Manhattan Fire Arms
Calibre 36 cap and ball
Double action only
Cylinder engraved with Indians attack.
Model Pocket (1860)
Cap and ball calibre 31, 5 shots
Engraved cylinder with Indian assault of a pioneer car
Manhattan 1859, easily identified by its 12 cylinder locking notches. 78,000 manfucatured in either 5 or 6 shot, caliber .36 caps&ball.
This is a civilian weapon, since the Manhattan was never officially contracted by the Ordnance Department for the delivery of Navy-type revolvers.
The one pictured below is of the first type.
I have pleasure in presenting some pictures of the gun I bought this morning.
However there is a close resemblance, this is not a Smith & Wesson First Model 2n Issue. It is a copy, manufactured by the Manhattan Firearms Mfg Company of New-York, that has been producing numerous copies of S&W and Colt revolvers, with or without license. The quality of these arms is comparable to that of the originals.
This revolver is a "tip-up" type, with hinged barrel.
The cylinder has 7 chambers, caliber .22 short.
Spur trigger, single-action only.
Solid silver blade front sight.
Brass frame showing remains of the original silver plating. The barrel and cylinder were originally blued, the hammer and trigger case-hardened. The gun is entirely factory engraved, with volutes in the classical American style. On the cylinder is a "Settlers fighting Indians" scene.
Serial number 4316 is stamped on the rear of the barrel lug, the rear of the cylinder and on the right side of the grip frame, under the grip.
Grips are of plain varnished rosewood.
This is a luxury civilian weapon.
Unlike the Smith & Wesson, the cylinder locking cam is not on top of the frame, ahead of the hammer; it is in the bottom of the frame, in front of the trigger. Also, the cylinder has 12 locking notches instead of 6, the intermediary notches being the safety position. The notches are at the front of the cylinder instead of the rear.
This cylinder locking system is better than the S&W one, on which the cylinder locking is activated by the hammer head hitting the cam when it falls down, which causes easily the cam to break.
There is no halfcock position, nor loading aperture on the revolver. The cylinder has to be removed for loading, which is not really a handicap on a civilian pocket weapon.
The revolver is in excellent original condition and works perfectly.
Underside barrel: Patented Dec 27, 1859
The patent mention refers to the 12 stop cylinder (patent n° 26641 granted on Dec 27, 1859 to Augustus Rebetey, a Swiss Manhattan employee).
This revolver is a clear infringement on the Rollin White patent for bored-through cylinders, that had been acquired by Smith & Wesson. However, the Manhattan's sales agent, Herman Boker of New-York, was convinced that the White patent was a sham because of the many and varied European models which pre-dated it. This did not restrain White's lawyers from sueing Boker to stop the sale and manufacture of the pistols. Why White did not sue Manhattan directly is not entirely clear (Manhattan shared office space with Boker). But boker had a lot of money, and Manhattan did not.
The "stop order" was issued October 31, 1862 by Chief of Justice Roger B. Taney. No Manhattan pistols are known to carry the mention "Made for Smith & Wesson" as many other makers were forced to do.
8,000 were made between June, 1861 and October, 1862.
(Additional information given by Mr Jackson Tittle, an US fellow collector and correspondent).
5-shot, .36 caliber percussion revolver. Resembles closely the Colt Navy 1851, but, like all Manhattan, it features a 12-stop cylinder (here 10-stop). The extra stops between the nipples are safety notches. Manufactured by the Manhattan Fire Arms Co, Newark NJ; 78,000 were made between 1859 and 1868. There are 5 model variations, hard to differentiate. The revolver was available either with a 6-shot, or a 5-shot cylinder.
The 1st model is serial numbered from 1 to 4200, the 2nd from 4201 to 14500, the 3rd from 14501 to 45200, the 4th from 45201 to 69200. The
fifth model has only the 6-shot cylinder and is numbered from 1 to 9000. Its serial# 35XXX places this one among the 3rd models.
Good general condition, all parts original, action works perfectly. Gray patina all-over, cylinder scene and patent markings half gone, barrel markings well legible.
The Manhattan Co made high quality weapons but never obtained any military contracts. The Manhattan Co managed to take a respectable part of the market with 78,000 revolvers sold over 9 years.
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