Author Topic: Pistol - J. Wood  (Read 8025 times)

Offline nord

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1548
Pistol - J. Wood
« on: January 17, 2009, 04:28:25 PM »
This pistol is very unique as it uses a “Pill Lock” which was only used for a few years, prior to the Percussion system in the mid to late 1820’s.  Fulminate Mercury, which was used in the Percussion caps a few years later, was rolled into a small ball, or “pill” and placed in the opening of the drum.  When the hammer struck the Fulminate Mercury, it ignited sending sparks through the drum into the main charge in the barrel.  Another unique feature of this pistol is that it uses a lock better known as a “Mule Ear” or “Side Slapper” lock.  The pistol has a 9 1/2 inch barrel and has a .39 caliber rifled bore.  J WOOD is stamped on the top of the barrel.  The first 3 3/4 inches are octagon and the remainder is round.  There is a single line cut into the barrel at the transition surrounding the barrel.  The tang is 5 1/4 inches long and terminates in a point.  It is secured to the stock with a single screw.  The rear sight is located on the breech and there is a bead front sight.  The trigger guard is iron and is secured with two screws to the stock.  The lock is secured with a single screw and marked J WOOD WARRANTED above the main spring, and is stamped J WOOD on the inside of the lock plate.  There is a single ram rod thimble made if iron mounted on an under rib.  The nose cap, side plate and two inlays are poured.  The inlays are five-pointed stars and are located on each side of the butt.  Perhaps this is an indication that the pistol was made for an individual traveling to Texas.  But this is only speculation.  The stock is made of an unknown type of wood, perhaps Apple (?).  There are two repairs to the stock.  Wood has been replaced between the lock and the tang, and wood has been replaced along the right side, between the lock and the nose cap.

There are several gunsmiths listed in both American Gunsmiths by Frank Sellers, and a few listed in Small Arms Makers by Robert Gardner.  Jerry Noble looked at the pistol and told me that the pill lock was used for only a few years in the mid 1820’s.  He also felt that this was a southern made pistol.  Based on his information and using American Gunsmiths and Small Arms Makers for reference, there were two gunsmiths who could have worked during the mid 1820’s in the south.  They were Jesse Wood, born in 1805 and worked in Jamestown, Guilford County North Carolina, and Joham Wood, born in 1798 and worked in Mountain Creek, Rutherford County North Carolina.  I sent pictures of this pistol to Mike Briggs and he said that it wasn’t made in North Carolina, as he hadn’t seen anything quite like it that was made there.  Perhaps he is correct and this may have been made somewhere else.  However, based on the dates listed for gunsmiths listed in the above mentioned books, there are very few J Wood’s listed as gunsmiths that were working during those years.  Also, I doubt that this type of ignition was used on very may pistols and may very well have been a “one of a kind” project that the gunsmith made.  With that in mind, there may not be another pistol (or rifle for that mater) around for comparison.  My personal opinion based on the information that I have seen is that is may well have been made by one of the J Wood’s listed in North Carolina.  I have seen guns signed J M Wood from Jamestown, but haven’t seen any signed J Wood for comparison of the stamping of the name.  I also haven’t seen any guns made by Joham Wood so I don’t know if his guns were stamped with his name or signed in script, or if they were even signed at all.  Any help on identifying where this may have been made would be greatly appreciated.

Committee Comments:

I really like this pistol, it is one of those guns that "if only it could talk".  Ray McKnight did a great commentary in Chandlers & Whiskers book "The Kentucky Pistol" that touches on the "working" frontiersman's pistol.  Something to the effect that they could talk every time you pick them up.  I have to agree with that line of thought.
The speculation about the stars being Texas is pretty colorful.  I have seen some New Orleans pistols that are reminiscent of this pistol overall.  New Orleans gone to Texas!
Signed gun with a southern flavor and a rare form of ignition.
It is indeed one of those "If only it could talk" type guns. It definitely appears Southern, but it would take someone other than me to say just where it was made.
Neat gun! The 'Texas' star makes sense to me. There are a number of guns in Texas and elsewhere that are adorned with the five pointed star. That ornament is not usually found on PA guns, or in many other schools, so there well may be a Texas pioneer connection.
Whatever the case, it is clearly unusual, American made and within the genre of the Kentucky Rifle.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2020, 05:56:46 PM by Tim Crosby »
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.