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THE E.A. PRESCOTT SINGLE ACTION "NAVY" REVOLVERS - A MIXED COUPLE!

 

BRASS AND IRON FRAME MODELS OF THE E.A. PRESCOTT SINGLE ACTION .38 CALIBER "NAVY" REVOLVER

BRASS AND IRON FRAME MODELS OF THE E.A. PRESCOTT SINGLE ACTION .38 CALIBER "NAVY" REVOLVER 

 

     Edwin A. Prescott of Worcester, Massachusetts and Norwich, Connecticut, an ex-employee of Ethan Allen, was the patentee and maker of these .38 caliber rimfire cartridge revolvers. His design was granted patent #30,245 on October 2, 1860. The Prescott was distributed by Merwin & Bray.  Due to it's being an infringement upon the Rollin White patent, which was assigned to Smith & Wesson, production was stopped in 1863. It is thought that these .38 caliber Navy-sized revolvers, produced in Prescott's Worcester, Massachusetts armory, were manufactured in hope of a government contract. No records exist indicating that any were ever bought or issued by the federal government. They were good looking, strong and well made revolvers. Some are known to have been carried and used by Union officers and enlisted men during the Civil War. The number of these revolvers produced is not known but the consensus seems to be that it did not exceed several hundred. Of that amount about 25% had iron frames and 75% brass frames. Whether or not this could be determined by examining the serial numbers of remaining specimens is doubtful. The brass frame model is apparently serial number 86 (or 98) which appears on the bottom rear barrel flat, on the butt, front of the cylinder, in the brass frame under the grips and on the inside of each of the polished rosewood grips. Yet the number "110" is stamped on the rear of the cylinder while the cylinder arbor pin, which may be either a replacement or an assembly error, has the number "154" stamped into it. The rarer iron frame model has the number 1700 on the front of the cylinder, no number on the bottom of the grip, 1700 on the frame under the grip, "77" on the inside of both grips, 1700 on the cylinder arbor pin and a mis-stamp? of "17000" on the bottom rear barrel flat. The rear of the cylinder is stamped with a "3". So which are the serial numbers and which are the assembly numbers?

 


 

BOTTOM VIEW OF BOTH REVOLVERS

BOTTOM VIEW OF BOTH REVOLVERS

 

TOP VIEW OF BOTH REVOLVERS

TOP VIEW OF BOTH REVOLVERS

 

FRONT SIGHT VIEWS

 

MUZZLE VIEWS

 

REAR OBLIQUE VIEWS

REAR OBLIQUE VIEWS

 


 

     Both guns are six-shot single action caliber .38 rimfire with 5 groove rifling. Overall length is 12-3/4" (measured diagonally from center of muzzle to rear lower tip of grip). The weight is approximately 1 pound, 12 ounces. The octagonal, noticeably crowned, blued barrel is 7-1/8" in length. The barrel markings read "E. A. PRESCOTT . WORCESTER . MASS." over "PAT'D . OCT. 2 . 1860 ." These markings are partially double stamped on the barrel of the brass frame model pictured here. The front German silver 3/16" high by 3/8" long blade sight is 3/8" from the muzzle. The integral rear "V" notched sight is located at the upper rear of the frame. There is an access panel on the left side of the otherwise solid frame. Except for the recoil shields on both sides the frame is basically flat sided with rounded upper and lower surfaces at the front and rear. The iron and brass frames are identical in shape. The almost round brass trigger guard narrows to a "V" at the front and rear juncture with the frame. The grip straps are integral to the frame. The outside of the 1-1/4" long cylinder is unmarked. There are six 3/16" long narrow rectangular stop slots at the very rear of the cylinder. The 3-3/4" long cylinder arbor extends through the front of the frame 1-3/8" where it's flat semi-button head snugs into a thin slot cut widthwise in the bottom barrel flat. There is a spring release lug on the arbor which must be depressed to withdraw the arbor and remove the cylinder. The arbor doubles as a hand held extractor for spent cartridges.

 


 

THE BRASS AND IRON FRAME MODELS WITH CYLINDER ARBOR PIN AND CYLINDER  REMOVED

THE BRASS AND IRON FRAME MODELS WITH CYLINDER ARBOR PIN AND CYLINDER  REMOVED

 

BARREL MARKING - BRASS FRAME ARM

BARREL MARKING - BRASS FRAME ARM

 

BARREL MARKING - IRON FRAME ARM

BARREL MARKING - IRON FRAME ARM

 

"E. A. PRESCOTT . WORCESTER . MASS." over "PAT'D . OCT. 2 . 1860 ."

 

NUMBER "86" (98) REAR BOTTOM BARREL  FLAT - BRASS FRAME ARM

NUMBER "86" (98) REAR BOTTOM BARREL  FLAT - BRASS FRAME ARM 

 

NUMBER "17000" REAR BOTTOM BARREL FLAT - IRON FRAME ARM

NUMBER "17000" REAR BOTTOM BARREL FLAT - IRON FRAME ARM

 

NUMBER "86" (98) ON BRASS FRAME ARM AT BUTT

NUMBER "86" (98) ON BRASS FRAME ARM AT BUTT

 

NO  NUMBER ON IRON FRAME AT BUTT

NO  NUMBER ON IRON FRAME AT BUTT

 

NUMBER "86" (98) ON FRONT OF CYLINDER BRASS FRAME ARM

NUMBER "86" (98) ON FRONT OF CYLINDER BRASS FRAME ARM
("8" to left of bottom chamber, "6'' to right)

 

NUMBER "1700" ON FRONT OF CYLINDER IRON FRAME ARM

NUMBER "1700" ON FRONT OF CYLINDER IRON FRAME ARM

 

NUMBER "110" ON REAR OF CYLINDER BRASS FRAME ARM

NUMBER "110" ON REAR OF CYLINDER BRASS FRAME ARM

 

NUMBER "3" ON REAR OF CYLINDER IRON FRAME ARM

NUMBER "3" ON REAR OF CYLINDER IRON FRAME ARM
(To right of top left chamber)

 

NUMBER "154" ON CYLINDER ARBOR PIN BRASS FRAME ARM

NUMBER "154" ON CYLINDER ARBOR PIN BRASS FRAME ARM

 

NUMBER "1700" ON CYLINDER ARBOR PIN IRON FRAME ARM

NUMBER "1700" ON CYLINDER ARBOR PIN IRON FRAME ARM

 

NUMBER "89" (98)? ON FRAME UNDER GRIP BRASS FRAME ARM

 

NUMBER "1700" ON FRAME UNDER GRIP IRON FRAME ARM

 

NUMBER "89" (98)? ON FRAME UNDER GRIP BRASS FRAME ARM

NUMBER "86" (98) INSIDE BOTH GRIPS BRASS FRAME ARM

 

NUMBER "1700" ON FRAME UNDER GRIP IRON FRAME ARM

NUMBER "77" INSIDE BOTH GRIPS IRON FRAME ARM

 


 

     Reference credits go to "SMALL ARMS MAKERS" by Colonel Robert E. Gardner, "REVOLVING ARMS" by A.W.F. Taylerson, "U.S. MILITARY SMALL ARMS 1816-1865" by Reilly, and "FLAYDERMAN'S GUIDE TO ANTIQUE AMERICAN FIREARMS... AND THEIR VALUES by Norm Flayderman.

 

     Reed Radcliffe, my son and web master gets the credit for arranging and posting this web page. Credit for all pictures, this write-up, errors in spelling and syntax is mine.

 

     For Rollin White Patent Infringement detail and how it affected the manufacture and distribution of revolving cartridge arms in the United States, go to http://www.dallasarms.com/54stor10.htm

 

Dave Radcliffe