RARE & FINE BENJAMIN BIGELOW, MARYSVILLE, CALIFORNIA PILL LOCK REVOLVING RIFLE.
Cal. 46. NSN. Overall 52.5″.
Bbl. 32.75″ oct., stamped on top flat “B. BIGELOW, MARYSVILLE, CAL”. Benjamin Bigelow arrived in California in 1849 at the height of the gold rush & established a popular gun making trade till his death in 1888. Bigelow had previously apprenticed w/ William Billinghurst for 12 years learning the gun trade. Bigelow’s revolving rifle operates much like Billinghurst’s which used the Miller patent (1829) hand-turned cyl. & “mercury fulminate pill” ignition. Back action lock, iron mounted, walnut stock, blued bbl. & cyl.; case colored lock, frame, triggerguard, patchbox, & buttplate. The only markings other than maker’s name on bbl. is the back of the cyl. w/ corresponding 1-7 for each chamber & removable screwed-in plug. Very few Miller patent rifles were made, most by Billinghurst, no more than 2 or 3 are known by Bigelow & this is a very fine example retaining much of its original finish. Jim Servin wrote an interesting 1964 article on the California gun trade which is linked given the history of Benjamin Bigelow & his firearms production in the gold fields of California.