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Selling: September 15, 2013

Lot 1271: Moores Patent Firearms Co - Derringer

Sold for Moores Patent Firearms Co   - Derringer
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Magnificent Cased Nimschke Engraved Presentation Moore No. 1 Derringer Presented to Don Juan Bustamante During His Mission to New York City to Purchase Arms and Ammunition for Mexican President Benito Juarez in 1862
Estimated Price: $10,000 - $20,000
Serial #Moores Patent Firearms Co   - Derringer ManufacturerMoores Patent Firearms Co ModelDerringer
TypePistol Gauge41 RF Catalog Page125
Barrel2 1/2 Inch Irregular FinishBlue/gold GripMetal
Stock ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionAs one of the very finest Moore derringers known to exist, this derringer is deeply connected to the history of U.S.-Mexico relations during the second half of the 19th century. This exquisite presentation derringer was presented to Don Juan Bustamante during his mission to New York City to purchase arms and ammunition for the President of Mexico Benito Juarez in 1862. During his 1862 trip to the U.S. Bustamante purchased 600 rifles, 4,000 swords, 1,000 guns, 18,000 rounds of ammunition and 500 sacks of gunpowder. Angered over unpaid Mexican government debts that resulted from the Reform War, Spain, Britain and France sent a joint expeditionary force to seize the Veracruz Customs House in December 1861. France, however, had more ambitious plans, and both Spain and Britain withdrew from Mexico after learning that French Emperor Napoleon III intended to overthrow the Juarez government and establish a Second Mexican Empire. And so began the French intervention in Mexico in 1862. The arms and ammunition purchased by Bustamante was to supply Juarez supporters against the French. Although Bustamante's purchase of arms may seem small, this type of purchase in any quantity would have been unthinkable only a few years before 1862. In the 1840s the United States and Mexico were bitter enemies embattled in a war that ended with the U.S. conquering Mexico City and annexing nearly one-third of Mexico for compensation. But by the 1860s all of that appeared to have been forgotten. U.S.-Mexico relations were improving with Juarez having sent an envoy to Springfield, IL to meet with then-president-elect Abraham Lincoln to extend an "olive branch" from the Mexican government. (As a member of Congress, Lincoln was one of a few who opposed war with Mexico.) The U.S. government was sympathetic to the Juarez government and viewed the French invasion as a violation against the Monroe Doctrine, but was too distracted by its own Civil War to intervene in the conflict. After the American Civil War, Lincoln's successor, Andrew Johnson, provided military aid to Juarez supporters and imposed a naval blockade. Faced with U.S. opposition and a growing threat from Prussia, France withdrew from Mexico. The bright gold gilded frame on this historic derringer features a superb engraved pattern indicative of the renowned Master Engraver L.D. Nimschke. The frame features a floral scroll engraving on a matte background with a fierce eagle looking toward a winged serpent on the left side and "J. BUSTAMANTE" in a banner on the obverse. The screw heads are also engraved. The top of the barrel is stamped with the early Moore marking "D. MOORE PATENTED FEB. 19, 1861." The rear section of the barrel, which includes the lug, features a floral scroll engraving. The grip area of the frame is adorned with ornate checkered panels. As befits a presentation piece, the derringer is without a serial number. A very small number "611" is marked on the breech face of the frame. The extremely rare original walnut case is lined in red velvet and contains 8 antique .41 RF cartridges and a ramrod.

ConditionVery fine. The barrel has a crisp smooth dark brown patina showing traces of original blue finish in the protected areas. The frame retains 90% plus original gold finish with an excellent detailed engraving. The case is fine with a number of scratches on the lid and worn lining. The Bustamante Moore Derringer is the finest of its type ever offered by Rock Island Auction Company and will be the centerpiece of any derringer collection.
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