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Rare Cofer Revolver and patent to lead Cowan’s Confederate Arms auction

An incredibly rare Confederate revolver will be offered alongside its original patent during a special sale at Cowan’s Auctions in Cincinnati next month.
The company’s two-day Historic Firearms and Early Militaria sale will feature ‘The Legendary M. Clifford and Lynne Young Collection of Confederate Arms’. Assembled over the course of 65 years, the collection features some of the rarest and finest examples of Confederate firearms from the likes of Cofer, Dance, Leech and Rigdon, and LeMat.

Leading the collection is an incredibly rare Cofer Third Type Revolver, the only known example to remain in its original holster.

The gun was originally designed by Thomas W. Cofer, a gunmaker in the city of Portsmouth, Virginia who was amongst the first people to be granted an official patent by the Confederate States of America following the outbreak of the Civil War.

According to experts, approximately 15 Cofer revolvers are known in existence today, and they remain amongst the most sought-after of any Confederate weaponry.

The example offered at Cowan’s comes with a remarkable provenance, having been originally captured by Capt S. H. Merrill of the 11th Maine Regiment during a skirmish with Confederate forces at Strawberry Plains, Virginia in July 1864.

Offered with an exceptional history of ownership, the gun is the finest-documented Cofer revolver in existence and comes with an estimate of $250,000-$350,000.

As well as the weapon itself, the collection also offers the rare documents relating to Cofer’s original patent "for a new and useful improvement in Revolving Fire Arms."

Signed by CSA Attorney General Judah P. Benjamin and Commissioner of Patents Rufus R. Rhodes, the official patent was one of only 266 issued by the Confederate government and is one of just 15 to survive today. Also featuring an original ink on oilcloth drawing of the revolver, signed by Thos. W. Cofer (inventor) and James S. French (patent agent), the set of historic documents is expected to sell for $40,000-$60,000.

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