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Auction Date: September 10, 2017

Lot 3093: Ames Contract Model 1842 Percussion Navy Pistol

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A) U.S.N. Ames Contract Model 1842 Percussion Navy Pistol
Estimated Price: $45,000 - $55,000
Item Views 1065 Bid Activity Average
Serial #Ames Contract Model 1842 Percussion Navy Pistol ManufacturerAmes N P Pistols Model1842
TypePistol Gauge54 Percussion Catalog Page56
Barrel6 Inch Round FinishBrown/casehardened/silver Grip
Stockwalnut ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionManufactured by N.P. Ames of Springfield, Massachusetts, and Henry Derringer of Philadelphia circa 1842 to 1847, these pistols are also known as the Model 1842 or Navy Box Lock Model with an estimated 2,000 pistols manufactured in all. The Model 1842 was the first U.S. martial percussion pistol produced under contract for the government. Ames delivered 300 of these pistols to the government before the contract was signed. These two pistols were part of the first 300 Ames delivered in 1842. The very early production examples, such as these two pistols, featured a raised lock plate with a beveled edge along the front and a high rounded shape at the rear which terminated in a point. The lock plates are marked "U.S.N./1842" vertically at the rear and "N.P. AMES/SPRINGFIELD/MASS" in the center. The barrel tang is also dated "1842", and the left rear of the barrel is stamped "U.S.N./JCB" above a circled "P." The grip is slender and a bit longer than the later production pistols. These pistols also have features that make them presentation models, or pistols intended for someone outside the standard government contract. These features include the silver plated brass butt cap, trigger guard, and front barrel band and a walnut stock without an inspection cartouche. The pistols are fitted in a walnut case and contain several accessories including two double face eagle brass flasks, a triangular shaped combination tool, and two cap tins. Although these pistols lack a presentation engraving, the silver plating and the lack of stock inspection marks are features that indicate that these pistols were intended for some one of importance. These pistols were purportedly the personal property of a War of 1812 U.S. naval officer, George C. Reed. Born in Glastonbury, Connecticut, in 1788, George C. Reed joined the United States Navy as a midshipman at the age of 16 and joined the crew of the USS Constitution under the command of his uncle, Capt. Hugh G. Campbell, in 1806. Promoted in Lieutenant after 6 years of service, Reed was still aboard the USS Constitution during the War of 1812 when the ship defeated the British warship HMS Guerriere on August 19, 1812. Reed boarded the British vessel to accept her surrender. On October 25, 1812, Reed, now aboard the USS United States under the command of Commodore Stephen Decatur, participated in the defeat of the British warship HMS Macedonian. The Naval History & Heritage Command website confirms that Reed was an officer aboard the United States when the ship saw action with the Macedonian. During the Algerian War of 1815, Reed commanded the USS Chippewa and was later promoted to Commander, serving in the Mediterranean and off the coast of Africa before he was promoted to Captain in 1825 to take command of the USS Constitution. In the late 1830s he participated in actions against pirates and raiders preying on American shipping to India and commanded the Second Sumatran Expedition, a punitive expedition by the U.S. Navy against inhabitants of the island of Sumatra in response to the massacre of the crew aboard the American merchant ship Eclipse. He commanded the Philadelphia Naval School from 1839-1846, commanded the African Squadron from 1846-1847 and the Mediterranean Squadron from 1847-1849. Reed was promoted to Rear Admiral in July 1862 but died one month later.

ConditionVery fine. The barrel and tang retain 30% original brown finish in protected areas with a mottled gray patina on the balance. Limited minor pitting is present near the bolster and muzzle. The hammer and lock plate retain 20% original case colors. The brass fittings retain 95% original silver plating. The stock is excellent showing a minor gouge on the grip and some scattered minor pressure dents with most of the oil finish remaining and crisp edges. The case is very good with minor warpage on the lid and a number of minor handling/storage marks with the velvet lining showing high spot wear. A unique pair of U.S. Navy Ames Model 1842 pistols that would make for a perfect addition to an advanced antique martial collection.
B) U.S.N. Ames Contract Model 1842 Percussion Navy Pistol
Serial #Ames N P Pistols 1842 Pistol 54 percussion ManufacturerAmes N P Pistols Model1842
TypePistol Gauge54 Percussion Catalog Page57
Barrel6 Inch Round FinishBlue/casehardened/silver Grip
Stockwalnut ClassAntique RatingSee Condition
DescriptionAs described in "A."

ConditionVery fine. The barrel and tang retain 40% original brown finish with a smooth gray patina on the balance. The hammer and lock plate retain traces of original case colors. The brass fittings retain 95% original silver plating. The stock is excellent showing a few minor pressure dents with most of the oil finish remaining and crisp edges.
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