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John Roberts, LeFusil, Parabola
Total Likes: 11
Original Post (Thread Starter)
by Parabola
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When the Ancient Romans first had the Giraffe described to them they decided that it incorporated features of the Camel and the Leopard and named it the “Cameleopard”.

This evening I present an almost as unusual cross, that probably did not involve the use of a stepladder.

I have mentioned this gun, number 30227 before in Argo44’s Reilly history thread as I was awaiting it from Southams. It was catalogued as “Westley Richards type top lever opening”. I was anticipating that it would be an early Anson and Deeley.

What arrived was intriguingly very different.

The action is the first model of Greener’s Facile Princeps, circa 1881 with a cocking hook attached to the front lump in place of the later sliding stud.

The lever and bolt work is Greener, instead of a Scott spindle.

But instead of the triple locking cross bolt to be expected on a Facile Princeps there is a top extension resembling but not identical to the Westley Richards. It lacks the eccentric double camming arrangement of a true Westley Richards and the sliding top bolt has a relatively short travel.

The original proof marks were mostly expunged when it was sleeved (and it has been restocked) but it is clear that it originally bore London marks. I have taken the stock off and cannot find any hidden makers marks.

On the action flat there is a marking:- G. M. PAT
S. 13

That may have been partly erased, does it mean anything to any of you?

Argo44 dates this in the 1880’s by serial number. As Westley Richards spent the first part of of the decade suing Greener alleging that the Facile Princeps was in breach of their Anson and Deeley patent I cannot imagine that they built it.

Greener seems more likely and could have had it proofed in London.

Unless it was a one-off prototype it would have required some tooling up so there may well be more around.

Has anyone else encountered this combination of features, whether on a Reilly or some other brand?

Happy New Year to All,

Liked Replies
by Argo44
Thanks blood no foul. At this point with me basically writing my book on the Reilly line...or rather re-writing it and adding a lot more stuff....if someone has questions about a specific Reilly gun, it might be more productive to have a separate line....especially this one which is quite unique.

As I go through Reilly history paragraph by paragraph though, if some historian wants to challenge an interpretation, please do so.

Gene Williams
2 members like this
by Argo44
1400 km trip though the Sahara and I'm pretty beat. But that is an interesting gun! It is pretty definitively 1889. EM was still alive. Could he have built the whole thing under license? Doubtful but one must ask. The review of the 1885 London Inventions exposition indicate it was possible. Both 16 and 277 workshops were still operational.

And I have to admit Parabola knows a lot more about this action than I ever will!
1 member likes this
by Hammergun
That early version of the Facile Princeps action is mentioned on page 174 of Graham Greener's book. He describes the FP action as using a hook on the barrel lump or a sliding rod. His description of a hook on the front barrel lump matches the photo you provided. I'm guessing it was built by Greener and merely retailed by Reilly. The action is certainly filed up like Greener work of the period. Greener did use bolted dolls head fasteners like yours, not just the more common crossbolt. The top lever? Who knows. Maybe just tweaking Westley Richards. The patent is listed as 930 of 1880.
1 member likes this
by Daryl Hallquist
Daryl Hallquist
Interesting conversations. In the same vein, take a look at this Cogswell-Westley Richards-Greener combo which sold a few days ago.
1 member likes this
by Argo44
The Cogswell & Harrison pictured by Daryl has a faint "Not for Ball" stamp...and looks to have been originally proofed in London. This would make it 1887 or earlier. (This is not hard and fast... Terry Lubzinski’s side lever 12 bore Reilly has a serial number 303XX - 1889 - but with "Not for Ball.")

Parabola's camelopard is definitively 1889 per the serial number. Close but not so close that a definitive conclusion can be reached.
1 member likes this
by Argo44
John, We are addressing Parabola's Reilly. I happen to know a good bit about Reilly so have tried to help.

Re your ungracious comment about the Reilly line, here's the background: I started out just to date the Reilly guns. I found bad history and decided to correct it. I have been continually challenged and accused among other things of "cherry picking" data. So the history is being rewritten with footnotes paragraph by paragraph so that those who hadn't read through all the research could see where the concepts originated. If it doesn't interest you, don't read it.

Now I'd like to address two points which came up on this line.
1) That "Greener might have made the gun and Reilly was merely a retailer." or
2) that Cogswell & Harrison made it (and presumably Reilly retailed it).
My point is this; if Greener could make it, Reilly certainly could and the fact that Reilly is not even being considered as the source of this W-R shows how ingrained non-historical based, oral-legend is within a very conservative fraternity.

I'm not going to fall on my sword to say that after 1880 Reilly didn't finish others' guns. He was above all a businessman and if he decided he couldn't fight Birmingham anymore, he'd join them and make money. But in 1881 he had twice the number of workers as Greener and could make anything Greener could.

Just for information, here are three Reilly Westley-Richards from around the 1889 time period. I've got the information on the various patent use numbers on these guns....they've been posted before and will be again when I finally get up to 1890 in the re-write:

30363 - dated 1889; #1 of a pair. From an internet article:
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30364 - dated 1889; #2 of a pair. From and Indian gun board - Norwegian gun; Serial number was matched based on patent use numbers compared with the above gun:
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33242 - dated 1893; #2 of pair
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If it would help Parabola, I will post the details on these guns.
1 member likes this
by John Roberts
John Roberts
If it sounded ungracious, my apologies. Just thought Parabola could have added it to the existing discussion. I admire your extensive knowledge and research, Argo. Peace.
1 member likes this
by old colonel
old colonel
Parabola thank you for posting, it is an interesting gun.
1 member likes this
by Mr W martin
Mr W martin
Originally Posted by John Roberts
Originally Posted by Mr W martin
Originally Posted by John Roberts
Hello, could you please clarify? Regards

Gladly. Heavy on sarcasm. After 80 pages of E. M. Reilly talk that began in 2016, with over 1.3 million views and almost 800 replies, I'm not sure why an additional thread is needed to discuss more of the same, save the fact it's another example for, more of the same, if you get my drift.
Not judging, just saying...r dtupi
My apologies, I rather naively or stupidly thought you were attempting to add something of value to this interesting topic. Regards
1 member likes this
by Parabola
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Another gun that shares the Westley Richards top extension/sliding top bolt with the Greener Facile Princeps action. The serial number is in the Greener numbering sequence for 1885, shortly before they started in 1886 at 6001 a separate block for Needham guns that continued until 1941.

It appears that when Greener acquired Needham in 1874 that he moved all the production in house. Whilst some Needham guns bore a Loveday Street address it is the side of the same block as the St. Mary’s works.

I had previously remarked on the similarities of the filing of the top lever on my Reilly to a Needham gun. It seems almost certain that my Reilly was made at the Greener works.
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