Description

    John Dillinger's Derringer

    Remington .41 Caliber Rimfire "Double Derringer" Taken from the Person of one John Herbert Dillinger when arrested in Tucson, Arizona, January 25, 1934. Dillinger, using the alias "Frank Sullivan," along with gang members Henry Pierpoint, Russel Clark and Charles Makley, and their "molls" including Billie Frechette, were all arrested over a three day period from January 22 to January 25, through a series of co-ordinated police raids, without a shot being fired. Upon being arrested, Dillinger was quoted as saying, "My God, how did you know I was in town? I'll be the laughing stock of the country! How could a hick-town police force ever suspect us." In reality, and unbeknownst to Dillinger, a local fireman, called to a fire in the hotel where some of the gang members were staying, recognized Russel Clark from his "wanted" picture in True Detective magazine, and alerted the local police. After their uneventful arrest, the gang members were all booked by the County Sheriff, John Belton, on fugitive warrants and held in the county jail at bonds of $100,000 each. The next day the gang members were "put on display" to the curious public, and some 2000 people trooped past their cells exchanging disparaging remarks. On January 28, Arizona Governor B. B. Moeur signed extradition papers, and Dillinger was secretly flown to Indiana to face trial for murder. The rest of the gang were sent back to Ohio by train. Five weeks later, using a carved wooden pistol, Dillinger escaped from jail in Crown Point, Indiana. Just four months later, on July 22, 1934, Dillinger was gunned down by FBI agents at the Biograph Theater in Chicago. This year marks the 75th anniversary of Dillinger's death.

    The gun bears serial #L97255 and retains most of the original blue on screws, hammer, and trigger, the balance with the original blue gray matte finish mixing with gray patina. Perfect grips, mint bore, mechanically fine. The tip of the barrel release lever is broken/ missing. The hammer exhibits the late, circa 1930, detail of being grooved rather than knurled.

    The gun is accompanied by copies of the Tucson arrest reports on each of the fugitives (with the exception of Dillinger's which vanished many years ago). The property slips that accompany the reports list money, jewelry, and vehicles with absolutely no mention of weapons. Apparently the Sheriff's Department already had plans for those, as two of the women were charged with possessing machine guns. Interestingly the City of Tucson loans two "Dillinger" machine guns to the Historical Society's downtown branch for temporary exhibit every year, during "Dillinger Days."

    This gun was concealed in Dillinger's sock when he was arrested by Sheriff John Belton, who presented the pistol to Evelyn B. Jenney, an attractive young widow, who was Deputy County Probation Officer and Secretary to Superior Court Judge Fred W. Fickett. Mrs. Jenney was the widow of William LeBaron Jenney Jr., who was the grandson of famed Chicago "Sky Scraper" architect William LeBaron Jenney. In 1949 she gave the gun to her son, William LeBaron Jenney III. Included with the gun are two notarized affidavits from Mr. Jenney, dated March 19, 1959, describing the gun, with serial number, and attesting to his mother receiving the pistol from Sheriff Belton. Interestingly Mr. Jenney was still very much alive and cogent in June 2009. The gun is accompanied by much additional research from the consignor, who was the purchaser of the gun from Jenney on March 19, 1959.

    A remarkable artifact with wonderful provenance from one of the most notorious criminals in American History.




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    Auction Dates
    July, 2009
    25th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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