Cased Deane Harding Revolver - About Excellent
- Product Code: FHG-1497-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
This is an EXCELLENT example of one of the Deane Harding, percussion revolver, one of the less often-encountered English pistols of the mid-19th Century. The Deane Harding revolver was produced by the firm of Deane & Sons of London from 1858 through the late 1860’s and the demise of the age of percussion revolvers, and continued in production as a cartridge revolver until about 1873. During its production, the Deane Harding competed directly with the revolver designs of Adams, Tranter and Kerr. In the ever-sordid world of English gun makers, the relationship of Deane with other notables in the trade looks more like a soap opera than a normal series of business relationships. John Deane was one of Robert Adams original partners in the production of the famous Adams percussion revolver. The initial production guns were produced by their firm of Deane, Adams & Deane at Deane’s 30 King William Street shop. There they produced the 1851 Pattern Adams revolver as well as the later, improved Beaumont Adams revolvers. Adams was subsequently hired by the London Armory Company and the rights to produce his revolvers were purchased by the L.A. Co as well. At that time, LA Co also issued 125 shares of stock in their company to Deane as compensation for his portion of the now severed Deane-Adams partnership. Around 1857, Deane saw the Adams-London Armory relationship souring and sold his shares and went back into business for himself under the name of Deane & Sons. He retained his 30 King William Street shop and also hired James William Harding as his company manager and superintendent. Harding had recently patented a new revolver frame and loading lever, and together he and Deane started production of what became known as the Deane-Harding revolver. Harding’s patent was for a two-piece frame that hinged together via a hook shaped wedge at the lower end of the frame, forward of the cylinder. By removing the screw at the top rear of the frame that secured the safety to the right side of the frame, the barrel could then be depressed and the upper frame un-hooked from the lower frame. The break down system is nearly identical to that of a US M-1858 Starr Revolver, only without the hinge at the bottom of the frame. Harding had also patented a loading lever that was quite similar to the Colt style hinged loading lever, which mounted under the barrel. Deane primarily produced the guns in 54 Bore (.443 caliber), with the hope of obtaining military contracts. However, due primarily to some bad press, the revolver never became particularly popular and simply never gained the level of acceptance of the Adams and Tranter designs. At least one noted user of the revolver at the time, a Lord Roberts, noted in THE FIELD (an English firearms periodical of the time) that the gun “could always be depended upon to malfunction at a critical moment”. Such faint praise did not help Deane to compete with his much more established rivals. Deane was forced to find customers where he could and as such turned to the commercial trade to sell guns to anyone who would buy them. By the early 1860’s, as a cost saving measure, Deane had turned to the Birmingham trade to produce the guns for him at a lower cost to improve his profit margin.
The Deane-Hardingrevolver offered here is in EXCELLENT condition and is one of his early guns as it is London and not Birmingham proved. It retains its original casing, as well as several accessories. The top strap is engraved in three lines: DEANE & SON. / 30 KING WILLIAM STREET / LONDON BRIDGE.. The right side of the frame is engraved in one lone line: DEANE HARDING PATENT No 15262P. The same serial number is located on the cylinder as well. Their DH maker mark is also stamped in a number of locations, much like a military sub-inspectors mark. London proof marks appear on the barrel and cylinder. The gun functions perfectly, both as a single action and a double action revolver. It is mechanically excellent, which is actually rare for these guns, as their lockwork was prone to get out of adjustment. The lock work is based upon the Beaumont-Adams double-action lock work, but according to period commentary was even more fragile than the Adams version! The gun retains about 85%+ bright blued finish on the 6 1/8” barrel and frame and about 30%+ faded original blued finish on the 5-shot cylinder. The majority of the finish loss on the frame and barrel are along high edges and contact points, as would be expected. The loss on the cylinder is from heat and use, as well as from storage in the case. The remaining finish on the cylinder has blended with a pleasing plum brown and gray patina. The hammer and loading lever are both bright and appear to have been finished “in the white” originally. The loading lever is complete and original, and functions exactly as it should. The original frame mounted safety lever is in place on the upper right side of the frame and functions correctly. The safety is essentially an inverted version of the safety found on later model Tranter patent revolvers. The bore is in about FINE condition. It is mostly bright and retains crisp three-groove rifling, with scatter light pitting along its length, mostly in the grooves. The cones (nipples) are all present, and appear to be original to the period. One or two of the cones may be period replacements, as their shoulders are very slightly higher than the others and they show less wear. All of the cones show some flash pitting, a good indication that the revolver was fired a number of times at least, if not more. The original dovetail mounted front site blade is in place at the end of the barrel as well. The checkered walnut grips are in FINE+ to VERY FINE condition with no chips, breaks or cracks. They show only a couple of small areas where the checkering has any significant signs of wear or smoothing. The revolver is contained in a correct pattern, original English retailer’s casing and retains some of its original accoutrements. Included in the casing are a mold, flask, cone wrench and oil container, as well as several old lead conical balls. The mold is a dual cavity brass mold with a lovely, untouched bronze patina. The mold casts a pair of identical conical bullets with two grease grooves. The sprue cutter retains some of its original fire bluing and is marked 54, indicating that it casts 54-bore projectiles. The cavities are crisp and would cast fine bullets today. The powder flask is an unmarked brass powder flask that shows age and use. The flask may be original to the casing or may be a more recent addition. It appears to be 19th century, but without any maker marks it is difficult to determine for sure. The flask has an untouched patina on one side and dark black staining from powder and improper storage on the other side. This could probably be cleaned off, if so desired. The flask functions correctly and still contained old powder (now removed) when I acquired it. The cone wrench is the typical English style box end wrench with an ebony handle. It appears to be of the period and fits the cone shoulders of the revolver perfectly. The oiler is unmarked as well and is a lightweight affair that appears to be tin plate, although it is not ferrous. It may be plated copper or brass. It has the indications of age, but I cannot determine if it is period, nor can I determine if it is correct for the casing. It does, however, display well with the balance of the accessories.
Overall this is a really outstanding and complete example of one of the less often encountered English percussion revolvers of the Civil War era. These large frame, double action service caliber revolvers were just the type of handguns desperately needed by the under armed Confederacy and no doubt many of the Deane Harding revolvers that found such a dismal market in England were purchased and imported to the South where their reputation was not nearly as important as obtaining handguns was. While no official Confederate central government documents exist (to my knowledge) documenting the purchase of these revolvers, they were almost certainly acquired by speculative buyers, looking to sell arms at auction in the south. To the average soldier or ordnance officer of the period, these would have simply been referred to as Adams style revolvers as many would not have noticed that the guns did not have a solid frame like an Adams did. Or, with the Colt style lever, they may have been mistaken for Webley Wedge Frame revolvers, as they have a similar two-piece frame combined with the American-style loading lever. In case, there is no doubt in my mind that many of these revolvers ended up in Confederate hands during the course of the war. The fact that all of Deane-Harding revolvers that I have had the chance to own (and this is only my 3rd) were within less than 160 #’s of each other (ranging from 15105P to 15262P) is a strong indication to me that at least 100-200 of these guns reached southern shores. This revolver would have been equally at home in the holster of a Confederate officer or cavalry trooper and will look great with your collection of Civil War import or secondary martial revolvers.SOLD