactured with a fluted cylinder. The first 100 Alsop Navy revolvers featured a frame-mounted safety that was soon eliminated. As this gun has no safety, but does have a fluted cylinder, it represents a “transitional” model between the early “safety and fluted cylinder” model and the later “no safety, round cylinder model”. All of the original cones (nipples) are present in the cylinder, and they are in very good condition. The cone recesses of the cylinder show some moderate roughness and peppering, with scattered minor oxidation, all of which is the result of the caustic flash form the mercury based percussion caps of the era. The frame retains only traces of its original blued finish, and is mostly a smooth brownish-gray patina, with the grip frame and backstrap having a similar appearance. The frame is mostly smooth, and shows only some very lightly scattered pinpricking. The hammer retains 60%+ of the original vivid case coloring, most of which is present on the right side, and the loading lever retains only about 10%+ of its case coloring, with the majority of the lever having faded and to a silvery, pewter gray patina. The loading lever functions smoothly and locks into position crisply. The original grips are present and numbered to the gun. They are a lovely pair of dark walnut grip panels, and like the Savage grips, they are quite thin and prone to breakage. The grips are in about NEAR FINE condition. The grips are solid and complete with no breaks, cracks, chips or repairs noted. The grips retain good edges and have not been sanded, but do show some minor wear along the high edges of their sides. The grips show a light coat of added varnish, which is not objectionable, as the original finish was a similar varnish. This could probably be lightly cleaned with some denatured alcohol, which would make the added varnish less noticeable and remove it from the grip screw escutcheons as well. Otherwise the grips remain mostly smooth, with only a few minor bumps and dings present.
It is not often that you have the opportunity to own a revolver that is one of only 500 manufactured, during the height of the American Civil War. This is a very rarely encountered Civil War era revolver, which is missing from nearly all Civil War revolver collections, except the most advanced ones. When encountered they are almost never in this high state of condition. This example is particularly desirable in that it has one of the longer (5 “) barrel lengths and a fluted cylinder. This is simply a VERY FINE, original and unmolested example of a very scarce, secondary martial, percussion revolver that would be a fantastic addition to a very advanced collection of high grade Civil War handguns.SOLD