Meriden manufactured double-action top-break revolvers (often referred to as “Pocket Pistols”) in various barrel lengths and finishes. Calibers were either .32 S&W or .38 S&W with either an exposed or enclosed hammer. Meriden manufactured twenty varieties of hammer and hammerless revolvers with an output of 100 guns a day in 1906.
Meriden’s pistol design is a direct result of the Fyrberg acquisition. Andrew Fyrberg is one of the many little known gun designer of the early cartridge era. Fyrberg has numerous pistol related patents assigned to him. The earliest, dated April 6th, 1886 is in conjunction with Iver Johnson. He also registered patent number 566,393 dated August 25th, 1896 which covers the famous ‘hammer the hammer’ action that was the basis for Iver Johnson’s Arms & Cycles Works ‘safety automatic revolver’.
Iver Johnson seems to have been the first gun company Fyrberg worked for but he also did work for H & R, Forehand & Wadsworth (later Forehand Arms Co.) and C.S. Shattuck. Around 1900 he went into business for himself and made single shot shotguns and top break revolvers for Sears, Roebuck & Co. These revolvers made for Sears were closer to the Hopkins & Allen design than any other. In 1904, Richard Sears bought Fyrberg’s interest in the company and moved the machinists and machinery to the vacant Malleable Iron Co. building on North Colony St. in Meriden, Connecticut.
Meriden manufactured pistols were sold under the A.J. Aubrey name as well as Meriden Fire Arms Co. They were also sold under Empire State Arms Co., Eastern Arms Co. and the Howard Arms Co (for Fred Biffar & Co.). Biffar also sold a ‘Secret Service Special’ which Meriden also produced a portion of for the retailer.
The similarity between the various pocket pistols of the era and the practice of re-branding them for specific retailers sometimes makes it difficult to identify the manufacturer. For instance, the “Secret Service Special” revolvers were made by the Iver Johnson Arms & Cycle Works under its less expensive “U.S. Revolver” trademark, Harrington & Richardson, Hopkins & Allen and Meriden Fire Arms Co.
In some scenarios, even the re-branded pistols retain the mark of the original manufacturer on the pistol grips. But these designs can be difficult to decipher. Here is what the Meriden Fire Arms Co. mark looks like:
Meriden Fire Arms Co. grip logo:
Andrew Fyrberg Co. grip logo: