Member: National Bit, Spur & Saddle Collector's Association and Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America
Robbins & Lawrence 1st Model Concealed Hammer Pepperbox
About This Historic Firearm:
Robbins & Lawrence 7 1/2" overall - 5 shot - .28 Caliber Pepperbox - Leonard Design. This version of the three is that of a rounded barrel, 2.25inches in diameter. This ingenious pistol was produced circa 1851-1854, based on the patent of George Leonard, Junior. Serial Number: 14xx. Of the 3 models manufactured, only about 7,000 in total were manufactured. This pepperbox is one of the scarce ones that retains its original browned frame and walnut grips. This is the first model (fluted barrel) with a low serial number.
The Robbins & Lawrence Pepperbox features a German silver blade front and latch groove rear sights. The stamp: "ROBBINS & LAWRENCE CO", "WINDSOR. VT" and "PATENT. 1849." is present in three adjacent barrel flutes and the gun features elegant and deep factory scroll engraving around the breech, on the iron frame and the latch. This early Robbins & Lawrence model features a concealed hammer and ring cocking trigger with small curved outer trigger for firing. The 3-1/2 inch barrel is hinged to expose the caps. Pressing the top latch makes it possible to tip-down the cluster for putting the caps on the pistons. The front part of the cluster unscrews for loading. The grips have a wonderful, lustrous patina - made of smooth two piece walnut.
The company was founded by Samuel E. Robbins and Richard Smith Lawrence. Frederick Webster Howe joined in 1847 and became the plant superintendent in the following year. They manufactured the Model 1841 Mississippi Rifle in about 1848.
Howe and Lawrence developed a revolutionary milling machine which was commercialized in 1850. The Robbins & Lawrence Machine Shop was the first to achieve interchangeability of parts. Howe, Lawrence and Henry D. Stone who has joined made several improvements in machine tools. Courtlandt C. Palmer, who got the Hunt, Arrowsmith and Jennings patents contracted with Robbins & Lawrence to produce guns upon these patents. Benjamin Tyler Henry (of Winchester fame) was an employee of Robbins & Lawrence where he was first introduced to the idea of repeating guns.
In 1851, Robbins & Lawrence was manufacturing the Sharps breechloader in Windsor, Vermont. Rifle production continued in Vermont while a new Sharps Rifle Manufacturing Company was formed in Hartford, Connecticut. Richard S. Lawrence took charge of the new Sharps plant in Hartford.
In 1850 or 1851, Palmer engaged Horace Smith to supervise the Jenning's production and to improve the mechanism of the gun. About 7,000 of these .28 or .31 caliber pepperboxes were manufactured from 1851 to 1854. These pepperboxes were among the best-selling and most popular of the day. They would have fared better if Colt had not hit the market with their high production revolvers.
With a small British contract in hand and the outbreak of the Crimean War, Robbins & Lawrence bought machinery to produce a huge number of Enfield rifles. However, the end of the Crimean War made arms purchases unnecessary and the company was bankrupt with 12,000 undelivered muskets in hand. Some of their machinery was bought by Colt and the most by Lamson, Goodnow & Yale, a Colt associate in Windsor, Vermont.
Robbins and Lawrence firearms are an integral part of American history for their place at the forefront of firearm design and production. They were also deeply connected to events whose outcome would shape the world of today. For instance, 200 of their .52 Caliber 1852 rifles were purchased by the Kansas Aid Society and shipped to the Abolitionists in Kansas in 1855 and 1856. 80 of those rifles were sent to John Brown and recovered when John Brown was captured at Harper's Ferry.
1851-54 Robbins & Lawrence Pepperbox [1st Model] / Item #RL252 / SOLD
Members: National Bit, Spur & Saddle Collector's Association
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