Collier Second Model Five-Shot Flintlock Revolver

Patented by Elisha Haydon Collier American

Not on view

The Collier pistol’s design was far ahead of its time. Its technology, construction, and appearance anticipated Colt percussion revolvers that were developed and manufactured in the United States two decades later. Patented in England on November 24, 1818 by Elisha Collier, an American engineer from Boston living in London, the mechanism features a hand-rotated five-shot cylinder and a priming powder magazine incorporated into the steel. Collier himself was not a gunsmith and did not invent the action. The action was originally conceived by Captain Artemas Wheeler (1781–1845) of Concord, Massachusetts, who patented it in the United States on June 10, 1818. Collier held the rights to manufacture and sell it in England, and his patent made improvements to Wheeler’s design.

Firearms technology advanced at an extraordinary pace in Europe in the early nineteenth century. London’s elite gunmakers, intensely focused on optimizing accuracy, handling, and speed to meet the expectations of England’s sporting gentry were at the forefront of its development. Building on design advancements made in the 1780s and 1790s, particularly the refinement of the flintlock ignition mechanism, they secured in the next three decades dozens of patents for a dizzying variety of new technologies ranging from improved lock mechanisms to novel barrel-making techniques, competing to protect and market their inventions. Handmade with remarkable precision, many London firearms of the period display extraordinary mechanical ingenuity, in addition to being elegantly designed. This creative push in the firearms field may be framed within the broader context of the Industrial Revolution in England—a period marked by the glorification of technological advancements and the celebration of individual inventors and engineers.

Collier Second Model Five-Shot Flintlock Revolver, Patented by Elisha Haydon Collier (American, Boston 1788–1856 Boston), Steel, wood (walnut, rosewood), silver, brass, British, London

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.