Aetna Arms Co. No. 1 Factory Engraved 3″ Revolver Blue & Silver Tip-Up, 1869-1883 Antique .22 Short

SOLD FOR: $1,124.00

Make: Aetna Arms Co., New York

Model: Number 1

Serial Number: 857

Year of Manufacture: 1869-1883 (

Caliber: .22 Short Rimfire

Action Type: Single Action Seven Shot Revolver, with Tip-Up Barrel

Markings: The top of the barrel is marked “AETNA ARMS CO. NEW YORK.”. The rear face of the barrel and the left side of the grip frame are marked “857” and the rear face of the cylinder is marked “57”.

Barrel Length: The barrel, which is octagon with a full-length top rib, is 3 ¼” in length.

Sights / Optics: The front sight is rounded German silver blade fixed to the barrel. There are no provisions for a rear sight other than sighting over the top of the hammer.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are lacquered rosewood on a birds-head grip frame. The wood is dark with oil staining around the metal parts and in the bottom edges of the grips, which also show finish loss and light wear. There is a small sharp ding in the right grip and a few light marks in both grips. The rate in about Fine overall condition.

Type of Finish: The barrel and cylinder are blued. The frame is silver plated brass and the hammer and trigger are case colored. The cylinder and the top and sides of the frame and barrel are elaborately scroll engraved.

Finish Originality: The finish is original.

Bore Condition: The bore is gray with sharp rifling. There are a few small tool marks and a few spots of light erosion near the muzzle.

Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 45% of its metal finish. There are two tiny spots of pinprick surface erosion on the left side of the barrel several more in the cylinder. There is thinning on the edges of the barrel and cylinder, and a drag line in the cylinder, and a few tiny dings in its front edge. There are a few light handling marks scattered over the barrel, front strap and backstrap. The engraving is sharp. The screw heads are disfigured and the markings are clear. Overall, this handgun rates in about Good overall condition, and would rate higher if in perfect operating condition.

Mechanics: On a few chambers, the revolver appears to work normally, and on others, the cylinder locks-up and will not turn as one tries to cock the hammer. The problem is that the bolt in the bottom of the frame stays up, and doesn’t move down into the frame as the hammer is cocked, preventing the cylinder from turning on those chambers that do not have a worn bolt stop cut. The bolt can be pushed down manually. The barrel lockup shows a fair amount of side-side play and a small amount of up and down play. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance requirements.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None

Our Assessment:This is a great example of an early American cartridge pistol known as the Aetna Revolver. It’s almost an exact copy of a Smith and Wesson No. 1 2nd/3rd Issue Revolver. Aetna Arms was located in New York and manufactured 6,000 units from 1869-1880. This is their Model #1 in .22 caliber, with 7-shot cylinder, and factory engraved with blued barrel and cylinder and silver-plated brass frame. The birdshead style grip frame is fitted with rosewood grips. The birdshead grip frame is as used on the  S&W No.1, 3rd Issue, but the non-fluted cylinder and octagon barrel are styled after the 2nd Issue. The serial numbers on the barrel, cylinder and frame are matching. This is a beautiful revolver, but it has a small problem with the bolt staying up and not moving down when the hammer is cocked. The pistols retains about 45% of its original finish. Its bore is gray with sharp rifling and a few small tool marks and spots of light erosion near the muzzle. This revolver would look great in any collection of early American cartridge firearms.

CA Legal or CA Private Party Transferable: This Antique handgun CAN be transferred/sold in California. All cartridge firing handguns (even C&R’s and antiques) sold to a California resident must be DROS’d. This does not apply to out of state residents.

Aetna Arms Co. No. 1 Factory Engraved 3" Revolver Blue & Silver Tip-Up, 1869-1883 Antique .22 Short
Aetna Arms Co. No. 1 Factory Engraved 3″ Revolver
Blue & Silver Tip-Up, 1869-1883 Antique .22 Short