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STARR ARMS COMPANY SINGLE ACTION 1863 ARMY .44 CALIBER REVOLVER – CIVIL WAR PRODUCTION – SCARCE MAKER RELIC:  Recently found in an old Texas collection, this Starr Arms Company .44 caliber Single Action 1863 Army Revolver has survived years of exposure fully intact with the exception of the loading lever and the trigger.  Produced in limited numbers from 1863 through 1865, the majority of these Starr Army Revolvers were manufactured under government contract, purchased by the US Army during the Civil War.  With a far lower production that the more commonly encountered Colt and Remington revolvers of the period, this relic Starr Revolver is indeed a scarce offering.   

The circumstances and location of the recovery of this revolver are unknown, however the condition indicates that it lay exposed to the elements, resting on the left side, and probably on the surface of the ground.  The left side shows more affects of corrosion, however the entire pistol retains its original form and distinct features.  

Other than the overall corroded surface typical of all relic firearms, this Starr Revolver is complete with the exception of: 

The left upper fork of the frame top strap which accepted the threaded end of the frame thumb-screw was broken away while the revolver was still in use, before it was lost, evidenced by the consistency of the corrosion on the remaining surfaces; and,   

The trigger shoe is missing, likely corroded away during the period of exposure due to a thinner profile; and,  

The loading lever is missing, and in my opinion it was missing while the revolver was still in use, before it was lost.  The screw which held the loading lever in place is missing and the holes show the same level of corrosion as the balance of the revolver, indicating the holes were empty during the period of exposure.   

There is the possibility that this Starr Revolver might been used by an Indian.  What makes me think so is that the condition of the yoke which held the loading lever and the broken edge of the frame fork both match the remainder of the condition of the pistol, indicating that the loss of the lever and the break in the frame occurred during the period       the time the gun was still in use and prior to its loss.  The settlers, cattlemen and even those living on the edge of civilization on the frontier had access to gun smiths who would have been able to provide a replacement loading lever or fashion one in their shop to match the pistol, and likewise make the necessary repair to the frame.  Indians – particularly those still living independent of the reservations – either used what parts they had accumulated from other guns to affect necessary repairs, or lacking the parts continued to use a firearm so long as it would fire.  With the range of firearms available to the groups in and around the settlements and towns, it is hard to imagine anyone with access to a gun dealer or gun smith continuing to use this Starr except in a dire situation or it was used by someone – such as an Indian – who had no alternative.  

Its also worth mentioning that while the Starr Revolvers were not retained by the regular army after the Civil War for continued use by the frontier regiments, they were sold into the surplus civilian market which in turn sold them on the frontier to settlers and Indians alike.  I have an Indian used Starr Revolver with brass tacks decorating both sides of the grip and there is a Starr Revolver listed in Ordnance Notes No. 115, published in 1879 which reported the inventory and condition of arms captured from or surrendered by hostile Indians.   

The hammer is moveable and will hold at full cock, and can then be pushed back into the rest position against the cylinder cone.  

The loading lever is missing, but the loading lever retainer on the bottom of the barrel is still present. 

The serial number 55928 is legible in the hammer channel of frame, protected from corroding away by the hammer resting over it.  The same matching serial number is partially legible on the right side of the cylinder.     

The grip, though worn and showing the expected wear from exposure on the left side, is quite solid and stable with no softening or crumbling of the wood grain.  The grip is obviously original to the pistol, and the right panel bears a set of hand carved initials, “R F”.  Whether these initials were applied by a Civil War soldier or a post war civilian on the frontier, we’ll never know, but the man definitely wanted to prominently identify this Starr as his property.  

While any relic Civil War revolver is actively sought by many collectors today,  the majority found on the market are Colt or Remingtons simply due to the number of those pistols produced.  Those pistols manufactured in lower numbers such as this Starr are not as commonly found as relics.  No doubt this historic Starr Army “was there”, whether on a Civil War battlefield or on the far reaches of the frontier, and it will make a very evocative addition to your collection.  (0301) $750

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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