SAN FRANCISCO Antique A.J. PLATE Retailer HENRY DERINGER Percussion Pistol
1 of 964 Made for San Fran’s Most Famous 19th Century Arms Dealer
Here we present an antique Slotter & Company A. J. Plate Deringer Percussion Pistol, made circa 1858-60. Herman Adolph Joseph Plate was San Francisco’s most famous 19th Century arms dealer and secured his place in history when he lost a patent infringement lawsuit over the infamous Deringer pistol.
Henry Deringer founded his company in 1806 and invented what would become one of history’s most famous pistols. The Deringer was popular because it was lightweight and compact. To compensate for its single-shot capacity, users often carried a pair that sold for around $25 total, including a custom calibrated bullet mold. But, Henry Deringer neglected to patent his gun and before long there were copycats. While some imitators produced percussion pistols that were similar, one company, Slotter & Co., started by former Deringer employees, scrupulously copied every detail, including the A.J. Plate private label stamping that was made for Plate’s first purchase of 54 pairs of the Deringer pistol in 1858. Around 1860 Plate purchased an additional 428 pairs, most of which bore the Slotter’s A.J. Plate label.
The Civil War brought new technology to weapons and when sales of the Deringer pistol declined, Henry turned to the courts to defend his trademark. Suits were brought against several of the imitators, but it was his successful 1863-70 case against A. J. Plate that set patent infringement history. A District court awarded Deringer $1,770 in damages and issued a permanent injunction against Plate’s use of the Deringer trademark. On appeal the California supreme court upheld the verdict.
The name “Deringer” often invokes certain historical event, 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.
The overall condition is near fine. The action functions well, though the mainspring has lost a little tension. Engravings remain sharp. Very nice bore. Solid stock. A gorgeous example of a rare and storied pistol!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 1-3/8 inches
Caliber: .40 Percussion
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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