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Originally Posted by Argo44
There are no Reilly records.

And there are no Syracuse Lefever records either. The factory records were lost during or after the move to Ithaca N.Y., after the sale of the gun manufacturing business by the Durston family in 1915. Yes, the Lefever name was sold to Ithaca Gun Co. too.

However, as a long-time Lefever collector, I have no doubt that Dan Lefever actually built guns. Nobody doubts it. We know that he apprenticed under famed N.Y. gunsmith and gun maker William Billinghurst in Canandaigua, N.Y. beginning in 1848. We know that he went into business for himself in Auburn, N.Y. in 1853. We know that he later partnered with J.A. Ellis and built percussion guns in Canandaigua around 1862.

We also know that Dan later partnered with F.S. Dangerfield, L. Barber, and John Nichols. They built guns and employed people to help them build guns. They even printed catalogs of the guns they would build for their customers. We know there were at least a dozen different catalogs of guns built by Dan Lefever, or he and his partners. We even have a copy of the partnership agreement between Lefever and Nichols. We know about his departure after being forced out of his own company in 1901, and we know that he went on to build the Lefever crossbolt boxlock shotgun in Syracuse, Defiance, Ohio, and Bowling Green, Ohio until his death in 1906. Nobody has ever encountered any surviving records from those three short-lived gun companies either.

Although Lefever built over 60,000 guns in Syracuse, the Lefever Arms Co. never employed anywhere near 300 men. Total employment in 1890 was only 70 employees. Yet we know a lot of their names.

In the Robert Elliot books, we have photographs of the Lefever Arms Company, and photos of their employees. We have photos of them working at their machines, and can even read the names of employees on a time board. We have correspondence from Dan Lefever describing the rib matting machine he designed and built, and we have his description of the tragic fire that destroyed much of his building and equipment. We have surviving correspondence between the Company and customers, and we have surviving original blank and completed order forms for the guns. We know that Dan Lefever's sons were among his gunmaking employees, and we know that his son Frank went on to work to produce the Hollenbeck Drilling at the THREE BARREL GUN COMPANY of Wheeling, West Virginia. We also know that he later worked for Daisy Airgun Co., and designed the Daisy BB pumpgun.

Hard to believe that all this compelling evidence, and more, survived 120-130 years or more in places like Syracuse, Ithaca, Canandaigua, etc. But there is so little about E.M. Reilly being an actual gunmaker in such a refined, organized, and civilized place like London. .

So although there are no surviving factory records from the Lefever Arms Co. of Syracuse, N.Y., nobody doubts or questions whether they were actual gunmakers (and producers of bicycle chains). And although there has been a lot of misinformation printed about total production of Lefever shotguns assembled by Ithaca Gun Co., and the quantity of Syracuse Lefever guns built out of serial number sequence, even by the LACA, nobody ever even thought that Dan Lefever was nothing but a retailer who merely sold guns built by others. Nobody needs to rely upon conjecture or highlighting a few words in old advertisements to prove that Dan Lefever was a real Gunmaker.


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

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Originally Posted by LeFusil
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.

The hOax lives on.

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Originally Posted by HomelessjOe
Originally Posted by LeFusil
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.

The hOax lives on.

Nah. More like a Lost Cause. An insane attempt to re-write history.


______________________________________
What a waste. All that time spent. Could’ve been playing golf.

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Argo44 Offline OP
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I'll address Dustin's point, that Reilly could not make that many different long guns, in a little while.

Dustin, "Ruben Hambling" likely started with Reilly in the late 1850's, later ran his own gun shop in the midlands, before he went back to Reilly - check out IGC.

Last edited by Argo44; 11/18/21 02:22 PM.

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And what exactly did Mr. Hambling do at Reilly? What kind of gun shop did Mr Hambling run in the midlands? Where was Mr. Hambling apprenticed? Who did Mr. Hambling train? Was he a specialist of some sort? Barrels? Finisher? Actioner? Stocker? Or was he a specialist in something like.. retail? Sales? Was he a trained gunmaker? Trained in what discipline? Lots of stuff unanswered. These are things you as the researcher need to spell out with facts, not conjecture.

You bring up one guy to prove your point, Gene. One guy, no matter what his skill set is, is not going to posses the skills to set up the all the machines and tooling to manufacture that many different designs of guns, pistols, rifles, swords, knives, cases, etc. It’s just impossible, Gene. It’s about the most impractical idea as well. Do you have any idea how large a factory like that would have to be to produce so much weaponry and house 300+ employees? Take a look at the size of W&C Scott, W&S, Midlands, BSA, etc. those were ginormous factories. Reilly would’ve had to have been as big or bigger. They absolutely were NOT that massive. See what we’re getting at here…..Reilly was not that big, Gene.

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I can't shed light on the Reilly question, other than to say Reilly was amongst those building the first breech-loaders (with Lang and Blanch) before the Birmingham crowd got involved. In any case, output was small at that point, for everyone concerned.

On the matter of Reuben Hambling, he was a gunmaker, of that I have no doubt. Born in 1833 in Blackawton, Devon, he apprenticed under his father, William Bartlett Hambling. He married in London in 1858, had a daughter there in 1861, and was listed in the 1861 census. He was most likely working as a journeyman for a London gunmaker, name unknown. He was in Manchester from 1865-1869, with his own shop at 27 New Bailey Street, Salford. He may have occupied another address for a time, on Bexley Street. He then moved to High Wycombe northwest of London around 1872 and lived for a time in Brighton (1874-1875), possibly working with his brother William, another gunmaker. From at least 1884-1885 he lived in Paddington, London, on Ashmore Rd. This may have been the time when he was employed by Reilly. After this, he moved to Ashford in Kent, with a business at 41 New Street. He lived at number 39. According to the 1891 census his son, Roger, was apprenticed to him. Reuben Hambling died on 12 December 1891. His son continued the business until 1894.

I realize there are a lot of gaps and maybes when trying to pin down individuals in Victorian Britain, more so when dealing with working-class men and not royalty or celebrities. But between census data, newspaper accounts, business records, and genealogies, at least a fuzzy picture emerges. Oh, and there are guns. Here is a bar-in-wood game gun signed Reuben Hambling:

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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Nothing about Mr. Hambling building actual guns for Reilly though, right? So in reality, we have NO clue as to what Mr. Hambling did or didn’t do at this so called Reilly gun factory during the 1880’s to the 1890’s. He could’ve been doing repairs? Selling guns? A staff professional to help clients order guns in? Any number of jobs he could’ve done there.

A fuzzy picture. You got that right.

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I don't know whether E.M. Reilly was a maker or a merchant. My first British double was a Reilly boxlock I acquired from for sale ad here back in the '90's. I inquired here at the time and the prevailing wisdom seemed to be that Reilly wasn't a maker. Our friend Gene has done a yeoman's task of investigation and has been kind enough to share his work with all of us. While I appreciate his work, I cannot yet agree with is conclusion which is counter to the historic opinion on Reilly. I think E.M. Reilly was for his time the epidemy of the tradition of the British gun trade as a multi-layered combination of outworker craftsmen and sales companies whose names appeared on the guns of the period. With, of course a few actual manufacturers whose names and bonafides have traditionally been accepted in the business...Geo

Last edited by Geo. Newbern; 11/19/21 01:36 PM.
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Dunno if this experiment has been discussed before but here goes:
Quote
It is an unfortunate circumstance that no pistol, unless enormously heavy, could be made to fire the Martini-Henry ammunition, the recoil being so great that no man's wrist could stand it. Mr. Reilly, the gunmaker, I understand, tried it, and the man's wrist was nearly broken.
[Journal of the Royal United Service Institution, Volume 22, 1879]
Markus

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I would like to address two points, one by Dustin and one by George. And this is meant to be a conversation, not a confrontation. We're all trying to advance the knowledge of UK gunmakers.

1) Re Dustin's point, "How was it possible for Reilly to make" so many different type guns?"

. . .A. The idea for an answer came from the judge in the 1893 Westley-Richards vs Perks patent infringement lawsuit. The judge, commenting on the ejector, essentially said, "Any competent gunsmith could make it."

. . .B. And that's the point. Simply put, presumably once a competent gunmaker had a template and the measurements for a patented gun or action or other system and made one gun under license, making additional guns should not be difficult. For instance W-R rifles were made in the 1860's under license by many gunmakers. There is nothing inherently difficult about producing a range of weapons if you have the tools and measurements on hand.

. . .C. Reilly was not tooling up a factory for a run of 10,000 guns, He was making from 8 to 12 serial numbered guns a week on average and these were certainly mostly hand-made.

. . .D. In addition, I reviewed the extant Reilly's from 1858-1866, one of the most dynamic period of British gunmaking. I can identify 8 types of long guns he serial numbered (see p. 57):
-- Single and double-barrel percussion sporting guns and rifles
-- Enfield rifle muskets
-- Jacob patent SxS muzzle loader rifles (no extant copies but mentioned in ads and articles)
-- Terry patent breech loader rifles (no extant copies but mentioned in ads and articles)
-- Prince patent breech loading rifles
-- Green patent breech loading rifles (exclusive manufacturing rights)
-- Snider-Enfield breech loading rifles
-- SxS and single barrel center-break pin-fires - rifles and shotguns. Center-fire examples just eek into this time period.

This is not much different what what any other gunmaker in London was making. And to clarify, the Green Bros Patent and the Snider were essentially Enfield muskets with a breech screwed onto the barrel.

So I don't believe Dustin's assertion is valid.

2). Re George's mention of "historic opinion" on Reilly. I am curious about when this opinion was promulgated and by whom? I can find no mention of Reilly being a retailer anywhere in the British press from 1828 to 1912. And no mention afterwards until possibly the 1980's. On the contrary the record is rife with calling him a gun maker and this done by very credible witnesses. So, is the "historic opinion" really historic? Is it accurate? (The IGC history of Reilly from 2002 also mentioned that he made guns; I don't visit the site after some unpleasantness). If anyone can find an early reference to the term "retailer" applied to Reilly, would much appreciate your posting it here.

Dustin knows a heck of a lot about English guns and I have a great deal of respect for his knowledge. And, we've conversed enough for me to know I am not going to change his mind. That's fine. However, I would like to add that in looking at every existing detail on the Reilly company over 90 years of existence, the conclusion is unmistakable - that he had to be making his own guns - the facts cannot be folded, spindled and mashed to come to any other conclusion. So I'm unlikely to change mine.

Whatever I've done my best on this research. If it's not acceptable to some, that's life. I'll continue to look into the topic. More information always turns up.

Last edited by Argo44; 11/28/21 06:46 AM.

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