This a fine condition and very scarce Asa Waters manufactured U.S. Model 1836 Flintlock Pistol, still in the original flint, that was made in 1837.
The history of the U.S. Handgun began just before the Revolution when British troops stationed in the American Colonies were issued with the "New Model 1760" flintlock pistol. When the Revolutionary War began, the Rappahannock Forge in Virginia copied the British Model 1760 design and designated it the Model 1775. This .62 caliber, flintlock, single shot pistol is generally considered to be the first US martial sidearm. The US War Department signed its first contract with a private arms manufacturer in 1799 when it entered into an agreement with Simeon North of Berlin, Connecticut to produce what became the Model 1799 Flintlock Pistol in .75 caliber. The U.S. Arsenal at Harper's Ferry eventually began producing a copy of the US Model 1775 Flintlock Pistol with minor modifications and designated it the Model 1805. Springfield Armory followed suit several years later with its Model 1817 Flintlock Pistol in .54 caliber (one of the few handguns ever produced by Springfield in almost 200 years). The Model 1817 was a long, full-stocked handgun and was popular with Dragoons because of their ability to carry the long weapon in a brace of two pistols. Various designs and manufacturers produced US Martial Flintlock Pistols during the first third of the 19th Century but most kept to a fairly standardized design - flintlock ignition, large caliber, smooth bore barrel, steel or brass furniture and a ramrod. The Waters Model 1836 has the distinction of being the last flintlock pistol adopted for use by the U.S. Army.
Asa Waters, Jr., and his son Asa H. Waters, manufactured firearms, principally under contract for the U.S. Government, in Millbury, Massachusetts. Asa Waters, Jr., also known as Asa Waters the Second, was born in Sutton, Massachusetts on November 2, 1769 to a family with a long history of gun making. Waters and his brother, Elijah, began manufacturing firearms as well as scythes, saws and other metal implements. The Waters Armory was constructed by the brothers in 1808, the same year they obtained their first government contract for the production of the pattern musket. Elijah Waters died in 1814 and Asa Waters became the sole proprietor of his firearms manufacturing concern. He was joined by his son, Asa Holman Waters, who continued the family's firearms manufacturing business after Asa Waters, Jr. died Christmas Eve, 1841. Asa Waters, Jr.'s last words were, "I am going from this room to one above."
This pistol thus has the distinction of being the last US Model Flintlock Pistol manufactured for the U.S. Army, and one of the last Waters pistols manufactured under the founder, Asa Waters, Jr.'s, leadership. Interestingly, part of the machinery for manufacturing the U.S. Model 1836 and other pistols from the Waters Armory was sold in 1852 to William Glaze, who managed the Palmetto Armory in Charleston, South Carolina. This accounts for the similarity between the Waters pistols and the Palmetto Armory-manufactured percussion pistols, many of which were used by the Confederacy early int the Civil War.
This particular Model 1836 Flintlock Pistol, as noted, is in its original flintlock configuration and is in antique fine condition. The original Stock is beautiful American Black Walnut and is in fine condition with only very minor dings and one surface grain crack at the rear of the lock mortise. There is also one minor chip noted adjacent to the barrel band on the left side. The stock appears to have its original finish. The left side of the stock has two, horizontally stamped inspection cartouches. The first is an oval with script “JA,” which is the inspection stamp of Brevet Brigadier General William A. Thornton, U.S. Army, who was the chief inspector of contract arms in the 1840s. The second, is an oval with script “HKC,” which is the inspection stamp of Henry Knox Craig, who was a Major in the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps serving as “superintendent of inspection of small contract arms,” in the 1830s.
In the lock plate are several inspection and fitter stamps. The lock mortises are still very crisp. The tang mortise is also very crisp and has an “O” inspection stamp. There are numerous fitter stamps in the lock recess, including an “O” stamp and a “2” assembly stamp. The Side Plate has a serif “S” inspection stamp.
The furniture on this pistol is its original steel with most of its original National Armory Bright finish interspersed with some pewter patina and it does show having had a light cleaning in the past. The Trigger Guard has a serif “S” inspection stamp on the forward portion. The rear of the guard has a “62” stamp, which matches the stamp found on the interior face of the pan in the lock assembly. The separate Trigger Bow is still tightly secured to the Trigger Guard. The Trigger still shows evidence of the original blued finish in the protected area.
The Side Plate is unmarred and both Side Plate Screws are in fine condition. The Side Plate has a serif “P” inspection stamp on the outer surface and a serif “J” stamp on the inside surface. Both Side Plate Screws also have serif “J” stamps on the barrel. The Front Grip Strap has a serif "V" inspection stamp. The Barrel Band and integrated extension, which overlaps with the forward portion of the Side Plate, is securely in place and exhibits the majority of its bright finish. On the inside leg of the band are two serif “X” inspection stamps. The back strap with integrated butt cap exhibits a pewter patina with small areas of old pitting and it has a serif “W” stamp on the inside of the strap portion. The Cap Screw has a serif “J” stamp on the barrel.
The Lock Plate is in fine condition and the Lock Plate markings are still crisp, which are "A. WATERS/MILBURY, MS./1837" just forward of the Hammer below a federal eagle head looking towards the muzzle. The original Hammer is present and it has a pewter and plum patina over the original National Armory Bright finish. The back side of the hammer has a serif “E” inspection stamp. The Binding Screw and Upper Jaw are present and exhibit a similar plum patina. The Hammer operates correctly at half-cock and full-cock and it releases smoothly at full-cock.
The Original Brass Flash Pan is present and retains its original dark mustard patina. The bottom of the pan has a serif “A” inspection stamp. The Touch Hole adjacent to the Flash Pan is in its original configuration and diameter and has not been altered. The Frizzen exhibits minor wear on its face from firing and it operates smoothly. The interior leg of the Frizzen has a serif “V” inspection stamp. The Frizzen Spring is still strong.
On the face of the lock plate, just above the frizzen spring finial, is a serif “K” inspection stamp. The interior of the lock plate is in very fine condition. The back of the plate itself has several serif “U” stamps. There are several serif “U” stamps and a “62” stamp on the interior surface of the pan. The original Pan Screw has a serif “E” stamp. The original Sear, Tumbler and Bridle all retain the vast majority of the beautiful and original tempered fire blue finish and all also have matching serif “E” stamps. The Sear and Bridle Screws also have matching serif “E” stamps.
The original Barrel is present and still shows generous portions of its National Armory Bright Finish interspersed with some old pitting on the top and sides near the touch hole, but it is generally in very fine condition throughout. The bore is in fine condition for its age and the breech portion of the breech plug is still very shiny and clean. The touch hole is clear to the chamber. The original Brass Front Sight Stud is still brazed securely in place and it has a dark mustard patina. The left rear of the Barrel has the "U.S." surcharge over the initials, "JA," which are the initials of John Avis, who was a civilian Ordnance Inspector of contract arms. Below the inspector's initials is a firing proof "P" stamp. The left, rear barrel flat has a serif “A” inspection stamp.
Below the front of the Barrel is the original Ramrod Swivel Assembly, which still operates smoothly and is in antique fine condition. The original Ramrod is also present with its Buttonhead Tip and threaded end. The entire Ramrod Assembly exhibits a smooth pewter patina.
The bottom, rear of the barrel has a crisp “JA” stamp as well as an “O” stamp. The bottom of the barrel has a witness line that aligns with a corresponding witness line on the bottom of the tang. The Tang retains the majority of its original case-hardened finish on the bottom and has several inspection stamps, including a serif “J” stamp and two serif “X” stamps. The original Tang Screw retains the majority of its original blued finish and the barrel of the screw has a serif “U” inspection stamp.
The Breech Plug is in mint condition and still retains the majority of its original case-hardened finish. The right side of the plug has an “O” inspection stamp. The rearward facing portion of the breech plug has a punch mark and a “2” stamp, which is identical to another “2” stamp and punch mark on the rearward facing flat of the barrel.
Waters only manufactured approximately 20,000 of this variant of the U.S. Model 1836 Flintlock Pistol and surviving examples still in their original flint are exceedingly rare today. This pistol still functions perfectly.