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Over the years I have handled some interesting and bizarre firearms but none stranger than this. This is a Cordier Minie rifle and has some extraordinary features.
The rifle itself was designed by Claude Minié, the original designer of the popular Minié ball, used in percussion rifles and muskets worldwide. The rifles were manufactured by Cordier and Cie, as indicated by the C. C marking in an oval, which is in front of the ladder sight (extant) which is optimistically calibrated to 1100 metres.. Minie’s name is clearly stamped on the rear of the removable barrel. The company existed in Paris, France, from 1850 to 1870. This particular design was also patented by Cordier in England, No. 1051, on 11 April 1862, so there was an anticipation of foreign sales and of course the British Army was the Jewel in the Crown for any manufacturer who had aspirations of global success.
There is a quaint assertion that I read that these rifles were designed as training rifles for cadets so the explosion of the percussion cap would not frighten them and make them flinch. The rationale being that having trained for several months with the percussion cap exploding far away from the right eye, the cadet would then merrily enjoy shooting the rifle with the cap inches from the right eyeball. Of course, this is nonsense and Claude Minie was more scientific than worrying about the sensibilities of cadets, bearing in mind of course the hundreds of thousands if not millions of recruits that had trained previously with conventional percussion caps placed under the hammer, notwithstanding hundreds of years of flintlock use. If anything would make you flinch a flintlock would!
The reality is that Minie decided that the optimum length for a rifle barrel should be 400 mm or roughly 16” which was pretty advanced thinking for the day. Not such a stupid idea when you realise that the SA80 standard barrel length is 518 mm or 20.4”.
Clearly the problem with a short barrel is the sight plane so Miniie’s ingenious solution was to mount the short barrel on a full-length stock to give the sight plane he needed. The percussion cap is struck by a transfer rod from the hammer which is cocked locked and dropped in the conventional way. His ingenuity doesn’t stop there. Black powder rifles and muskets, in fact all black powder arms are notorious for fouling. In fact, at Rourke’s Drift, it was only the opportune skills of a sergeant who kept buckets of water to clean the Henry Martinis to stop them from fouling that probably saved the day given the fire power of the Zulu’s and the need to respond with rapid fire. Without a clean cool barrel cartridges get stuck. In this instance instant disassembly with a screwed barrel allows easy and rapid cleaning and such is the tolerance of the thread that the nipple lines up every time. I have tried it.
There is also a pricker device to pierce a paper cartridge to ensure ignition. You will see this in one of the images. This is quite unusual and the most obvious comparison I can think of is Greene’s carbine adopted for a short period by the British Army during the Crimean War. This had a pricker cone designed to rupture the cartridge when the breech was closed. It also served to obdurate the breech but we won’t get into that now.
Another innovation is that the percussion cap does not fire into a simple hole but it enters the breech through an annular machined ring within one of the screw pitches of the barrel retaining screw. In theory I can see that this would present the flash 360 degrees around the base of the cartridge to ensure perfect ignition. A cadet training rifle? I think not. This is more likely a rifle that Minie hoped to increase his fame and fortune after his spectacular bullet success.
There is no money in arms for training, the real money is in mass production for front line battle. A hugely interesting rifle and in much better condition than the handful I have seen over the years. One in the USA and a couple on the Continent. A rifle that should belong in a museum or with an advanced collector who wants to share his collection with others.
This magnificent 54 Bore 4th model Tranter revolver has possibly never been fired. Its condition is outstanding and it is one of the best examples I have seen. The original vibrant fire blue is still extant on the safety catch and Arbor release as is the overall finish elsewhere. Other than a slight loss through rubbing on one edge of the barrel from where it has laid for 163 years, it is a 95%+ gun. The rubbing could be easily addressed but I prefer to leave history as it stands. The photographs do not do the revolver justice and it looks better in the hand.
The mechanism of the revolver is perfect, it cocks and locks as it should and locks and rotates on the half cock for loading. Tranter’s famous “patent oval” is present on the frame and rammer and the gun has Birmingham proof marks as it should. The top strap is vacant of any retail address so it was probably sold direct from the factory to the first owner or sent to a retailer who decided against engraving it with their name, quite unusual as the Victorians were rather good at self-promotion and what better place to advertise your business than on the barrel of one of the most innovative and expensive firearms of the time? The checkering of the grips is sharp and I almost used the word best left to eaters of potato snacks when I describe them but that is an overused superlative in this business.
This is an early model based on Tranter’s 1856 patent and would have been manufactured at the earliest 1858 and probably no later than early 1860. We can deduce this from a number of items the most obvious being the “safety hook” feature. This safety locates a pin into a machined hole in the nipple dividing walls and was replaced with a less expensive sliding latch. The other feature is the “S” shaped spring holding the Arbor release button.
Of general interest to collectors is that this revolver launched the generic term used ever since for “double action” revolvers, a phrase invented by William Tranter. In his 1856 patent, one of his claims is that he has invented a “three single trigger, double action revolver lock mechanism”. From 1858 Tranters advertisements and his loading sheet highlight the words “double action” in capital letters.
The case is fitted with all of the original accessories as issued and their condition is contemporary to the revolver. The bullet tin, lubricating tin, cap tin and powder flasks are vacant. Other accessories include the mould, jag and turnscrews, a most complete set.
A wonderful piece of investment quality history and deserving of a prominent place in any revolver collection.
This is a 6 shot Colt Army revolver in 44 calibre that has been factory machined for a shoulder stock. The revolver has a 4 screw, frame as did all that were machined for a shoulder stock. The revolver is mechanically excellent and has a bit of original colour and is a pleasing example. The bore is reasonable and clearly the revolver had been looked after as most of these that are extant had been “hammered” during the Civil War. This is instantly recognised as an early model as the calibre is not stamped on the frame and the serial number identifies it as being manufactured in 1861. The serial numbers are all matching, the wedge is vacant but clearly contemporary to the revolver. The revolver has good grips with some slight erosion to the heel of the left grip with the frame being marked “Colts Patent” with the address on the top of the barrel reading “ADDRESS, COL.SAML COLT NEW-YORK- U.S. An AMERICA”. The revolver cocks and locks on half and full cock and the rammer is tight and not loose as is often found. There appears to be an indented figure “1” on the bottom of the left grip. The bore is decent with all rifling extant. All in all, a reasonable Civil War Colt Army that would enhance any Colt or Civil War collection. The last image shows how the revolver would fit in a shoulder holster and this is a modern replica not included with the revolver.
This is a decent Colt Roots second model side hammer revolver in 28 Calibre. It is estimated that only 2.99 % of these revolvers survived. This particular revolver was manufactured in 1856 at the Hartford factory and is contained in its original USA case. The case contains the correct mould with the flying Eagle motif, powder flask and an Eley cap tin. Poignantly the mould contains two cast bullets frozen in time, oxidised and obviously contemporary to the revolver. There would have been made by a previous owner. They are loose and will drop out of the mould. The revolver has much original finish, the patent date and Hartford address on the top strap and most of the original varnish. The cylinder scene is extant but faint and the Colt Patent banner is clear. The case has an old crack in the lid which isn’t going anywhere and could be restored. Personally, I would leave it.
The Roots had fierce competition from larger Colt models such as the Navy and Army and eventually they were made in 31 calibres as were the Colt Pocket model 1849.Despite its small size, designed to be easily concealed, there are numerous images of Civil War soldiers carrying these as their sidearm.
All of the smaller Remington Revolvers are scare in their original state as so many were converted to rimfire cartridges. This particular model is the Remington New Model Police revolver in .36 calibre and is a five-shot revolver.
The octagonal barrel has some original finish left and is stamped “Patented Sept. 14 1858, March 17, 1863. E Remington & Sons. IIion, New York U.S.A New Model” on the top flat.
The revolver is mechanically fine and locks and cocks well and has an extremely strong main spring. The grips are good and there are some traces of the original nickel finish extant on the trigger guard.
These revolvers were manufactured between 1863 and 1873 and it is known that less than 17,000 were made. Compared to the several hundred thousand pocket Colt’s that were manufactured this is a relatively low figure particularly when you consider potential survival rates.
This is a very good example of a scarce revolver and the last image shows the comparison in size with the smaller pocket spur trigger revolver I recently sold.
The world record for a Colt revolver was made in April 2018 by Rock Island Auctions and was for a Colt Walker, the only one known to survive in a case. The price was a staggering $1.84 million! A “cheaper” one subsequently sold for $340,000.
In their excellent book on Colt Brevet Revolvers by Roy Marcot and Ron Paxton they state that “in their multi-year study on Colt Brevet revolvers only three copies of Colt Walkers were found”. I’m not one to disagree with the experts but having been in this business for 40 years I believe I have seen six of these and of course three might have been the ones referred to in the book. Clearly these are rare.
For the Colt Collector a Walker is the pinnacle of any collection but for mere mortals the aspiration to own a Walker is beyond us and merely a dream.
The 1847 Colt Walker was the largest black powder repeating handgun ever made at that time, but contrary to popular belief in the United States, it was not the most powerful, as some Austrian and British revolvers of the 1850s based on the Adams-Beaumont design were even more powerful because of their large calibres. The Colt Walker was created in the mid-1840s in a collaboration between Texas Ranger Captain Samuel Hamilton Walker (1817–1847) and American firearms inventor Samuel Colt (1814–62), building upon the earlier Colt Paterson design. Walker wanted a handgun that was extremely powerful at close range.
Samuel Walker carried two of his namesake revolvers in the Mexican–American War. He was killed in battle the same year his famous handgun was invented, 1847, shortly after he had received them. Only 1,100 of these guns were originally made, 1,000 as part of a military contract and an additional 100 for the civilian market, making original Colt Walker revolvers extremely rare and expensive to acquire.
The metal of the Walkers was prone to flaws and it is reported that at least 30% failed because of overloading and cylinders blowing up. Some of this was put down to troops inexperience with the new invention but as a consequence the revolver did not have the best of reputations and the design evolved into the Dragoon.
I suspect that a small batch was later ordered in Belgium as there was a requirement for a strong powerful revolver that surpassed the smaller Colt and Remington’s in .44 calibre with shorter cylinders. These revolvers were extremely well made as indeed were most Belgium guns and the Belgium proof house standards were greater than the British Proof House. Much of the components of the English gun trade including Tranter, Adams and Webley were made in Belgium. The metal was superior and quality excellent.
This example is, to all intents and purposes, indistinguishable from a Colt Walker with the exception that it was not made by Colt and is not stamped Colt. Everything else is identical even down to weight.
The revolver has a serial number stamped in several places including the wedge although it was clearly stamped to intimate that the manufacturer had made hundreds of them which of course from history we know this was not the case. The rifling in the bore is identical to the Colt Walker rifling, and is significantly different from the fast twist rifling of modern reproductions designed for present day shooters. The bore is difficult to photograph but it is clean with deep rifling extant.
Mechanically the revolver locks tight on full cock and the half cock works flawlessly. The revolver is stamped US 1847 above the key as the original and the overall finish is excellent as can be seen.
The revolver is contained in an older case that clearly was made for it and the case contains and original tin of percussion caps and a reproduction Walker powder flask.
Were this a “real” Walker the serial number of 988 would place it as being manufactured during the first year of manufacture. The revolver is superbly made but has no proof marks and the romantic in me says what if………
An interesting contemporary example of an iconic gun and a superb addition to any advanced Colt collection. Seldom seen and I doubt if I will sell another one.
This is a very good Winchester model 1892 in 44/40 calibre.
The Winchester Model 1892 was a lever-action repeating rifle designed by John Browning as a smaller, lighter version of his large-frame Model 1886, and which replaced the Model 1873 as the company's lever-action for pistol-calibre rounds such as the .44-40
When asked by Winchester to design an improved lever action to compete with a recent Marlin offering, John Browning said he would have the prototype completed in under a month or it would be free. Within 2 weeks, Browning had a functioning prototype of the 92. for the rifle vary and some are custom-chambered. The original rounds were the .32-20, .38-40, and .44-40 Winchester centrefire rounds, followed in 1895 by the new .25-20
This particular rifle has a 26” barrel , good mechanics and excellent bore, ideal for the Cowboy shooter who would prefer a lighter rifle than a large frame Winchester.
This rifle was recently proofed but given the venerable age of the rifle I elected to black powder proof which will be fine for Cowboy loads. The serial number reveals that the rifle was manufactured in 1894.
The original finish has faded but to an even attractive tone and there is no pitting to the barrel either externally or internally. The walnut stock is very good with no notable defects.
A decent and historical rifle that covers practical shooting and an iconic investment.
This is a Section 1 firearm and will require a Firearms Certificate to purchase. I will store at no charge for variations to be applied for.
This is a very good example of a cased Beaumont Adams 54 bore (.442” calibre) revolver manufactured in circa 1855.
The revolver was retailed by C G Edwards of 2 George Street Plymouth as evidenced by the engraved address on the top of the frame although the case contains an Adams label. The firm traded from this address until 1925 moving to 1 Frankfort Lane when it closed in about 1934.
From 1885 to 1903 the firm traded as C G Edwards and Son. That such an advanced revolver was retailed in Plymouth is not a surprise as Plymouth is home to Devonport Naval base that has been supplied from Plymouth since the 17th Century.
A Beaumont Adams revolver was supplied with 1500 balls and charges to HMS Excellent the Navy gunnery school in 1855 for testing and shortly afterwards the Government ordered 300 revolvers from Adams. At this time officers were often expected to supply their own sidearm and the Beaumont Adams was the choice of the British Army. On 20th February 1856 Lieutenant Frederick E B Beaumont of the Royal Engineers was granted a British patent for improvements to the Adams revolver which allowed them to be cocked and fired either by manually cocking the hammer as in single actions revolvers such as the Colt or just by pulling the trigger. Beaumont was granted a US patent in June 1856.
This revolver revolutionised the revolver as it allowed a greater rate of fire and incorporated many other innovations including Kerr’s patent rammer, an improved frame with integral barrel, a safety catch to lock the cylinder, a rebounding hammer safety and of course at .442 calibre was larger than the .36” calibre Colt revolver. The speed of the Adams trigger cocking action for close quarters fighting together with the larger calibre spelt the death knell for Colt who had set up a factory in London to compete with British manufacturers. The emergence of this vastly superior weapon together with the fact that Colt had been discovered clandestinely supplying weapons to the Russian enemy forced the closure of the Colt London factory soon afterwards.
This example features a good action and bore, much original finish and the side safety extant which sometimes is missing. There is much original finish remaining and a full compliment of accessories including a powder flask, mould, tools and key for the military style case which features a vacant brass round escutcheon on the lid. The frame is engraved Adams Patent No 40649 and this number is matched on the 5 shot cylinder. This is not the patent number but the serial number of the revolver.
Overall a very decent example of a cased Crimean War era Beaumont Adams 54 bore revolver.
Single-shot rifles were manufactured in a multitude of designs by a host of makers including Ballard, Maynard, Remington, Sharps, Winchester and Stevens.
The most prolific manufacturer of single-shot pistols, rifles and shotguns was Stevens.
This is a beautiful Stevens Model 44 rifle in 25-20 centrefire obsolete calibre British Nitro Proofed. The rifle is about as good as you will find and is complete with the original Stevens Scope and mounts and the correct period Lyman Tang sight. The rifle has a very good bore and solid action and the extractor is extant. The original Stevens Bakelite butt plate has also survived and is in remarkable condition. The rifle evidences much original finish including case hardening on the receiver. There is one small sliver of wood missing from the end of the left-hand side of the forend but this is not easy to see unless you look for it and could be simply repaired if you had the time and inclination to do so.
J. Stevens and Company was founded at Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts in 1864, Joshua Stevens being the senior partner with W.B. Fay and James Taylor providing financial backing. The company began to produce vest and pocket pistols based on Stevens’ patent of September 6, 1864 as well as a line of precision machine tools.
In 1886 the firm was dissolved and the J. Stevens Arms & Tool Company incorporated. Stevens sold his shares in 1896 at which time he ceased to be associated with the company. By 1902 it was promoting itself as the largest producer of sporting arms in the world, a claim that is difficult to disagree with.
In 1916 it was reorganised and renamed the J. Stevens Arms Company. In 1920 the Savage Arms Corporation bought the entire stock and the two merged. The J. Stevens Arms Company operated as a Savage subsidiary finally being integrated in 1920.
Though never as popular or as highly regarded as the Winchester, Remington or Ballard single-shot rifles, the Stevens Ideal Rifle No. 44 endured and it’s a matter of historical fact they were still being made long after their better named and higher priced competitors such as Ballard ceased trading.
In the 1903 catalogue Stevens’ advertising described the Ideal 44 as “manufactured to meet the demand for a reliable and accurate rifle at a moderate price . . . no better or stronger shooting arm can be made for the same cartridges. It is recommended without qualification and fully guaranteed.”
If quantity of arms sold proved reliability and reputation then undoubtedly Stevens were ahead of its collective peers in every respect.
Good quality US Stevens single shot rifles are becoming scarce and increasing in value as the US market recognises their quality and the scarcity of decent examples. These rifles were “work horses” and not purchased for show so although there are reasonable numbers of good quality functional rifles in the market, it is difficult to find such an example and certainly not with an original scope.
This is a very good Winchester Model 1885 “High Wall” single shot rifle in obsolete 32-40 calibre. This rifle was manufactured in 1888 as evidenced by its serial number and an original tang sight is attached to the tang.
The rifle operates flawlessly and has a 29” barrel with a good bore and I am told is very accurate. It was previously held on a firearms certificate but I am selling this as a collectible rifle and it has been removed from the previous owner’s certificate and reclassified as an antique.
The rifle is stamped with the patent date of October 7th 1879 on the bottom tang, and with the two-line Winchester Repeating Arms address on the top flat of the barrel. The extractor is extant and there are no major flaws or blemishes.
In 1883, Thomas G. Bennett, Vice-President and General Manager of the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, travelled to Ogden and negotiated the purchase of the single-shot design, as well as the prototype of what would become the Model 1886 lever-action – the beginning of the fruitful 20-year Winchester–Browning collaboration. Winchester's engineers made some improvements to Browning's design, including angling the block at six degrees to create a positive breech seal, and released the rifle as the Model 1885. Two popular models were made, the so-called Low Wall which showed an exposed hammer, firing less powerful cartridges, and the so-called High Wall for stronger cartridges whose steel frame covered most of the firing hammer when viewed from the side; but both were officially marketed by Winchester as the Single Shot Rifle.
It was produced principally to satisfy the demands of the growing sport of long-range "Match Shooting", which opened at Creedmoor, New York, on June 21, 1872. Target/Match shooting was extremely popular in the US from about 1871 until about 1917, enjoying a status similar to golf today.
From John Campbell’s excellent book on the history and analysis of Winchester single shot rifles it is clear that this was a popular variation.
Winchester High-Walls were always in demand for a variety of uses including hunting and target shooting and can be found in a variety of barrel lengths and calibres. This is a decent example of a very popular rifle.
An excellent manufacturer and an investment quality iconic firearm requiring no license to own. An international antique and there aren’t going to be any more!
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