c. 1863 Civil War Period, Ornate Philadelphia Deringer Pocket Pistol, “Made for A. J. Plate, San Francisco”, the basic Type of Weapon Used to Assassinate President Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater, Choice Extremely Fine.This Civil War Period Philadelphia Deringer Pocket Pistol measures a bit over 5.25” overall in length and has a 2" long rifled barrel with Maker’s mark on top of the breech, "DERINGER, PHILADELPHIA” as well as "P" on the left side, with “Made for A. J. Plate, San Francisco” along the top of the barrel. Additional “Deringer / Philadela” is marked on the lock plate. Trigger guard and inlays and fittings are all engraved coin silver. The Silver escutcheon on the bird head grip is engraved with the initials “W.B.R. to E.T.J.M.”.
Unlike the standard design Deringer, Philadelphia gun used by Booth, this example is highly ornate with added silver decorations and personalized embellishments. This pistol was manufactured for prominant San Fransico retailer A. J. Plate. Plate purchased 58 pairs of Henry Deringer’s famous pocket pistols.
Note; This pistol’s trigger guard finial is different from the other example that almost forms a matching pair. The lock needs work. The mainspring is strong but the hammer will not hold on half or full cock. The Silver inlay at the bottom of the grip and the right side barrel escutcheon plate have been replaced/restored.
The gun John Wilkes Booth used to change American history was a .44-caliber pistol made by Henry Deringer of Philadelphia. It was of a standard design, one that Booth could easily hide the weapon in his pocket. The Deringer pistol that John Wilkes Booth used to assassinate Abraham Lincoln is one of the most memorable artifacts in the Ford’s Theatre Museum and is available to view online.