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Antique Pepperbox Handguns

The pepperbox, given its name because it bears a vague resemblance to period pepper mills, was a forerunner of the modern revolver. The world's first repeating weapons, pepperbox handguns featured multiple barrels that revolve about a central axis, allowing for firing of numerous rounds at a time when single-shot firearms were the norm.

The multi-barreled weapons have origins dating back to the 16th century. During that time, they employed matchlock mechanisms that required the shooter to preload each barrel, then apply a burning wick to each in turn. By the end of the 18th century, pepperboxes were operating with flintlock mechanisms, and gunmaker Henry Nock, supplier to the British Royal Navy, was a leading producer. But like their predecessors, they required users to manually rotate the barrels after each shot.

Despite their early promise, pepperboxes did not come into widespread use until the 1830s. At that time, percussion caps became the standard system for igniting firearm powder charges and the Industrial Revolution allowed handguns to be mass-produced, making them more affordable and accessible than the handmade firearms before them. The arrival of the American Civil War saw pepperboxes run their course. But these innovative firearms made their mark, and antique pepperbox handguns have an enduring legacy that many still enjoy today.


Quick Facts

  • In a 2012 Christie's of London auction, a finely engraved Sharps .30-caliber pepperbox derringer from the American Civil War period sold for £2,000
  • In December 2015 at Christie's in London, a rare cased factory-engraved Sharps .22 four-barreled pepperbox sold for £1,250
  • A Philadelphia-made Jacob Rupertus pepperbox pistol from the mid 1800s sold at a 2014 Morphy auction for $1,560.

Recommended Items at Auction

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Deprez Belgian 7mm Pinfire Pocket Pepperbox Revolver
Jun 22, 9:30 AM EDT
Deprez Belgian 7mm Pinfire Pocket Pepperbox Revolver
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$804 Bids
Allen & Thurber1895 .32 Pepperbox Pistol
Jun 22, 9:30 AM EDT
Allen & Thurber1895 .32 Pepperbox Pistol
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$604 Bids
C. Sharps 1859 4 shot Pepperbox Pistol
Jun 22, 9:30 AM EDT
C. Sharps 1859 4 shot Pepperbox Pistol
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$503 Bids
Three Antique Handguns
Jun 05, 9:00 AM CDT
Three Antique Handguns
by Rock Island Auction Company
Est: $250- $450
$2253 Bids
Allen Thurber & Co., Worcester, MA, Revolver with Accessories
May 31, 12:00 PM EDT
Allen Thurber & Co., Worcester, MA, Revolver with Accessories
by Cottone Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$4253 Bids
C. Sharps 4-shot Pepperbox Pistol
Jun 22, 9:30 AM EDT
C. Sharps 4-shot Pepperbox Pistol
by Old Barn Auction
Est: $40- $1,000
$402 Bids
Pistolet poivrière liégeois à 4 canons. L : 18 cm
May 23, 6:30 PM CEST
Pistolet poivrière liégeois à 4 canons. L : 18 cm
by Hotel des vente Legros
Est: €150- €200
€1401 Bid
ALLEN & THURBER PEPPERBOX PISTOL, 1845, 6 SHOT 32 CAL.
Jun 02, 10:30 AM EDT
ALLEN & THURBER PEPPERBOX PISTOL, 1845, 6 SHOT 32 CAL.
by Carlsen Gallery, Inc.
Est: $300- $800
$1501 Bid
A 7mm PINFIRE POCKET PEPPERBOX REVOLVER, UNSIGNED, no visible serial number,
Jul 29, 10:00 AM BST
A 7mm PINFIRE POCKET PEPPERBOX REVOLVER, UNSIGNED, no visible serial number,
by Holts Auctioneers
Est: £250- £350
£2500 Bids
A SCARCE .28 PERCUSSION SINGLE-ACTION PEPPERBOX REVOLVER SIGNED STOCKING & CO., serial no B67,
Jul 29, 10:00 AM BST
A SCARCE .28 PERCUSSION SINGLE-ACTION PEPPERBOX REVOLVER SIGNED STOCKING & CO., serial no B67,
by Holts Auctioneers
Est: £300- £500
£3000 Bids
AN 80-BORE PERCUSSION PEPPERBOX REVOLVER SIGNED 'SMITH, LONDON', CIRCA 1845, no visible serial number,
Jul 29, 10:00 AM BST
AN 80-BORE PERCUSSION PEPPERBOX REVOLVER SIGNED 'SMITH, LONDON', CIRCA 1845, no visible serial number,
by Holts Auctioneers
Est: £250- £350
£2500 Bids
RARE & HISTORIC POMMEL HOLSTER PEPPERBOX PISTOLS
Jun 09, 10:00 AM EDT
RARE & HISTORIC POMMEL HOLSTER PEPPERBOX PISTOLS
by Poulin Antiques & Auctions
Est: $6,000- $9,000
$3,0000 Bids
RARE CHARLES LANCASTER 4 BARREL NICKEL PLATED
Jun 09, 10:00 AM EDT
RARE CHARLES LANCASTER 4 BARREL NICKEL PLATED
by Poulin Antiques & Auctions
Est: $5,000- $7,000
$2,5000 Bids
Four Antique American Percussion Pepperboxes
Jun 21, 9:00 AM CDT
Four Antique American Percussion Pepperboxes
by Rock Island Auction Company
Est: $1,500- $2,250
$1,3000 Bids
Three Antique Handguns
Jun 23, 9:00 AM CDT
Three Antique Handguns
by Rock Island Auction Company
Est: $2,000- $3,000
$1,8000 Bids
Tipping & Lawden Sharps Patent Pepperbox Pistol with Case
Jun 23, 9:00 AM CDT
Tipping & Lawden Sharps Patent Pepperbox Pistol with Case
by Rock Island Auction Company
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$1,3000 Bids
Two Antique American Four-Shot Pepperbox Pistols
Jun 23, 9:00 AM CDT
Two Antique American Four-Shot Pepperbox Pistols
by Rock Island Auction Company
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$9000 Bids
Two Sharps Patent Four-Shot Pepperbox Pistols
Jun 22, 9:00 AM CDT
Two Sharps Patent Four-Shot Pepperbox Pistols
by Rock Island Auction Company
Est: $800- $1,300
$7000 Bids
Two Engraved Antique Percussion Pepperbox Pistols
Jun 23, 9:00 AM CDT
Two Engraved Antique Percussion Pepperbox Pistols
by Rock Island Auction Company
Est: $1,300- $2,000
$1,1000 Bids
Two Antique American Pepperbox Handguns
Jun 21, 9:00 AM CDT
Two Antique American Pepperbox Handguns
by Rock Island Auction Company
Est: $800- $1,200
$7000 Bids
Cased Model 1 Sharps Pepperbox 4 Barrel Pistol
Jun 02, 11:00 AM EDT
Cased Model 1 Sharps Pepperbox 4 Barrel Pistol
by Amero Auctions
Est: $1,000- $1,500
$5000 Bids
JR COOPER PEPPERBOX REVOLVER.
Jun 09, 10:00 AM EDT
JR COOPER PEPPERBOX REVOLVER.
by Poulin Antiques & Auctions
Est: $700- $900
$3500 Bids
Percussie bundelrevolver, getekend Mariette
Jun 13, 1:30 PM CEST
Percussie bundelrevolver, getekend Mariette
by Debaveye
Est: €800- €1,200
€4000 Bids
Three Antique European Multi-Shot Handguns
Jun 21, 9:00 AM CDT
Three Antique European Multi-Shot Handguns
by Rock Island Auction Company
Est: $2,500- $3,750
$2,0000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Antique Pepperbox Handguns


Rock Island Auction Company

Rock Island Auction Company

Holts Auctioneers

Holts Auctioneers

Poulin Antiques & Auctions

Poulin Antiques & Auctions