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Scarce model 1870 Comblain falling block rifle

This is a rare find in the UK and is a Comblain falling block rifle as issued to the Brazilian Army in the 1870’s. This rifle was clearly issued as can be seen by the woodwork but the mechanical action is fine and it has not been messed with. The original cartouche is extant on the butt as seen in the photograph. The bore is clean with very heavy rifling.

The M1870 Belgian Comblain was a falling-block rifle invented by Hubert-Joseph Comblain of Liège, Belgium and produced in several variants known as the Brazilian, Chilean or Belgian Comblain. The Brazilian models are easily identified by having a shorter breech than the Belgium models and have a shrouded hammer with screws on the left hand side of the receiver.
W.W Greener wrote in Modern breechloaders: sporting and military in 1871 (page 214):
"This rifle is called No.2, to distinguish it from the first Comblain, which is a modification of the Snider principle. The Comblain no 2 has the vertical sliding block and guard lever of the Sharp rifle; but the arrangement for exploding the cartridge is different.
The mechanism of the lock is fixed in the breech block, which consists of the ordinary main-spring acting upon a tumbler by a swivel. The tumbler and striker are made in one piece; the scear and trigger are also in one piece . By depressing the lever the breech block is brought down, the cartridge-case extracted and the rifle is cocked. A fresh cartridge being inserted, and the lever returned, the rifle is ready for firing.
Comblain Breech block.
The hinge screw can be removed without the aid of a turnscrew, which arrangement allows the breech block and lock to be taken out for the purpose of cleaning.
The breech arrangement is strong and simple. It is used by the Belgian volunteers,and has been severely tested both at Liege and Wimbledon."

There is an 82 page article on Comblain rifles in the 2004 Gun Report magazine which ran over 4 issues and a book on the subject published by Jonathan Kirton in 2106.
These are interesting rifles and deserve a place in history alongside many of the better known single shot rifles of the time such as Martini, Snider, Remington and Albini.

Code: 50559

Reserved


Excellent Pair of English Turnoff Pistols.

This is a pair of box lock pocket or muff turnoff pistols of some quality.
The pistols have drop down triggers that fall on cocking and are in 80 bore calibre.
Both have much original finish, mechanics are fine and the barrels turn off. The pistols have Birmingham proofs and are contained in a relined box with correct sized powder flask , percussion cap tin and balls.
The locks are nicely foliate engraved and both butts have a vacant silver escutcheon.

Code: 50583

1300.00 GBP


Shortlist item
Good Soper Rifle

This is a very good Soper rifle and a nice example of a military version as it has a bayonet lug. Bore is good with strong rifling and mechanics are perfect. Chambered for 450 Soper this is an obsolete calibre rifle. Reputed to be one of the fastest shooting rifles of it's time assisted by the rifle firing from a falling block, Sgt Warwick of the Berkshire Volunteers shot 60 shots in 60 seconds with a Soper rifle at the 1870 Olympia Exhibition. Soper was marred by bad luck and timing and there was a possibility at one time that this rifle could have replaced the Martini rifle by the British Army had Soper supplied an example early enough and made different business arrangements. See following an article from "The Engineer". It would appear that the author had partisan interest elsewhere!
The Soper Rifle

The Engineer, 13 December 1867

The rifle invented by Mr. W. Soper, of Reading, and illustrated in Figs. 1 and 2, was one of the number sent for the recent competition at Woolwich, and was rejected on the ground of "complication of breech arrangement." In this rifle the breech-piece is formed of a block of steel R, working freely up and down in a vertical slot at the rear of the barrel, and secured to a lever fixed at the bottom of the lock, which is placed in the center of the stock. The striker J is mounted inside the breech-piece, and works easily without any spring. The cock is also secured to the breech lever in such a manner that the breech-piece and cock are worked simultaneously.

The attachment is effected by the swivel H, furnished with a projection and recess for working the extractor L, so that the one movement of drawing down the lever opens the breech, cocks the piece, and throws out the cartridge case. The trigger A is mounted on the lever, and has no connection with the sear E until the breech is placed home, and thus the rifle cannot be fired until the safety catch B is pressed. For cleaning purposes the lock and breech-piece can be removed by withdrawing a couple of screws. Fig. 3 shows a section of the rifling, the calibre being that of the service rifle.

The trials of this rifle at Woolwich were satisfactory. For rapidity twelve rounds were fired in thirty-nine seconds with three mis-fires; the mean deviation of eight shots fired for accuracy from a shoulder rest at 500 yards, with Boxer cartridges, No. 3 pattern, was 2.30ft. Many excellent results have also since been obtained. Nevertheless we cannot but agree with the committee that the mechanism of the breech and lock is too complicated for a purely military weapon, and, moreover, that they were perfectly correct in doubting the value of the safety catch as a substitute of the ordinary half-cock. Mr. Soper has expended a great deal of ingenuity, and has produced a weapon which gives good results, but we think it cannot be denied that it is unsuitable for the use of the soldier.

Breech-loaders V. Muzzle-loaders

The Engineer, 6 August 1869

On Saturday, July 31st, a very interesting competition took place in the presence of Major Sir C.S.Paul Hunter, Bart., between Corporal Bainbridge and fourteen picked men of the battalion using long Enfield rifles and three men using the Soper direct-action breech-loader. The targets were similar to those for the file firing, but only half the usual size. Distance; 200 yards; time, three minutes. Each party to fire as rapidly as they please. The scores were as follows:- Enfield Rifles: 1st squad of five men, 84 points; 2nd squad of five men, 94 points; 3rd squad of five men, 94 points; total, 272. Soper’s breech-loader: Sergeant Soper, 140; Private Warrick, 138; Sergeant Gostage, 110; total, 388. Majority in favour of breech-loader, 116 points. It will thus be seen that two men with the breech-loader scored six points more than the fifteen men with the Enfield. Private Warrick having fired eighteen shots the first minute, twenty one the second, and seventeen the third, making a total of fifty-six shots in the three minutes; and Sergeant Soper having scored five bull’s-eyes before a single shot was got off by the squad opposed to him.

This rifle is in good overall order and has a plated barrel identical to the one sold at auction last year ( £4250 + premium) The bore is good with strong rifling and mechanically it is excellent.
The plating is faded in places as can be seen and would be possibly worthy of restoration although personally I would leave well alone.
A rare rifle.

Code: 50580

3950.00 GBP


Shortlist item
Good Hall's Military Breech loading Rifle

This is a good representative example of a Hall 52 calibre breech loading model 1841 rifle. The rifle functions flawlessly and has a good American Walnut stock and has a decent bore with no external issues of pitting. The rifle has the expected handling wear of a rifle 175 years old but is an attractive looking example of a scarce rifle seldom seen in the UK.
John Harris Hall (1781-1841) proved a potent inventor and forward-thinking gunsmith during his time. Aside from his contributions to mass production, Hall also designed and developed the M1819 Hall Rifle that bears his name (along with inventor Dr. William Thornton). Though a single-shot long gun at heart, the primary quality of this rifle was its patented breech-loading system which now allowed the operator to load/reload his weapon at the action as opposed to the muzzle. The shooter no longer was required to stand his weapon on its butt and engage in a time-consuming reloading process which also presented him as a target for the enemy. The M1819 Hall Rifle became the first breech-loading rifle in the world to be adopted in notable quantities by a national army that had the benefit of interchangeable parts and could truly be regarded as “mass produced”.
The first Hall rifle was a flintlock and Hall began limited production of his rifle until the US Army placed an order for 200 of the type to be delivered sometime in 1815. However, lacking the required manufacturing facilities to meet the government deadline, Hall turned down this commission. To address the issue, Hall began dissecting his rifle manufacturing process which could, at best, output approximately 50 units per year. This rethinking brought about a complete revision of the process which ultimately sped up production through use of interchangeable parts along an assembly line-type arrangement. With the streamlining initiative in place, Hall then approached Army authorities to revitalize the commission. Impressed, the US Army then placed a new order for 1,000 Hall Rifles in 1819 which earned them the designation of "Model of 1819" - otherwise "Model 1819". The guns were produced out of the Harpers Ferry Arsenal utilizing Hall's methodology.
At one point, the US Army sought to test the Hall breech-loading rifles against contemporary smoothbore muzzle loaders (with a target at 100 yards) and found them to be more accurate and with a higher rate-of-fire, giving US infantrymen a considerable tactical advantage for the period.
The Hall rifle features multiple groove shallow scratch rifling which was a considerable improvement on the conventional smooth bore muskets of the time.
The breech of the rifle is opened by the secondary trigger spur in front of the firing trigger and this flips open the chamber block to allow either powder or a paper cartridge and ball to be introduced.
The machining tolerances were very good considering the equipment available at the time but eventually wear would allow gas escape which was a later criticism of the rifle.
By the time of the American Civil War (1861-1865), the percussion cap principle was rapidly replacing the centuries-old flintlock action. The actions were somewhat similar in that old flintlock firearms could be converted to newer percussion cap forms through a bit of engineering. Percussion caps were less susceptible to weather and humidity and consequently more efficient and reliable.
The Model 1819 Hall Rifle saw a similar conversion as other guns in the lead-in to the Civil War, becoming the Model 1841 Hall Rifle. Paper cartridges, holding the propellant, and a .69 Ball were now in use. However, the life cycle of the rifle was quickly drawing to a close after several decades of consistent service. Many infantry also still preferred muzzle-loading weapons due to availability and familiarity. Hall Rifles did, however, still see use in the conflict before given up for good - all manner of guns and artillery were pressed into service by both the North and South - either produced in American factories or acquired form Europe. In all, 23,500 Model 1819 Hall Rifles were produced.
This is an interesting rifle and an important design in the development of the modern military rifle.

Code: 50579

2650.00 GBP


Shortlist item
Good Steyr Model 1886 rifle

This is a decent example of Steyrr Model 1886 "Kropatschek" rifle.
The Mauser-Kropatschek is perhaps one of the finest, most well-made rifles of its generation with an incredibly smooth action throughout, and this example is no exception. Manipulating the bolt is as smooth as silk and trigger pull and let off of the trigger is crisp and clean. The rifle is complete, with original cleaning rod. Some of these rifles were later designated for colonial service and fitted with a top hand guard, which is usually missing. This is one of those rifles that almost certainly saw colonial service in Portugal's colonies. The metal is smooth and in very nice condition with and receiver and with bolt parts finished in the white. The stock has a good cartouche but of course there are some minor handling marks throughout. No cracks. No stock repairs. Nice bore. This rifle is as an important variation for the 19th century collector. Originally chambered for a black powder cartridge, it was updated to a smokeless cartridge by the alteration of the rear sight, extending its range. Rifle is complete with all original parts and all markings visible.

Code: 50578

700.00 GBP


Shortlist item
Italian Boys training rifle "Carcano".

This scarce carbine is a poignant if not slightly disturbing military collectible from pre-war Italy. This is a blank firing rifle and could never be fired with live ammunition so it does not require a license.
I have photographed it with a Styeyr M1886 for scale.
Mussolini and the fascists did little to conceal their dreams of expansion and empire for Italy and in order to realise these nationalistic aims, militarisation of Italian society was necessary, and particular emphasis was placed on indoctrination of the country’s youth.
To this end, in 1926, after barely four years in power and following Mussolini’s expressed desire to provide pre-military training and to arm Italian youths beginning at a very young age, the fascists established the Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB) youth organization. The term “Balilla” evoked the memory of a young boy, Giovan Battista Perasso, whose nickname was Balilla, who on December 5, 1746, touched off a popular revolt against the Hapsburg occupiers in Genoa. By December 10, the revolt had managed to free the city from
the Austrian troops.
The ONB program encompassed boys from six to 18 years of age, organized along military lines, who, depending on their age group, were issued uniforms and weapons of various types ranging from strictly toy weapons to light machine guns. In October 1937, the ONB was replaced by the Gioventù Italiana del Littorio (GIL), which was disbanded in July 1943.
Training Carbine
In 1931, in response to a request by the ONB, production began of a very faithful blank-firing copy approximately four-fifths the size of the corresponding full-size Carcano moschetto modello 1891, commonly (although actually improperly) referred to as the cavalry carbine both in Italian as well as in English. This carbine was designated the moschetto regolamentare Balilla modello 1891 ridotto (reduced size Model 1891 Balilla regulation carbine) and was also referred to as the moschetto per ONB, or more commonly as the moschetto Balilla. It was ultimately designed to familiarize young boys with the regulation Carcano battle rifle and its proper handling.
This is an excellent example and seldom seen in the UK. This is an interesting artefact that would grace any military carbine collection as an item to stimulate conversation!

Code: 50577

650.00 GBP


Shortlist item
USA Martini Henry Peabody Variant 1874

This rifle is not what it initially appears to be when you look closely!
This is not a Mark 1 Martini Henry manufactured in Britain but a scarce Peabody Martini manufactured in the USA for the Turkish Army.
The Turks wanted an exact copy of the British Martini, hence the similarity but there are some differences that stand out. The rifle is missing the Mk1 and Crowned VR stamps and has a safety catch forward of the trigger. The most significant difference is that the Turkish rifle is chambered for it’s own unique cartridge, the 11.3 x 59R which is often referred to as the .45 Turkish.
This is an early rifle and is an 1874 Type A model with a serial number of F32. It was manufactured by the Providence Tool Company.
The Ottoman Empire was a significant military force in the 19th Century and these Martini derivatives were replaced by Mauser Bolt Action Rifles and most were scrapped. They were still in use during WW1 but Turkey being on the wrong side of the Armistice having allied to Axis forces ensured that remaining stockpiles were destroyed.
There is significant research information available about these interesting rifles and this one would make a good addition to a Martini collection. As can be seem the wood is decent, and the bore has good rifling. The rifle is mechanically sound and works flawlessly.
A scarce and interesting rifle.

Code: 50575

Reserved


Interesting Austro - Hungarian Werndl Jager Carbine

This is a rather decent Werndl Model 1867/77 Carbine in obsolete 11mm calibre. This rifle is in original condition and has not been cut down or tampered with. There rifles had a rotary breech block with an external hammer and were virtually indestructible although extraction issues were reported as a result of the rotary breech. Good bore and no issues with the woodwork as can be seen other than superficial scuffs and scratches. Mechanically perfect and a real “sleeper”. These were made by Osterreichische Waffenfabriks- Gesellschaft , Steyr between 1867-74. The trigger guard indicates this was issued to Jager troops.
These are quite difficult to find in reasonable condition and saw service in the Franco Prussian War. I will be listing a number of early rifles over the coming weeks.

Code: 50571

800.00 GBP


Shortlist item
Rare and extraordinary Whitworth Baby Rifle

This is a beautiful and rare rifle and possibly only one of 10 extant.
This is a Whitworth Hexagonal Bore “Baby” rook rifle with a hexagonal 1/15 twist bore.
Its correct designation is a 300 calibre miniature rifle or rook rifle.
The rifle exudes quality and the lock plate is engraved with Whitworth’s wheat sheath and coronet coat of arms together with Manchester Ordnance & Rifle Co. The serial number is engraved on the trigger guard tang. The overall length of the rifle is 39” with a 24” barrel which is round and engraved with the Whitworth patent.
The rear sight consists of a fixed 50 yard sight with three folding leaves marked 100, 150 and 200. The front sight is a fine barleycorn.
The stock is finely figured Walnut and has a pistol grip with fine chequering on the grip and a horn cap with a steel buttplate and vacant silver escutcheon. The forend is also chequered and there is no provision for a ramrod. Lock is marked as described with a bolted safety to half cock. The construction is like a swiss watch with a pull off at about 8 ounces and there is a platinum vent plug.
Overall the condition is excellent, and the bore is mint throughout and the overall condition, particularly the chequering indicates very little use. The finish has faded to an even grey patina.
Manchester Ordnance and Rifle Company were operating only between 1862 and 1864 which dates the rifle. In total of all calibres and sizes including military only 5500 Whitworth rifles were manufactured, and it is estimated that the survival rate is less than 15%.
I have a lot of admiration for Whitworth who was a prolific inventor and true philanthropist. Whitworth allowed free access to his factories and unlike some of his contemporaries like Colt who patented and litigated voraciously if his patents were breeched, Whitworth believed that engineering would liberate humanity and chose to be transparent with his developments.
This rifle “ticks” so many boxes, superb quality, novel design and made by a British genius.

Code: 50569

5500.00 GBP


Shortlist item
Excellent Cased Colt London Pocket Pistol

This is a Colt London pocket pistol in 31 calibre in its original case with all accessories.
This is a complete "sleeper" and completely untouched. From Rosa's excellent book "Colonel Colt of London" we know this is a very early model and it has all matching numbers, excellent grips and cylinder scene with a tight mechanical action. There is little or no wear on the accessories which is commensurate to the condition of the revolver. This set has not been apart for more than 150 years.
Colt was determined to sell to the British Government and the work put into the London models was superior to that of his Hartford factory. Improved details included dome head screws and better hatching on the hammer spur.
Very difficult to better and if the finish hadn't faded it would be double the price.
An excellent example.

Code: 50568

3750.00 GBP


Shortlist item
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