Or "A Problem of Arming Females Through the History"
Little historical perspective first - "Female" guns became hit in early 1820-30s as technology advances first time allowed manufacture of the smaller reliable pistols. First among those were "muff guns", small single shot pistols concealable in a popular article of clothing (What else did you think about perverts? ).
Their popularity spread and we have Derringers as a logical continuation of the "muff guns", becoming notorious icon of the "women of the ill repute" in the "Wild West" saloons and whorehouses, even if most of them were carried often and fired rarely. But none of these were targeted specifically to a female market except a bit more complex Bacon Firearms pepperbox in this "Lady" model:
Other than that... Nothing.
Then came late 19th-early 20th century and bicycle mania. And newspapers were full of horror stories about women being attacked while cycling by "bands of thieves and ruffians". And then in 1902 Smith & Wesson, well established firearm manufacturer stepped in and offered revolver specifically aimed to a female market - small, light, with a light recoil and trigger pull, yet safe to carry, easy to draw out of purse and surprisingly accurate - and named Ladysmith. Looking at it's size it is no wonder it was popular if you wanted to carry it in the purse...
It was advertised as "Ideal revolver for a modern cycling woman, as a protection against dogs, thieves and ruffians" and it was such an instant success that Smith & Wesson kept making special "female" line until this day.
Now that history has been told, when my friend Isidora ( ferashacosplay.althemy.com ) decided to have some steampunk costumes I immediately had an idea what to make - Ladysmith revolver.
As far as my props go, I think this is the closest case of me following the look of the original - I think that I have even traced grip of the real one to get appropriate size.
As usually it is made of 10mm thick plasticard for base, metal tube for a barrel, some hexagonal bottle stopper and a cog for a cylinder, decorated with a brass details and thin sheet of brass and copper. And some cogs, cause "just glue on some cogs and call it steampunk".
Grips are painted and lacquered wood and it was painted dark green with gold highlights to go with Isidora's dark green dress.
And I think I got a size right (note that I have huge hands ):
Whole work took about three days (12-15 hours effective) of work and was easy, straight forward project.