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Curio & Relic/Black Powder Curio & Relics and Black Powder Firearms, Old School shooting fun!

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  #1  
Old 09-09-2019, 10:08 AM
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Default Old English (Belgian manufactured) revolver.

This is an interesting revolver..
Thought I'd share a pic or two and some research, maybe an alternative to the discussion of FFL renewal and COE applications.
It is a Deane, Adams and Deane - (Yes, Deane with an "e" and used twice.)

This is one of the rarest and least often encountered variations of the M-1851 Self-Cocking Adams Patent Percussion Revolver, the Dragoon model, a .50 caliber hand cannon.
Robert Adams manufactured these exceptionally strong and powerful handguns under his solid frame revolver patent. In 1851 Adams was granted a patent for significant improvements to revolvers by patenting a unique design with the barrel and frame of the pistol were forged as a single piece.
This made the pistol incredibly strong and was a much stronger system than any of the other revolvers system then commonly in use, particularly those used by Colt which used a wedge to attach the barrel to the frame and had no top strap to reinforce the frame. Adams also received patents for a spring-loaded, frame mounted safety device and a spring based cylinder arbor latch.



The gun is clearly marked on the left side of the frame "ADAMS PATENT" and "12707." The cylinder is clearly marked with the same number: 12707.
While the number on the gun and side of the cylinder is a “serial number”, it is more importantly a way by which the numbered revolvers were tracked for the payment of patent royalties, such as this one manufactured in Belgium for sale in France.
In fact, other manufacturers that produced Adams pattern guns under license, were actually given specific serial number ranges to work within, as well as letter suffixes to more easily determine the manufacturer of the revolver.
While specific serial number records are not available for Adams revolvers like they are for Colt’s and Smith & Wesson’s, we can determine with some certainty that this revolver was probably produced between mid-1853 and mid-1854.



The revolvers produced and marketed by Deane, Adams and Deane in 1851 & 1852 included a reference to the fact that they had manufactured guns for royal family during that time frame and included as part of the barrel address Manufactures to HRH Prince Albert.



This revolver has a top-strap engraving that reads: "MANUFD BY A.F. LICENSED BY/ DEANE ADAMS & DEANE LONDON,".
A barrel address that read: Fni Le Page Moutier, Paris.
Le Page Moutier was an exceptionally high-end French Gun Smith and Gun Merchant.
Proofs: The Adams and its descendants in Europe spelled doom for Samuel Colt's European sales. This Adams patent revolver was manufactured by Auguste Francotte in Belgium as demonstrated by the Liege proofmarks and "crown/AF" markings.
Phony CSA marking: - 100% positive this is something some bright spark added in the 1960's or so - to try to spruce it up for his collection or sale.



Starting about the middle of 1854 Adams added a frame mounted loading lever of his own design, as well as a new frame mounted sliding safety on the right side of the frame. He also changed the cylinder arbor latch system. All of these items were patented as additional improvements to revolver design towards the end of 1854 and became standard features from that point on.
Since this revolver has only one of the 1854 improvements, it is fair to guess that the gun was manufactured in 1853 or early 1854.



Adams produced his self-cocking, or “double action”, revolvers in a wide array of calibers, but by early 1853, the standard calibers were 38 bore (.50 caliber), 54 bore (.442 caliber), 80 bore (.38 caliber) and 120 Bore (.31 caliber). The British method of stating caliber as a “bore” or “gauge” was based on how many round balls of that size could be cast from a single pound of lead, thus the lower the number, the larger the caliber, and vise versa. Of these various calibers the 54 bore and 120 bore revolvers are most common and the 38 Bore revolvers are the least common. This was truly one of the original large bore revolvers and would have been the side arm of choice if Dirty Harry had been a mid-1850’s English policeman!



Until recently it had been assumed that there was no Confederate connection between the large 38-bore (.50) Adams “Dragoon” revolvers and those gun purchased by the Confederacy during the Civil War.



The more commonly encountered 54-Bore (.442) Adams patent revolvers, primarily of the Beaumont-Adams design, are well known to have seen service in the South during the war. However, recent scholarship has uncovered that at least a handful of the .50 Adams revolvers were purchased and imported by the Confederacy and at least one dug example indicates that some made it into the field.
The .50 Adams Dragoon revolver is discussed in detail in the new book The English Connection on pages 217-219 and this exact revolver is pictured in detail on pages 218-219. According to documents in the National Archives, eight cased Adams M-1851 38-Bore “Dragoon” revolvers were included in the cargo of the ill fated blockade runner Elizabeth.
The Elizabeth was owned by John Fraser & Co and was captured on May 29, 1862 while trying to enter the port of Charleston, SC. Listed in the cargo manifest was a case of revolvers, marked A within a rhomboid, and the case contained “eight Deane, Adams & Deane 8 inch revolvers, in cases complete”.
The barrel length clearly indicates that these were the large bore, .50 revolvers and not the more common 54-bore guns. The pre-war barrel markings suggest that these guns were purchased from existing inventory in English gun shops, likely by arms speculators, rather than the Confederate central government purchasing agents. Further indication that these large bore revolvers saw use during the war is a dug example with a 7 ““ barrel that was recovered near Brandy Station by a relic hunter in the 1960’s. This dug example with its history and provenance recently sold from an Internet relic web site. Thus the period documentation, and at least one field recovered example indicates that the Confederacy did purchase at least a few of these massive revolvers and some of them did see use in the field.



The gun is mechanically excellent and functions perfectly, with the double action mechanism timing, indexing and locking up as well as the day it was manufactured.

The early Adam's used spigoted balls with a wad attached. The reason was, also as mentioned, due to the cylinder being oversized compared to the bore. In my case, the 80 bore cylinder (.390") is matched with a 90 bore barrel (.375"). Anybody reading this and wanting to test fire their Adamses, should be aware of this: Firing a full-sized ball (compard to the cylinder) in these revolvers may be extremely dangerous, as the load required to resize the ball in the forcing cone is close to a full cylinder, which may destroy the revolver! Therefore - do as the originals: Size the ball according to the bore, and add an oversized wad.



I have included a picture of the Adams with a Colt 1851 Navy in .36 caliber firing in single action only with a weakling open top frame. Sitting side-by-side they are about the same size, length, barrel length, the Adam being just 7 percent heavier 43 oz vs 40 oz, and 4 % longer overall.
BUT
The Adams shot are more than 2 1/2 times heavier than the Colt and a full load accounting for the 5/6 cylinders is more than twice the amount of lead and powder than the Colt - a big difference.
I would prefer the Adams firepower at close quarters such as a cavalry charge or ship boarding with adversaries just a few yards away.
The Colt's accuracy would become an advantage only at much longer range.




Pics: Shown with some props, a Lancers Pith Helmet, a Katar Indian Dagger a Victorian British Bandolier and Holster.



User remarks:
Captain Joshua Crosse of the 88th Regiment of Foot (Connaught Rangers) who used the largest calibre (.50.in) Adams revolver during the Crimean War (1854-56) wrote favourably about it to its inventor, Robert Adams, following the Battle of Inkerman (1854), in which he was wounded after being surrounded by Russians:

'I then found the advantages of your pistol over that of Colonel Colt's, for had I to cock before each shot I should have lost my life; but with yours, having only to pull the trigger, I was able to shoot four Russians, and therefore save my life. I should not have had time to cock, for they were too close to me, being only a few yards from me, so close that I was bayoneted through he thigh immediately after shooting the fourth man'.

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Last edited by pitfighter; 09-09-2019 at 12:03 PM..
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  #2  
Old 09-10-2019, 8:56 PM
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We don’t make many handguns as beautiful as that one these days.

Great photography, too!
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Old 09-10-2019, 9:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cato View Post
We donít make many handguns as beautiful as that one these days.

Great photography, too!
No, we certainly don't.

Thanks - JVJ
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:11 PM
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Never heard of or seen one of these, thanks for the write up with all the wonderful pictures and information. Beautiful gun! I wonder how reliable the self cocking mechanism was back in the day, with all the fouling from black powder. Luckily for the soldier in your Crimean War anecdote, it worked when he needed it.

I agree with your suspicion about the CSA mark. Look at the letters and how bright the metal is, inside the groves and depressions of those marks compared to the surrounding metal. It's actually lighter than the surrounding metal. Then compare to the original maker manufacturing and proof stamps. You can see in the original maker markings, the letters are dark from oxidation and patina, while the surrounding metal is much lighter from years of rubbing and cleaning and use. When you clean and wipe down the gun with oil, you don't really get into the depressions of the small markings. So why would the CSA stamping look so different from the other markings, especially if it was done fairly contemporary to the pistol's creation and when those markings were created


Do you have a picture of the wads? I'm having a hard time visualizing how the loading of an undersized ball worked. Was the ball wrapped in a cloth patch similar to rifles? Is that little trapdoor in the pistol grip for wad storage?
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Last edited by MajorSideburns; 09-10-2019 at 11:18 PM..
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Old 09-11-2019, 6:53 AM
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Hi Major Sideburns,

Yes, on the CSA marking - bright and filled with grease, but also the font and sharp edges don't match anything I've seen before, a modern addition no doubt.

Here is the whole post from the Firing Line on the DAO (double action only) action and Spiggoted DAD (Deane Adams and Deane) bullet that I lifted from:

As for the DAO mechanism - I think it definitively must have been as you mention. In fact, Adams himself patented what is now called a "hesitation lock", in which the hammer is raised by the trigger, but you may release the trigger and the hammer remains in place so that only a light pull of the trigger is enough to dischard the revolver. This was patented in 1854, but only a very small fraction of revolvers produced after this time has this feature added. So - and this taken from Taylorson's book as they did some really heavy research into the history of our guys - the market just does not seem to have been very interested in such an arrangement, but were more than satisfied with the DAO mechanism. ...Apparently, they needed more insight into the benefits of the single action mechanism of Colt in order to appreciate this.

The weight issue between Colts and Adamses is quite significant. This comes from the fact that Adamses have thinner barrels, narrower frames and pure wooden grips (no metal frames). Compared to Colts, you have a thicker barrel with the ramrod assembly, wider frames - with the large recoil/nipple shields, and a heavy brass or iron grip frame. My comparisons from the shooting range are, however, not entirely representative - as my Adams 1851 is in the rather unusual 80 bore, and has a somewhat lighter frame than the same 54 bore revolver. Still, its weight is only about half of my original 1851 Colt Navy (about 0.7kg compared to about 1.2kg).

Needless to say - with a long (but *very* smooth) trigger pull and tiny grip (compared to just about anything else), the Adams is rather difficult to shoot accurately with - especially compared to the Colt. At 25 yards, my best group with the Adams is about 10", while my best group with the Colt is 2". Still, I haven't been shooting them too much - so I guess much may be improved with better loads. In addition - the wadded spigoted round ball for the Adams is rarely completely centered on the wad which it pierces and is attached to (and is still attached to when it hits the target), so precision is a difficult proposition, at least compared to the Colt with its smooth single action trigger, steady balance and ROUND balls.

Another interesting fact of the (at least 1851) Adamses is the chamber and bore dimensions. As mentioned earlier in this thread, the early Adamses used spigoted balls with a wad attached. The reason was, also as mentioned, due to the cylinder being oversized compared to the bore. Anybody reading this and wanting to test fire their Adamses, should be aware of this: Firing a full-sized ball (compard to the cylinder) in these revolvers may be extremely dangerous, as the load required to resize the ball in the forcing cone is close to a full cylinder, which may destroy the revolver! Therefore - do as the originals: Size the ball according to the bore, and add an oversized wad.

My resolution to this was to duplicate the original moulds using a standard (Lee, actually - easier to drill in aluminum) .375 bullet mould matching the bore, with a .1" tapered spigot drilled about .2" into the block. When cast, this produces a rather strange-looking ball which may be attached to an over-sized wad and the remaining spigot hammered carefully into the wad (I use pre-cut and pre-greased .40" wool wads). The entire construction is then gently pushed finger tight into the cylinder and fired in a normal way. I guess the same approach could be used with appropriately sized moulds for 54 bore and 38 bore revolvers.

With this done properly, duplicating the early trials and competitions between Adams and Colt are extremely fun. I have arranged this a few times as "shoot your way through the 1850's"-kind of events, and people's reaction to shooting and comparing these revolvers continue all the remaining evening, even after returning from the shooting range - which one is better: Colt or Adams? It all depends on the use and situation - and probably your initial bias.

Even today, it seems difficult to decide on a winner. Colt is the favorite amongst western enthusiasts, while the Adams tends to get a number of votes from people with military background and those familiar with the history of the British Empire. Nevertheless, both groups find that neither gun is perfect - at least compared to their next experience - the double action Beamount-Adams, which even the most fanatic western fan must admit is an improvement - even over the Colt...

...And then we move to the pin-fire Lefaucheaux with its rather interesting (but dangerous) cartridges which some great guys in France (H&C) decided on making reloadable cartridges for: Excellent precision, fast reloads, but still a single action, and finally the tiny Smith&Wesson No.1... (before we move on into the next decade).

These were just some random experiences with Adamses. In my opinion, the combination of business and technology history, and the possibility to once again experience this history - evaluating for yourself how good or bad a solution actually was, is one of the most interesting and fun sides of firearms history and collection.


A picture from the same thread - not mine - but I did get the idea to show the two 1851 patented revolvers from this thread.
It shows a spigotted bullet -

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Old 09-12-2019, 3:16 PM
Mike Armstrong Mike Armstrong is offline
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Pitfighter, was the actual manufacturer (A.F.) perhaps Auguste Francotte? I have seen other British-patent handguns and rifles made by that maker and sold under Brit high-end brands.

Francotte is actually famous for his double shotguns. Once had a small Martini-action .300 Sherwood stalking rifle made by them and retailed by Rigby's store in Dublin.

Great posting; great handgun! THANKS!
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Old 09-12-2019, 4:29 PM
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Thanks for the excellent pictures of a seldom-seen revolver.
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Old 09-12-2019, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Armstrong View Post
Pitfighter, was the actual manufacturer (A.F.) perhaps Auguste Francotte?
Yes, it was - see text under third picture in the OP - I know its wordy, lol.

Hence the serial number being followed by the initials AF.

His factory was licensed to manufactured the revolver by Deane, Adams and Deane for Le Page in Paris.
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Old 09-13-2019, 6:37 AM
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Maybe one of these years, I'll learn to read, not just how to read....

Francotte is best known in the US for their Stoeger-imported "Knockabout" double shotguns, which are, in spite of their model name, as good as any US-made double, IMO. Before people figured that out they were a really great buy, some Americans passed them up as "just another cheap Belgian double".

Francotte's have long been a choice in Britain of many hunters who just can't quite afford a "bespoke London double." Including double rifles!

Compared to the SA Colt Navies common to British officers in the Crimea, your DA .50 would have been a real lifesaver, as the anecdote illustrates.
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Old 09-13-2019, 7:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Armstrong View Post
Maybe one of these years, I'll learn to read, not just how to read....

Francotte is best known in the US for their Stoeger-imported "Knockabout" double shotguns, which are, in spite of their model name, as good as any US-made double, IMO. Before people figured that out they were a really great buy, some Americans passed them up as "just another cheap Belgian double".

Francotte's have long been a choice in Britain of many hunters who just can't quite afford a "bespoke London double." Including double rifles!

Compared to the SA Colt Navies common to British officers in the Crimea, your DA .50 would have been a real lifesaver, as the anecdote illustrates.
Yes - there are very poor quality Belgian rip offs, and then there very fine quality Belgian arms made for Kings and heads of state.

The fact that this was produced for Le Page in Paris, defines the quality somewhat.

For someone who learned to shoot with an FN FAL variant and a Browning GP35 variant - I would be amiss to diss Belgian arms.
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