Henry Deringer of Philadelphia was already well known for his rifles and larger handguns when he turned his efforts toward manufacturing smaller pocket pistols. Beginning around1852, these compact percussion arms—sold in pairs or individually—became the favorite personal protection choices of riverboat travelers and those bound for California’s Gold Country. Some of Deringer’s pistols were marked by the factory for his sole agents on the West Coast—Charles Curry and Nathaniel Curry & Bro. of San Francisco. But Deringer copyists abounded; and the generic term “derringer” was, in time, applied to both Deringer’s own product as well as to other, similar small-scale handguns.
The NRA National Firearms MuseumatNRAHeadquarters inFairfax, Va.; theNRANational Sporting Arms Museum at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Mo.; and the Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest at theNRA Whittington Center in Raton, N.M.; all have fine selections of historic arms on display. Admission to each is free, and donations are gratefullyaccepted. For more information, visitnramuseums.com, phone(703) 267-1600 or email [email protected].