This cased Massachusetts Arms Company pocket revolver is a .28 caliber six-shot pistol which has a 3″ octagonal barrel. This is a rare and important hand gun; rare because of its unusual and short-lived experimental ignition system, and important because it was made locally in the Connecticut River Valley.
The Massachusetts Arms Company was formed in 1849 by a group which included famous names in the gun business: Horace Smith, Daniel Wesson, Joshua Stephens and J. T. Ames. The Company, which was later incorporated in March of 1850, made many different kinds of firearms, including this cased set comprised of a pocket revolver, powder flask, bullet mold, nipple wrench and rammer. The .28 caliber pistol has a Maynard tape primer. This improvement in firearms was the invention of Edward Maynard who achieved his Patent in September of 1845. Instead of individual percussion caps, it depended upon a continuous roll of primer caps, not unlike a roll of child’s paper caps, which were advanced by a steel finger or a star wheel, positioning the cap atop a nipple where the hammer’s strike would ignite the fulminate and the charge in the chamber of the cylinder.
The grips are walnut. Originally finished blue, only vestiges of blueing survive on the trigger guard and barrel latch. Cylinder, frame, and cover plate are engraved with floral motifs. The top of frame is marked: “Mass. Arms Co. / Chicopee Falls”. Cover plate on side is marked: “Maynard’s Patent / Sept. 22, 1845”.