Dance Revolver

Number

Description and Photograph

Price

 

 


    The .44 caliber revolver shown here with the inlaid coin Silver Star was made by the Dance Brothers of Columbia, Texas.  Having been Brazoria County plantation owners the family purchased land on the Brazos River in east Texas in order to start a commercial enterprise.  In 1858 John Henry, George Perry and David Etheldred Dance operated their own machine shop on Front Street, known as J.H. Dance & Company.  Columbia and the surrounding county were growing rapidly due to the new rail connection with Houston.  By 1859 with John Henry at the helm, the Dance boy’s machine shop was booming and the business was expanding.  Not only an astute businessman, J.H. was an inventor, having invented a type of grist mill.

     With the coming of war, John Henry Dance enlisted on March 1, 1861 in the Brazoria Volunteers with the intent of capturing the Federal Garrison at Brownsville, Texas; when they surrendered without a fight, the Volunteers went home and were discharged; John’s service lasting nineteen days.  He re-enlisted in the 35th Texas Cavalry the following October.  He was soon detailed to his own factory as his services were more important there than anywhere.  The Dances did several small jobs for the Confederacy, but their first recorded arms work was in finishing and mounting two cannon. 

     John Henry had a much bigger vision; he intended to become the Sam Colt of Texas.  In the spring of 1862 the Dances offered Governor Lubbock their factory and services at very reasonable terms, including having them detailed to work in the factory.  As early as the beginning of July, 1862 the Dances had produced three or four pistols, which is remarkable when compared to the extensive time needed by other pistol manufacturers in the Confederacy to produce the first prototype.  Only two months later they are referenced by the Houston paper as producing pistols “superior to Colt’s best” and on the 2nd  of the following month the San Antonio Arsenal wrote a receipt for eleven six shot pistols.  Production continued to increase in the following months.  Based on these aforementioned numbers, serial number 46, shown here, could have been produced in late 1862 or early 1863.  In February of 1863 the Dance Brothers donated a “very fine revolver” to a benefit to raise money for disabled Confederate Veterans.  This revolver is the only one known to be inlaid with a silver Texas Star, and I cannot help but have the fun of speculating that this was the very revolver. 

     In all, the Dance Brothers produced approximately 475 revolvers from start to finish.  Serial number 46 remains in excellent condition.  The serial number is stamped into the cylinder, backstrap, leg, rammer, frame and trigger guard.  The gun is shown on pages, 42-44 of Gary Wiggins Dance & Brothers.  The gun retains traces of blue, the edges remain sharp, all screw heads are in good condition, even five of the six safety pins remain, which says as much about its condition as any description could.  The grip stock still shines with its original varnish.

     The Dance revolver is one of the most desirable handguns in American history, but few collectors ever have the means and opportunity to own one of these iconic weapons.  And the chance to own this presentation grade Dance is a once in a lifetime opportunity-there are no other known examples.  

   

 

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