Confederate Rigdon & Ansley Revolver #1851

Our Price: Sold

Serial number 1851. All serial numbers on this revolver are stamped with the correct small number dies. It is also to be noted that the number “1” is a broken die which became broken at pistol #1237, continuing to be used through the small-die run to R&A pistol #1900, or thereabouts. This gun has cryptic “J” stamped on the bottom of trigger guard above the trigger bow. All parts are serial numbered #1851, that are normally serial numbered including barrel housing, latch, loading arm, frame, arbor, cylinder, backstrap and trigger guard. Wedge is not numbered. The stocks are also serial numbered internally in channel. Rigdon & Ansley #1851, with its “CSA” barrel marking is in fine condition, retaining traces of its original blue finish and traces of original muted case colors.

Sometime in late November or early December of 1862, the firm of Leech & Rigdon, then located in Columbus, Mississippi, contracted with the Confederate Government to manufacture percussion revolvers of the Colt patent design, though contract was not signed for 1500 guns until firm settled in Greensboro, GA. With Union troops threatening the Columbus area, Leech & Rigdon moved its operation (its third move) to Greensboro, Georgia, where they began turning out revolvers in March of 1863. Approximately 1000 revolvers were produced at Greensboro, before it was again necessary to move because of Yankee pressure in the area. The Leech & Rigdon partnership split up in January of 1864, and Rigdon took all the gun-making machinery with him, moved to Augusta, Georgia (the fourth and last move) forming a new partnership with Jesse Ansley. Rigdon & Ansley assumed the responsibility of completing the original Leech & Rigdon contract, by manufacturing the remaining 500 revolvers of that model, then going on with a new contract to furnish 1500 Rigdon & Ansley revolvers.

While the Rigdon & Ansley revolvers were practically identical in design to the Leech & Rigdons, there were some changes made which were considered improvements at the time. The most obvious change was the addition of six (6) more cylinder stops in the Rigdon & Ansley, and the omission of the locking pins on the rear shoulders of the cylinder. This was thought to be a safety improvement in that it allowed the cylinder to be locked in place with the hammer resting between the percussion nipples. An additional change was the milling-out of a groove in the recoil shield, which now came to be called a “cap release groove”, which allowed spent percussion caps an easier exit from the frame, so that they were expelled via the groove at the right top side of the recoil shields as the cylinder rotated to the right in the firing and re-cocking procedure, after each round was fired. This “cap release groove” is found on R&A #1851, along with the employment of a “Colt-type” loading lever latching assembly, rather than Leech & Rigdon ball and pin type catches. This is a fine example of Georgia made Rigdon & Ansley with long collection history.

PROVENANCE: Ex-Rev. Jack Tatum Collection, Augusta Georgia, 1970’s; Ex-Charlie Salter Collection, 1979; Ex-Roger Ballard Collection, 1989; Ex-R.E. Neville Jr.; Ex-Jerry Fertitta, Richmond, VA; Jim Greene Collection, 2004.

Condition is very good to fine overall, matching throughout though no serial number on correct style restored wedge, all major parts original otherwise. Barrel retains tiny traces of original blue finish with balance plum/brown with scattered nicks, dings, scratches and pin prick pitting. Cylinder and frame have matching plum/brown color with pitting. Front brass post sight is original and retains shape with slight holster wear to left side of muzzle. Brass trigger guard and backstrap have yellow patina. Grips are sound and well fit with thin traces of original varnish. Mechanically gun functions well, with well discerned rifling in bore. 

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