Clockwork to Percussion: Collier Revolver Types and Timeline

Clockwork Basilisk: The Early Revolvers of Elisha Collier and Artemas Wheeler” is available right now for preorder on Kickstarter:

What were the different patterns of Collier, and what was the timeline of their development and production? Today I’m discussing this with Professor Ben Nicholson, author of Headstamp’s most recent book, “Clockwork Basilisk”. We will start with the original clockwork Colliers, then the standardized run of flintlock manually-operated revolvers, and then the different types of percussions examples, both factory and conversion.


  1. Back in the early 70’s, I only hunted with Flintlocks. Needless to say rain was my enemy. I can’t imagine the difficulty producing a frizzen that self primed the pan and was able to protect the remaining powder from the shower of sparks coming from the pan/touch hole.
    I also shot an Italian copy of Sam Colts Navy 1851. I read many articles telling of the danger of cylinder flashover that caused several chambers to fire which convinced me to fill the chamber ahead of the ball. I never experienced a chain fire due to this practice. I wonder if some of the Colliers had this problem with the frizzen containing priming powder directly above the pan.

  2. If you wanted to redesign one of these early revolvers now; I think if you used a sort of wheelock, but the “wheel” is mounted like the cylinder – A short length of cylinder – with an actual cylinder I.e. containing the powder/ball infront, and at the back of each chamber within each cylinder is a (Striker; for the wheel.) You wind up the wheel by turning it, and everytime you pull the trigger the wheel 360° spins, against the new chamber infront of it, which the action on cocking “say by a phoney hammer” sparks fly & each chamber has a touch hole at the rear. Point being no seperate priming pan charge. Modern materials/springs etc, might work; cheap ammo, caseless… No? He he.

    • I got that idea from the brass bit “cylinder surround” and steel chambers; imagined the brass bit as a wheel “from a wheelock” per se.

      Cheap, quite like that actually…

      • And the comment above… The idea. Brass lark, seperate wheel & rain. Cook off chambers might be an issue… Cross with the (Marlin goose gun) mag I.e. Sort of puckle gun mag fed “bullets” wheelock fired.

        Anyway he he… What smashing guns the Colliers were 🙂

        • Inline muzzle loaders. You could/can “maybe” get these sabots with a spigot attached at the rear you attach pyrodex pellets… Well you slot them over the spigot see… Well if the arse end of the spigot stuck out from the last pellet… And it had a “strikey” surface for the wheel… Maybe have to (nagant) the cylinder a bit to allow rotation… Inline wheelock, actually would a niti clock spring, re-wind itself with heat… Spring “cold” Sproing! + Heat = sprinclug “Rewind” made sense to me. Or… Anyway, basically sound… Principle; centre ingnition wheelock.

          Bonnie guns aren’t these old ones, new ones look sort of shit; mind you I also like tri-corn hats.

          • I honestly think; on a sepearate but related issue, that in order advance tech with guns we might have to split the propellent/bullet from the ignition source again… Ditch cases, full circle like he he.

          • Reckon it would do away with the priming pan charge anyway “centrefire” wheelocks; the spark up the arse so to speak would be contained and thus probably would have to blow, foward… And so detonate the charge.

  3. (Sufice to say the strikey bit is now on the front side of the “wheel” imagine glueing a grinding disc on it; well the grinding disc faces the target)

    • I like that middle gun on the videos “picture” If I was an American and had some cash, in a free state I would carry that and wear a tricorn hat.

      Ar15’s… Honestly, you can could all wander round with these and tricorn hats; make use of your freedoms Americans.

  4. Actually I am now starting to wonder why they did not do that with actual wheelocks in ye, ye olde times… Aye you need a fair spin, of the wheel. Think the mini 3mm rearwards (nagant) delay would do it, contacts the already spinning wheel at 1mm type thing; shooosh! sparks, BANG!! See works, science test there.

    • Not using batterys who has a “ye olde” alarm clock like in the 80’s you wound up, get it donated; need the spring/advanced non elec tech.

      • Anyway I will shut up. Wee engraved side plate of Alice in wonderlands march hare “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date” walnut stock, brass bit; look similar to the middle gun I mentioned above but without the auto primer cock thing 500 bux. And a guinnea off a tricorn hat at your local U.S milliner.

    I have quite probably watched the link above “from this site” before; and essentially forgot, but if you watch said link… There it all was, sort of; the brain eh, amazing really. This post by the author triggered me, my memory that is. 2016 time, he he…

    • True that you know; it was just sitting in the brain (nagant) and at the time time, yesterday of posting I had no idea it seemed entirely impromputu. Amazing really ones, brain.

      • Or did it? Had I? Probably; ye olde guns, which I like… Doubtless watched it; had heard of Colliers prior mind from my Tower of London armoury book circa 1986, but I doubt it mentioned the nagant he he.

        Anyway, decent gun idea that no doubt in the early 19th… Excepting percussion caps would be better had they existed. Still inline wheelocks, he he…

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