c1840s mfr. BROADWAY NYC ALLEN & THURBER .32 Cal PEPPERBOX Revolver Antique
J.G. Bolen NEW YORK RETAILER Marked
Here we present an antique Allen & Thurber Bar Hammer 6-shot Percussion Pepperbox pistol made circa the 1840s in Massachusetts and sold by J.G. Bolen in his shop at 104 Broadway in New York City. John George Bolen (1809-1888) was the son of a hardware entrepreneur who also had a shop on Broadway. John was an engraver, inventor, and gun shop owner. His shop was located across the street from Trinity Church and he lived on State Street in Brooklyn. His advertisements for this particular type of gun by Ethan Allen are excellent:
“LIFE AND PROPERTY PRESERVERS,
FOR HOUSEKEEPERS, TRAVELLERS, CAPTAINS, AND OTHERS,
PATENT SELF-COCKING & SELF-REVOLVING POCKET PISTOLS!!
The Greatest Modern Improvement in Fire-Arms!!!
This Pistol can be discharged at times with almost the rapidity of thought. The Pistol cocks; the barrel revolves and discharges, merely by pulling the trigger; not requiring to be cocked as the common Pistol, they can be fired the moment they are taken from the pocket with one hand only. They are no larger than an ordinary Pocket Pistol, and, weighting but 13 ounces, can be carried in the pocket without the least inconvenience. The locks and the whole Pistol are not so liable to get out of order as the common Pistol. Gentlemen are invited to call at the store of the Advertiser and examine the same, as their simplicity, perfect safety, and non-liability to get out of order, will certainly recommend them over all others. For Travellers, Housekeepers, Captains, and Planters, they are an Indispensable article, as persons, both male and female, can with this Pistol protect their lives and properties attached by several persons.”
Ethan Allen was already a prolific inventor and successful businessman in the 1830s when he came up with this design. This percussion, six-shot, double-action pocket revolver was a very popular pistol that was produced in Worcester, Massachusetts. It’s a 31-caliber pepperbox with a revolving screw off fluted barrel and has factory engravings in a floral motif executed on both sides of the frame. Made from 1847-1854, these pistols enjoyed even greater popularity than Sam Colt’s first pistol. The history that these pistols enjoyed over the years is astounding: the Seminole Wars, Gold Rush, Mexican War and American Civil War. Brigham Young himself carried one very similar to this example. These guns are true relics of American history. This early example of a double-action pistol must have been quite a selling point. As these were considered “point and shoot” short range defensive weapons or “belly guns”, the market did not seem to object to the limitation of not having sights.
The overall condition is very good. The action is excellent. The bores are smooth and dim. The grips show use. The right grip shows a stable vertical crack. Gray patina throughout. A rare example of the Ethan Allen revolver with this retailer’s marking!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 3-3/8 inches.
Caliber: .32 Percussion
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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