.36 caliber, 6.625" octagonal barrel, no serial numbers. Marked on the top of the frame in two lines T.W. Cofer's Patent, then marked in a single line on the barrel Portsmouth VA. Brass frame, walnut grips. Cylinder is bored through to accommodate a special cartridge that was intended to be fired, and then reloaded for further use. Cylinder is held to the frame by a removable cylinder pin that releases on the right side by a spring-loaded button. Under the cylinder pin is a stud mounted pin to be used to eject the cartridges. The cartridge has a recessed percussion nipple with the cartridge to be loaded from the front of the cylinder.
It is unknown how many of this type Cofer revolvers were made. This is the only known Cofer example with the cylinder bored through presently known to collectors to have survived the years. The revolver was found in the basement of an old Long Island house on the top of a beam between the floor joists when the house was being remodeled. This specific background data was first reported by Bill Gary in his book Confederate Revolvers, page 149, published in 1987.
Thomas W. Cofer was issued Confederate Patent Number 9 on August 12, 1861 for a revolving percussion firearm. It involved a split cylinder that accepted a uniquely designed percussion cartridge. The cylinder needed to be removed from the revolver each time it was reloaded. This revolver is identified to today's collectors as the "Type I Cofer." Currently, only two known examples of Type I have survived the years.
At some point between August 1861 and late 1861, Cofer made a number of refinements to the cartridge design and loading system for his revolver. While the cartridge percussion system was retained, the shell and loading features were changed. The cylinder was bored through completely and there were no longer two separate parts requiring removal of the cylinder when the gun was reloaded. The percussion cartridge was redesigned to be loaded from the rear with no need to remove the cylinder from the gun.
This specific gun is being offered by Cowan's in this lot. Thesole currently known survivor of the "Type II Cofer" revolver, it must be considered one of the very rarest examples of the primary Confederate revolvers.
The "Type III Cofer" revolver has the more practical and conventional percussion cylinder. Of the small number of surviving Cofer revolvers, the majority have the typical percussion cylinders.
All three Cofer loading systems are pictured in the Literature references cited below.
Gary, William. CONFEDERATE REVOLVERS. Dallas, Texas: K8 Communications, Taylor Publications, 1987. This gun is pictured and described on pages 149-151. The full page 151 is a sketch of the gun and the probably type of percussion cartridge used in the gun, plus how the cartridge was loaded in the gun and fired.
American Society of Arms Collectors (ASAC) Bulletin number 72 May 1995 "The Legacy Of The Tidewater Gunsmith-Thomas W. Cofer" By M. Clifford Young. Pages 72/10-72/15
Provenance: M. Clifford Young
The barrel has a nice dark brown patina with some pitting mixing in. Lines are fairly sharp. Markings on top of the barrel are dim but readable. Cylinder pin has nice dark patina. Cylinder with dark patina and some pitting blending in. Hammer with dark patina and some pitting. All metal parts have even look. Brass frame was cleaned at one time and has begun to re-patinate. Brass frame has some nicks and dings. Nice clean and sharp markings on the top of the frame. Grips with some nicks and dings. A very old repair on the right grip. Included with the lot are Two cartridges of the style believed to be of the style used in this specific Cofer revolver.