This is a nice example of the "Southerner" Derringer by Merrimack Arms of Newburyport, Mass. These were approximately 16,000 built following the Civil War from 1866 to 1873. Nobody is certain exactly why this pistol acquired the "Southerner" nickname, but it is clearly befitting of uncertain and often chaotic times of the Reconstruction Era. The first three years of production were made under the name Brown. From 1869 to 1873, they were built under the name Merrimack in their own serial range 1-approx. 10,000. Brown and Merrimack also produced Ballard Rifles before being sold off to Marlin in the early 1870's.
Today, when you find their derringers, they are often heavily worn with no finish remaining and rounded over edges, especially the grips. Given their small size and relatively large caliber, most were probably used as pocket pistols and carried for many years. That said, this one is very well preserved and above the run of the mill examples we normally see. It would have been made around 1870 as it's one of the earlier guns made under the Merrimack trade name in the 3,000 serial range. It has the standard brass frame with rosewood grips. Overall, it grades to NRA Antique Fine with 35-40% thinning original blue remaining on the barrel with the balance turned to patina. The brass frame has acquired a nice dark mustard color and if you look close, there are what looks to be some very old fingerprints in the patina...perhaps from the hands of the original owner. Hammer still shows some flashes of original case colors. Originally, the brass frame was silver plated (probably only a couple of atoms thick because they're almost never found with any silver left) and there are traces of darkened silver around the hammer. There is also some silver internally beneath the barrel. The markings are perfect with a great "SOUTHERNER" across the top flat of the octagon barrel and a nice Merrimack address on the left side. Rosewood grips are in very good condition with still fairly decent corners. Screws and pins are nice and the barrel pivot screw still has most of its original blue remaining. Decent mechanics. Bore is a little frosty in places from black powder but nice lands and grooves and will probably improve with a little cleaning. One of the better ones we've found in some time.