View Full Version : Forehand & Wadsworth revolver?

October 31, 2008, 03:03 PM
I got this revolver in a trade and it appears to be a F&W but I can't find any serial and very few marks on it.
It appears to have real pearl grips. I showed a pic of one of the few stamps on it. The scroll work appears nice but not perfect so I would assume it is hand done. Can any one help with some more info?
Approximate value?
I was told it is 38 caliber.
It does say "BRITISH BULL-DOG" on the top of the frame.
Thanks in advance

James K
October 31, 2008, 08:54 PM
I have one of those also, very similar but not quite identical to yours. F&W seems to have made the American ones of that exact type (the original was made by Webley of course), but IIRC other makers made them also.

There is now a book by George Layman, on the American "British Bulldogs", and I may get a copy. Check:


Layman calls it the "forgotten gun that really won the West", IMHO a pretty silly idea. (Can you imagine hundreds of settlers discarding their shotguns, Winchesters, and Colts and taking up Bulldogs to fend off an Indian attack? I can't.) Still, any information on those guns will be more than has been available. Surprisingly, there is a lot of variation, and I don't think I have seen two exactly alike.

As to the engraving on yours, it may look crude but it might be factory. An 1884 catalog from E.C. Meacham Arms Co., St. Louis, shows the F&W British Bulldog at $3.12, nickel plated, engraving $1.25 extra. Ivory handles were $1.25 extra, pearl $1.87 extra. Some modern collectors might consider the engraving and pearl grips in the same category as the famous lipstick, but at that time those guns were significantly better than many other guns that sold for less.

Still not an expensive gun; the Colt SAA was $13.75, engraving $2.50. Multiply by about $40 for today's dollars.


November 1, 2008, 10:19 AM
Thanks for the info!
I have been considering trading or selling this one as I'd really like to have a 38 special or 357 to shoot. I was hoping to find someone who really loved this one around here. may have to start scouring the shops to see.

November 1, 2008, 10:26 AM
Jim Keenan said: Can you imagine hundreds of settlers discarding their shotguns, Winchesters, and Colts and taking up Bulldogs to fend off an Indian attack? I can't.

I think what the author meant was that more of that price range of gun was in use than were the Colts, S&W, etc. we normally see in movies & associate with the Old West. As you noted the Colts were considerably more expensive than the Bulldog & for most of the pioneers would have been out of their price range.

November 3, 2008, 08:47 AM
Yes, in the movies EVERYBODY has a Colt...

James K
November 3, 2008, 02:37 PM
There was a huge variety of guns in the "Old West". Actually, other than the Army, not many people could afford Colt SAA's, though as noted, that is all that is seen in the movies. While S&W cut themselves out of a lot of that market by accepting Russian contracts, there were still a lot of their guns, along with F&W, M&H, and dozens of other companies as well as the famous gun maker, Anonymous, Inc. In the earlier years, there were still a lot of CW percussion revolvers and they were around well into the 20th century since they were cheap to shoot and didn't depend on what the nearest store had in the way of ammunition.

Just for comparison, a cowboy made $.50 a day, plus food and a bunk when not sleeping out. So not many bought Colt's, which would cost a month's pay, when "Suicide Specials" could be had for $1.50-2.50. I know it doesn't jibe with the movie image, but few real cowboys carried guns. For one thing, a lot of ranches prohibited their workers from having handguns. If a cowboy had a handgun when he signed on, he had to leave it in the office safe; it would be returned when he moved on. Nor did they own rifles. Rifles were issued by the ranch when needed for varmint control, hunting or, rarely, defense.

Contrary to the romantic image, the cowboy tended to be a drifter, working at a low paying "dirty job" just long enough to get some money so he could live until the next job, whatever and wherever that might be.


November 7, 2008, 12:49 PM
true about people with M&H/F&W/RE DOG/BLUEBIRD.on and on.I had a lot of them.lady across from me has an F&W break action in 38 S&W. I oiled it and works fine,her house gun.F&W would be pre 1900.forhand arms after 1900.I know Jim knows that.worth about $100/150.at todays prices.I used to get them for $2.and 32 rimfire was 35cents per 50. :rolleyes::D