Confederate Rigdon-Ansley Revolver

Our Price: sold

Confederate Rigdon-Ansley Revolver serial number 1786. Caliber 36. All serial numbers on this revolver are stamped with the correct small number dies. It is also to be noted that the number “1” is a broken die which became broken at pistol #1237, continuing to be used through the small-die run to Rigdon & Ansley pistol #1900, or thereabouts. This gun has cryptic “W” stamped on left front web of trigger bow. Gun appears all original with matching serial numbers “1786” that are found on barrel housing, latch, loading arm, frame, arbor, cylinder, backstrap, trigger guard and wedge. The grips are also serial numbered internally in the channel and have a “WH” (Wescom Hudgins) inspector’s cartouche. Top barrel flat is properly stamped “CSA”.

Sometime in late November or early December of 1862, the firm of Leech & Rigdon, then located in Columbus, Mississippi, contracted with the Confederate Government to manufacture percussion revolvers of the Colt patent design, though contract was not signed for 1500 guns until firm settled in Greensboro, GA. With Union troops threatening the Columbus area, Leech & Rigdon moved its operation (its third move) to Greensboro, Georgia, where they began turning out revolvers in March of 1863. Approximately 1000 revolvers were produced at Greensboro, before it was again necessary to move because of Yankee pressure in the area. The Leech & Rigdon partnership split up in January of 1864, and Rigdon took all the gun-making machinery with him, moved to Augusta, Georgia (the fourth and last move) forming a new partnership with Jesse Ansley. Rigdon & Ansley assumed the responsibility of completing the original Leech & Rigdon contract, by manufacturing the remaining 500 revolvers of that model, then going on with a new contract to furnish 1500 Rigdon & Ansley revolvers. While the Rigdon & Ansley revolvers were practically identical in design to the Leech & Rigdons, there were some changes made which were considered improvements at the time. The most obvious change was the addition of six (6) more cylinder stops on the Rigdon & Ansley, and the omission of the locking pins on the rear shoulders of the cylinder. This was thought to be a safety improvement in that it allowed the cylinder to be locked in place with the hammer resting between the percussion nipples. An additional change was the milling-out of a groove in the recoil shield, which now came to be called a “cap release groove”, which allowed spent percussion caps an easier exit from the frame, so that they were expelled via the groove at the right top side of the recoil shields as the cylinder rotated to the right in the firing and re-cocking procedure, after each round was fired. This “cap release groove” is found on this revolver along with the employment of a “Colt-type” loading lever latching assembly, rather than Leech & Rigdon ball and pin type catches. This is a pleasing example of Georgia made Rigdon & Ansley revolver with fine aesthetics, complete and original.

PROVENANCE: Ex-Clifford Young Collection, 1954; Ex-Fred Slaton Collection, 1960; Lifetime Collection of Dr. Zack Catterton.

Very good overall condition, matching throughout, all major parts original, the only discernible replacement is the wedge screw. Barrel retains tiny traces of original blue finish with balance plum/brown with scattered nicks, dings, scratches and pinprick pitting. Frame and loading assembly have matching plum/brown color with pitting. Cylinder has rougher surface than rest of gun, grey/brown color with pitting, old cleaning and file marks, worn ratcheting and stops; serial number is only partially discernible and may not actually match gun, though it does appear to be an original Rigdon cylinder with correct partial serial number dies. Front brass post sight is original. Brass trigger guard and backstrap have yellow to dark mustard patina. Grips are sound and well fit with thin traces of original varnish. Mechanically gun functions with well discerned rifling in bore.


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