Kerr Revolver Mold - LAC Marked - Very Scarce
- Product Code: FPTA-1629-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
This is a VERY GOOD example of a 54 Bore (.442) caliber dual cavity bullet mold for the London Armory Kerr Patent Revolver. The mold is clearly marked L.A.C on the left side of the mold block over the bore size 54. With the outbreak of the American Civil War, Caleb Huse (the South’s primary purchasing agent in England) engaged the London Armory Company to produce all of the Kerr’s Patent revolvers that they could, for delivery to the Confederacy. It is believed that nearly all of the L.A.C.’s output of Kerr revolvers that were produced from April of 1861 through the close of the Civil War were manufactured on contract for the Confederacy. Most records indicate that approximately 9,000 pistols produced and shipped to the south during that time. It is also estimated that the London Armoury Company produced about 70,000 Patter 1853 Enfield Rifle Muskets during the same time frame. The estimate regarding revolver production is born out by the extant examples with Confederate provenance or marks, which tend to exist in the 1,500 to about the 10,500 serial number range (although a handful of JS/Anchor marked examples below 1,500 are known). To date, at least three separate Confederate government contracts have been identified for the purchase of Kerr revolvers. Two were Confederate states army contracts, and one was a 1,000-gun contract for the Confederate Navy. The Naval contract was quite early; as a reference to the purchase of Kerr revolvers by CSN Commander James D. Bulloch was made in a diary entry by Confederate purchasing agent Major Edward Anderson dated August 6, 1861. Many of the army contract Kerr revolvers were financed through the Charleston, SC based firm of Fraser, Trenholm & Company and delivered by their subsidiary John Fraser & Company. A minimum of 3,160 Kerr revolvers were delivered directly to Confederate arsenals by Fraser. In addition to the three Confederate government contracts, an unknown number of Kerr’s Patent revolvers were acquired speculatively for sale privately and to the Confederate military once they reached the south. This may account for the number of Kerr revolvers that exist today with unquestionable Confederate provenance, but without the JS/ (ANCHOR) Confederate inspection mark. One of the standard indicators of CS importation and usage of a Kerr revolver is the presence of the enigmatic JS / (ANCHOR) that is often located on the front of the wooden grip of the pistols, below the grip frame tang. This is the inspection mark of John Southgate, who acted as a “viewer” (arms inspector) for the Confederacy. However, the absence of this mark is not necessarily an indication that the pistol was not a CS purchase. As the information above outlines that the majority of Kerr’s over serial number 1,500 and below 10,500 were produced on contract for the Confederacy. To date, the lowest numbered Kerr to bear the JS/(ANCHOR) inspection mark that I am aware of is in the lower third of the 7XX range, and the highest verifiable mark is just under 10,000. Over the years, a number of Kerr’s with spurious JS/(ANCHOR) marks have been noted, often found on guns that did not have them when they were first documented during the past 20-30 years, but had them “magically appear” over the course of time. The best concrete documentary evidence of how high the CS used serial numbers of Kerr revolvers ranged is the Squad Roll of Lt. Julian Pratt of Company H of the 18th Virginia Cavalry. This document lists the pistols in possession of his squad of cavalry in July of 1864. On the list are seven Kerr revolvers that range between #9240 and #9974. Since the Confederacy would continue to import Kerr pistols throughout the end of the war (the last documented shipment was 8 cases, or 160 guns, in March of 1865), it is not unreasonable to extrapolate CS purchases into about the 10,500 serial number range. It is interesting to note that three of the Kerr revolvers on the Pratt Roll are known to survive today, and revolver #9974 does not have a JS/Anchor mark. While very scarce today, a number of Kerr revolvers were imported with a complete set of accouterments and accessories that would have been included in a cased set. According to Payne Ledger, some 900 Kerr revolvers arrived at the port of Wilmington, NC on October 31, 1864. These guns also had the following accessories: “Spare Nipples & Cloth Bags, 900 Powder Flasks, 900 Cleaning Rods, 450 Steel Nipple Keys, 180 Bullet Moulds, 180 Mainsprings, 180 Trigger Springs, 90,000 Skin Cartridges, 108,000 Percussion Caps”. The guns were delivered by the blockade-runner Hope, and were part of the consignment purchased through John Fraser & Company. Five hundred of the guns and their associated accouterments were subsequently delivered the Selma Arsenal, and the other four hundred and their accessories were delivered to the Richmond Arsenal. The presence of accessories like cleaning rods, powder flasks, cloth bags and the combination gun tools (“steel nipple keys”), suggest that the guns were purchased as cased sets, and were subsequently repacked into the standard 20 guns per box lead lined cases that most Kerr revolvers were delivered to the Confederacy in. The powder flasks and cloth bags were certainly of limited utility for guns that were intended to be used with “skin cartridges”. Bullet molds were typically delivered to the Confederacy at a ratio of 1 for every 20 long arms, but in this case they were delivered at the ratio of 1 for every 5 pistols. The cleaning rods would certainly have been useful in the field, but this is the only report I can find of cleaning rods being purchased by the Confederacy for use with revolvers. All of this suggests that these accessories originated in cased Kerr revolver sets. It seems quite likely that additional cased sets were acquired on a speculative basis for delivery to the south as well. Today all of these Kerr revolver accessories are extremely rare, most especially the special Kerr revolver combination gun tool & cone (nipple) wrench, of which I have only ever seen one example in person. With the conclusion of the American Civil War, the London Armoury Company quickly succumbed to the loss of its largest, and only, major customer. The company closed exactly one year after the end of the American Civil War, in April of 1866, and it believed that the remaining factory assets and machinery were sold to a gun making company in Spain the following year. Kerr himself did remain in business for some time after this, and assembled and sold Kerr revolvers from the existing stock of parts. This accounts for the post 11,000 serial numbered pistols occasionally encountered “ usually in relatively nice condition. On a side note, collectors and researchers have long debated the correct pronunciation for James Kerr’s last name. According to Val Forgett Jr. -gun collector, researcher and current owner of Navy Arms, his extensive research indicates that even the British disagree about the pronunciation, but the most correct pronunciation would almost certainly be KARR, while the next most common pronunciation would be KARE. The Americanized pronunciation is CUR.
This Kerr Revolver Mold is in VERY GOOD condition. The brass mold is 6 ““ in overall length, including the sprue cutter extension. The mold is clearly marked on the left side of the block, with the initials L.A.C over the caliber mark 54. The bottom of the sprue cutter and the mold block hinge pin are both marked with the assembly number 7. The mold block contains a pair of solid base, conical bullet cavities with two grease rings. The cavities are a nominal .446” at the widest parts and .441 (54-bore) at the grease grooves. The cavities cast a .673” long bullet. The cavities are in EXCELLENT condition and remain bright and crisp with no damage or wear noted. The mold indexes perfectly and would cast wonderful bullets today. The exterior of the brass mold has a lovely, untouched deep bronze patina that is very attractive. The arms of the mold somewhat bent and distorted, with the left arm slightly lower than the right arm. This has also slightly moved the mold block, so the very rear of the mold does not line up perfectly, but the movement is so minimal is barely been seen and really has to be felt by running your finger over the tiny gap. The balance of the mold block remains crisp, with the exception of some lightly scattered impact marks on the sides of the mold, and a small number of similar impact marks on bottom of the mold, almost as if the mold had been used to knock the wedge from a Colt revolver on a regular basis The iron sprue cutter is in VERY GOOD condition and retains about 20% of its original blued finish, which has faded and aged, and blended with a deep, dark, plum brown patina. The upper edge of the "curl" on the cutter's end is slightly damaged and shows some impact marks. There is some lightly scattered oxidized freckling present on the sprue cutter as well. The sprue cutter works perfectly and functions smoothly.
Overall this is a really lovely, completely untouched and well marked example of a 54-Bore Kerr revolver mold that saw real world use but remains in a very nice state of preservation. London Armoury Company marked molds are exceptionally rare on their own and marked Kerr molds are almost never encountered. This would be a fantastic addition to any collection of Civil War bullet molds, or as an item to display with your Kerr revolver.SOLD