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Argo44 Offline OP
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==========================================================
Known Reilly shop managers
A follow-up on previous peer-review criticisms of the Reilly History:


In spite of claims from some very knowledgeable contributors on this board, shop managers for London gun makers in the 19th century are not well known except perhaps for the most prestigious of them...Joseph Manton's protégés being the most prominent. There are no Reilly records. However, based on London newspaper articles we're now up to the names of 5 shop managers for Reilly from 1855-1898 including one, the earliest (1855) with a French name (if this is a French name - now unlikely), interestingly just when Reilly began to make center-break breech loaders).

1855. . . .- "Le Gerant" - the contact at the Reilly shop listed in an advertisement for buying a used rifle on consignment. ("Le Gérant" of course means "the manager" in French....thus this may not be a name at all..just another expression of Reilly's francophilia - and that on the eve of the Lefaucheaux center-break pin-fire revolution in UK may be in-and-of itself telling).
1860-65 . - "John Baker" - registered the patent for the 1861 Reilly shell crimper and testified at fraud hearings.
1870 . . . - "Francis Davis" - testified for Reilly at the 1870 hearings for violating UK neutrality in the Franco-Prussian war
1882-85 . - "Ruben Hambling" - likely started out with Reilly in the late 1850's - ran his own gun shop in the midlands than back to Reilly
1897-98 . - "James Curtis" - Testified in a trial re the purchase of a Reilly revolver by an Irish terrorist.

and

1871 . . . .- "M. Poirat" - manager of Reilly store at 2 rue Scribe, Paris, who tried to convince the new 3rd Republic to buy 6,000 Chessapot rifles stored in Birmingham from Reilly (obviously a salesman, not a technician).

There are several young professionals also mentioned in articles - it seems Reilly carefully selected and trained his young apprentices well.
1858-59 . .- "Mr. Bennett," who carefully loaded rounds for the guns used in "The Field" trials of 1858 and 1859.
1862 . . . .- "Mr. McNamara" who was responsible for guiding visitors through the Reilly 1862 London World's Fair exhibit.

It's tough sledding to find more information about these men. Hambling at least has a history - Baker may be identical to a later gun maker in Birmingham (1880's). Reilly was not a prestigious maker - he was the closest thing London had to a gun "factory" - and the gun trade at the time was neither romantic nor artistic to those working on the benches...nor were these men likely to write books.

Plus the gun trade and employment in it was highly cyclical...when a firm was riding high....it added workers.. and vice versa. This is well documented in books on the Birmingham gun trade perviously posted above.

Last edited by Argo44; 10/14/21 07:11 PM.

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I spent some time sitting with Macnab Fine Firearms at the Southern. Very good people, knowledgeable and connected to Toby Barclay. They are advertising this 1896 Reilly shotgun SN 34585 refurbished by Toby.
https://www.gunsinternational.com/g...gun-with-30-barrels.cfm?gun_id=101778310

What's interesting for this line is the commentary, acceptance and promulgation of the research done here on Reilly:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

E.M. Reilly & Co. 12 Bore Bar-Action Hammergun with 30” Barrels

Description:
*** JUST IN FROM THE UK *** E M Reilly & Co. are often thought of as merely a retailer of guns made in the trade but recent research by a historian from the USA has shown that they were a gunmaker in the truest sense of the word, producing a formidable range of firearms from their ‘manufactory’ in and around the then mainly residential area of London’s Oxford Street. . . . . .

Last edited by Argo44; 11/15/21 08:05 PM.

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Oh Mcnabs said that? Oh well it’s settled then. It looks like Reilly’s did, after all employ 300+ gunmakers (that nobody has ever met or known) and they made all sorts of breech loading shotguns off of about 10 to 15 different actions, patents, etc. What an extremely skilled work force to produce so many different firearms in their own factory.
I thought it was ridiculous and far fetched….but now, since Mcnabs says Reilly did in fact manufacture all of these guns bearing the Reilly name, even guns that are known to have ONLY been completely built by 1 particular factory, I suppose the whole thing is settled isn’t it.

Or not. Nice try Gene. Press on.

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Argo44 Offline OP
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We've been down this road before.
-- I dated the Reilly guns and labels. No one disputes the validity of that chart that I know of.
-- In the process using evidence from thousands of 19th century ads and articles, wrote the history as best it can be written. Can't do much more than that.

Some gun aficionados like it - Cyril Adams before he died and Donald Dallas for two. Some don't - Dustin doesn't.


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Oh, there’s plenty more than just Me, Gene. Believe that.

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Originally Posted by LeFusil
Oh Mcnabs said that? Oh well it’s settled then. It looks like Reilly’s did, after all employ 300+ gunmakers (that nobody has ever met or known) and they made all sorts of breech loading shotguns off of about 10 to 15 different actions, patents, etc. What an extremely skilled work force to produce so many different firearms in their own factory.
I thought it was ridiculous and far fetched….but now, since Mcnabs says Reilly did in fact manufacture all of these guns bearing the Reilly name, even guns that are known to have ONLY been completely built by 1 particular factory, I suppose the whole thing is settled isn’t it.

Or not. Nice try Gene. Press on.

I keep returning to this Thread hoping to finally see the Holy Grail that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a Reilly factory actually built all of these guns This should be relatively easy to settle. All we need is some actual photographs of actual Reilly workers in the alleged "manufactory" filing actions, making barrels, inletting gunstocks, assembling guns, etc. We have such photographs from other gunmakers... but nothing from Reilly.

We also have Census data from the cities where various gunmakers were centered. We have listings of residents that tell us where and when they were employed at these gunmakers, and this data quite often lists their occupation or gunmaking specialty. But so far, we haven't seen that sort of proof pertaining to Reilly gunmaking employees.

It just seems rather odd that gun writers and gun experts for well over a century have all considered Reilly as a retailer of firearms and sporting goods, and not a manufacturer. Yet these same people had no problem recognizing firms like Purdey, Boss, Holland & Holland, and hundreds of other companies both large and small as actual gunmakers. One wonders why all of these people neglected to recognize Reilly as a notable manufacturer of a large quantity of such a diverse product line consisting of shotguns, rifles, handguns, cane guns, etc.??? I'm willing to be convinced. But terms like "perhaps", "possibly", "may have", etc. aren't doing it for me, and neither are advertising claims. We have all seen gun advertisements that made wild claims about firearms that defied the laws of physics by shooting farther, harder, or with far less recoil than their competitors. How many people claim to have invented choke boring? However, a well timed "donation" could serve to help moderate or censor the skepticism I share with Dustin right into nonexistence. It seems to work well for a few others here.


A true sign of mental illness is any gun owner who would vote for an Anti-Gunner like Joe Biden.

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Are there any records with the worshipful company of gunmakers on the apprenticeship at Reilly or steel or wood consumption with 300 employees it would seem there would be some paper trail.at least on times of trouble published layoffs?published rehire ?material shortages? Liquidation of assets ?equipment purchases?news paper engravings of the premises.i know most large company's were shameless self promoters good luck with you research.mc

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The Ghost of Reilly and his imaginary 300 employees lives on.

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=============================================================

Thank you all for the comments. First, could I ask that you all please reread the history on p.54, the whole thing...not just select portions. A lot of the history has to do with dating the Reilly guns - moves to new shops, changes in labels, taking on new partners, etc. And where it is controversial I say so.

If you have questions on the sourcing of a particular sentence please post it here and I'll answer why I wrote the conclusions as I did. This will only make it better.

In the meantime I'm working on an "illustrated" version of the history. It will have "footnote markers" which will reference all the source materials, and include historical photos to put things into context along with comments on a separate document. Both could be opened and a reader can toggle back and forth between them which might explain things a bit better. Most of these points have been addressed at one time or another; however, this is a long line and it's hard to go back through the whole thing.

A couple of the above comments were addressed before:

-- Reilly was not a member of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers. There are references to his guns being proofed there and since virtually all Reilly guns were proofed in London, not a surprise.

-- Employment at Gun makers in the 1800's was highly cyclical. Most large Birmingham gunmakers could not tell you how many workers were employed at any one time. There are no Reilly records....none.

-- I have looked at sales advertisements for barrel borers, foot lathes, etc, especially in 1897 when he closed 16 New Oxford Street and Feb 1903 when he closed 277 Oxford street. But it is too wide a category to turn up anything definitive. There is nothing like the London press article on the bankruptcy sale of Manton's stock and tools from 1826.

--The 1851 census listed the number of firms employing x amount of workers in London and this was used in some sociological pieces (previously posted). Most London companies were quite small. I have been unable, however to identify the details. There may be more information available someplace. But I doubt it will be useful.

-- As for the 1861, 71, 81 census, until 1891 it was pretty rudimentary. It asked "occupation" but not where a person worked. If you were an employer it asked how may workers you employed. That's it. You either accept the 1881 census data as given at that moment to the census taker or reject it. If you reject the Reilly data, then you have to reject just about all the other employers who responded. I've addressed this several times with examples...especially the search for a couple of Reilly's shop managers John Baker (1861) and Ruben Hambling (1881).

-- There are engravings and photographs of Reilly's buildings in London just not identifying them as such. I'm working with the Paris archives to pin down 2 rue Scribe and 29 rue du Faubourg. The Reilly building at 277 Oxford street was much taller than the current building. Reilly's son Montegu fell or jumped from the top story and killed himself in 1895. Reilly actually lived on the top floor of the building. J.C. was a property owner and had his own house when he was running the company.
. . . . .-- And by the way Purdey has ZERO photos of their workshop, sales shop and administrative office at 314 1/2 Oxford Street. I forwarded to them a photo of the street which at least sort of shows what the building looked like. And they were there for 50 years till 1881.

-- The Reilly advertisements are not "hyped." They are, however, filled with information if you read them carefully.

-- There is not one (1) article from the 19th century that identifies Reilly as a "retailer." None. Zero. On the contrary some of the most famous hunters and explorers used his guns and endorsed them; "The Field" visited his stores and shooting gallery and tested his guns. You have to go up to the 1950's to start to find stuff about Reilly being a "retailer" - and as stated in the introduction, this likely grew out of Riggs having bought the name in 1922.

Please read the history again. If you have doubts, that's fine - list them in detail. I'm continuing to work on various aspects but am still pretty proud of what has been accomplished so far.

Last edited by Argo44; 11/28/21 06:43 AM.

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You should be proud, Gene. You’ve done one heck of a job trying to date and make sense of your beloved Reilly’s serial numbers and trade labels. You should absolutely be proud of that work. Kudos to you for that, seriously.

You have not provided one bit of empirical evidence that proves that Reilly made any guns, shotguns, pistols, etc during what we refer to as “The Golden Age” of British gunmaking. Sorry. It just hasn’t happened for you. Even Ray Charles can see that. Every time you sound off about Reilly being a Golden era gunmaker, you site completely circumstantial evidence to prove your point. It’s not convincing anyone, least of all anyone with a clue how the trade operated at that time.
Not one actual maker could’ve possibly made so many iterations of various action designs under one roof with the exception of a massive concern like BSA, Midlands, etc.
Read that last sentence again, Gene. No way Reilly could’ve done that. Not even Greener or W&S made that many different designs. Do you understand that??? Do understand the amount of expertise that would require? Specialist to set up machines and tooling to produce this action or that action. Impossible. Reilly’s didn’t do that. I highly doubt they even finished off barreled actions in the white. You know of no names of any specialist. Not a stocker. Actioner. Barrel filer. Finishers. Not one trade person person ever claiming to have learned their trade or even being employed by Reilly. That, Gene, is a huge red flag.

The names you listed above, not one of those names are associated with being an actual gunmaker or specialist in any part of the gunmaking trade. Shop managers? Walmart & Target have those too. Cartridge loader? Lots of stores, retailers, gun making shops loaded their own cartridges in those days. That’s not surprising.

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