1. Really interesting. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Do you have any information as to roughly when it was manufactured, or re-manufactured for that matter? Thanks in advance.

      • The cheese head screws certainly appear to have been made on an automatic lathe, rather than individually threaded on a screw plate and the heads filed, the flat hammer springs also look like they are re-purposed mass produced pieces.

  2. Whats with the strange surface texture? Is it an effect of the manufacturing process or rust or something?

  3. I concur in this being a 1900s fun project – it looks too much like an internal combustion camshaft with valves actuation to be a coincidence.

    • Cam shafts is technology from the steam era, and they were much more visible then. But I agree this can have been made as recently as 40s or 50s, no one will ever know. Personally to me it looks like a pre WW I era conversion.

      • The form that the shaft takes is actually quite an old idea, and examples of the same idea can be seen in the stamps of mineral processing plants and in trip hammers, probably going back to Roman times or before.
        Similar Ideas are certainly illustrated in renaissance texts such Georgius Bauer (“Agricola)’s “De Re Metallica” which re-used some of Biringuccio’s illustrations from his 1540 “pyrotechnica”

  4. The superposed pistol/rifle can be dangerous as the multiple powder charge can be fired at one time (effect know as “chainfire” in cap&ball revolvers). If we are discussing superposed what do you think about Greene rifle which when ready has in chamber: bullet-powdercharge-bullet:

  5. Eight trigger pulls to fire four shots?

    Believe I’ll stick to double action revolvers!

    Very interesting concept, though.

  6. This pistol, or one that is a dead ringer for it, is plate No. 208 on p. 183 of Firearms Curiosa by Lewis Winant (1955) (Page number from the NRA reprint edition, Odysseus Publications, 1996, chapter 9, “Superposed Loads”.)

    The photo is credited as courtesy of Dr. J.S. Golden, who apparently owned the piece at the time. Winant says;

    The conversion of a single-shot pistol to the bizarre four-shot in figure 208 was the work of an unknown and uninhibited gunsmith. The unmarked pistol he converted is possibly a Confederate piece. The gun is as unconventional in operation as in appearance. Under the barrel is a spindle that is turned by a ratchet device actuated by the ring trigger. Four studs on the spindle engage the hammers one after another. after one trigger pull raises a hammer, the next pull releases that hammer. With the spindle properly set to cock the foremost hammer, eight successive trigger pulls will empty the gun and put the spindle back in position to raise the foremost hammer again.

    -Winant, p. 182

    I think the rear sight may be original, because I’m willing to go out on a limb and day this beastie started out life as an underhammer “boot pistol”, which was intended for “across the poker table” use, where precise aiming was generally not needed. (Besides, there usually wasn’t time.)

    The action reminds me a bit of the Savage-North percussion revolver, making me wonder if there isn’t some connection.

    As for time period, I’d put it at somewhere around 1850-60. Superposed loads were very much an “in thing” at that time, as inventors sought to come up with repeating arms that didn’t require paying a royalty to Sam Colt or the Wessons.

    I’ll venture to say that this is the same pistol shown in the Winant book. I cant imagine anyone making a pair of them…



      • Muchas gracias’.

        One more point. The ring trigger/saw-handle combination was common on pepperboxes made in Europe from the 1840s to the early 1860s. Ring triggers on single-shot boot pistols weren’t very common, in Europe or the U.S.

        This also points to the pre-Civil War decade as the probable date of the conversion, and could indicate that the gunsmith was European, albeit working in the U.S.

        In Europe, he wouldn’t have been concerned with the Colt or White patents. Revolvers were made over there from the 1840s under the Lefaucheux patents, which covered both the lockwork and the bored-through cylinder (for the pinfire metallic cartridge).

        Just a guess.



  7. A great read on the topic is Superimposed Load Firearms 1360-1860 by R.A Baxter. it used to be accessible on the cheaper than dirt library from their website but alas I can’t find it now so cannot post a link 🙁
    Although the concept sounds mad and dangerous (perhaps deservedly) it seems to have been used repeatedly over many centuries. Some actually seemed fairly safe. The author of the book had test fired one civil war era rifle that was strong enough to fire the rear most load and push out unfired front loads safely. He reported the recoil was substantial. One clever patent refered to in the book sounded fairly safe’ish… it was a shotgun with two loads per barrel with a recessed chamber of smaller diameter for the powder in the rear one. Between the over charge wad, the shot and the over shot charge it would have been quite safe making a double barrel shotgun a 4 shot.
    Another interesting earlier version of the superimposed load used with a wheel-lock cavalry pistol had two locks. One at the breech and one to the front of quite a number of charges. There were only two touch holes as the front lock was intended to set off a deliberate chainfire like a roman candle. The balls were hollow like round sinkers to let the flash pass to the following charge. It was a large number of balls too. I don’t recall exact number but was certainly more than 4 and possibly 7 or more. The rear most lock was there to enable the gun to be used normally after the initial volley was fired.
    Hmmm I somehow doubt anyone will be making a replica of these in a hurry…

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