By Lars Dalseide | March 17 2014 16:26

NRA Senior Curator explains why highly sought after handgun is a forgery on Sportsman Channel

Counterfeit Dance Brothers revolver from the Civil War at the NRA National Firearms Museum

Fairfax, Virginia - Hardcore gun collectors spend a lot of money for the latest and greatest find. A highly competitive genre inside the gun collecting world is the Confederate firearm market. In fact, Confederate guns can be worth more than 10 to 20 times as much as a Union gun. There are a number of reasons for this; first because of the historical significance, second because there are so few in existence, and third because they don't have to look all that good to be worth a lot of money.

"Most Confederate guns are worth a great deal of money the worst they look," said NRA Museums Senior Curator Philip Schreier. "The rule of thumb is 95% of the value is found in the last 2% of the condition. So if you find a Confederate gun that is in 90% good condition then keep walking because it's fake."

A great example of such a fake is one that Schreier is bringing on to Sportsman Channel this afternoon for Curator's Corner on NRANews. A Colt patterned Dance Brothers revolver. Don't know the Dance Brothers? Here's a quick history of the Dances from the Texas State Historical Association:

Civil War firearms manufactured by J. H. Dance and Company are among the most highly prized antique weapons, valued for their fine craftsmanship as well as their rarity. From July 1862 through May 1865 the company produced six-shot Colt-pattern revolvers in both .44 and .36 caliber; total output was fewer than 400.
With less than 400 manufactured, it is easy to understand why they are so valuable.

"Dance Brothers revolvers can go for upwards of $80,000. It's the holy grail of Confederate handguns. And if you find one from Texas then you've hit the mother lode."

Schreier's example, however, is far from a find.

Engraving of Texas on a fake Dance Brothers colt-pattern revolver from the Civil War First there's a "Texas" engraved into the frame. This didn't happen. Find that on a revolver someone claims to be a Dance should be your first sign to keep on dancing. But that's just one sign. A small sign. The primary problem comes with the finish.

Any legitimate antique arm should have consistent wear and tear on each an every surface. Such is not the case when it comes to this tiny dancer.

"This hammer has no pitting on it whatsoever. But the cylinder is deeply pitted and there is zero finish on the barrel. Big tipoff there."

That suggests a couple of things. One is that the gun is actually two or three guns forged together in hopes of a achieving a big payday. Another is that whoever put this forgery together probably had a huge supply of naval jelly.

If you're trying to rid yourself of rust or finish then naval jelly is the way to go. But if you break out the naval jelly in hopes of producing a stellar counterfeit then you're going to run into a problem.

"Naval jelly leaves a telltale gray hue to everything it touches. It will strip the finish off of any metal, but when it does there is almost a plastic look to it. That's what we have with this gun."

For the full rundown of this bogus Dance Brother six-shooter, tune into Cam & Company this afternoon around 6:40pm eastern time on Sportsman Channel. And for all those budding gun collectors out there, please remember the primary directive when it comes to dealing with fakes — if it sounds too good to be true then it is.

Lack of pitting and wear on the Dance Brothers revolver lets us know that this Civil War handgun is a fake

See all of the guns in the NRA National Firearms Museum at


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