Webley's version of the European designed double toggle hinge framed revolver was a six shot design they marketed as the "No.4". There was at least two variations of the No.4 with both short and long frames to match two different cylinder lengths. In addition the cylinders themselves were made in both smooth sided and fluted in calibers .442CF, .450CF, .455CF and .476CF. At some point in the 1880's they also introduced a slightly smaller, 5 shot version of the No.4 that they called the No.4½.
This five shot Webley No.4½ revolver is finished in nickel, has a 4½" barrel and chambered in .455CF. It is marked on the barrel with the retailers address "HENRY ATKIN (FROM J. PURDEY’S) 18 OXENDON STREET, HAYMARKET W." .On the left side is marked WEBLEY’S No.4½ .455CF along with Webley's W&S winged bullet trademark.
All these double tong type revolvers with the cylinder locked in place by a rotating spindle on the left side are commonly referred to as Webley Pryse revolvers. However the actual Charles Pryse patent No. 4421 of 1876 didn't describe the breech locking or cylinder removal mechanism at all. It actually describes two improvements. Firstly, a secondary locking stop that prevents the cylinder rotating as the trigger is released after firing. Secondly, it describes an antifriction roller on the end of the sear on which the rear of the trigger presses when firing the gun. At no point does the patent describe the double tong type breech locking system that today is used identify a so called Webley Pryse. The patent does show a diagram of a revolver with the cylinder locking spindle but this isn't specifically described. In actual fact the design of these features seems to have been first patented in 1871 by the Belgian maker, P. Counet.
Unfortunately this revolver has seen much use, and also plenty of abuse, and is in quite poor condition. Even worse is some vandal has crudely rubbed out the serial number from the frame so we're now left with only the cylinder serial, usually the last three digits, of 574. The few other No.4½ revolvers I've encountered have all had serials in the 81xxx range so it's possible that this may once have been 81,574. Despite it's faults, this is a rare Webley and fills a hole in my collection until I come across a better example.