JohnInBlackHawk tells us about his research project and asks if any TFB readers can help him identify some guns. John writes …

This photo is part of an extensive historical project I began just over a year ago. I live in an historic mining town (nearly 30 years, now) and recently launched a personal project to preserve the rich gold mining history of one family, without whom, Black Hawk, Colorado, would have faded at the end of the gold rush. “Rusted Lace”, is the name I have given to this project. Many of the photos I’ve made contain the remains of the Victorian Era in stark contrast to the rusted mining equipment and provenance found in the region.

(You may notice that this and all of the photos in this project contain lace.)

This has been an interesting adventure as I continue to discover artifacts seemingly lost to history. This photo contains six such remnants from the Victorian Era and beyond. Each of these “old guns” actually belonged to people who lived and worked in both Black Hawk and Central City – these revolvers were purchased, traded and used by these hearty souls – and are now part of my chronicle.
I’ve had some luck in identifying some of them, but not all. So, I’ll share with you what I have found out about each of gun and maybe your readers can help fill in the blanks! I’ll begin with the top revolver at the 12:00 position…

12:00 S&W DA 45. This is a 5 screw model chambered in .45 Colt, 6 shot with a 5 ½ ” barrel, serial number 63XXX, with fixed sights. Stamped inside the crane, where S&W’s are generally identified, is the number, 7578. The barrel is stamped with 3 patent dates; Dec 17, 1901, Feb 8, 1908 and Sept 14, 1909.
02:00 S&W Model 1, 2nd issue, 6 shot, tip-up model with 6” octagon barrel and fixed sights. The caliber is .32 rimfire, long! Serial number, 17XXX with 3 patent dates stamped on the cylinder; April 3, 1855, July 5, 1859 and Dec 18, 1860. This may be a Model 1 ½, 2nd issue – any help on this one would be appreciated! The original finish is not determined and the grips are wood.

03:00 Anybody’s guess! All I can tell you about this very small revolver is that it’s a 6 shot with a 2 ¼” barrel, appears to be chambered in .32 CF and has the number 320 stamped on the upper left side of the frame just below the barrel. The grips are checkered wood and the finish is mostly rust! Any ideas?
05:00 Frontier Army 6 shot revolver chambered in 44 WCF (aka, 44 Marlin, 44 Win or 44 Remington). It has a 5 ¼” barrel, nickel plated with a lanyard ring, hard rubber grips and the number 21 is stamped on the right grip frame. I have some 44 Marlin CF ammo which fits just fine.

07:00 Iver Johnson Arms and Cycle Works, top break, 5 shot chambered in what appears to be 38 S&W. It’s a hammer-less model with a unique “trigger safety” (think…Glock…) nickel plated with hard rubber grips with the Iver Johnson “owl” logo on the grips.

10:00 American Double Action stamped on the top strap with a 4 ½” octagonal barrel, nickel plated with hard rubber (bake-lite?) grips. It’s a 44 caliber, but which one, remains to be seen. The cylinder length is 1.215” which is too short for 44 WCF, so I’m guessing it to be a 44 S&W or 44 special?

I do not profess to be an authority on these or any other antique or old rusted guns. I was a gunsmith for about 30 years and have been a photographer for nearly 50 years! I enjoy saving history and making photos of old rusty things and I hope you have enjoyed this brief chronicle from my “Rusted Lace” project! (copyright 2014/2015 John In Black Hawk)



  • Jim

    3:00 is one of countless “bulldog” type revolvers made during the last part of the 19th and early 20th centuries. 320 likely refers to the .320 Revolver European cartridge. Hard to tell a maker, as numerous copies were produced domestically and abroad.

    • Cranky Old Dude

      2:00 wouldn’t be a Model 1 as they were .22 rimfire, so probably a 1 1/2 or even Model 2 “Old Army”.

      • Annika R

        It should be a 2, while the flat side barrel and square grip is consistent with 1 1/2 1st issue, I believe the barrel length and later frame style (look above the cylinder) indicate no. 2 (in 32rf).

    • sam

      3:00 Webley Number 2 I’m thinking due to the bird’s head butt and scary hammer. Adamses and Tranters I think of as having square butts, but you know, I don’t know if that’s a reliable rule.

      10:00 Lemon Squeezer!*

      *no, I don’t really think it’s a lemon squeezer, maybe an Iver-Johnson due to the loading-gate-area relief and octogonal barrel.

      • Jim

        Definately a webley style hammer, but without any info on proof marks, it could be a copy…there were plenty.

  • Dan

    The bottom left sorta somewhat looks like a hammerless H&R but im probably so very wrong on that.

    • Dan

      Nevermind re read saw it was an Iver Johnson that explains why it looks the same

      • janklow

        wait, the American Double Action should be an H&R

  • The S&W at 12 o’clock is a M1917 based on the patent date markings. If it is now chambered in .45 Colt, it was rechambered from the standard .45 ACP.

    The S&W at 2 o’clock is a No. 2 Old Army based on the patent date markings, barrel length, and stock contour.

  • Uncle Dan

    JohninBlackHawk, you can request S&W for historic letter ( orig. caliber, barrel length where and possibly to whom it was first shipped) on each of the Smiths for a fee. Those “stag” grips may be synthetics made many decades after that revolver was “birthed”