Smith and Wesson Tip Up Revolvers
Scoll down for info on infringements & evasions.....
Just as the Colt firm was established on the production of the first successful repeating cap and ball revolver, so Smith and Wesson was founded with the development of the first practical cartridge revolver. Introduced in 1857 the tiny 7 shot 22 S&W Model One lay the foundation for the Smith and Wesson legacy, and for all modern cartridge handguns.
Lets review the early S&W Tip-Up Revolvers. All are for rimfire cartridges. The Model One was a 7-shot chambered for the original 22 rimfire, which is dimensionally about identical to the modern 22 Short (although the modern 22 Short is loaded to higher pressures with smokeless powder and should not be fired in the old Model 1!) As the Model One design evolved and improved there were three major variations – identified by collectors as the First, Second, and Third "Issue." The Model One First and Second Issues have square butts and octagon barrels, while the Model One Third Issue has a bird’s head butt and round ribbed barrel. The highly sought after and significantly more valuable Model 1 First Issue, differs from the Model 1 Second Issue in that the First Issue has a rounded frame which would be oval in cross section if cut just ahead of the grips, and has a small circular side plate on the left side of the frame. In contrast, the Model One Second Issue has flat sides to its frame and a large irregularly shaped side plate. Within the Model 1 First Issue, collectors recognize six different "Types," representing various stages in the evolution of the model. Model One First Issue was manufactured from 1857 to 1860, Second Issue from 1880 to 1868, and Third Issue from 1868 to 1881. For examples, see in the photo items E (Model 1First Issue), F (Model 1 Second Issue), and G (Model 1 Third Issue).
Recognizing the need for a more powerful round than the diminutive 22, S&W’s next introduction was a tip-up spur-trigger revolver in 32 rimfire, and was called the Model Number Two. It later was nicknamed the "Old Army" Model. This six shot revolver was made from 186 1 to 1864, and although never purchased by the government, was very popular as a personally purchased sidearm among soldiers in the Civil War. See item A in the photo.
S&W then set out to provide the more powerful 32 rimfire in a more handy "pocket" size revolver; and came up with a five shot 32 rimfire with a shorter 3˝" barrel. Since they already had the small Model 1 and the large Model 2, and the new model was in between and size, S&W came up with the some what awkward name of Model One and a Half. The original Model 1˝ looked like a shrunken Model Two, or an enlarged Model 1 Second Issue, and was made from 1865 to 1868. In 1868, S&W redesigned the Model 1˝ to look more like an oversized Model 1 Third Issue. Thus we have the Model 1˝ Old Model with the square butt, octagon barrel, and the unfluted cylinder, and the Model 1˝ New Model with bird’s head butt, fluted cylinder, and round ribbed barrel. For examples, see B (Model 1˝ Old Model), and C (Model 1˝ New Model) in the photo. D in the photo is a rare short barrel variation of the New Model 1˝.
Photos & for sale listings of S&W Tip-ups Click on photo to enlarge.
S&W Model Two Info & Survey - If you have a S&W Model 2 Old Army tip-up revolver, please take a moment to fill out Ron Curtis's survey on this historically important model. The information will help in a forthcoming publication on the topic. http://model2survey.com
|Mod. 1, 1st issue, bayonet latch - engraved Mod. 1, 2nd issue - Mod. 1, 3rd||Model 2 "Old Army"||Mod. 1-1/2, Old Model left, New Model right (engraved)|
Copies, Infringements and evasions of the Rollin White / S&W bored through cylinder patent:
S&W owned the famous April 3, 1855,"Rollin White patent" covering the right to make a revolver cylinder bored-through end to end - an obvious requirement for an effective cartridge revolver. This fact didn’t slow down some firms, who proceeded to make the highly popular cartridge style revolvers. Some used their own designs, and some just produced outright copies of the S&W pattern. S&W pursued redress in court, resulting in several US makers being required to mark "Made for S&W" or words to that effect on their revolvers. However, foreign copies continued, and some domestic makers borrowed very similar designs after the patent expired.
Some ingenious designs allowed the use of special proprietary cartridges that evaded the "bored-through cylinder" concept.
Photos & for sale listings of copies, infringements & other spur-trigger revolvers
Examples of infringements, evasions & copies:
|The Brooklyn Arms / Slocum system had individual sliding chambers carried in a rotating cylinder.||Plant revolvers, such as this Eagle Arms, used an unusual "cupfire" cartridge.||Uhlinger revolvers simply infringed on the S&W patent. Most of their product was marked with other names, perhaps to disguise the origin.||Lowell Arms was among the infringing firms that settled the suit by S&W with requirements that the Rollin White patent & "Made for Smith & Wesson" be marked on their product.|
|The Manhattan Arms / American Standard Tool revolver was a close copy of the S&W Mod. 1, 2nd issue, with the addition of a lurid cylinder scene featuring pioneer women fighting off scalping Indians. It was made after the expiration of the Rollin White patent.|
Although the closely modeled on the Smith & Wesson Tip-Ups, (with the exception of a different type of cylinder latch), the Deringer Philadelphia made cartridge revolvers were made after the expiration of the Rollin White patent in 1871, and so may be considered more as copies than infringements. These revolvers made by the successor firm of the famous Henry Deringer in the 1870,s.
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