CHICAGO CITIZENS ASSOCIATION REMINGTON .44 NEW MODEL ARMY SMITH & WESSON – KITTREDGE TYPE-4 METALLIC CARTRIDGE .46 CONVERSION

$3,695.00

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Item Code: 490-1661

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This Remington is a scarce factory conversion to .46 metallic cartridge done between September 1868 and April 1869, one of 4,540, and on the right frame bears the large “C.A.” stamp of the Citizens Association of Chicago together with its rack number. The Great Fire of Chicago in 1871 had placed the city under de facto martial law by U.S. troops, state militia, police and volunteers. The 1874 fire spurred organization and chartering of the Citizens Association, “to insure a most perfect administration in our municipal affairs; to promote the general welfare and prosperity of the city.” This included fire prevention, of course, but also political and civic reforms, improvements to water and sanitation, and also, with an eye toward maintaining civic order, funding for arms for use by the police and by militia units formed within the city. Arms purchases included small arms such as this Remington revolver, M1866 rifles, but also heavier weapons such as 12 pound and 6 pound cannon and at least one Gatling gun, and cavalry equipment is also referenced.  Citations of these are found in histories of the Chicago police and also in contemporary reports of National Guard camps.

This revolver is a conversion of one of Remington’s New Model Army Revolvers, serial number 125623, giving it a January 1865 date of production and shows a U.S. inspector’s cartouche in the wood on the left grip. Except for the conversion it follows the standard configuration for the serial number range and 1865 date in its 8-inch rectangular barrel, exposed barrel threads, pinched screw-in front sight, etc. Markings in the metal are very good with just a little rubbing to the top line of three-line barrel address: “PATENTED SEPT. 14, 1858 / E. REMINGTON & SONS, ILION, NEW YORK, U.S.A. / NEW-MODEL.”

The story of the conversions is tangled, but in brief, Remington approached Smith and Wesson for use of the Rollin White patent for a bored-through cylinder, essential for a cartridge conversion, early as 1865, but White baulked at the deal and it was not until 1867 that Benjamin Kittredge in Cincinnati, appreciating the market for a large caliber metallic cartridge pistol, brokered a deal in February 1868 by which he supplied Remington pistols to Remington for conversion and paid a fee that was split between Remington for the work and Smith and Wesson as a royalty for use of the cylinder. This kept Remington from producing new metallic cartridge guns or getting into government contracts for conversion, which Smith and Wesson was interested in. It was also timely for S&W, since White’s patent was going to expire in 1869.

Kittredge seems to have obtained his pistols from government ordnance sales, hence the inspector cartouches and varying condition of surviving examples. He shipped them for alteration to Remington, who in turn sent them to Smith and Wesson for inspection. In addition to its serial number this pistol bears the number “723” on the underside of the barrel, applied either by Remington or Smith and Wesson as a way of keeping track of the number altered, for which royalty payments were due. Smith and Wesson in turn shipped 3,391 to Kittredge, and another 1,149 to J.W. Storrs of New York City, the total number altered.

As part of the alteration a new cylinder had to be installed, five-shot rather than six, to take the slightly larger .46 caliber metallic cartridge. This is one of several slight variations in the alteration, the Type-4 in Ware’s typology, carrying an ejector and using a cylinder with no markings but showing beveled lead-ins on the cylinder stops for the cylinder bolt, in addition to other elements common to the factory conversion, such as the widening of the capping groove to make it a loading channel, no loading gate, and the presence of a relief in the underside of the frame to reduce fouling, etc.

This revolver shows use, but has some nice color: 30 percent or better thinning blue finish with rubs along the barrel edges, and with a drag line on the cylinder, but good color on the frame also. The grip and backstrap have a thin brown patina. The markings are good. The grips have a good fit, color, and a good inspector cartouche, but show a number of dings on the sides and bottom, small chips along the lower edge, a hairline on the left and the large initials “BM” scratched in on the right. The butt flat shows some color on the strap, but numerous small dings and scratches, as does the wood.

We show a few of the published references to these arms that make clear they were lent to the police and subject to return on demand, and that even in the case of the artillery pieces taken by the National Guard to an 1889 encampment, the guns were borrowed from the Association, making clear that the Association retained ownership, explaining the markings on their arms.   [sr] [ph:L]

DISCLAIMER: All firearms are sold as collector's items only - we do not accept responsibility as to the shooting safety or reliability of any antique firearm. All firearms are described as accurately as possible, given the restraints of a catalog listing length. We want satisfied customers & often "under" describe the weapons. Any city or state regulations regarding owning antique firearms are the responsibility of the purchaser. All firearms are "mechanically perfect" unless noted, but again, are NOT warranted as safe to fire!

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