American Starr Patent Jan. 15, 1856 Percussion Revolver, c. 1863


Antique Pistols 1690-1815

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Of the total purchases made between April 13th, 1861 and April 3rd, 1866 by U.S. Ordnance, Starr revolvers accounted for 12%, behind those of Remington and Colt. Ebenezer Starr (1816-1899), from a family of swordsmiths designed 3 percussion pistols, the ·36 calibre self cocking or double action model, the ·44 self cocking model and the ·44 calibre single action or Model 1863 revolver. They were made by the Starr Arms Co. at Yonkers, New York. Starr products were well thought of by contemporaries and the double action models were in service from the outbreak of hostilities. All the models are 6 chambered and bear a strong resemblance to each other. They are of sturdy construction but the ·44 single action model, because of its 20 cm barrel, is the most imposing of all American Civil War Pistols – easy to load, fire, dismantle and clean. Percussion revolvers are loaded by placing the hammer at half cock to permit free rotation of the cylinder, the pistol held in the left hand, muzzle up. The chamber to the right is charged with powder and ball, the loaded chamber being brought under the lever rammer and the charge rammed home. After filling each chamber percussion caps are placed on the nipples at the rear of the chamber. The Starr Company advised that ‘balls must be greased to prevent the barrel from leading’ and recommend the use of ‘paraffine or spermaceti’ (1) the lubricant filling the chamber and protecting the charge from dampness. The hammer is then let down midway between the capped nipples, locking the mechanism and guarding against accidental discharge. The single action pistol must be cocked by means of the thumb on the hammer, which rotates the cylinder. Pulling the trigger releases the hammer and fires the gun. Fully loaded the Starr will fire six shots before the lengthy business of reloading is necessary. Using black powder as propellant and the amount of grease needed as lubricant made cleaning a necessary task. Its design made this task less of a chore than with other makes. Dismantling was accomplished by unscrewing and withdrawing the large headed screw at the top rear of the frame. The top strap and barrel can pivot about a hinge at the lower front of the frame and the cylinder is released together with the pin, both an integral unit. This construction reduced the possibility of the cylinder becoming clogged by dirt, grease and black powder. There was less chance of fired caps getting into the mechanism preventing correct operation. The finish for the military Starr was blue with casehardened hammer and loading lever and a one-piece walnut stock. Markings appeared on the right side of the frame beneath the cylinder as: ‘Starr’s Patent Jan. I5, 1856’ and on the left- side was stamped ‘Starr Arm Co., New York’. The Starr played an important part in Civil War during when more lives were lost than in both World Wars combined so the Starr’s place in history is assured.

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Dimensions 43 × 25.5 cm