CURRY of SAN FRANCISCO Antique HENRY DERINGER Percussion Pistol
CURRY Marked HIDEOUT Pistol, Turbulent Mining Town
Here we present an antique Henry Deringer Percussion Pistol, made circa 1863 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is marked on the barrel with the San Francisco retailer “N. Curry & Bro/San Franco Cala”. In 1863, Nathaniel and John Curry inherited their brother Charles’s business upon his death, placing this example with a production date of circa 1863. Curry was a large distributor of legitimate “Deringers” and a former citizen of Philadelphia as well.
Henry Deringer was a very successful Pennsylvanian gunsmith who started his own company in his early twenties, circa 1809. It was not until the 1850s that his prototypical “Deringer” percussion pistol became extremely popular. Once it did become popular, the basic design was copied in dozens of different shops. Not only was it copied, but Deringer’s good name was stamped on guns made by others, many of them not up to the quality standards of Deringer himself. The inventor was apparently very worried about protecting his good name, so he pursued and sued any of the counterfeiters that he could find and tried to warn the buying public to beware of his spurious imitators.
The name “Deringer” often invokes certain historical events, characters or moments in film. Deringer’s name has become both a noun and a catch-all term. President Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed with one of Henry Deringer’s pocket sized percussion pistols, the night John Wilkes Booth revenged the South at the Ford Theater. They conjure images of the California Gold Rush, as well as riverboat gamblers. These pistols were very practical for the time, being small and concealable and of large bore size. Charles Edward Chapel had this to say about the Deringer, especially regarding their use in San Francisco during the gold-mining rush in the 1850s and the decade following:
“For a man in a tight spot, with an armed enemy only a few feet away, a pair of single-shot Deringer pistols was more effective than the multishot pepperbox. You either got your man at the first or second shot—if, indeed, you were given the chance to fire twice—or you got a fast funeral. That heavy-calibered little gun was a man-stopper at short range, an effective surprise weapon, an “equalizer” with which many a gold-camp David permanently tamed the muscle-bulging, belligerent Goliaths of the frontier. Included in a man’s personal arsenal, the pistol was carried either as a principal weapon or as a reserve to be used when revolver, pepperbox or Bowie knife failed.”
The overall condition is near fine. Strong action. The bore is in great shape. Solid stock. Sharp engravings and clear markings. Here is an original Henry Deringer Pistol, sent to wild San Francisco in the 1860s.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 1-5/8 inches.
Caliber: .40 Percussion
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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