Originally featured in Points West in Summer 2009
Cased percussion pistols
In the 1830s, Henry Deringer Jr. (1806 – 1868) developed a small pocket pistol. Because it was so tiny, it became a popular concealed-carry handgun of the era—so much so, that it was copied by many competitors. G. Erichson of Houston, Texas, manufactured the Deringer-like pistols pictured here. Over time, the common misspelling “derringer,” used on copies of Deringer’s design, came to refer to any small-sized, typically large-caliber, handgun that was neither a semi-automatic pistol nor a revolver.
This matched pair of percussion pistols is cased in a leather box, complete with bullet mold, wood ramrod, and powder flask. The silver name plate on the cover is marked “V.S. MacNider,” but the identity of the supposed owner remains a mystery.
Cased percussion pistols, .47 caliber, ca. 1855. Gift of Olin Corporation, Winchester Arms Collection. 1988.8.237