This is a very early James Webley 1st Model Percussion Longspur Revolver from around 1853. It is a 6 shot, 60 bore revolver with a 7" barrel that is hinged to the frame and secured with a cross wedge. It has a very low serial number of 151 which, along with the separate rammer screwed into the grip, identify it as a 1st model, 1st variation Longspur.
Longspur revolvers are hand made revolvers that were made in three different sizes, Holster (48 bore), Belt (60 Bore) and Pocket (120 Bore). They also vary in frame size and barrel length. The barrel rifling on this example is a heavy 16 groove type which is typically found on the earlier guns. Later guns are made with simpler 3 groove rifling.
The revolver is covered with light scroll engraving with left frame engraved "JAMES WEBLEY PATENTEE" within a banner. The barrel is marked "James Webley St. Marys Square. Birmingham” and the backstrap marked "BY HER MAJESTY'S ROYAL LETTERS PATENT" along with the serial number 151. All these markings are very faint and almost unreadable without magnification. The cylinder, adjacent to each percussion nipple, is also engraved with the numbers 1 to 6.
Webley Longspur revolvers are classified into three distinct model groups.
1st Model Longspur serial numbers range from about 100 through to around 290. These have separate rammers, no locking slots on the cylinder, and the frame extends upwards to surround the sides of the hammer. They are mostly 5 shot although 6 shot examples are known. Within the 1st Model there are two rammer variations - the first have a separate rammer screwed into the base of the grip. This is the earliest form that must have quickly proven ineffective as it is not seen beyond serial 160. The second variation rammers are carried separately from the revolver. For use, they are fitted over a small peg projecting from the right side of the barrel, and used as a pivoted lever to ram the projectile into the cylinder.
2nd Model Longspurs serial numbers range from the high 200's to around 1000. They have separate locking slots on the cylinder between each chamber, and the sides of the frame are reduced to expose more of the hammer. They are also fitted with a rammer that swivels from the hinge pin on the right side of the frame, and when not in use, swivels around and locks into place alongside the frame.
3rd Model Longspur revolvers are quite different in appearance from the earlier types. They range from around serial 1000 through to over 1500. They were fitted with Kerr type rammers to the left side of the barrel. The other major change is the replacement of the barrel hinge with a thumbscrew holding the lower section of the barrel to the frame.