Historic & Extremely Fine Pocket Navy Cartridge Conversion Revolver With “Tiffany” Eagle Grips

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August 29, 2023

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Historic & Extremely Fine Pocket Navy Cartridge Conversion Revolver With “Tiffany” Eagle Grips


Cal. 38

6.5″ Round barrel, 1 line New York address, ejector housing, gold & silver plated, Nimschke-style New York engraving on entirety of frame and en suite arabesques and punch dot backgrounds on barrel & cylinder. Classic Nimschke-style radiating fan design on recoil shield & loading gate door. Perfectly fit Wexell & Degress raised relief “eagle” silver plated grips.

For many years these rare grips were associated with Tiffany of New York, but research by Marlin Pohemus proved manufacture and 1874 patent. This revolver was originally made in percussion in 1861, conversion among the earliest in 1874.

Revolver is cased in French fitted case with the original ivory handled screwdriver, steel cleaning rod, and added pack of Colt cartridges. This is probably the finest gold & silver New York engraved revolver extant.

Presentation plaque on top of case finely engraved: “Joseph S. Spinney / to / Joseph B. Hill / Dec. 25th 1874” Joseph Briggs Hill (1829-1891) led colorful life of adventure & engineer. Born in NY, lived in California during gold rush, lived in Morendo, Peru in 1860s till returning to NYC in 1875 when Joseph S. Spinney presented him with this magnificent pistol as a Christmas present. Joseph S. Spinney (1805-1882) was wealthy New York City merchant and “sea captain”. His son Joseph S. Spinney, Jr. was executor of Joseph B. Hill’s estate, so families were close.

Both men were intimately involved in the building of the Central Railroad of Peru, Hill being engineer 1870-1875, and Spinney being American purchasing agent. The RR was multi-million-dollar enterprise. Both left very large valuable estates, especially Spinney.

This revolver was retained in the Hill family till recently. Hill’s grandson Joseph Briggs Nichols (1904-1973) had this revolver and its story published in State College, PA newspaper article in 1964 (copy accompanies).

UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: copy of cited newspaper article and research notes. 


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