Billhead For Navy Pistol Case & Flask – Merrill, Thomas & Co. Baltimore SOLD

The billhead is related to a Baltimore Inventor -arms maker, James H. Merrill, and his costumers, Magruder, Taylor & Roberts, Southern sympathizers and arms agents for the South.

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Billhead For Navy Pistol Case & Flask – Merrill, Thomas & Co. Baltimore., January 16, 1861.  This Baltimore firm advertised as a wholesale gun warehouse, selling guns, locks, rifles, pistols, gun materials, fishing tackle, etc. and Agents for Saml. Colt, Allen & Wheelock, and other manufacturers.

These items being sold were purchased by Magruder, Taylor & Roberts, a hardware firm located in Baltimore, who were Southern sympathizers, making trips into the South to specifically sell firearms and related items.

Due to the political strife going on in the nation after President Lincoln’s election, and the continued talk of rebellion over the slave issue, finances had become increasing difficult in Maryland for businesses, shipping, hotels, and more. Even employees like mechanics, and other tradesmen were laid off due to the trickle down. A delicate situation existed for Maryland state officials in not making some statement as to what Maryland’s position was politically concerning slavery, and the potential breaking of ties with the North.

Supporting the South and needing business, John Roberts of the firm (Magruder, Taylor & Roberts) went through Georgia selling hardware, and mentioned that “even guns will not sell.” Roberts further stated in a letter, that he believed poor sales were due to Southerners have issue with Maryland officials no taking a supportive stand either way.

James H. Merrill, a successful businessman, and inventor, had designed a firearms system for both rifle and carbine in 1858. With the war in full swing, Merrill, Thomas & Co. of Baltimore began manufacturing and selling to the U.S. Government, these percussion breechloading weapons. Beginning in 1862, over 14,500 (mostly carbines) were made during the war.

Merrill, Thomas & Co. in early 1861, received from Virginia, 360 Virginia Manufactory rifles for percussion alteration to modernize Virginia’s armories. No doubt, this firm was procuring, and selling to the southern states until the war began in April of 1861, with the firing on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. In June of 1861, The U.S. Government seized Merrill’s arms, etc., due to information that this firm had been actively selling arms in the South.  Eventually, Merrill received payment for the seized arms, ammunition, etc.  Some of the early Merrill carbines were taken, and looked at by Ordnance officials, and later came a contract with the government.

A rather important piece of ephemera, and firearms history of the Civil War era.

Very good condition,



Additional information

Weight .5 lbs