Leech and Rigdon

Leech and Rigdon

Hi, I have what is supposed to be an authentic Leech and Rigdon. It was authenticated by a Dallas-area gunsmith who specialized in Blackpowder era firearms. Unfortunately, it came with no provenance. It also has an octagonal barrel, which none of the other existing L&Rs have. I can't afford to pay the $1000 to have an extensive authentication, but I would at least like to know if it is from the period. Any thoughts or suggestions? These are the the authentication letter comments:

I have been asked to write a letter to qualify one Leech and Rigdon revolver, serial number “66”, in 36 caliber percussion as an original Leech and Rigdon. My initial training as a gunsmith was on black powder firearms, and servicing them has comprised a great portion of my career. The following are my observations regarding this revolver:

1. There is no evidence of any previous stampings or numbers that have been removed or altered. There is no evidence of any metal being disturbed in the areas where previous stampings might have existed;

2. All numbers and marks are matching and in the proper places that original numbers would occur. There is a matching “66” on the inside of the one piece grip;

3. The brass trigger guard shows “sprue marks” indicating that the brass was investment cast- consistent with originals from the period. Also important, the metal appears to have been finished with a file rather than machine finished;

4. I have seen many fake guns in my shop over the years, and when someone fakes a gun they usually take great pains to find a reproduction that is as close as possible to the gun they want to fake. Since the majority of known Leech and Rigdon revolvers were manufactured with a “half round” barrel, it makes no sense that someone would try to fake a Leech and Rigdon with a full octagonal barrel;

5. Finding a reproduction revolver with serial number “66” would be extremely unlikely. I have at least two reproduction revolvers with four digit serial numbers, but I have never seen one with a two digit serial number. Again, I mention that the numbers “66” on this revolver appear to be original and not an over-stamp or altered in any way;

6. The stamping of “Leech and Rigdon Novelty Works” appears to be the gunmaker’s original stamp, after which Leech and Rigdon added the additional “CSA” with single letter stamps. This would have been consistent with the original stamping. One observer noted that from serial numbers 60 to 342 “the name LEECH & RIGDON is stamped with the same dies used to mark the NOVELTY WORKS name,” as is the case with this revolver. The section with the lettering appears to have abrasions caused by steel wool or sanding, possibly to be able to better read the caption. A forger would take pains to preserve this area unaltered;

7. Also consistent with the early Leech and Rigdon revolvers, there is a small letter on the left rear side of the trigger guard. In this case it is a “K”;

8. I firmly believe this revolver was part of an early production run of octagonal barreled Colt copies by Leech and Rigdon. As they developed faster and more efficient means of producing the revolvers, round barrels were used to cut time and effort in manufacture;

9. As further proof of originality, all screws in the grip frame are 8-36 thread American Standard. Most reproduction guns have metric threads to help prevent faking;

10. The diameter of the base pin is significantly larger than a Colt 1851 Navy. Consequently, an 1851 Colt cylinder and/or barrel will not fit. Nor is there a “cap channel” as on the 1851 Navy Colt. If someone were to fake the L&R, they could not have used an 1851 Colt Navy. The shape of the grip is significantly distinct from a Colt, as is the trigger guard. A forger would have had to use a reproduction L&R, all of which have/had round barrels;

11. There is no vertical pin through the loading lever latch, as is on the 1851 Colt Navy;

12. The gun appears to have been fired very little, if at all. The scratches and “dings” were imparted due to handling and not due to use. The hammer and nipples appear to be original and show little, if any, wear and impact marks. The hammer has a “safety slot” but there are no safety pins on the cylinder. This was probably due to the stresses of wartime production;

13. Based on all the evidence, I believe this to be an authentic original Leech and Rigdon revolver. Using Flyderman’s Guide grading, I would grade this revolver as Very Good;

14. The accompanying holster is appropriate to the revolver and appears to be authentic in age and style.