Object Record

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Title Cased Pocket Revolver, .28 Caliber,
Massachusetts Arms Co.
Catalog Number CVHM-98.200 A-G
Description 98.200 A-G Description: Cased Massachusetts Arms Company Pocket Revolver With Accessories, ca. 1851. .28 caliber six-shot pistol has a 3" octagonal barrel with bore in good condition. Grips are walnut. Originally finished blue, only vestiges of blueing survive on trigger guard and barrel latch. Cylinder, frame, and cover plate are engraved with floral motifs. The top of frame is marked: "Mass. Arms Co. / Chicopee Falls". Cover plate on side is marked: "Maynard's Patent / Sept. 22, 1845". This is a rare Maynard Tape Primer ignition system hand gun. The charge in the cylinder is ignited by the hammer striking on a percussion cap on a continuous roll of paper caps, not unlike a child's modern cap pistol. A small star wheel inside advances the roll of caps each time the hammer is manually cocked. Original walnut case is lined with faded red velvet and has form fitting indentations to hold the revolver and the accompanying Massachusetts Arms Company stamped brass pistol powder flask. The accessories compartment contains a two cavity brass bullet mould, a Colt type steel nipple wrench, and a brass chamber rammer. There are four lead shot as well. The case is nicely made but the cover is slightly warped and does not fully close. The key is missing for the small key lock. Although the auctioneer's write-up asserts that the serial number is #238, no sign of that number can be found anywhere on the gun. Rather, the number "37" appears on the back of the cover plate to the tape coil chamber and on the frame beneath the cover as well. This is a rare and important hand gun; rare because of its unusual and short-lived experimental ignition system, and important because it was made locally.

This improvement in firearms was the invention of Edward Maynard who achieved his Patent in September of 1845. Instead of individual percussion caps, it depended upon a continuous roll of primer caps, not unlike a roll of child's paper caps, which were advanced by a steel finger or a star wheel, positioning the cap atop a nipple where the hammer's strike would ignite the fulminate and the charge in the chamber of the cylinder.

The Massachusetts Arms Company was organized in Chicopee Falls about 1849 by Joshua Stevens and others. Mr. Stevens in 1864 became interested with Asher Bartlett and William B. Fay, and started a new factory on the other side of the river, and in 1866 the site of the Massachusetts Arms Company became the property of the Chicopee Manufacturing Company again, and the property having risen in value between 1836 and 1866 from $5,500 to $55,000.

Ref.: Flayderman 7A-058

(NOTE: This record needs updating - add sources, and check the serial numbers, as several different ones are listed here. John Hamilton, former director of CVHM, noted that serial number 238 is on the frame, and serial number 37 (?) is inside the Maynard patent lock. The piece is currently on exhibition.)
pmj, 9/30/2015
Artist Massachusetts Arms CO., Chicopee Falls, MA
Object Name Revolver
Date ca.1851
Dimensions H-5 W-21.2 D-11.5 inches
Credit line Auction Purchase J.C. Devine, Inc.
Museum Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History
On Exhibit Yes, Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History