Remington's classic over/under derringers, aka the "Double Derringer" or "Model 95," are undoubtedly among the most iconic pocket pistols of the American West and has been popularly associated with the gamblers and "fair belles" of the saloons, brothels, and mining camps of the West where women were highly outnumbered and might need a derringer for personal defense. The design was patented by William H. Elliot on December 12, 1865, and remained in production by Remington until 1935. This pistol is one of the early version and has the two-line "E. REMINGTON & SONS, ILION, N.Y./ELLIOT'S PATENT DECEMBER 12TH 1865" marking on the rib and an ejector fitted to the left side. It has serial number "139" on the bottom of the lower barrel and on the frame under the grips. They were numbered in batches rather than in one continual serial number sequence. The "book" case for this pistol includes a small brass escutcheon shaped plaque inscribed "Dec 25/L W/1876" suggesting this pistol was manufactured in 1876 or earlier. Under that panel is a small portrait print of a girl/young woman and two cartridges. The case is made from a modified Roberts Brothers (book sellers 1857–1898) photo album and has a portrait of a man followed by a portrait of a woman that appears to be the same woman as the younger one but at a somewhat older age. The back of the man's portrait has an "M.W. ROBINSON/MERRIMACK/Lowell" stamp on the tape holding it to the matting. The set is featured on the cover of "The Gun Report" Vol. 37 No. 11 from April 1992 when it was part of the collection of F. "Slim" Kohler and discussed in the article "A Christmas Present" by Dick Reyes inside. He attributes the set to Lillie Woods based on a clipping of a newspaper article about the Metz family massacre in April 1876 south of Custer, Wyoming, (included) and addressed to "Miss Lillie Woods" of Elm Grove, West Virginia, and marked with a St. Paul, Minnesota, December 5, 1885, postal stamp. Reyes identifies the woman in the portraits as Lillie Woods and suggests the man is "a good friend or future husband." The Metz party was killed by Native Americans or possibly a gang led by "Persimmon Bill" Chambers. An extensive binder of consignor research accompanies the set exploring just who Miss Lillie Woods may have been, including copies of period records documenting that at least one "sporting woman" by that name working in Wyoming and the Dakota Territory in the late 19th century and early 20th century. Lampe used the primary source material he found to illuminate a romantic tragedy of a woman in love who may have ran off with her lover, had a child together, then lost her man in a stage coach attack, and became a prostitute and madam. A key piece of evidence is that a Lillie Woods is listed in the 1880 Census as born in Virginia in 1851 and was living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1880 with her 5 year old son Charlie and working a prostitute. Her parents are listed as from Virginia, and the boy's father is not named but is listed as from Maine. Given the address on the letter, she may have been from Ohio County which became part of West Virginia and is located on the Ohio River. Many members of the Woods family are buried there. "The photograph in the front of the book is certainly of the man who gifted the cased Remington derringer to her. It is also very likely that the newspaper clipping is about him which described an Indian attack which a man and his wife along with" Lem Simpson "who joined with them in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the starting place for most of the gold seekers. The parties headed from there into the Black Hills for Custer City where they were killed and mutilated by Indian along the way." Simpson's brother Lewis "was about 1 to 2 hours behind them with another party, found them and described the story for the newspaper...Lem Simpson may very well have been Charlie's father since the envelope and newspaper clipping were kept in the case along with the photos and derringer. He probably took Lilly and their son to Cheyenne as that was the closest city to the gold fields and was also a train depot where early on the gold shipments were sent by stage coach to be shipped to the final destination. He probably bought the set in St. Louis in early Spring when he and his brother went there for supplies and may have dropped the wrapped package off to Lilly when they returned to Cheyenne were they met up with the other groups heading for Custer City, Dakota Territory." Simpson's gruesome demise would have left Woods in a precarious situation: unwed with a young child to provide for. Lampe's research clearly shows that a Lillie/Lilly Wood worked as a prostitute in Cheyenne in the 1880s. He theorizes that she may have returned to visit family in West Virginia and noted that it would have been a relatively easy trip by rail and/or steamboat down the Mississippi River and then up the Ohio River. Given a Lillie Woods is recorded as working as a prostitute in Butte, Montana, in the 1890s and into the early 20th century, including as a madam, she may have returned to the West after the death of her uncle Robert Woods in 1887. Local papers indicate she was occasionally in trouble with the law in Montana. City directories list her as Lillie Woods in the period, but the newspapers regularly spelled her name as Lilly. It was not uncommon for women to move from one town to another during the mining booms to follow demand, and some of the madams became very wealthy and influential local businesswomen. While what became of Miss Lillie and her son remains a mystery, the cased derringer remaining together with the newspaper clipping helped lead to the telling of this fascinating, if tragic, western tale that might have otherwise been lost. Provenance: The F. "Slim" Kohler Collection; The Greg Lampe Collection
Excellent with 98% plus original nickel plating, the vast majority of the original niter blue, slight handling and storage marks, and generally minimal overall wear. The grips are also excellent with minimal handling marks. Mechanically excellent. The "book" case is very some with mild overall wear. Overall, a very interesting and attractive set.
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