The Lincoln Assassination

On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, in the company of Major Henry Reed Rathbone and his fiancée, Clara Harris, attended a performance of Our American Cousin, a play showing at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. At approximately 10:15 p.m., an actor named John Wilkes Booth made his way to the state box occupied by the President and his companions, entered the sitting area unchallenged, and, pointing the muzzle of his Deringer pistol at the back of Abraham Lincoln's head, fired a single shot. During the ensuing chaos, Booth dropped the pistol, stabbed Major Rathbone in the arm with a knife, vaulted over the railing of the state box to the stage, and escaped through the back of the theater to his horse. Though having broken the fibula of his left leg during his leap to the stage, Booth was otherwise uninjured and rode unpursued from the scene of the crime. The pistol recovered from the state box after the Lincoln shooting was a silver-inlaid model of the pocket type produced by Deringer, an armsmaker based in Pennsylvania.

Reference: FBI Forensic Science Communications: Jan. 2001 - Vol. 3 - No. 1


Henry Deringer Sr. and his son, Henry Jr., were well established in Philadelphia by the close of the War of 1812, having made both sporting and military rifles at that place since the turn of the century. Henry Jr. continued in the gun trade until the outbreak of the American Cicil War, primarily producing flintlock and percussion military rifles, at least 2,500 "Northwest Guns" and 1,200 rifles for the Indian trade, a frew percussion martial pistols, but most importantly the percussion pocket pistols that became so popular that they took on his mispelled name as a generic term, the "Derringers." After his death, Henry Deringer's name was used by I.J. Clark who manufactured rimfire revolvers on Charels Foehl's patents between 1870 & 1879.


Rock Island Auction Company

As the Nation's Leading Auction House for Firearms, Edged Weapons & Military Artifacts we successfully auction thousands of firearms each year.

Many customers and firearms enthusiasts have asked that we continue to leave our catalog of firearms posted after the auction is over. With more than 6,000 photos of firearms and related items sold at auction, our catalogs make a great firearms reference book. As a service to the firearms collecting community we created this web site to be used as a reference tool for searching Antique Derringers and related items sold at auction. You will be able to view the description, estimated value, and the high quality photography we have for these firearms.

You will also find items in our upcoming auction if we have items in this genre. Firearms that have been sold at past auctions are available as well, to see the past auction items choose the auction from the drop list below. To find a specific item of interest you can use the Search by Keyword field below.

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