View Full Version : My Uncle JUst Found an Old Civil War Era Revolver (Not Much Info At This Point)

January 2, 2009, 04:23 PM
So my Uncle came across an old Civil War revolver and, of course, sent the family gun-nut on the quest for info. I have no pictures at this point and very little info but figured I would dip into the well of knowledge to see if anybody has any info at this point.

Below is from the email he sent me.

"It was made by Allen and Wheelock in Worster Massacusetts and has a
patent date fo sept 7 and nov 9 1859 (or 1858) It is a center hammer
lipfire single action army revolver."

What exactly is a lipfire? I assume rimfire.

As always thanks.


January 2, 2009, 04:24 PM
This may be what he has. It is a stock photo from Security arms.


January 2, 2009, 05:03 PM
I think cslinger probably nailed it. Patent date should be 1858. Lip fire is the same as a rim fire.

January 2, 2009, 06:08 PM
"Lipfire" was Ethan Allen's proprietary priming system, that worked something like a modern rimfire, but with the rim only present around part of the cartridge case; in use, that protruding "lip" had to be lined up with an external slot that allowed part of the hammer to crush it, thereby igniting the priming compound. Here's a drawing of one of the cartridges, from cartridgecollectors.org:


James K
January 2, 2009, 09:45 PM
By coincidence, I had encountered the name "Allen and Wheelock" in a book I was reading last night. Titled "When War Passed This Way", it is the story of the small town of Greencastle, PA*, during the Civil War. Greencastle itself was of almost no strategic value, but it happened to be on main route of the Confederate Army on its way to and from Chambersburg and Gettysburg, so it saw a lot of troop movement, camping, and "buying" of supplies, though no major battles. Many of its young men went away to fight for the Union and, as in all wars, some did not return.

At one point, apparently some disgruntled citizens objected to an editorial in the local newspaper and threatened the editor. The next editorial suggested that they come ahead, and the editor would meet them with his Allen & Wheelock.

*Some MD and PA collectors may recognize Greencastle as the site of several gun shows each year.


January 2, 2009, 10:07 PM
My Allen & Wheelock was patented in 1858 and was a lip fire but it didn't have a slot. It was a direct rip off of S&W's patent. Ethan Allens came later. Maybe they changed by then to avoid another lawsuit.


January 2, 2009, 10:32 PM
Hawg Haggen, your revolver appears to be their 32 Rimfire Sidehammer, which was produced at a time when Rollin White couldn't afford to try to sue to try to protect his patent anymore; he had licenced it to S&W, but went broke trying to sue several of the more successful copiers/competitors to his system, so it was basically open season on the idea after that. In Cslingers photo of the 44 Lipfire revolver above, you can see the slots at the rear edge of the cylinder that the "lips" on the cartridges would have had to line up with.

January 3, 2009, 07:19 PM
It's a .22. I broke down some .22 shorts and reloaded them with bp. Pretty wimpy.