Cased 4th Model Tranter Revolver in the Civil War Serial Number Range
- Product Code: FHG-1487-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
This is a FINE condition, Tranter’s Patent 4th Model, single trigger percussion revolver. William Tranter was born in 1816 and died in 1890. He was one of the more prominent Gun, Rifle & Pistol Makers in the Birmingham trade, going into business in 1840 and continuing in the trade until 1885. He learned the trade working for Hollis Bros & Co (later Hollis & Sheath) and in 1840 bought the established gun making business of Robert Dugard at 29 “ Whitehall Street. Over the next decade he worked for himself and in joint ventures with his old employers John & Isaac Hollis as well as with Isaac Sheath. By 1850 he had located his primary business at 50 Loveday Street, where he was listed as having “shops, sheds, steam machinery, yard & premises”. Tranter secured his first British patent related to firearms in October of 1849 when he registered a “pepperbox mechanism and lever catch for pistol locks”. In January 1853 he registered British Patent Number 212 (1853) for a pair of “self cocking” pistol mechanisms and a safety mechanism. In December of the same year he registered designs for a double-action revolver mechanism, lubricated bullets and wadding, and a breech loading mechanism, all of which were covered by Patent Number 2921 (1853). In August of 1856 he registered the design for a “double trigger revolver mechanisms”, along with several other designs, all of which were covered by British Patent Number 1913 (1856). Tranter continued patenting firearm designs as late as 1887, after he had actually left the trade. Tranter’s most successful series of arms were his “self-cocking” revolvers, which were initially introduced in 1853. The revolvers utilized Robert Adams patent for a solid frame, and Tranter's own patented lock works. The original revolvers, known to collectors as 1st Model Tranter’s had no provision for a loading lever. The 2nd Model Tranter’s had a pin on the frame which allowed the attachment of a removable loading lever. The 3rd Model Tranter’s had a permanently attached loading lever. All of these models were based on his “double-trigger” system, which utilized a second “trigger” under the trigger guard to rotate the cylinder and cock the hammer. The trigger inside the triggerguard was used to trip the sear and release the hammer. The 4th Model Tranter revolvers (which were introduced in 1856) used a single trigger, and a more conventional double action lock work. All of these revolver patterns were produced in a variety of calibers, with 54-Bore (.442), 80-Bore (.387) and 120-Bore (.338) being the most common. Barrel lengths varied as well, with larger caliber arms typically having longer barrels. All of the guns were 5-shot percussion revolvers, and typically featured checkered walnut grips, although smooth wooden grips and other grip materials are known to have been used on a special order basis. The Tranter patent revolver was the primary competitor to the Adams and Adams-Beaumont patent revolvers in England, and was also exported widely. Pre-Civil War retailer marked Tranter revolvers are known with US retailer marks, indicating that his designs were at least somewhat successful in the United States. The majority of the retailer marked guns are from the south, with the large majority of them New Orleans retailer marked. The firm of Hyde & Goodrich (later Thomas, Griswold & Co) appears to have been the primary importer of Tranter Patent revolvers, based upon extant examples. Most of these retailer marked guns were sold cased, complete with accessories. During the course of the Civil War, it appears that the importation of Tranter revolvers was somewhat limited, at least in terms of Confederate central government purchases. However, period advertisements in the south and extant examples with southern provenance make it clear that the guns were imported as speculative items for sale in the south. Such famous Confederates as General John Hunt Morgan (3rd Model #3758T), General J.E.B. Stuart (4th Model #8673T), General John Magruder (5th Model “ unknown number “ see Albaugh) and Colonel Dabney H. Maury (3rd Model #7993T), who served on the staff of General Earl Van Dorn, all owned documented Tranter revolvers. The famous “Pratt Roll”, which lists the revolvers in the possession of Lt. Julian Pratt’s squad of troopers in Company H of the 18th Virginia Cavalry, lists two Tranter revolvers, with the serial numbers 15465 and 15476. The squad roll is from July of 1864. This indicates that Tranter revolvers in the mid 15,XXX serial number range were in use, in the field by that time. Other Tranter revolvers with southern provenance include guns in the 12,360-12,375 range, which are retailer marked by T.W. Radcliff of Columbia, SC. Additionally, a March 10, 1863 advertisement in the Richmond Times Dispatch for H. E. Nichols of Columbia, SC read in part:
Fine English Revolvers.
Just received from England, six Tranter’s fine revolving pistols, 80 and 120 bore.
Price $220 each.
All of this is evidence indicates that at least some of the Tranter revolvers produced during (as well as prior to) the Civil War, saw Confederate use. At least one Tranter that I previously owned was most likely imported by Schuyler, Hartley & Graham of New York. The gun was an engraved, nickel-plated 4th Model 54-Bore revolver with relief carved ivory grips. The gun was serial number 13619T. Dating Tranter revolvers based upon their serial numbers is somewhat problematic, as frames were sometime produced in advance and the guns completed at a later date. What we do know is that the “T” serial number suffix came into use around serial number 2200, sometime in 1854. From extant examples of Tranter’s with specific dates associated with them, it appears that those revolvers with serial numbers under 20,000 were produced prior to the end of 1865.
This particular 4th Model Tranter Revolver is in about FINE condition and is accompanied by an original Tranter oak casing and a variety of associated accessories and accoutrements. The revolver is not retailer marked, indicating that it may have been an exported gun. The right side of the revolver frame is clearly marked with the serial number No 13714T, and was probably produced in late 1861 or early 1862. The left side of the frame is clearly marked with Tranter’s oval maker mark, and reads in two lines: TRANTER’s / PATENT. This same mark is also found on the loading lever. The revolver retains about 70% of its original bright blue finish on the frame, and about 40% of the original finish on the 6” octagon barrel. The right barrel flat, which rested against the bottom of the case, shows the most finish loss. The rest of the finish loss on the barrel is mostly along the high points and sharp edges, with the bottom of the barrel and left flat (under the rammer) retaining the most finish. The barrel has a pair of crisp Birmingham commercial proof marks on the upper left flat. The color case hardened cylinder retains some light traces of the original case hardened finish, which has faded to a mottled gray patina and shows some light surface freckling. The cylinder retains all of its original cones (nipples), which are in fine, crisp condition. The cylinder shows the usual Birmingham commercial proofs between the chambers, which are typically encountered on Tranter revolvers. The double action lock work functions crisply and correctly in every way, and the revolver times, indexes and locks up exactly as it should. The Tranter’s Patent safety lever on the right side of the frame functions smoothly and locks the gun safely when engaged. The Tranter’s patent loading lever is in the white and has a medium pewter patina with some minor oxidized freckling present. The loading lever functions smoothly and works exactly as it should. The bore of the revolver is in VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE condition. It is mostly bright and retains crisp rifling. The bore does show some scattered light pitting along its length. The checkered walnut grips are in about FINE condition as well. The grips are solid and free of any breaks, cracks or repairs. The checkering remains crisp and sharp throughout, with only some minor handling marks and dings, and some very small areas of lightly flattened checkering points. The gun comes in a typical English oak case, which appears to be original to the gun. The case is in about GOOD+ to NEAR VERY GOOD condition and appears to have the original green felt lining. The case retains its original “Bible” hinges, but the locking mechanism, lock escutcheon and the presentation plaque from the top of the case are all missing. The case shows a significant number of bumps, dings, scrapes, and scars from handling and use over the years. The interior dividers appear to be original, and most are in stable condition, although a couple of them are loose, which is not uncommon with 150 year old revolver cases. The case contains a number of implements and accessories associated with the pistol. These include:-A brass, dual cavity, conical ball bullet mold, that is marked TRANTER’s / PATENT and 11937 on the side and 80 on the sprue cutter. The mold is in about EXCELLENT condition with crisp cavities that are bright and nearly perfect. The sprue cutter retains about 85%+ of its original blue, and the mold would cast wonderful bullets today. The mold displays wonderfully with the cased set, but is of the wrong caliber for the pistol, as it casts a pair of 80-Bore (.387) bullets.
-An attractive, bag shaped copper powder flask. The flask is unmarked and has an adjustable spout. The flask has a lovely, untouched patina, but the closure spring is broken.
-A partial tin of ELEY Brothers, LONDON percussion caps.
-A japanned tin of Tranter’s patent lube for bullets, that retains about 40% of its original lubricating contents. The lube is dried and quite solid. The tin retains a wonderful printed label on dark green paper.
-A pewter oil container which is maker marked on the bottom: JAMES DIXON / & SONS / SHEFFIELD, in VERY FINE condition.
-An ebony handled turnscrew (screwdriver).
-A rosewood cleaning rod with a brass jag end.
-A number of .44 caliber conical lead projectiles for the revolver.
The accessories are all in very nice condition and truly add to the overall look and appeal of this wonderful revolver. As with any cased set, it is nearly impossible to determine if the accessories that are currently in the case are original to the casing or not. They are, however, all of the correct style and period, and with the exception of the caliber of the mold, would all be correct for use with this gun.
If you are a collector of fine Civil War revolvers, especially those imported during the war, this would be a great addition to your collection. The gun is in wonderful condition and was almost certainly produced between 1861 and very early 1862. This would be a fantastic example of the one of the styles of Tranter revolvers that saw use with officers on both sides, as well as with at least some southern cavalry troopers. If you have been looking for a Tranter revolver in the right serial number range to have seen potential Civil War use and has no indications of having been an English retailed pistol, then this would be a great chance to get an example of the same model of Tranter owned by none other than J.E.B. Stuart himself!SOLD