Unique Period Copy of the Famous Deringer Pistol c1850s Set Trigger Silver
Large Bore Single Shot Close Range Pistol
Here we present an antique Period Copy of a Deringer Pistol, made circa the 1850s. 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, some 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 warned the buying public to beware of his spurious imitators.
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 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.
Here is what Charles Edwin Chapel had to say about the Deringer pistol:
“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.”
This piece is a well-made copy. It is larger than most, with about a .48 caliber bore. The overall length is 8 ½ inches. Unlike the smaller ones, this one fills the hand pretty well. This one is also outfitted with a cap trap in the pommel. The hardware is silver or silver-plated rather than German silver, which is typical of genuine Deringer pistols and of a different color. The engravings and maker’s markings on this piece are very similar though the “P” on the left side of the barrel is of a different style. This one also has a single set trigger, which is a unique feature on a pistol of this size and use.
The overall condition is very good. The action remains strong. The trigger drops the hammer just fine without being set. The set trigger would need some adjustment to function correctly. The hammer spur has been repaired. The hammer cap screw is a replacement. The bore is patinated and mostly smooth. The “rifling” is just for appearances on the muzzle of the barrel and very quickly goes away. The stock is solid. A unique take on the famous Deringer pistol!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 4 inches.
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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