Rock Island Auction Company
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Lot 1182: Cased Pair of Nimschke Engraved Plant Front Loading Revolvers

Auction Date: September 11, 2021

Historic Presentation Cased Pair of L.D. Nimschke Engraved, Gold & Silver Plated Plant's Mfg. Co. Front Loading Revolvers with Accessories

Estimated Price: $27,500 - $45,000

A) Engraved Plant Revolver

Manufacturer: Plant’s Manufacturing Co
Model: Army
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 42 cup-primed
Barrel: 4 3/4 inch solid rib
Finish: silver/gold
Grip: antique ivory
Stock:
Item Views: 788
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 137
Class: Antique
Description:

This is a beautiful historic presentation cased and engraved pair of Plant's Mfg. Co. revolvers inscribed to Edward Elias Bradley (1845-1917). The case plaque has the years "1816" and "1868" on the right and left edges respectively and "Lieut Col E E Bradley/From his former Command/THE/NEW HAVEN GRAYS/June 26th, 1868" in Gothic script at center accented by some scroll designs. The right side of the barrels are also inscribed "LIEUT COL E. E. BRADLEY", the right side of the frames at the breech have "NHG" monograms (New Haven Grays), and "1868" is inscribed on the butts. "2nd Regt, C.N.G." is on one of the forearms on the left. 1816 represents the official creation of the New Haven Grays to protect the city of New Haven from unrest, and 1868 represents the year of Bradley's promotion to lieutenant colonel of the Connecticut National Guard 2nd Regiment. Bradley enlisted in the New Haven Grays in 1861 and was promoted to corporal in 1862. He became a lieutenant in F Company of the 2nd Regiment of the Connecticut National Guard in 1863, a captain in the same unit in 1865, and became a lieutenant colonel of the regiment in 1868. He was promoted further to colonel in the 2nd Regiment from 1869. In 1877, he was appointed as paymaster general with the rank of a brigadier general, and finally, in 1894, he was appointed as adjutant general. A portrait dated December 1894 of him in the later position is included. Bradley also held important positions in multiple leading businesses and civic organizations and could trace his ancestry back to an officer in Oliver Cromwell's army who moved to the colonies in 1644. The New Haven Grays were one of the first units called up during the Civil War and were initially enlisted for 90 days as part of the 2nd Connecticut Infantry; their short enlistment period reflects the naively optimistic assumption that the war would be quick and decisive. The Grays fought at the First Battle of Bull Run, the first major battle of the conflict. U.S. officials in Washington were so confident of a quick Union victory that many actually brought their families to the surrounding hills to watch the battle. The New Haven Grays played an important role during the battle. When the main Union forces began to collapse leaving the roads to Washington open during what started out as an orderly retreat, the Grays remained calm and organized. They used well-disciplined cover fire and "leap frog" maneuvers as they pulled back causing Confederate officers to assume they were still facing a larger force of well-trained men leading them to call off their attacks. The unit went on to fight in 19 other engagements including the infamous carnage at Gettysburg. During the war, the Grays produced 61 commissioned officers, including 3 generals and 11 field officers. Monuments in their honor stand on the battlefield today as testaments to their valor and exploits. A wall in the Gray’s Room in the West Haven Museum lists the 23 members of the unit that died during the war, and several streets in New Haven are named after Civil War Grays, including Bradley. Less than 20,000 of these revolvers were manufactured by the Eagle Manufacturing Company in New York City in the 1860s in several variations for New Haven based Plant's Mfg. Co. The vast majority of them were plain. They used cup-primed cartridges that load into the front of the cylinder instead of through the rear in order to work around Rollin White's patent for bored through cylinders. This pair is based on the Army Model but has shorter barrels. They have Type II, light frames. Only around 1,200 light frame revolvers are believed to have been manufactured. They also feature silver plating on both the barrels and frames, and gold plated remaining parts. 75% plus of the metal surfaces display attractive New York style scrollwork and punch dot engraving patterns. Similar design work can be found in L.D. Nimschke's work as seen in R.L. Wilson's book "L.D. Nimschke: Firearms Engraver" (page 4). The scrollwork is indicative of work Nimschke did for a Merwin & Bray revolver. The standard patent markings are on the cylinders, and the barrel ribs are marked with "MERWIN & BRAY NEW-YORK." The case has an English fitted, wine colored interior and contains: a cleaning rod, powder flask with crossed revolvers over an bald eagle on both sides, glass oil bottle, Eley cap tin, and the lid of a box of for ammunition for "EAGLE ARMS CO.'S PATENT REVOLVER,/By American Metallic Ammunition Company,/MERWIN & BRAY AGENTS."

Rating Definition:

Very fine. These revolvers have likely never been shot and still retain original gold plating within the chambers. The barrel and frame of retain 95% plus of the original silver plating which has taken on slight aged patina. The gold remains 80% complete. There is some light flaking throughout. The engraving patterns, inscription, and markings remain distinct. The grips are also very fine and have attractive natural tones and some superficial tension and age cracks. The action functions fine.



B) Engraved Plant Revolver

Manufacturer: Plant’s Manufacturing Co
Model: Army
Type: Pistol
Gauge: 42 cup-primed
Barrel: 5 inch solid rib
Finish: silver/gold
Grip: antique ivory
Stock:
Item Views: 788
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 137
Class: Antique
Description:

See A.

Rating Definition:

Very fine. 95% or the original silver and 60% of the original gold plating remains. There is some light flaking throughout and moderate flaking on the cylinder. The exposed iron has a dark brown patina. The silver displays lightly aged patina. The engraving, inscriptions, and markings are mostly distinct throughout. The grips have very minor age and tension cracks at the surfaces and attractive natural tones. The front sight is missing. The action functions fine. The case and most of the accessories are very fine with moderate storage wear. The ammunition box lid has some separation at the seams, and it and the portrait have some minor stains and fading. This is an extremely rare example of a historic, presentation inscribed, engraved, and cased pair of Plant Army Model Front Loading Revolvers!



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