Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 117: Civil War Confederate Dance & Brothers Revolver

Auction Date: May 13, 2022

Exceptionally Rare Documented Civil War Confederate Dance & Brothers Percussion Revolver Attributed as Received by Private Bell of the 23rd Brigade of Texas Cavalry

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $95,000 - $160,000

Exceptionally Rare Documented Civil War Confederate Dance & Brothers Percussion Revolver Attributed as Received by Private Bell of the 23rd Brigade of Texas Cavalry

Manufacturer: Dance & Brothers Confederate Revolvers
Model: Percussion
Type: Revolver
Gauge: 44
Barrel: 8 inch round
Finish: blue
Grip: varnished walnut
Item Views: 1982
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 89
Class: Antique

This Confederate Dragoon style revolver was manufactured by J.H. Dance & Brothers of Columbia, Texas circa 1864. The exact number of these manufactured is unknown; some sources state 275-300, and others list 300-400. According to "Confederate Handguns," the highest known serial numbered Dance & Brothers .44 caliber revolver is serial number 324. This exact revolver, serial number 317, is pictured and described in Gary Wiggins' book "Dance & Brothers, Texas Gunmakers of the Confederacy" on pages 98-99 in which the picture caption states, "Pvt. Mile C. Bell, Co F, 23rd Brigade of Texas cavalry stationed at Brenham, Texas. Bell was home on sick leave in Kenny, Texas in 1865 when he received serial number 317. The war ended before he could return to duty. Courtesy Don Tharpe." This exact revolver is also pictured and described in Daniel D. Hartzler's book "Confederate Presentation & Inscribed Swords & Revolvers" on pages 260-261 in which it states, "Michael C. Bell did not enlist in the Provincial Army of the Confederate States, but served in the Texas State Troops. He enlisted on July 6, 1863 at Brenham, Texas, for three months. In the ranks as a private, he served in F company 23rd Brigade Texas State Troops." The discrepancy of his first name "Mile" and "Michael" in the two books is noted, and no further information has been found at the time of writing to confirm which one is correct. The source identifying the revolver as issued to Bell is not given, but the specificity of the information suggests it was an original period service record, possibly a muster roll. A Michael Bell is also listed as a private in Company A of the 20th Texas Infantry in the National Park Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, so he may have served in that unit and fought with them in Arkansas in 1862 and 1863 prior to re-enlisting in the 23rd in mid-1863. The 23rd fought in in the Western Theatre, including in Louisiana during the Red River Campaign. In the final year of the war, they were dismounted and eventually surrendered as part of General Edmund Kirby Smith's forces on May 26, 1865. Since Bell is listed as on sick leave, he would not have been present at the surrender, and the fact that the revolver was issued to him while on sick leave near the end of the war likely explains how it has survived in such high condition for a Confederate sidearm. This revolver has the distinctive flat frame with no recoil shields, part-octagon barrel and nickel-silver front sight blade. The hammer spur is not knurled. The six-shot cylinder has rectangular stops. There are no safety pins in the rear face of the percussion cylinder. The revolver has a thick oval brass trigger guard and brass back strap. The one-piece grip is nicely figured walnut with a high polish finish. Matching serial number "317" located on the loading lever, cylinder, left side of the hammer, bottom of the frame, bottom of the barrel lug, trigger guard, and butt. More examples pictured and information on Dance revolvers can be found in Albaugh's "Confederate Handguns" on pages 157-161, and in Albaugh's "Confederate Arms" on pages 23, 26 and 27. Provenance: The R. E. Neville Collection, A Gentleman

Rating Definition:

Fine overall. The revolver is outstanding for a surviving Confederate arm and remains completely original, making it extremely rare. Retains an even gray-brown patina with traces of the original blue finish visible on protected areas of the barrel, barrel lug, and back strap, and some scattered light patches of pitting. There is light flash pitting on the percussion nipples. The flush-fitted screw heads on the frame, barrel lug and loading lever are free from screwdriver battering. The brass trigger guard is excellent and retains an attractive golden unpolished aged patina. The distinctive markings on the frame and other components are extremely sharp. The nicely figured walnut grip is very fine with only a few scattered very minor handling marks and retains nearly all of the high polish finish. Mechanically excellent. This spectacular example would be nearly impossible to improve upon.

Customer Product Questions

There are currently no customer product questions on this lot