A revolver that once belonged to Confederate President Jefferson Davis was recently sold at auction for $470,000 to an undisclosed bidder by Rock Island Auction (RIA) in Rock Island, Illinois.
Complete with a documented providence and ownership records to prove authenticity, the revolver was arguably one of the most important pieces of American military history available for purchase by the public.
The gun was accompanied by a lot that included affidavits of authenticity, letters detailing the family’s historical possession and a storage box containing the gun and tools required to clean and maintain the weapon.
The capture of Davis, and subsequently his weapon, have become American folklore.
After General Robert E. Lee abandoned Virginia under the onslaught of the Union Army, he sent a warning to Jefferson Davis via envelope to evacuate the city of Richmond.
Davis was intent to continue the fight despite the chaos that ensued but was captured on May 10, 1865. At the time, Davis was inhabiting a tent encampment along the banks of a creek in Irwinville, Georgia.
Davis was searched upon capture, with his revolver, wallet and other belongings provided to Union soldier John Hines, a 4th Calvary Corporeal from Michigan.
Almost immediately afterward, Hines was killed in a friendly-fire incident. The gun was retrieved by his brother, Edwin Hines. The revolver stayed with the Hines family as an heirloom, reaching the auction house through Edwin’s great-granddaughter.
The gun features two inventions that greatly increased firepower for the time, one being the double-action revolver mechanism patented by Adams in 1851. The other, a patent by Lieutenant Frederick E.B. Beaumont, modified the revolver to a double-action, single-action revolver in 1856.
The auction house described the revolver as “fine with generous patches of aged original silver plating in the protected areas, smooth silver-gray and light brown patina on most of the visible surfaces, patches of original niter blue on some of the small parts, crisp engraving and markings, light pitting, and general mild overall wear.”
“The grip is very fine and has crisp checkering with a few small scrapes, minor handling wear, and smooth finish. Mechanically fine,” it added.