CIVIL WAR Antique Eli WHITNEY NAVY .36 Revolver Solid Frame Revolver of Fordyce Beals Lineage
Guns International #: 101367850 Seller's Inventory #: 190613
Category: Civil War Revolvers - Whitney Revolvers
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CIVIL WAR Antique Eli WHITNEY NAVY .36 Revolver
Solid Frame Revolver of Fordyce Beals Lineage
Here we present an antique Whitney Navy Percussion Revolver, made circa 1861 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.
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-Beals 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 US government and by individual soldiers for use in the Civil War.
Whitney revolvers from this period of manufacture were each roll engraved on the cylinder, much like Colt and Manhattan’s revolvers among others. These cylinder scenes were lightly rolled, thus very few of the fine details of the scenes survive today. This one is an exception and has been mostly preserved. It features an eagle and a lion on either side of a federal shield with “WHITNEYVILLE” marked on the side of the shield. There is also a ship. All very delicately engraved.
The overall condition is very good. Iron parts are gray with age. The cylinder scene is mostly visible. The markings are clear. The numbers match. The walnut grips are in great shape. Strong bore with sharp rifling. The action is excellent. Here is a fantastic Civil War period Whitney Navy the likes of which officers on both sides of the conflict would have used!
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 7-3/4 inches.
Caliber: .36 percussion
Overall condition as seen in photos.
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