CIVIL WAR Era Antique WHITNEY ARMS .36 Percussion “NAVY” Revolver WILD WEST
Fourth Most Purchased Handgun in the CIVIL WAR
Here we present an antique Whitney Arms Company Navy Percussion Revolver, made circa 1860 in New Haven, Connecticut. Eli Whitney Sr. established his Whitneyville Armory in1798 and produced firearms (among other things) by contract for the young U.S. government. Just prior to this, in 1793, Whitney invented the mechanical cotton gin, which dramatically changed the economic landscape in the U.S., namely in the South. While his invention was a labor-saving device, making the processing of harvested cotton extremely efficient and requiring fewer laborers, his machine caused the market for cotton to explode and more laborers were needed to plant, grow and harvest the crop. This resulted in a corresponding boom in the Southern slave trade. Great fortunes were created, and the population of the South became such that one in three Southerners were slaves. All this provided the fuel that would become the raze that was the American Civil War. Despite its formal name involving “Navy”, the Whitney Arms Navy Revolver received the generic name from the Colt standard for .36 caliber revolvers evolving from the original Colt Model 1851 Navy.
Eli Whitney died in 1825, and his son, Eli Whitney Jr., began running the family business in 1841. Whitney Jr. seized the opportunity in 1847 to manufacture 1,000 of Samuel Colt’s latest revolver, the Colt Walker revolver. Production of this revolver helped both parties immensely as it kept Colt in business, and it allowed Whitney Jr. to tool up and gain experience making revolvers. With the expiration of Colt’s patents in 1857, Whitney began production of percussion revolvers based on Colt’s patents, some of them very closely copied.
The Whitney Navy Revolver came about when Fordyce Beals—later of Remington-Beal fame—came to work for the company. He was the primary designer, which was indeed why the Remington-Beals Navy and Army Revolvers came to look so much like the Whitney. The Whitney has the distinction of being one of the first successful solid framed revolvers. As their production began before the war in about 1857, both the Union and the Confederacy utilized them in the American Civil War. One very notable character known to have used the Whitney Navy was Confederate Cavalry General J.E.B. Stuart. Many of these were purchased by the U.S. government and by individual soldiers for use in the Civil War.
The overall condition is very good. Original brown patina. The action is strong. Bright bore. Both grips are in good shape. Markings are legible. Numbers match. Remnants of the cylinder scene are light, but visible.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 7-1/2 inches.
Caliber: .36 percussion
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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