During the 1870's and 1880's, there was a huge market for low-priced pocket pistols...they were so successful that they drove several manufacturers of quality pocket pistols like Colt and Remington out of the marketplace. For example, Colt's "New Line", "House" Model, and pocket "Open Top" along with Remington's "Smoot" revolvers were too expensive to compete with the flood of cheap revolvers hitting the market. Only S&W seemed to survive. These guns were often of inferior quality and the manufacturers rarely placed their name on their products.. Instead, they gave them nicknames like Deadpan, Robinhood, Red Jacket, Blue Jacket, Captain Jack, Defender, etc. Today, one could collect these guns for a lifetime and still not find all the names.
We usually don't pursue this area of collecting but this little gun was rather interesting to us. For starters, it has a name that I've never seen before, the "BLUE WHISTLER". Secondly, the barrel, frame, and cylinder are all factory engraved. Last but not least, it has original genuine Ivory grips....most cheap revolvers have hard rubber grips or imitation Ivory...this is real Ivory. Not seeing this combination of features on a cheap no-name pocket revolver from the 1870's very often, this was just too tempting for us to pass this one by! For a two-dollar pistol, its fairly unusual to find a dollar or two worth of engraving and a nice pair of ivories.
Overall condition externally is NRA Antique Fine with 85% original nickel over its brass frame. The barrel has flaked to about 35% nickel while the cylinder has no nickel remaining. Engraving is quite sharps and crisp traditional scroll vignettes with punch dot reliefs on the frame. The cylinder and barrel have what I call Zipper engraving accented with punch dots or little designs that resemble quotations or bird's feet. Some people call this zipper style "Poor man's Engraving" but you see this on plenty of Colts and Merwin & Hulbert Revolvers as well. Plus, the Vignettes on the frame are equivalent in quality to at least a 19th century engraver working in or near New York at the time. The grips are in Excellent shape having aged to a yellow vanilla color with nice fit, little to no shrinkage, and no chips or cracks. Mechanically, typical of low-quality revolvers, the action needs a tune-up. It cocks fine but the bolt needs to be adjusted and the hand is acting lazy and refusing to engage the cams on the back of the cylinder. Everything is there and accounted for, nothing is missing, just needs some attention. The cylinder has five chambers in Caliber .32 rimfire.