Author Topic: Bitterlich, Franz 110406-7  (Read 8787 times)

Offline nord

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1548
Bitterlich, Franz 110406-7
« on: May 02, 2011, 06:50:12 PM »
A set of Tennessee deringers by Franz Bitterlich (& Co.) of Nashville that are quite rare.  It is one of two known cased sets of deringers by this maker.  One of the pistols in this set is about unused, the other is used somewhat - this must have been the one that the original owner took with him, leaving the newer one at home in the case.  The case is of mahogany and is brass bound.  The lining is simple green felt.
The pistols, with 3-1/4" barrels (including breech) in caliber .38, have belt hooks that are original with the guns which is really unusual.  Each pistol measures 6-3/4" overall in length.  The stocks are of walnut and the mountings of german silver.  The bright accessories and belt hooks are originally nickel plated which is very unusual in firearms applications this early.  I believe that this set dates to the mid to late 1850's as the later guns by Bitterlich all have a square nut retaining the hammer that Bitterlich used on his own guns as well as those made for other Nashville makers that can be dated as later.  Nickel plating was known in the early 1850's and was used on tools and the like.  Nashville, before the Civil War was a vibrant and prosperous town which no doubt would have had the capabilities for plating and the need of this process.  Apparently, Franz Bitterlich liked this process and had the nipple wrench, flask, bullet mold, iron cleaning rods and belt hooks plated this way.
A few rifles and other pistols are known by this maker and all exhibit the highest quality of fit and almost total lack of any ornamentation other than simple line bordering. 


Franz Bitterlich worked in Lockport, Will County, Illinois, prior to moving to Nashville. He is listed in Lockport in the 1860 census. He is also listed in Nashville in the 1860 census, so apparently moved that year and was counted in both locations. He was born in Bohemia in 1829.  He had a partner named Joseph Legler, who was with him in Lockport, Illinois, and eventually joined him again in Nashville, as I have seen rifles marked BITTERLICH & LEGLER NASHVILLE TENN.  Legler remained in Illinois through at least 1864.  I have a rifle made by him, stamped LEGLER LOCKPORT ILL. .

 Although these little guns occupy their own genre, (derringers), they nonetheless
qualify as 'Kentucky' Pistols, and darn nice ones at that. Wish they were in my gun cabinet.
The casing is just icing on the cake.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2019, 04:47:32 AM by rich pierce »
In Memory of Lt. Catherine Hauptman Miller 6/1/21 - 10/1/00 & Capt. Raymond A. Miller 12/26/13 - 5/15/03...  They served proudly.