Handguns J.H. Dance & Brothers Revolver

1SG

Private
Joined
Sep 11, 2019
Location
North Alabama
I love the hunt and learning as I go.

NOT VERY LIKELY, but imagine if this is a Dance piece that was rebuilt, LOL

Soooooo many questions.
1. if it is a Replica, why go to the trouble to build recoil shields????????? I removed the shields and there is a pin in line with the arbor, (does it hold the arbor in the frame)
2. why build a trigger guard like this?
3. why no sights or are they removed?
4. why use round cylinder stops like on a Paterson?
5. the grips are about 3/16 too long on the frame.
6. possibles? it was in a fire and the brass parts and grips were damaged and it was rebuit with steel trigger guard and backstrap?

IMG_2332.JPG


IMG_2333.JPG


IMG_2334.JPG


IMG_2335.JPG


IMG_2337.JPG


IMG_2338.JPG


IMG_2339.JPG


IMG_2340.JPG


IMG_2341.JPG


IMG_2342.JPG


IMG_2343.JPG


IMG_2344.JPG
 

Rusk County Avengers

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Location
Coffeeville, TX
Well first off, hello and welcome to CWT from the Book, Movie, and TV Discussion Forum.

Second off, that gun is a lot of things, but is not a Dance Revolver. One it is not is safe to fire, it looks like the back section of the cylinder is welded on, and the spring is a very modern style. Plus the recoil shield screwed on in that way, like the guy who made it didn't know how, or didn't have the materials to cast the frame with it solid. I'm very suspicious that this gun was a project by a machinist in his workshop somewhere. It looks very similar to some single shot muzzleloaders I've seen built by machinists, (great minds think alike I guess), but I hate to be the one to say it, but that gun is not only not a Dance Revolver, but is probably not even CW.

Either way welcome to CWT!
 

ikesdad

First Sergeant
Joined
Aug 5, 2016
Location
Western Slope
Well first off, hello and welcome to CWT from the Book, Movie, and TV Discussion Forum.

Second off, that gun is a lot of things, but is not a Dance Revolver. One it is not is safe to fire, it looks like the back section of the cylinder is welded on, and the spring is a very modern style. Plus the recoil shield screwed on in that way, like the guy who made it didn't know how, or didn't have the materials to cast the frame with it solid. I'm very suspicious that this gun was a project by a machinist in his workshop somewhere. It looks very similar to some single shot muzzleloaders I've seen built by machinists, (great minds think alike I guess), but I hate to be the one to say it, but that gun is not only not a Dance Revolver, but is probably not even CW.

Either way welcome to CWT!

My same opinion when I saw it. I've seen machinists turn out some "different" stuff. The last one I saw built a 50 BMG rifle.
 

1SG

Private
Joined
Sep 11, 2019
Location
North Alabama
I had not thought of a skilled machinist taking on this task, VERY LIKELY and very skilled

I did not think a Dance model was possible
 

Jobe Holiday

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 1, 2010
Location
The Perpetually Frozen North
Being an old retired Machinist, I see a "Basement Mechanic's Fingerprints" all over this thing! I would consider him to be an extremely clever person, and with some talent to go with it. The reason for the separate recoil shields is because that was much easier than carving out a frame from a block of steel large enough to include recoil shields. The trigger made out of a file is interesting and clever usage, because he could anneal it to shape and fit it, and then re-harden it to prevent wear. I understand the comment about the cylinder possibly being welded, but to me it looks more like a drag mark from something in the frame. If the barrel is rifled I wouldn't be surprised if it was from an old rifle. Just my thoughts!
J.
 

sourdough

Corporal
Joined
May 29, 2017
Location
Pe Ell, Washington
Whomever built that revolver had quite the imagination! It reminds me of the Johnny Cash song "One Piece At A Time".

Many questions and comments...

1.) What caliber is it?

2.) What size is the frame? Is it comparable to a Colt 1851 Navy/1860 Army or that of a Colt Dragoon? The Dance .44 used a frame that was about midway between those frames, so the Dance .44 did not use a rebated cylinder. The Dance .36 used a Navy sized frame.

3.) If this gun used a Colt frame, I have no idea why the recoil shields were milled off and then replaced with crude recoil shields attached by screws. The Dance factory moved in 1864 to Anderson TX nearby the Confederate Ordinance Works which, I believe, produced cannon shells and other munitions. Although I cannot quote the source readily, it seems that many Dance parts were found at the site in later years. Although conjecture on my part, it could be possible that discarded frame(s) were found there.

4.) The barrel appears to be a Colt Dragoon .44, as opposed to a Dance, because it has a squared-off octagon barrel lug forward of the load-lever pivot screw, whereas with the Dance it was rounded.

5.) The load-lever latch is either the pin-and-ball type or the Colt Navy type (can't tell much from the first picture), and Colt Dragoons usually had the intermediary-type latch which was an upgrade from the pin-and-ball. All used basically the same catch on the barrel. The load lever is the Colt type, but it is crudely fashioned to resemble a Remington 1863 NMA/NMN.

6.) The cylinder has oval bolt stop slots with no approaches like the Colt Whitneyville Hartford and 1st Model Dragoons. The Dance revolvers had the rectangular bolt stop slots with approaches. (The pin you found in the arbor base is used to secure the threaded arbor to the frame.)

7.) The hammer, trigger, and bolt screws seem to have been either replaced by pins or have had the slotted heads filed off once installed.

8.) The hammer/mainspring is similar to Smith, Colt, Ruger, et al, DA revolvers, much unlike the flat spring of any Dance, Colt, Remington, et al, SA revolvers of the ACW and later eras.

9.) The trigger guard bow is quite something else. It appears to me to be fashioned from 3-16" welding/brazing rod, possibly brazed to the main section, and rounded for appearance. The grip frame is too short for a Dance .44, but approximates a Dance .36, and has an upward "lift" at the rear of the butt, as if someone used the butt of the gun as a hammer. This and the squareness of the trigger guard bow reminds me of the Griswold and Gunnison revolvers.

10.) I noticed in one photo of the left side of the frame a few indentations below the hammer "screw". Dance was known to use, in lieu of serial numbers (especially on non-contract civilian guns), zeros, stars, diamonds, and hearts in various combinations. I do not believe that anyone has deciphered what these variations are in any progression, and no Dance records reveal anything about this.

In the 1920's-1930's, when ACW era revolvers were selling for less than ten cents on the dollar (if that), many home gunsmiths/machinists bought them up and created working revolvers from parts and homemade pieces.

I have two good books on Confederate handguns, each containing a chapter about the Dance revolvers (and others):

"Confederate Revolvers" (William Gary, 1987)

"Confederate Handguns" (Albaugh, Benet, Simmons, 1963)

One would wish that one could come upon something like this found in an attic somewhere:

https://www.icollector.com/Exceptio...ers-Confederate-Percussion-Revolver_i15827210
Or this:

https://auctions.morphyauctions.com...1__36_CAL_____________________-lot427747.aspx
Regards,

Jim
 
Last edited:

1SG

Private
Joined
Sep 11, 2019
Location
North Alabama
great explanation sourdough,

It would be interesting to know what was in this creators mind, quite skilled to match and time this thing.

I forgot to take a picture of the rear of the cylinder ratchet that the hand pushes, it is removable?
 

1SG

Private
Joined
Sep 11, 2019
Location
North Alabama
Being an old retired Machinist, I see a "Basement Mechanic's Fingerprints" all over this thing! I would consider him to be an extremely clever person, and with some talent to go with it. The reason for the separate recoil shields is because that was much easier than carving out a frame from a block of steel large enough to include recoil shields. The trigger made out of a file is interesting and clever usage, because he could anneal it to shape and fit it, and then re-harden it to prevent wear. I understand the comment about the cylinder possibly being welded, but to me it looks more like a drag mark from something in the frame. If the barrel is rifled I wouldn't be surprised if it was from an old rifle. Just my thoughts!
J.
Jobe Holiday, I never thought of the trigger being from a file? I was curious why he would take the time to cut the grooves in a trigger, now I understand why the grooves where there (a file)

I am beginning to like this more than a repro because of the mystery
 

Waterloo50

Major
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Joined
Jul 7, 2015
Location
England
In the 1920's-1930's, when ACW era revolvers were selling for less than ten cents on the dollar (if that), many home gunsmiths/machinists bought them up and created working revolvers from parts and homemade pieces
Many thanks for such a great and informative post, I’m just wondering if there’s a book on the subject of homemade pieces, there must be quite a few of those creations in existence.
 

Peter Stines

Sergeant
Joined
Apr 10, 2007
Location
Gulf Coast of Texas
Many thanks for such a great and informative post, I’m just wondering if there’s a book on the subject of homemade pieces, there must be quite a few of those creations in existence.
You've probably had this book recommended to you; DANCE BROTHERS: GUNMAKERS TO THE CONFEDERACY by Gary Wiggins. Four Stars!!!! I know Gary and he could answer any questions about the Dance family or the gun factory.
 
Joined
Sep 15, 2018
Location
South Texas
I at one time thought it was Dance And Brothers. A partnership between James Henry Dance and a guy named Brothers. But from what I gather it was The Dance Brothers. Why the "&" in the name?
 

sourdough

Corporal
Joined
May 29, 2017
Location
Pe Ell, Washington
I at one time thought it was Dance And Brothers. A partnership between James Henry Dance and a guy named Brothers. But from what I gather it was The Dance Brothers. Why the "&" in the name?

James Henry Dance was the eldest brother of the family that eventually moved from Virginia, to NC, to Alabama, to Texas. His brothers were George Perry, David Ethelred, and Isaac Claudius. There was also a cousin, Harrison Perry, involved. All with the last name Dance.

William A. Gary, Confederate Revolvers, 1987. You should acquire a copy of this book.

Regards,

Jim
 
Top