V. G. W. Libeau, New Orleans
important, unique, hand built revolver by V. G. W.
Libeau, New Orleans, 1847.
made without serial #, cal. .34 percussion, 4 11/16" octagonal barrel with dove-tailed front-sight and flush gold inlaid on top flat NEW ORLEANS. 12-groove-rifling with rapid twist, lock-plate engraved in script as pictured. 1 15/16" five-shot cylinder with unusual individual countersunk spring system, applying pressure an each nipple and allowing incorrect size percussion caps. Forward of cylinder periphery over each chamber and each nipple springs engraved sequentially 1 to 5, a feature shared with some of the pre-Colt-Paterson prototypes. As with a Paterson, the cylinder revolves with cocking the hammer "single action". Unusual silver for end, designed to act also as a shield covering the front of cylinder - yet another feature shared with early pre-Paterson prototype revolvers. The hammer fitted with hood to prevent spent caps from flying into the face of the shooter. Rear sight mounted on top of frame and secured by single screw. For end secured to barrel lug and to bottom of frame by a steel yoke with one screw in barrel lug and two into the frame bottom. Finely checkered hammer spur. Unique, tiny loading lever on left side of barrel lug, measuring 1⅜", of which the plunger measures ¾", secured by minute screws, and snapped against spring to rear of mount to prevent pivoting except for loading.
Decorative border motif engraved on back-action lock, on upper tang and on left side-plate. Blued finish. Select walnut bag-shaped grip of contour influenced by contemporary belt pistols, embellished with finely detailed checkering. Silver thumb-piece escutcheon on grip, inscribed in script with flourishes S.B.C.
With 50% blue, balance turning to brown-gray patina, light wear in fine condition.
V.G.W. Libeau is listed in New Orleans No. 9 Camp Street, in the city directories 1832 - 1845
Known as a maker of percussion derringers an half stock sporting rifles, this unique revolver is likely the only specimen made, considering the lack of a serial number. quality of manufacture and no other examples have been observed. Unlike the Paterson which revolves clockwise, the Libeau turns counterclockwise.
Flayderman's # 7A-043.8, page 360
Sawyer, The Revolver, volume two (1911, copy of book is included) who referred to the silver for end as "smoke shield".
internet information: V.G.W. Libeau
is listed at No. 9 Camp Street, in New Orleans city directories 1832 - 1845.
The Lebeau families are innovative and well-known gun makers in Liège, Belgium.
Included is also an auction catalog where this particular revolver honors the title page. $50,000.