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A New History of Reilly, Gun Maker, London & Paris
By: Gene Williams

Introductory comments:

The author bought his first Reilly in 2015 and found a confused miss-mash of "histories" for Reilly, virtually all of which maintained he was a retailer only. Curiosity about the firm then turned into a quest.

The data for this Reilly history began to be compiled in November 2015. Every extant Reilly gun found on the internet was cataloged, a list that now comprises over 500 known guns; every periodical advertisement for Reilly or articles mentioning Reilly in the 19th century UK press was read and archived. There were thousands. Address changes or renumberings, changes in proof-markings, patent filings or expirations, patent use numbers etc. were noted as serial number “date markers.” A serial number dating graph/chart was then created. It’s validity was verified by numerous “sanity checks.”

Along with this chart and the ability to date the guns came an understanding of what guns Reilly made and sold over the course of 90 years, the technologies available for use when the guns were numbered, and a chronological knowledge of Reilly’s shops and sales activities, although the latter was pieced-together from small bits of information. The history was finally written down in September 2018. It was posted on the below site for peer review and the research was continuously updated and debated as new guns and articles came to light.
https://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=436538#Post436538

The study was published in (edited) two parts in summer 2019 in Diggory Hadoke's on-line magazine "Vintage Gun Journal." It has since been added-to extensively - almost daily - and is now, without the constraints of trying to condense it onto one (internet) page, more substantive.

The history includes large amouts of analyses and some logical suppositions and conclusions. These are, however, supported by articles and advertisements and the history as now written is solidly sourced. It corrects or updates dozens of writings on the company most of them egregiously erroneous, including Brown's Vol III, Boothroyd, and just about every article written about Reilly in the last 50 years. A justification with footnotes can be written for each paragraph, indeed each sentence, below. Challenges to this research should be as well documented, not just based on "urban legend."

Some clarifying comments:

. .-- In the interest of not being politically correct, Reilly was an Irish Catholic. Whether this influenced his ability to obtain a "Royal Warrant" in Britain (he did in Catholic France, Spain and Portugal) or even a major contract with Arsenal is problematic.

. .-- The origin of the "Reilly was a retailer only" myth possibly came out of 1922:
. . . . . – Charles Riggs bought the Reilly name and put 25,000 guns on the market in 40 years, none made by him, with "E.M. Reilly & Co., London" on the ribs from 1922 to 1950.
. . . . . - A generation of gun makers grew up with this in their minds, without a reference to what Reilly was before, because by 1900, 22 years and a world war before Riggs - indeed almost 50 years before noted gun writers David Baker, Ian Crudgington, Geoffrey Boothroyd, etc., even began to work on guns as teen-aged apprentices - Reilly - the classic Reilly - was essentially toast.
. . . . . - Finally, in readng the technical expertise exhibited in E.M. Reilly’s 1847 pamphlet on air-guns or his knowledgeable comments on center-break pin-fires published in the 26 December 1857 edition of “The Field,” one understands that these men, the Reilly’s, could not have been just “retailers.”


. .-- The history occasionally goes into some depth on the status of the UK gun making industry to illustrate important points about the Reilly firm, in particular the period 1851-1859 and the origins of the UK center-break breech-loader. This may seem pedantic but is important to understanding the place Reilly occupies in the UK gun-making fraternity and to refute ingrained misconceptions about Reilly.

Attached is also the latest SN date chart which should get a Reilly owner close to the date his gun was manufactured.

See two separate and previous charts:
--"Dating Reilly Labels"(p. 44 and 49)
-- Serial Numbered extant Reilly's (p.44 now moved to p.57) (a complete date list of all known existing serial numbered Reilly's 1828-1912).


======= A New, Short History of Reilly of London, Gun Maker =======

The Reilly firm of gun makers in London has long been viewed as enigmatic. Confusion exists on the location of the company, its products, and even whether it actually made guns or was just a retailer. Reilly's records were lost after bankruptcy (1912) and the final shutting down of the firm (1918). This new history should resolve these mysteries and re-establish Reilly as at one time perhaps one of if not the largest of gun makers in London during the mid-1800's.

Joseph Charles Reilly was born in Ireland in 1786. He hailed from a well-to-do family and his family aspired for him to become a lawyer. In the mid-1800's he went to London to study - Irish Catholics could not study law in Ireland at the time. However, he had an independent streak. Instead of law school, he struck out on his own into various technical fields. (He was obviously supported by his family money in all this - he was never a "destitute student.")

He married in 1812. In 1814 he opened a jewelry shop, later described as also dealing in silver-plate, at 12 Middle Row, Holborn, hard by the "Inns of the Court." He registered a silver mark "JCR" in July 1818. His clientele included country gentlemen and barristers.

Note: to register a silver/gold mark required a considerable apprenticeship and noted expertise. John Campbell in his article in "Double Gun Journal," Summer 2015 also wrote that Reilly was a member of the clock-makers' guild, something also requiring quite an apprenticeship; he allegedly retained his membership in this guild until the late 1820's.

In 1817 his son Edward Michael was born, the third of four children. He prospered, buying a country estate in Bedfordshire in 1824.

Jewelry shops in London at the time often dealt in guns, engraving and re-selling them, perhaps because of the influence of the artistic professionalism of Joseph Manton's guns at the time. Some such shops called themselves "Whitesmiths."

Note: Among the extant JC Reilly "jewelry" from this time period are two miniature working naval gun models with Damascus barrels. Yet, he did indeed deal in jewelry: a list of stolen goods from the Reilly shop in January 1831 included, rings, necklaces, bracelets, etc. - normal stuff for the métier.

1828: First Guns Made at 12 Middle Row, Holborn (Holborn Bars), London

Sometime around summer 1828 he numbered his first Reilly built gun which presumably was 01. Reilly's first advertisement for guns he specifically claimed to make is July 1830; However, ads from summer 1828 make it clear he was making guns for trusted clients - and urging customers not to spend money for a "name." The serial numbered guns included pistols, rifles and shotguns.

Note: His guns during this period used the address "Holborn Bars." 12 Middle Row was at "Holborn Bars". "Bars" shows the area was one of the old tax stations for entering London.

Note: Reilly appears to have been amongst the very first London gun makers to begin to advertise in the mass popular press, possibly preceded only by Lang. Very few gun ads from rival makers can be found in 1820’s-early 1830’s newspapers.

Following are the earliest known Reilly serial numbered guns:

-- SN 88 - a pair of .50 cal. percussion dueling pistols with J.C. Reilly, Holborn Bars, London engraved on the hexagonal Damascus barrels; These are the oldest extant Reillys and are dated circa early 1829.

-- SN 162 - the earliest extant Reilly-made long gun; It is a single barrel 6 bore muzzle loader wild-fowler, J.C. Reilly, Holborn Bars, London engraved on the barrel, also made circa 1829.

-- SN 176 - also a pair of .50 cal. percussion pistols, almost identical to SN 88 above with J.C. Reilly, Holborn Bars, London; These are the third oldest existing serial numbered J.C. Reilly guns and are also dated late 1829.

Reilly Business Model:

JC Reilly early on adopted a business model which did not change during the life of the firm: i.e. provide a quality hand-made product for a moderate price and deliver it rapidly, and "make what would sell."

Reilly was never an innovator - he was a businessman first and a technician/engineer second. But, with this model, and especially with the rise of EM, with his family connections to the gun trade, his ability to recognize a winning or commercially interesting invention or patent, and his flexibility enabling him to produce new products and abandon old ways, Reilly undercut more expensive and better known makers and made his profit on volume.

Reilly dealt in used guns taken on trade and sold guns under license. However he only serial numbered guns he built and he numbered his guns consecutively for 90 years with certain exceptions during the move to New Oxford-Street in 1847. Reilly had extensive finishing facilities in his large London buildings and probably stockpiled locks (and later after 1855 actions) and barrel blanks from outworkers to allow him to meet orders three times as quickly as his competitors.
. . .-- Example: Ads from the 1850’s in spring of each year consistently stated that Reilly had 100 guns in various stages of manufacture which were available for custom fitting and engraving; these guns were not previously ordered but were “speculation guns” stockpiled for expected customers based on anticipated demand. These ads stated outright that this had been the company business practice for more that 20 years.

1831: Reilly "Gun Maker"

The first Reilly advertisement so far found with "Gun-Maker" appeared in May 1831. His advertisements targeted “gentlemen going abroad” and offered special rates to “country dealers” ordering his gns. From that time forward he identified himself solely as "Gun-Maker’ though he continued to deal in jewelry for awhile. In London directories he is mentioned as a jeweler up to 1835. He apparently continued to make “jewelry” of a type afterwards however, miniature canons and guns; J.C. Reilly exhibited small brass mortar models at an exhibition in 1845.

Note: 70 years later as Reilly fortunes began to wane, J.C. Reilly's grandson advertised the firm as "established 1835." This history knows more than the grandson did.

August 1835: Move to 316 High Holborn-Street:

In August 1835 JC Reilly with 17 year old EM as an apprentice moved to 316 High Holborn Street. The first serial numbered extant gun with the High Holborn address is SN 1024, an 8.5mm pocket pistol, Reilly, 316 High Holborn, London on the gun. (The building no longer exists but from lithograph prints of the area at the time and from the size of the current buildig on the plot, it was probably of pretty substantial size).

1837: End of Serial Numbered Pistols:

By circa 1837 pistols were no longer numbered in the Reilly chronological numbering system although in the 1939 edition of Pigot’s London Directory J.C. Reilly is still listed as “Gun and Pistol Maker.” His serial numbered guns seemed to be limited to bespoke long-guns made to order. The last serial numbered pistol so far found is SN 1292, a 120 bore (.32 Cal.), pocket pistol with a steel barrel.

August 1840: Company Name Changes to "Reilly":

In August 1840 the firm's name in advertisements changed from J.C. Reilly to just "Reilly," which may mark the advent of 23 year old EM as a full partner in the company. EM is listed in the 1841 census as living with J.C. and his occupation, like that of J.C. is "Gun maker."

The names on the gun ribs continued to be "J.C. Reilly" or "Joseph Charles Reilly." Case/Trade labels were styled like an embossed business card with the following inscription:
. . ."Joseph Charles Reilly,"
. . . . . . "Gun Maker,"
. . . . 316 High Holborn
. . . .near Chancery Lane.

1840's: Air-guns:

JC Reilly during this period also became known for his air cane guns. Young EM was billed as the expert and was so mentioned in advertisements for the next 8 years, identified as "Reilly Junr."

In 1847 EM wrote a widely disseminated pamphlet on air guns. It is mostly an advertising brochure highlighting the company's ability to produce all sorts of air-guns and parts - but also going into air pressures they achieved in the air chambers and other technical aspects of the guns. It is cited to this day. The pamphlet title page noted the author was "Reilly junr," used the (new) 502 New Oxford Street address and included the phrase "Removed from Holborn" (see below).

Note: Reilly became so associated with air-guns that his name was mentioned in various fiction "who-done-its,' and may have been a prototype for the Sherlock Holmes short story "The Empty House" by Arthur Conan Doyle.

March 1847: Move to 502 New Oxford-Street

In late March 1847 Reilly moved from High Holborn to 502 New Oxford Street, a large edifice also called the "Elizabethian buildings" on a new extension of Oxford Street. With this move, Reilly demonstrated another trait of his business acumen, i.e. "location." The new road provided access to the center of London from the wealthy suburbs. He always chose prestigious, high-traffic locations for his stores.

The building was huge, an estimated 10,000 square feet, possibly more. For a gun-maker in London, this was an enormous space - guns in London were being made in shops at the time the size of a kitchen.

April-November 1847: Change in Trade Label

From April 1847 to November 1847 the trade label kept the form of the old High Holborn case label format but with the 502 New Oxford Street, London address and a note that the firm had "Removed from Holborn."

Note: Reilly used the phrase "Removed from Holborn" in advertisements after the move from April 1847 to November 1847. By December 1847 it had disappeared from his ads.

1847: Change in the Main-Line Numbering Chronology - 3350 Jumps to 8350

At the time of the move the main serial number chronology for Reilly long-guns was jumped up 5000 numbers from about SN 3350 to begin anew at around 8350 (called for simplicity the "8350" series). The name on serial numbered guns after the move ultimately became simply "Reilly" with exceptions.

. . .-- SN 3329 is the last extant gun made at High Holborn. It is a 10 gauge SxS percussion rifle with Joseph Charles Reilly, 316 High Holburn, London on the rib.

. . .-- SN 8378 is the first extant main-line SN'd gun from the new building, a SxS 12 bore muzzle-loading shotgun. It has "J.C. Reilly, 502 New Oxford Street, London" on the rib. The original label in the old High Holborn case label format has the 502 New Oxford Street, London address and notes the firm had "Removed from Holborn."

. . .-- SN 8463 is the first extant SN'd gun in the new series with only "Reilly, 502 New Oxford Street, London." The gun is a .390 cal SxS muzzle loader rifle, also with "Removed from Holborn" on the label.

Note: Reilly used the phrase "Removed from Holborn" in advertisements after the move from April 1847 to November 1847. By December 1847 it had disappeared from his ads.

1846-1857: J.C. Reilly 7000 Series Numbering Chronology

Preceding this move to New Oxford Street, around the end of 1845, perhaps anticipating the (planned) change in the main serial number chronology, J.C. Reilly appears to have kept a series of numbers for himself, called for simplicity the J.C. "7000" series. He numbered about 1200 guns over the next 11 years in this series beginning around SN 7000 and ending around 8200 when he retired in 1857.

JC Reilly sometimes (but not always) put his full name or initials on the ribs of these serial numbers but with the 502 New Oxford Street address; yet the trade/case labels with "Reilly" as the firm's name and the advertisements/publicity remained the same for the "8350 main-line series and the J.C. "7000" series.

. . .-- SN 7021 is the first extant SN'd gun in the JC "7000" series, a 20 bore single barrel boy’s single barrel percussion shotgun. It has " Reilly, London" on the barrel and was probably numbered in early 1846.

. . .-- SN 7023 is the second extant SN'd gun in the JC "7000" series, an 11 bore SxS percussion shotgun. It has "J.C. Reilly, 316 High Holborn, London" on the rib and was probably numbered in early 1846.

. . .-- SN 7201, a .577 percussion single barrel rifle, was the first in the J.C. 7000 series with the new "Joseph Charles Reilly, 502 New Oxford Street, London" address on the barrel, probably numbered around September 1847. It has the old style "J.C. Reilly" trade label with the new 502 New Oxford Street address and also with "Removed from Holborn."

. . .-- SN 8186 is the last extant gun in the 7000 series (no doubt made in late summer 1857). It's an elegant .650 mimi ball single barrel muzzle-loader rifle engraved Reilly, New Oxford Street, London, with "Vini, Vidi, Vici" on the barrel (- see below).

Outlier J.C. serial numbered guns, 1840-1856

There are outlier SN'd guns associated with JC which do not fit any sort of pattern, illustrating the sometime quirkiness of JC Reilly.

. . .-- 4573 - c1841, a 7 gauge, smoothbore, short single barrel, dangerous game gun with "J.C. Reilly, 316 High Holborn, London" on the barrel.

. . .-- 2008 - c1850-56, a 14 bore SxS muzzle-loader shotgun with "Joseph Charles Reilly, New Oxford Street, London" on the rib, and the trade label in the case dating from late 1847 to circa summer 1856 series;

. . .-- 3514, a 13 bore SxS percussion shotgun with "Reilly, New Oxford Street, London" on the rib, apparently made (per the trade label in the case) after 1855.

Hypothetical J.C. "4500-5000" number series early/mid 1840's:

There are two (possibly three) extant SxS percussion guns from apparently the mid-1840's which are very similar; It may be that J.C. Reilly had a 5500 serial number series of some sort; more guns are needed to establish this point. (One wonders whether this series might be connected to 4573 above; if so it would add a good 1,000 guns to the total Reilly made):

. . .-- 5512 – 1845-47?, a 16 bore SxS muzzle loader shotgun, which has “J.C. Reilly, 316 High Holborn, London now 502 New Oxford Street” on the rib, the only gun found so far with both addresses and it would appear numbered around the time of the move. However, the two addresses are printed a slightly different font indicating 5512 may have been brought in for maintenance after the March 1847 move and re-engraved at that time;

. . .-- 5580 – 1845-47?, a 12 bore SxS muzzle loader shotgun, which has “J.C. Reilly, 316 High Holborn, London” on the rib, (engraving and format very similar to 5512 above);

. . .-- xxxx – 1845-47?, The engraving on 5512 and 5580 match remarkably to a 12 bore SxS percussion gun advertised by Christies with “J.C. Reilly 316 High Holborn, London” on the rib; The SN was unpublished, however, it could be part of this possible “5500 series.”

December 1847: New Label for 502 New Oxford-Street

Soon after the move, possibly around December 1847, the trade label changed to "Reilly, Gun Maker." It was rectangular shaped with scolloped corners and featured a sketch of 502 New Oxford Street.

Note: From 1847 to 1859 long guns and hand guns can be found with "Edward M.," "Edward Michael," or "E.M" on their ribs; however, unless serial numbered these were not built by Reilly - they were only engraved and marketed.

Reilly in the early 1850's: World’s Fairs, Shooting Range, Custom Gun and Munitions

Business anthologies and gun history sites from this period note that J.C. Reilly made guns, E.M. Reilly air guns. But, both worked from the same building and used the same advertisements. This distinction has been made too much of. They operated from the same company. 1850's Reilly advertisements confirm this conclusion.

Advertisements from 1851 papers show that Reilly had a 300 yard shooting range near his London establishment. Research shows it was located off Wood Lane, Shepard's Bush and was still in use through the 1880's.

Reilly exhibited at the 1851 Crystal Palace International Exposition (as Edward M. Reilly) where he was much taken by the Casimir Lefaucheaux center-break gun. Reilly, Lang and Blanch became the major advocates for these new types of guns in England.

Reilly was making custom explosive bullets for famous hunter/explorer Sir Samuel Baker as early as 1853 when Baker wrote his book The Rifle and Hound in Ceylon. Baker in 1874 edited the book adding, “For many years I have been supplied with first rate No 10 rifles by Messrs. Reilly & Co, of Oxford Street, London, which have never become in the slightest degree deranged during the rough work of wild hunting.”

Reilly also exhibited at the 1855 Paris Universelle Exposition, where he received much acclaim, "all guns were sold," and "many orders were booked." The exhibit was in the name of E.M Reilly; however, advertisements make it very clear that though EM won the medals, the firm was still "Reilly, Gun Maker."

Reilly Numbering Bore Sizes before the 1855 Proof Law

In 1855 the British government required that bore sizes be stamped on barrels; Reilly, however, along with Greener and Manton, appears to have been amongst the very few gun makers stamping bore sizes for years before the formal requirement. There are several extant Reilly's with bore size stamps dating back to 1842.

Mid-1856: Trade/Case Label Changes

Reilly case labels changed after 1855 to illustrate the 1851 and 1855 world's fair medals and to highlight "Fusils à bascule," French for center-break guns (made on the "Lefaucheux principle"). The new label also advertised “Improved Breech Loaders” referring to guns such as the Prince Patent bolt action and the Terry Patent breech loaders which he marketed and promoted.

Note: Efforts have been made to try to date when exactly this label was adopted because it has obvious implications for when Reilly began making and selling certer-break guns (see below). The first dated newspaper ad so far found with the phrase "Fusils à bascule" appeared in ""The Law Journal"," 16 Aug 1856. There are other 1856 Reilly advertisements for "Fusils à bascule" or "Fusils bascule" in certain books and tour guides but the exact dates these were published are not clear.

There is a 12 bore pin-fire rifle shell stamped "Reilly, London" and dated 1855. It almost certainly was made under contract and imported from France. The cartridge's existance shows only that Reilly might have been selling pin-fire shells in 1855. It does, however, highlight Reilly's involvement in center-break guns at the time, surely a very small niche business then but one for which a sharp visionary businessman like E.M. could see a future.

September 1857: J.C. Reilly

In September 1857 J.C. Reilly retired to his country estates at Bourn End, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, where he died a wealthy man in January 1864; his last guns in the "7000" series were engraved with Julius Caesar's words "Vini, Vidi, Vici" ("I came, I saw, I conquered") possibly as his swan song story of his life. "Formerly Gun-Maker, London" was placed on his tombstone at his request.

Speculation: J.C.'s retirement appeared to have been quite abrupt. At the time the debate over center-break breech-loaders, a French invention, divided families and flame wars raged in the British press. One wondered if J.C., the traditionalist, broke with his son E.M, a very early proponent of the Lefaucheux break-action gun, over this issue - much like what happened between the Greener's father/son a few years later. However, based on 1855 advertisements in "The Field "broke" is not the correct word - rather a more accurate description of JC's retirement should be something like, "JC surrendered the field to his son."

1856-1860: Reilly Building Break Action Guns

Reilly, began building center-break guns as early as 1856 (possibly late 1855). (Note: E.M. Reilly claimed he experimented with the concept shortly after the 1851 Crystal Palace exhibition but abandoned it as commercially unviable - whether this is true or not is not verifiable)..

In a long letter to "The Field" published on 26 December 1857, E.M. stated that until about summer 1857 most of his sales of pin-fire breech-loaders were sold as "novelties." It wasn't until then that the whole break-action concept began to be taken seriously in UK. E.M. by that time had taken a major technological business risk. Per an advertisement from June 1857 he had 100 center-break breech-loaders in various states of build and ready to be customized; he gambled on the market by devoting fully 33% of his production capacity to making breech-loaders, this some two years before Purdey made his first.

. . .-- SN 10054 - The oldest Reilly center-break gun so far found. It is a "Lefaucheux/Lang" type long forward-underlever, single-bite type pin-fire 15 bore SxS rifle engraved "Reilly, 502 New Oxford-Street, London" on the rib. It is in a period case, with the post 1855 Paris Universelle label with "Fusils à bascule" on it. It would date per the chart to fall 1856, about the time the first Reilly ad for "Fusils à bascule" appeared in the London Press (mentioned above).

. . .-- SN 10128 - The second oldest existing Reilly pin-fire. It is a 16 bore SxS Shotgun, a Lang/Lefaucheux long underlever, single bite, pin-fire, made a couple of months afterwards circa December 1856. .

. . .-- SN 10355 (address unknown) - 12 bore SxS shotgun, pin-fire hammer gun with leather case and original labels and implements. No additional details are available from at the time a rather obscure US auction house. Per the chart it would date to mid-1857.

. . .-- SN 10655 - The fourth oldest extant Reilly break-action SxS gun found to date: It is a "Lefaucheux/Lang" type short forward-underlever, single-bite type pin-fire 12 bore SxS shotgun with "E.M. Reilly, 502 New Oxford-Street, London" on the rib, probably numbered around the time of the below mentioned "The Field" trial - March 1858. (Note the E.M. Reilly name but without the “& Co.” on the rib. There is one advertisement in an 1858 newspaper using “E.M. Reilly” rather than “Reilly.”)

E.M. Reilly participated in the April 1858 trial pitting muzzle-loaders against breech-loaders run by "The Field." His breech-loader handed a W.W. Greener muzzle-loader an historic defeat in this trial; Greener later tried to denigrate breech-loaders in his 1858 book, and was called out in the most definitive fashion by "The Field."

By fall 1858 Reilly, along with Lang and Blanch, the original proponents of break-action guns in UK, was reported to be "overdone with orders for his breech-loaders" per "The Field"; The article specifically praised Reilly’s 16 bore pin-fire used in the competition. "The Field" commented in the same aricle that at this time ¾ of the orders for new guns in London were for breech loaders.

Reilly provided 4 guns for the follow-on muzzle-loader/break-action breech-loader trial run by the "The Field" in July 1859, at least one built on the "lever under fore-arm" English standard single-bite "Lefaucheux/Lang" principle per a sketch in "The Field." However, at least one may have been made with the under-lever located under the trigger guard Beringer-style per a summer 1859 book sketch. (The gun pictured in the sketch could well be a center-break Beriinger-style pin-fire SxS shotgun sold at a recent auction – serial number unkown). His 16 bore was singled out for excellence by the editor of "The Field."

Observation re "retailer" vs "gunmaker" from an analysis of extant 1856-58 Reilly pin-fires:
-- 10054 (Fall 1856),
-- 10128 (December 1856),
-- 10355 (mid 1857), and
-- 10655 (March 1858):

. . .-- In Fall 1856, there were virtually no outworkers in London who could have made 10054 or 10128. Both guns are early Lang/Lefaucheux forward under-lever pin-fire SxS's.
. . . . . .- Lang was making pin-fire Lefaucheux style breech loaders but not for the trade. Per Lang's own pamphlet he began to make such guns in January 1854. He did not advertise them. Yet Lang won a publicized gold medal at the 1855 Paris Universelle for his breech loader - his work on the concept was not a secret.
. . . . . .- Blanch claimed he made his first pin-fire breech-loader in 1856, this after traveling to Paris to buy a center-break, under-lever around trigger-guard, Berringer style pin-fire in late 1855 after the Paris Universelle and presumably reverse engineering it (He wrote about this purchase - the receipt exists). Blanch explained in his later book that at the time the change-over from muzzle-loaders entailed a massive alteration in the manufacturing processes for guns from a breech-plug to a lump, from locks to actions, etc. - this in the face of a very conservative clientele.
. . . . . .- Reilly, thus was on his own when he obviously embarked on a similar path to that of Blanch in 1855 or possibly earlier to manufacture and sell the French invention. Per Blanch's writings, it appears Reilly had preceeded him in the design and manufacture of a center-break breech-loader.)

. . .-- 10355 mid-1857- Similar conclusions (without additional details on the gun).

. . .-- 10655, a Lefaucheux-style 12 bore SxS shotgun pin-fire breech-loader: At the time it was numbered, March 1858, believe there were still very few gun-making firms or gun parts makers in general in all of UK that could have made it or portions of it – barrels & actions, and it's twins submitted by Reilly for the April 1858 "The Field" breech-loader vs muzzle-loader trials.
. . . . . .- Again, the two firms, who could possibly have made 10655, were Lang and Blanch. E.C. Hodges, the original designer of Lang's break-action gun, was making center-break actions, labeled with his name on the plate - not found on Reilly's. Although two very small Birmingham gunsmiths submitted pin-fire break-actions for the trials, the first main-stream Birmingham-made center-break gun or the manufacture of center-break actions was still several years in the future.
. . . . . .- However, Lang and Blanch had orders aplenty themselves - they likely had no time to manufacture for "the trade."

. . .-- Thus, the most logical conclusion is that the extant Reilly pin-fires from this era 10054, 10128, 10355, and 10655 were indeed made by Reilly; no one else could have done it for him. It well may be that 10054 is the earliest UK made pin-fire center-break gun in existence.

(These conclusions are per historical data currently available on the early origins of UK center-break pin-fires. For the record Haris Holland made his first breech loader in 1857 although he advertised them in Sep 1856; Boss in 1858; Purdey in late 1858 or early 1859.)

August 1858: Opening of 315 Oxford-Street Manufactory:

In early August 1858 with new partners (unknown) EM opened a branch store/factory in a large building at 315 Oxford Street, probably because of the surging demand for break-action breech-loaders. The branch early on was also referred to as "Reilly's Armoury House" or on labels, a separate format from the 502 labels, "The Manufactory." Reilly was three doors down from Purdey located at "314 1/2" - the numbers are deceiving.

Note: Oxford Street numbering at the time is extremely confusing. There were 9 x 315's in the census of 1871 and 1881 and in the pre-1882 postal directories. It appears the entire block was numbered "315" with variations.

From this time forward guns with only "Oxford Street, London" on their ribs would have been built at 315 Oxford Street. Guns built at 502 New Oxford Street without a street number would have simply "New Oxford Street."
. . .-- The first existing gun with only "Oxford Street" is SN 10811 (Fall 1858) - see below.
. . .-- The first extant gun with the address number "315" physically on the barrel is a 3-band Enfield SN 11419, probably numbered in Spring 1860.

Reilly created a separate retangular trade label with unscolloped corners for this new workshop, again using "Fusils à bascule" with the name “Reilly’s Armoury House.” It advertised the shooting gallery (see below).

The Shooting Gallery at 315 Oxford Street:

With the opening of 315 Oxford Street, Reilly also opened a 50 yard shooting gallery attached to the workshop. A 50 yard shooting gallery in central London is extremely unusual. While many gun manufacturers had a small space for shooting hand-guns, perhaps only two had a space where shotguns and rifles could be shot, Lang and Reilly. Lang had a well-known shooting gallery described numerous times; but believe it was only about 25 yards long.

Thus, Reilly's shooting gallery likely was unique. Per newspaper ads and per mentions in articles in "The Field," the 50 yard shooting gallery was "on the premises" of Reilly's 315 manufactory. It had to be above ground for light and ventilation. It may have been on the ground floor of the adjacent billiard club also numbered "315" or occupying a sliver of property running from Oxford Street through an apparent large open space/courtyard behind the building to Princess street near Hanover Square. Later the center of this block became a skating rink in the 1870’s and then Salvation Army Regents Hall from 1882 on. The last ad for the range so far found is in 1867.

August 1858-October 1859: Company Name Changes to “Reilly & Co.”

The company may have used "Reilly & Co." for a short while from circa August 1858-October 1859 per a few advertisements & references in books. No trade labels exist with this name. One extant gun has "Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London" allegedly on the barrel - SN 10811, a Prince patent breech loader, the name/address probably engraved in early fall 1858. No photos were available to confirm the name/address on the barrel of 10811 but, relying on Christie's advertising integrity, this is probably the first extant gun made at 315 Oxford Street.

October 1859: Name Changes to “E.M. Reilly & Co.”

By October 1859 the company's name changed definitively to "E.M. Reilly & Co," a name which continued in use until bankruptcy in 1918 and beyond when the name was bought by Charles Riggs.

His labels for both workshops changed at that time to reflect the new name, "E.M. Reilly & Co., Gun Maker."
. . .- 502 New Oxford St. continued to illustrate the sketch of the building;
. . .- 315 Oxford Street continued to have a different label but now also with the E.M Reilly & Co. name.

The first extant serial numbered gun with "E.M. Reilly & Co." on the rib is a 3 band Enfield SN 11227 dated per the below chart to autumn 1859.

August 1860: “Gun Maker” Becomes “Gun Manufacturers”

A year later in circa August 1860 the company's description on labels and in advertisements changed from "Gun Maker" to "Gun Manufacturers" and at that time the sketch of 502 New Oxford Street was dropped from his case labels. The separate label for 315 Oxford Street also was dropped. The new label either had 502 or 315 as the featured address; if 315 the principle establishment address was added in scroll work. The basic format for the new label remained consistent for the next 30+ years with variations (additions of medals, branch addresses, occasionally mention of royalty, etc.) (There were a few outlier labels). The advertising scroll work at the bottom of the label changed slightly after 1885. (See the separate chart dating Reilly labels).

Business anthologies at this time identified EM Reilly as both gun and pistol manufacturers and sword/cutlery makers. Reilly's name has been found engraved on bayonettes and swords from the era.

During this time frame Reilly in advertisements claimed to be making every piece of every gun he serial numbered in his two workshops on Oxford Street and invited customers to "view the progress of their order." This would make Reilly one of the very few "vertical" gun companies in London. The London (and Birmingham) gun trade at the time relied for the most part on out-sourced parts and materials, which were assembled and finished in-house.

Note. Haris Holland posted a similar advertisement in "The Field" in 1858. It's entirely possible that Reilly was allowing customers to view only the "assembled/finished" parts of small arms manufacturing; this said, Reilly's manufacturing spaces dwarfed that of Haris Holland at the time.

Reilly Selling to Militia & Gun Clubs at Wholesale Prices

Beginning in 1859, Reilly also began advertising rifles sold wholesale to equip "Yoemanry" militia. He continued to advertise such guns up to at least the 1890's. Most of these guns may not have been made by him, especially after the early 1860's, and thus not serial numbered. (The Yoemanry Militia, a sort of UK "National Guard," was still in existence in WWI and units were deployed to France). He also advertised discounts for bulk purchases by shooting clubs. Reilly continued to advertise wholesale sales of guns in his advertisements and occasionally on outlier labels for the next 40 years.

Reilly and Pistols

Reilly always retailed pistols of all types from the beginning of the firm to the end. He engraved them and put his name on them. However, after 1837 he did not serial number them although Reilly was still listed as “gun and pistol makers” in business anthologies as previously noted. By 1859 he was selling all types of pistols and revolvers, Trantor, Adams, Colt, Smith&Wesson; he sold Howdah's, pepperboxes, duelers, derringers, Flobert, etc. But, because he did not serial number these guns, he did not build them.

Reilly apparently did assemble foreign made revolvers from parts imported from Liège possibly as early as 1860. But Reilly did not serial number assembled guns - witness the Martini-Henry Reilly rifles (see below). Thus pistols are ignored in this study; they cannot be used to date Reilly long-guns except for those with surviving cases with original trade labels, which helped build a data-base of Reilly case labels.

Note: A Reilly pepperbox may have been weilded by "Flashman" in the novel "Flashman and the Mountain of Light," by George MacDonald Fraser.

Reilly Stocks

Reilly almost always used a straight English stock for SxS shotguns. He almost always used a pistol grip stock for rifles, and if not, a trigger-guard extension which aped a pistol grip (a "scroll guard"). If a classic Reilly "shotgun" has a pistol grip stock, it almost certainly was repurposed from a rifle. There are proven exceptions, mostly for big-bore fowlers, but rare.

Reilly from very early on used French walnut. His highly figured stocks differed markedly from the standard English walnut offered by other makers and may be something of a marker.

Reilly Engraving

Reilly’s engraving was always tasteful, usually in the English “Rose and Scroll” style. *63 In fact the company showed examples of embossing and chasing at the 1851 Crystal Palace world’s fair. There are guns, however, with wildlife engraved on them, mostly from the muzzle-loading period. Some of this engraving is quite realistic; however, to be frank many of the depections of birds and animals on Reilly engraving is somewhat cartoonish. Some London gunsmiths say that many of the engravers in London at the time had never seen a wild deer, partridge or duck in their lives and drew from impressions or others’ sketches

Reilly Barrels: Always London proofed; Reilly bored

All serial numbered Reilly’s, i.e. guns built by Reilly, with original barrels from the beginning of the firm in 1828 until bankruptcy in 1912 were proofed in London. (There are two known possible exceptions out of some 600 existing guns).

It is well known that after 1844 with the closure of the London barrel forger Fullerd, London barrel blanks came from Birmingham (and by 1890 from Liège). However, these were bored in London. As early as 1841 Reilly advertised that he was boring his own barrels. For how long he continued to do so is unknown, but hroughout the 1840’s he advertised fixing others’ bad barrels by reboring them adding, “no cure, no pay.” Testimonies as to the excellence of Reilly-bored percussion gun barrels can be found.

Reilly Shells and Ammunition

In the letter he wrote to “The Field” in December 1857, EM Reilly complained about the inability of UK ammunition makers, in particular Ely, to manufacture pin-fire shells. By that time it appears he had made the decision to go into the shotgun shell manufacturing business. He guaranteed access to supplies of ammunition in his summer 1857 advertisement for break-action pin-fires. In 1861 he patented a new machine for crimping shells. He continued to manufacture and sell his own shells for the next 40 years. This was apparantly a significant stream of income for the company. Reilly shells have been found in an archeological dig in Canada and in an investigation of an old whaling station in New Zealand.

Reilly and the 1862 London exposition:

In 1862 Reilly showed at the London International exposition and won a medal for an exhibit which included a gold washed 12 bore muzzle-loader shotgun which may still exist (SN 12532). The result, an "honorable mention" medal, had to be disappointing; Reilly placed great store in scoring well at these expositions - it was an advertising bonanza and certainly he put out a bliz of publicity leading up to the World's Fair.

Quality staff:

Articles on this exposition mention the intelligence and people skills of Reilly's young representative at his stand a "Mr. McNamara." It is interesting to note that similar laudatory comments were made about Reilly’s staff at the 1858 and 1859 (Mr. Bennet) "The Field" trials. It appears Reilly picked his young staffers with care and meticulously trained them.

Attempts to Curry Favor with the British Royal Family:

Throughout the 1860's Reilly guns were purchased by various members of the British royal family, usually to give as gifts to foreign dignitaries or persons who had done favors for the family. Reilly tried to obtain, but without success, a Royal Warrant as "Gun Maker to the Royal Family."

For a few months in 1863 Reilly published advertisements associating himself with the Royal Family based apparently on the purchase of Reilly guns by the Prince of Wales. He also spent hundreds of pounds on elaborate gas light decorations to his buildings on various Royal anniversaries and on the wedding of the Prince. He apparently was slapped down pretty quickly and after November 1863, such claims never again surfaced.

Note: The Reilly’s were Irish Catholic. E.M. at least appears to have been involved with the church and to have campaigned against religious discrimination against Catholics in UK. Whether this influenced his ability to obtain a “Royal Warrant” or even to win a contract with Arsenal is problematic.

Attempts to Win a Military Contract:

From at least the 1840's the Reilly's tried mightily to win a lucrative military contract from the British government.

-- Prince Patent Breech Loader: EM Reilly promoted the Prince patent breech loader in the late 1850's. This was probably the finest existing breech-loading rifle of its time. It outshot the newly adopted Enfield in 1855.
. . . . .- In March 1858 12 prominent London gun-makers signed an open letter in “The Field” urging Arsenal to reopen the army rifle competition in favor of the Prince. Reilly and Green did not sign the letter – Green was in partnership with Prince and Reilly probably had a financial stake in the firm, thus could not. However, in view of Reilly’s subsequent heavy commitment to making Prince breech-loaders and given E.M.’s shrewd business sense, it is entirely possible that Reilly provoked the whole exercise as a business ploy.
. . . . .- Reilly subsequently was one of several London gun-makers licensed to make the rifle.
. . . . .- The first Reilly extant gun made at 315 Oxford Street was a Prince breech-loading rifle SN 10811, one of three extant Princes built during a six month period. In fact, it appears that during summer/fall 1858 Reilly took another one of his technological market-place gambles by devoting significant resouces to build a quantity of Prince breech loaders, perhaps as many as 100 out of some 200 Reilly guns made during that period.

-- Green Brothers Patent Breech Loader: In January 1862 the Green Brothers, formerly in business with Prince, took out a patent for their breech loader action which could be adapted to the Enfield rifle-musket. EM Reilly obtained manufacturing rights to the patent and worked with the Green brothers to win an army contract for it. Reilly conducted an extensive advertising campaign for the breech loader beginning in March 1864. The Green Brothers breech loader was entered by Reilly in the Army competition for an interim breech loader in 1864-66 but lost out to the Snider. Per use numbers Reilly built over 400 of these rifles over the next 4 years. The breech loader was very popular before the Snider came into general use (adopted 1866). These Reilly-made Green Bros patent rifles won a lot of shooting contests in this period.
. . . . .- Reilly’s first extant manufactured Green-Bros breech loader is SN 12002 Patent use #1. 12002 is dated mid-1861 before the Green Bros event took out their patent; However according to the Royal Armories Museum, this gun was actually built on an 1853 Enfield Rifle-Musket 3rd pattern; the gun was obviously pre-serial numbered by Reilly and selected to be modified into a Green Bros breech loader in spring 1864.
. . . . .- Reilly built extant serial number 13326 (use #16) and 13333 (use #23) both dated per the below chart to May 1864, shortly after he began the advertising campaign for the gun. The serial use numbers show that he built at least 8 Green Brothers rifles in a row at this time and possibly more.
. . . . .- Reilly built 147 Green Brothers breech-loaders in a six month period from September 1867 to February 1868 comprising over 50% of his output during this period.

-- Snider-Enfields: In early 1864 the armies of Europe were shocked by the decisive victory the Prussian Dreyse Needle Guns brought during the Danish-Prussian War. The British responded by conducting trials for an interim breech loader to replace the Enfield. Snider, an American, won the competition with a breech that could be adapted to existing Enfields and in September 1866 the Snider-Enfield was officially introduced. Snider’s continued in use for 60 years, and were entered in marksmanship contests up to 1920 in Canada and pre-war in Britain. A lot of Reilly serial numbered 1853 Enfields were converted to Sniders. However, Reilly also made and serial numbered Sniders, a number of which are extant including one 8 bore .750 caliber big-game rifle.

-- Reilly-Comblain Breech Loaders: In 1867-1870 he put forward the Comblain breech loader from Belgium, to which he gained patent rights in England, competing against trial guns such as the Martini and the Henry, a combination of which was later adopted by Arsenal as the follow-on breech-loader to the Snider. The Comblain was not actually accepted by the trials board as an entry in the competition; The board commented that they preferred other breech-loading options; it may be that the board thought the Comblain breech loading system too similar to and not necessarily superior to the Snider. Yet, per use numbers he built over 6000 Comblain's in UK over 5 years 1867-72. However, none of the Comblain rifles were serial numbered. He likely had them manufactured under contract in Birmingham.

-- Explosive Bullets: He patented an explosive bullet in 1869, a sort of early M-79 idea. Note: Sir Samuel Baker wrote in his books that Reilly made custom explosives shells designed by him for his use as early as 1853. In addition Reilly made explosive shells for BG Jacobs for his self designed long-range double rifle used by his Pashtun cavalry in Sind and Baluchistan (1854-57). It may well be that Reilly used this knowledge to create his explosive bullet.

However, he never obtained a major contract (as far as the present day evidence goes).

Reilly did sell and engrave British military rifles - Enfields, Snider's, Martini's and later Lee-Speeds; He hawked these guns to the Yoemanry Volunteer Militia and to rifle clubs at wholesale prices, versions of them to Military personnel going abroad and to big-game hunters for 50 years. But, unless he built them himself he did not serial number these guns.

Reilly builds Martini-Henry Rifles:

As an example, the history of Reilly building Martini-Henry rifles/actions is instructive. The M-H was adopted for trial by the Army in summer 1871. Reilly first tentatively advertised a "Henry-Martini" in early to mid 1871. The first true newspaper advertisement by Reilly for a "Martini-Henry" appeared in December 1871.

There are many extant Reilly-made Martini-Henry's in a half-dozen calibers, one being an 8-bore (cal .775), none with serial numbers. He engraved and retailed Martini-Henry and a variant Swinburn-Henry rifles made by others. He may have assembled rifles himself at 315 Oxford Street manufactury using actions and barrels built elsewhere. Yet, like Comblain-Reilly rifles, not one Martini-Henry has been found yet with a Reilly serial number. He apparently did not make these himself and he did not serial number retailed or assembled guns. (Reilly is not alone in this; the lack of a makers’ SN’s on Martini-Henry's may be ubiquitous across the trade; the reasons for this are not fully understood).

As a coda to this, in November 1874, the Henry shallow groove rifling patent from November 1860 was allowed to be extended for another 4 years to November 1878. It subsequently somehow (by a process not yet undersood) was extended again to November 1888. There was some speculation that the extension was tied to the Henry patent rifling being adopted by the military. In fact Henry received £5000 in 1872 from the British government for his patent and no more though he petitioned for a supplement. Certainly there are Reilly SxS rifles numbered in the 1880’s with Henry patent use numbers on them. Henry patents in the USA expired 15 November 1874 per court ruling.

==============continued below=======================

Last edited by Argo44; 09/05/21 05:54 PM.

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==============continued from above=======================

Reilly, Riding High, Takes on the Establishment

To illustrate the state of Reilly fortunes and confidence at the time, in 1866 there was a widely reported dust-up between Reilly and Purdey. A salesman at Reilly reportedly told a client that essentially Reilly guns were the same as Purdey's but without the extra-charge for a name, implying Reilly made them for Purdey. Purdey was indignant and fired off an emotionally charged letter demanding retraction. Reilly not only rejected the charge but in an infamous poem, quoted several times the phrase "exactly the same"...thumbing his nose at the gun aristocracy. (This is not a way to win friends, obviously)

1867-1870: Reilly Takes on Paris, Again

EM Reilly always seemed to be enamored with Paris and as the 1867 Paris Universelle exposition approached, he meticulously prepared an exhibit that was extensively lauded. It won him gold and silver medals.

This led him to became a "gun maker" for Napoleon III, and in February 1868 to open a branch office (EM Reilly & Cie.) at 2 rue Scribe, Paris where orders for his guns could be taken. The store was located in the Grand Hotel near the Gare du Nord, a prime location (British travelers to Paris arrived at the Gare du Nord). This branch office remained open for the next 17 years.

The first extant gun with 2 rue Scribe on the rib is 14983, an 8 bore SxS under-lever, hammer gun shotgun (with a firing system very much resembling the earlier Lancaster "base-fire" action - other observers note that it was very like the Pape patent with retractable firing pins).

Note: The French press in articles about Reilly in the 20th century has claimed that the artistic elegance and balance of a Reilly gun came from its association with Paris.

His case labels changed at this time to feature the two medals won at the 1867 World's Fair and often (but not always) mentioned both branch addresses.

Two and a half years later the Franco-Prussian War broke out. After the battle of Sedan September 3, 1870 Napoleon III fell from power - the Third French Republic was declared; the medals (with Napoleon III's profile on them) disappeared from Reilly's case labels for awhile yet continued occasionally to resurface on both labels and in advertisements for the next 15 years.

Note: Napoleon III died in exile in England in 1873. His widow Empress Eugenia bought a Reilly 12 bore SxS shotgun, while in England SN 17532 (dated per the chart to mid 1872), and a second Really 16 bore (SN unknown) both of which are now in the USA somewhere. Her son was killed in the Zulu Wars in 1879. She died in 1920 having been awarded the Order of the British Empire.

Reilly's affinity for France was well known and commented on in London newspapers at the time. (Was this possibly an Irish-French Catholic connection?)
-- A French woman was found in his house in the 1861 census;
-- In Fall 1870 he was prosecuted for attempting to smuggle 2,000 shells to his rue Scribe address, a violation of UK neutrality in the conflict; The London press commented to the effect that this Reilly-Francophile affinity was inevitable (i.e. Reilly "couldn't help himself.")
-- and in 1871 Reilly offered to sell 6,000 Chassepot rifles (stored in Birmingham) to the new French Republic. (Obviously the rifles were to be sent to France via some sort of back-channel; the French parliament - really a sort of 3rd Republic "Revolutionary Committee," hesitated over a few centimes of commission - the opportunity was lost).
-- There are Reilly trade labels from the period where the owner of the gun has taken pains to erase the Paris address - Francophobia was alive and well in UK.
-- And with this long-time connection, one must assume that early on, after the 1851 exposition, EM was in contact with French center-break breech-loader makers and must have been experimenting.
- He had contacts in Liège (as did Trantor or perhaps through Trantor) possibly as early as the 1850's. Whether he spoke French is unknown.
1868-76 Miscellania: New Labels and Descriptions

Around 1869 EM changed the description of the company in ads to "Gun and Rifle Manufacturers" (as did many other English gun makers). This description was occasionally but not usually used on his trade/case labels for the next 15 years. There are two extant guns with this phrase on the ribs or barrels:
-- SN 25572, a .450 BPE SxS U-L hammer gun rifle dated 1883
-- SN 26537, a .450 BPE SxS U-L hammer gun rifle dated 1884.

Sometime around the late 1860’s-1870’s 1870 (presumably) for a short time he used a different label for revolvers with only the 315 Oxford Street address, without the scollops or the medals, advertising “Breech Loading Gun and Rifle Manufacturers," which included the phrase, "By appointment to his majesty emperor Napoleon III."

In 1876 some outlier Reilly labels and publicity began advertising a connection to the King of Portugal and by 1882 to the Kings of Spain and The Netherlands.

Also around 1876 315 Oxford Street got its own label back; it was slightly different from the classic 502 label, without scollops and with no scroll work at the bottom.

Reilly and the American Market

From as early as 1868 Reilly evinced an interest in penetrating the American market. He acquired an American agent (Joseph Grubbs, Philadelphia), had his guns advertised in mail order catalogs, and exhibited at the 1876 Philadelphia centennial along side very high-standard British guns such as Purdey, and won a medal. Among other American connections, he was the sole distributer of Sharps rifles in the UK.

1878-80: Situation of the Company

Reilly again exhibited at the 1878 Paris exposition and again won medals. By 1880 Reilly sold a third more - soon to be twice as many - serial numbered, hand made bespoke guns than both Holland and Holland and Purdey combined, this in addition to:
. . .-- a very active business in guns sold under license from well known gun makers including revolvers (Trantor, Baumont-Adams, Walker, Colt, etc), rook rifles, repeating rifles (Sharps, Winchester, etc.),
. . .-- as well as merchandising every type of gun accoutrement - reloaders, cartridges, shells, cases, etc.
. . .-- and sustaining a huge business in previously owned guns.

Reilly told the 1881 census taker that he employed some 300 people in his firm, an extraordinarialy high number for the times, an indication of the extent of his gun manufacturing and sales business. (WW Greener in the same census claimed to employ 140, less than half the number of Reilly; Purdey in 1871 said he employed 58, 1/5th the number of Reilly workers).

Reilly in the Early 1880's:

Reilly's business was booming and gun production topped 1000 a year. Reilly reportedly was making long guns for other London gun-makers. Note: there is a suspicion that with his large industrial spaces (by London terms) that he was doing this for many years - see the Reilly-Purdey kerfuffle from 1866. As an example, a James Beattie percussion gun made circa 1835 has been found with the locks labeled “Reilly,” a possible indication that Reilly made the gun in the white for Beattie, this in the very early years of Reilly making guns.

He also around this time began importing cheap Belgian-made revolvers in parts which he assembled in his buildings, engraved and sold. (Reilly, like Trantor and others, possibly was involved with the Belgian manufacture and "assembly trade" much earlier...perhaps dating to as early as the 1850's).

He exhibited at the 1882 Calcutta fair (a British Empire only affair) and won a medal and was highly praised for his exhibit at the 1884/85 London International Expositions where he again won medals.

Reilly guns figured very well in live pigeon shooting contests throughout the 1880's. Big game hunters in Africa used his guns and advertised the results including Henry Morton Stanley, the Welsh-American and perhaps the most famous of all African explorers, Dr. David Livingston, and noted Victorian era African hunter and author Frederick Selous. Sir Samuel Baker, the most famous Victorian hunter of all, of course, began using Reilly heavy rifles in the early 1850’s, had Reilly build explosive shells for him, and continued to use his Reilly connection to the end of his hunting life as previously mentioned.

November 1881: Change in numbering of Oxford Street

In November 1881 Oxford Street was renumbered; "502" became "16 New Oxford Street" and "315" becoming "277 Oxford Street." The first extant gun with either of the new addresses on the ribs is SN 23536, a 12 ga. SxS BLE shotgun with E.M. Reilly & Co, 277 Oxford St., London on the rib.

In spite of the formal change in numbering, the old numbers occasionally appeared in Reilly ads and on gun ribs for the next couple of years.

As for labelsl a 16, New Oxford Street label with rue Scribe exists obviously post November 1881 and pre July 1885. However, the Reilly trade label used at 315 Oxford Street does not appear to have changed definitively to the new numbering system until circa 1885; no "277 Oxford Street, London" labels with the Paris branch have so far been found. (There are a very limited number of the 277 labels for this time period uncovered so far; one may still turn up).

1882: Selling Off The Rack

In late 1881 per advertisements it appears that Reilly made a business decision to stock ready-made guns and sell them off-the-rack as well as selling his usual bespoke made-to-order guns. This might account for the soaring number of guns serial numbered per year, which grew from about 650 numbered in 1880 to some 1050 in 1882. It might also account for certain discrepancies in serial numbered guns from this time forward such as 303xx which would have been numbered in late 1888-early 1889 but still has "Not For Ball" on its barrels (a stamping discontinued in 1887).

If this were the case, Reilly possibly serial numbered his bespoke guns when ordered (usual London practice) and his off-the-rack guns when sold.

(When knowledgable gun historians and makers were queried about this phenomena - guns with pre-1887 proof marks apparently made after that date - they shrugged and said essentially that no-one can logically explain the process at the time - some gun makers ignored or stretched the law; some used barrels already proofed..etc.)

The decision to vastly expand production and sell ready-made guns may mark the origin of a trend towards marketing Birmingham-made guns finished in London to satisfy demand, supplementing Reilly’s own production which seemed to max out at about 650 a year per the below chart. Scott "Triplex" actions found on several 1880's Reilly's may be an example.
. . .-- (This said, Scott usually managed to put a Scott number on his guns and actions - none have been found on Reilly's and the Reilly Scott Triplex actions have on their barrels "Improved Patent" for some reason or another. Thus it is also entirely possible that Reilly built them under license. As usual all Reilly serial number guns continued to proofed in London).

1884-1885: 29 rue Faubourg, Saint-Honoré, Paris

Sometime in lat 1884 Reilly apparently opened a small satellite branch of 2 rue Scribe, Paris at 29 rue du Faubourg, Saint-Honoré, Paris for a short time.
-- Five different gun case labels show the store would have been in existence after the November 1881 change in Oxford Street addresses but before the July 1885 closure of 2 rue Scribe.
-- The labels illustrate the 1867 Paris medals and the 1884-5 London international exposition medals, which seemingly dates them from late 1884 to mid 1885 when Reilly closed his Paris shops. One such label appears on SN 26880, a gun dated to Feb 1885. However, this label also is found in a case housing SN 22432, dated 1880 and bought by a man who died in 1882.
-- The London International Exposition stretched over two years 1884 and 1885 thus in theory, the London medals could have been awarded in late 1885 indicating that rue du Faubourg might have been occupied after rue Scribe closed (see below). Indeed, a paid-for article appeared in the January 1886 London press touting a win by an Italian (a well known marksman) using a Reilly with the rue du Faubourg address at the Monte Carlo pigeon shoot, an important event. Whether the address was on the rib of his gun or on the trade/case label is unknown.
-- However, no newspaper advertisements for this branch exist. It was a prestigious location - Coco Chanel's apartments were above it in another century - and should have been publicized by Reilly had it been more than a transient sales shop. No extant guns have thus far been found with this address on their ribs. Perhaps this store was occupied for a few months while the Grand Hotel was undergoing renovation.

July 1885: Closure of the Paris Branch

In July 1885 rue Scribe was closed. The reasons for this are not known - hand made guns were being sold at a very high rate; it may have had to do with the departure of a long-time partner (possibly a M. Poirat? M. Poirat was the agent for Reilly in 1871, mentioned in French parliamentary records when Reilly tried to sell the stock of Chassepot rifles in Birmingham to the French Republic.).

The last extant SN'd gun with rue Scribe on the rib is 27340, address on the rib being “New Oxford Street, London & rue Scribe, Paris.” It is a 12 bore SxS top-lever, hammer-gun, shotgun.

There are three guns with later serial numbers, which have only "Paris" on their barrels. These are SxS's built on the Scott "triplex" system. However, they may have been ready-made prior to 1885 and only numbered when sold off the rack - or there may be some other reason for the "Paris" stamp which has yet to be uncovered.

There are advertisements stretching into 1886 for Reilly at 2 rue Scribe or only "Paris." Some of these are long term advertisements that were not changed over a couple of years. However, the key indicator for the closure date of 31 July 1885 seems to be the advertisements in the most popular London newspapers. In late July 1885 rue Scribe was mentioned - in early August 1885 it had disappeared from otherwise identrical ads and from print in general.

July 1885: Change in Reilly labels

The labels for both London branches changed slightly at this time. The new labels retained the essence of the original labels:
. . .-- 16 (502) New Oxford Street, continued with the scolloped corners, double outlining, even the 1867 medals, but advertised different guns in the scroll work at the bottom of the label.
. . .-- 277 (315) Oxford Street also continued its label tradition without the scollops or border lining but some of the descriptions in scroll work in the center of the label were changed.

Reilly in the Late 1880's:

Reilly exhibited at the 1889 Paris World's Fair, the "Tour Eiffel" Exposition Universalle, and won a silver medal. However, for some reason he chose not to publicize the medal. Wesley-Richards won the overall gold medal and every English gunmaker entered in the exposition was awarded a silver medal; perhaps Reilly felt this degraded the accomplishment.

A nasty law-suit on easement limitations to the Salavation Army Hall behind his establishment at 277 Oxford Street was litigated. The legal decision is cited to this day.

The fact is, something changed with the firm after 1886; Reilly's guns regularly won competitions and were donated to be given as prizes at high-end shooting competitions; but the company just gradually retracted from mass-media print. The cocky swagger of the 1860's seemed to have burnt itself out.

1890: Death of E.M. Reilly and aftermath

In July 1890 EM Reilly contracted broncho-pneumonia and passed away.

Of Reilly's “acknowledged” sons Charles A. was 20, Herbert H. was 15, and Gerald Atol was 13 - all still in school, none apparently with the hands-on gun-making expertise that EM had in his upbringing. His first "son" Edward Montague was 23 (see below).

His wife Mary Ann was in her 40's. Business was still lively. Widows did successfully manage companies in England at the time after the deaths of their husbands. In his will E.M specifically did not leave his wife the "trade books." However, newspaper articles on the later death of her son Edward Montague indicate that Mary was indeed running the company during this time.

With EM’s death, somehow the light of Reilly entrepreneurship went out. Mary Ann Reilly had to operate in a "man's world" and no matter how strong willed, there were serious obstacles for her.

Subsequently, his sons did not seem to have the hands-on knowledge of the gun manufacturing trade that EM had hammered into him in the 1830's. Nor did they have the generational connections to the business, or the understanding of the complex entertwinings of its execution. The gun-trade was always a sort of dance while juggling a number of balls
-- relationship to outworkers,
-- handling in-house bench workers,
-- dealing with importation of parts (from Belgium) and the licensing for manufacturing others' patents,
-- contacts with Birmingham mass production factories
-- kow-towing to the upper class,
-- staying abreast of market trends,
-- and always advertising and promoting.

By the time Bert actually exerted control over the company, surely around 1899, its reputation and place in the English gun-making fraternity had been seriously eroded. (And Bert not bothering to attend assemblies of English gun-makers probably didn't help - fraternization, even in a cut-throat business, always is a plus).

Characterizing the Reilly's:

This study has not looked at the Reilly family except where it effects the business; however, here are some possible characterizations of the Reilly's based on very limited information, much from Sally Nestor, family researcher.

-- J.C. Reilly comes across as something of an early 19th century, self-absorbed narcissist (this from one possibly extremely prejudiced source) . Yet, he registered a silver mark - not something one can just do without true expertise and apprenticeship, and per John Campbell, not independently confirmed, he was a clock-maker and a member of the "Clockmakers" guild. JC apparently had some serious mechanical skills. He appears to have been rebellious, snarky, egotistical and independent, and probably was a difficult and demanding boss, husband, father. His wife left him, and a couple of his children apparently wanted nothing to do with him. But, he had allies in the gun world, i.e. a relationship with John Blanch from pretty much the time when he first began to build his own guns (a deduction from very limited evidence - Blanch kept Reilly advertisements from the 1840’s era in his private scrap book).

-- E.M. Reilly appears to have been an imaginative, far-sighted, organized, ambitious businessman (based on his business record). He also worked with his father from an early age in the gun making business and had extensive hands-on experience in making guns and air guns. He had some excellent political connections in the gun trade - the same group of gun makers appear repeatedly together in the late 1850-early 1860 time period - Prince, Green, Deane, Reilly, Blanch, and a couple of others - and given that he manufactured well in excess of 5,000 Comblain breech loaders (presumably in Birmingham) in the 1860's, he had connections there as well. He had to have had some people skills. He had a talent for recognizing promising new patents and was not afraid to build them to suit or to take technological business risks trying to anticipate market demand. He was definitely a francophile in an English world where France conjured up the image of a 1000 year old structural enemy. He was perhaps a bit of a control freak and probably not easy to be around - especially if you were his son. (The Victorian age was not a "huggy-feely" one) (this only from interpreting the wording in his will).

-- The first son, Edward Montague Reilly b.1867 probably was the pre-marriage offspring of then 50 year old EM and his then 21 year old future wife Mary. Four sons were born to EM and Mary, all technically out of wedlock; However, only Edward Montague was called a "reputed" son by his father. Edward Montague was an "engineer" and "gun maker" following in his father's footsteps and was designated as an executor of EM's will (along with Mary). He apparently later worked on locomotives. In about 1893 he came down with tuberculosis and ultimately fell from an upper window at 277 Oxford Street in July 1895.

-- EM's wife Mary Ann was a woman operating in a "man's world" after his death. The fact that she apparently ran the company for 9 years from 1890-99 is a testament to her pluckiness. There is not much known about her except by analysis. She was born in 1845. No-one knows who were her parents or her background; family historians speculate that she was E.M.'s cousin. Even her maiden name is not clear - it is either Curtis or "[censored]." At the age of 20 she seduced a 50 year old successful businessman, ignoring convention. She had 4 sons out of "wedlock" one of which may not have been his; something or someone kept them from formally marrying until the late 1870’s. After EM’S death, in spite of very specifically not being left the "trade books," she apparently took over and ran a large company in Victorian, England. This is something movies are made for - sex, guns, money and power. Her offspring included later Members of Parliament. She died 12 January 1899. She deserves more attention. Yet, under her guidance the company began steadily to contract. She had neither the insight into the gun business nor the connections to keep the company afloat.

Mid-1890's: Reilly’s decline

By 1895, the death of Edward Montague, Reilly guns were no longer being mentioned as often as winners in pigeon shoots; Reilly victories and promotional donations of guns as prizes had been a prominent feature in London papers for 25 years. And yet, advertisments for the firm's products continued to fill the newspapers; and due to reputation, Reilly was still being mentioned in books at the turn of the century as a company which could make quality Africa-proof big-bore rifles.

May 1897: Closure of 16, New Oxford Street

In early May 1897 the company closed 16 New Oxford Street where it had been located for 50 years; 277 Oxford Street remained open. Bespoke guns continued to be sold in the early 1890's at a goodly clip but as the decade advanced for some reason the demand for these hand-made and measured guns in a middling cost category seemed to decline. Reilly serial numbered gun production dwindled. The company's mangement after 1890 did not seem to have E.M.'s business sense or "touch” and his guns began to seem a bit old-fashioned.

With sales diminishing, closing the finishing facilities at 16 New Oxford street while retaining the smaller sales and manufacturing spaces at 277 Oxford Street would seem logical. The last extant SN'd gun from 16 New Oxford Street is 34723, a 12 bore SxS, top-lever, Damascus-barrelled, hammer-gun, shotgun.

1893-97: label changes

Within a couple of years after EM's death the company's descriptions on Reilly's presentation cases changed back to "Gun and Rifle makers" although the company was still "Gun and Rifle Manufacturers" in phone and business directories.

After May 1897 the trade/case label changed. 16 New Oxford Street was of course dropped as was the entire old format label used since 1860. The new “modern” label displayed four sets of medals won in 1876 (Philadelphia), 1878 (Paris), and 1884 (London) and 1873 (Vienna) (although there is no evidence that Reilly actually exhibited in Vienna) and advertised “magazine guns.”

Death of Mary Ann Reilly, 1899:

In January 1899 Mary Ann Reilly died - she was only 54. Apparently H.H. (Bert) Reilly, E.M's third son, then only 24 years old, took over the management of the company.

Move to 295 Oxford-Street, 1903-4:

In March 1903 the Company vacated 277 Oxford-Street where they had been quartered for 44 years while the building was being renovated and moved 300 yards down the street to 295 Oxford-Street. The last extant gun made at 277 Oxford Street should be 35394 a 12 gauge SxS BLE shotgun with steel sleeved barrels (thus no address). The first extant gun with 295 Oxford Street, London on the rib is 35400, a 12 ga. SxS BLE shotgun (per a case label), dated by the below chart to May 1904.

The trade label continued to be the 1897 “4 medal” label but with “277” crossed out and “295” stamped above.

Note: Newspaper ads for Reilly stopped in late February 1903 while Reilly was still at 277, and did not resume again until May 1904 with the shop located at 295 Oxford Street. Thus it appears that Reilly closed down completely for 14 months. Reilly only made about 175 guns from the time of the move from 277 to bankruptcy in June 1912, a sad commentary on the end of a storied firm.

With this possible shutdown of the company for 14 months, it is hard to imagine that Bert could have kept his gunsmiths employed. In addition, from the time the company reopened until bankruptcy eight years later, only a very small number of guns were serial numbered by Reilly, less than 25 a year. Thus it is hard to imagine Reilly after May 1904 as a complete gun-making firm as it was in the heady days of JC and EM. Bert Reilly probably resorted to finishing guns provided by outworkers in the white and concentrated on repairing and updating guns. There are Reilly guns with serial numbers from the 1880’s that bear the 295 address on the barrel or case.

June 1912: Bankruptcy

The company remained at 295 until bankruptcy was declared on 06 June 1912 (publicized on 08 June 1912 in the London Monday morning papers). The last extant gun with 295 on the rib is 35678, a 12 bore SxS BLE shotgun. Reportedly during this period at least one gun was built with "J.C. Reilly" and the old "Holborn Bars" address on the rib.

Note: Per advertisements in September 1911 the company announced it was for sale or in need of new partners with cash. Its stock of guns was advertised at reduced prices for cash only. In December 1911 the company was changed to a limited liability company with "CW Roberts" (probably G. Watkinson Roberts - liquidator specialist) as one of the directors. Roberts was a bankruptcy lawyer. Reilly's continued advertising 295 for sale in Spring 1912 per newspaper advertisements. It appears Bert Reilly knew bankruptcy was coming and changed the company to protect his personal assets. He retained his separate homes after bankruptcy.

1912-1918: 13 High Street, Marylebone

Bert Reilly opened a small gun shop, E.M Reilly & Co., at 13 High Street, Marylebone in 1912 after the bankruptcy. No advertisements can be found for the shop though per London postal address, telephone and business directories they identified themselves as "gunmakers." No guns with this address on the rib have been found. The date of its closure is not noted although it is listed in the London telephone directory in 1918 (but not in 1919).

(Note: one internet site claims that 13 High Street was occupied by Reilly as early as December of 1911 while 295 was for sale; no footnotes or validation of this claim were published. It has not been verified. London directories and telephone directories do not seem to support this assertion.)

Charles Riggs era, 1922-1966:

In August 1922 The Reilly name was bought by a sporting goods dealer named Charles Riggs (most Reilly history summaries put the date of purchase as 1917; this is belied by the dates of newspaper advertising). Riggs apparently decided he could use the name to promote his premium line of guns (possibly built by Osborne/Midland).

Riggs-Reilly guns usually have "E.M. Reilly & Co., London" on the ribs; Sometimes "E.M. Reilly & Co., Ltd." As a further identifier, a lot of the Rigg's-Reilly's have "Prince of Wales" half pistol grip stocks (something the original Reilly firm almost never made.) Riggs'-Reilly named guns have six-digit serial numbers and appear to begin at around 128000. (The earliest Riggs serial number so far identified is 128466). A Riggs "Reilly" with a serial number in the 150000's is known to exist.

Riggs was quite a self-promoting character and comes across in advertisements and articles as something of an annoying, pretentious, status-climbing, con man with a large ego and a huge amount of hubris and energy. There are pictures of him medalled like a royal prince claiming marksmanship trophies that the historical record doesn't support; he billed himself as a yeomanry sergeant early on but had promoted himself to Lieutenant later on in life. He very well could have rubbed the gun establishment the wrong way.

Comment: Reading Rigg's letters to the London Press etc., can be grating. The man would have made millions in the USA with his energy and without the class chip on his shoulder. In UK the way he presented himself and his business might have resonated with the BSA motorcycle crowd, which were his customers also, but likely was deadly to the upper classes; he made a lot of money - but apparently not a lot of friends in the close-knit gun making fraternity.

Whether a Reilly was involved in the design of the Riggs-Reilly's is not known. The Riggs guns are not ugly...but are now regarded as "journeyman guns," made in Birmingham of medium quality.

Riggs remained in business until 1966.

Conclusion:

The Reilly's sold all types of guns in various qualities using all types of actions. Reilly serial numbered about 33,000 guns from circa 1828 to 1912, all built by them. The guns that they made had an artistic elegance and balance, which is unmistakable. Reilly was one of the first to use highly figured French walnut for their stocks and their engraving, for the most part floral scroll work, was in a unique style and consistently classy. Reilly's best guns were as good as those produced anywhere in England at the time.

Gene Williams, Sep 05, 2018; last updated 23 Aug 2021

See follow-on SN dating chart w/footnotes:

Last edited by Argo44; 09/05/21 05:41 PM.

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======================== SN Date Chart ==========================

Year. . . . . . . . . . . .Serial Numbers. . . . . . . # of SN'd guns made in 1 year
. . . Black-Main Chronology; Blue: JC "7000" series. . . . . . .*Marker footnotes. **Sanity checks

1828: . . 001 - . .050 - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50. .*1. .12 Middle-row, Holborn Bars
1829: . . 051 - . .180. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .130
1830: . . 181 - . .320. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140
1831: . . 321 - . .460. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140
1832: . . 461 - . .600. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140
1833: . . 601 - . .750. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .150
1834: . . 751 - . .900. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .150
1835: . . 901 - .1060. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180. .*2. .Aug-move to 316 High Holborn
1836: ..1061 - .1240. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
1837: ..1241 - .1420. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
1838: ..1421 - .1600. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
1839: ..1601 - .1810. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210
1840: ..1811 - .2040. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
1841: ..2041 - .2270. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
1842: ..2271 - .2500. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
1843: ..2501 - .2730. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
1844: ..2731 - .2960. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
1845: ..2961 - .3180. + 7000 - 7020 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .240
1846: ..3181 - .3330. + 7021 - 7130 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .260. .*3,*4
1847: ..3331 - .3350. + 7131 - 7230. + 8350 - 8480 - . . . . .250. .*5,*6. .**1. 7201. .Mar-move to 502 New Oxford St.
1848: ..8481 - .8640. + 7231 - 7330. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270
1849: ..8641 - .8800. + 7331 - 7440. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1850: ..8801 - .8960. + 7441 - 7540. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1851: ..8961 - .9130. + 7541 - 7640. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1852: ..9131 - .9300. + 7641 - 7740. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1853: ..9301 - .9490. + 7741 - 7830. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1854: ..9491 - .9680. + 7831 - 7930. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1855: ..9681 - .9870. + 7931 - 8030. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1856: ..9871- 10170. + 8031 - 8130. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 400. . . . ..**2. many orders after Paris. .**3. 10054
1857: 10171 - 10510. + 8131 - 8200. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 410. .*7
1858: 10511 - 10930. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 420. .*8 . .**4. 10655. .**5. 10782. .**6. 10811. .Aug - 315 Oxford St. opened
1859: 10931 - 11340. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. .*9. .**7. 11227. .Oct - Name change to EM Reilly & Co.
1860: 11341 - 11770. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. . . . .**8. 11716
1861: 11771 - 12210. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1862: 12211 - 12740. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. . . . .**9. 12532
1863: 12741 - 13170. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1864: 13171 - 13600. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. . . . .**10. 13333. .Jan-JC Reilly died
1865: 13601 - 14030. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1866: 14031 - 14460. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1867: 14461 - 14910. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450
1868: 14911 - 15510. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600. .*10 . .Feb-2 rue Scribe opened
1869: 15511 - 16110. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1870: 16111 - 16710. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1871: 16711 - 17310. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1872: 17311 - 17910. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1873: 17911 - 18510. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1874: 18511 - 19140. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 630
1875: 19141 - 19780. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 640. . . . .**11. 19286
1876: 19781 - 20430. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1877: 20431 - 21080. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650. . . . .**12. 20623
1878: 21081 - 21730. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1879: 21731 - 22380. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1880: 22381 - 22930. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1881: 22931 - 23630. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 800. .*11. **13. 23536. .**14. 23574. .Nov-Oxford St. renumbered
1882: 23631 - 24680. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1050. . . . .**15. 24534
1883: 24681 - 25730. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1050
1884: 25731 - 26780. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1050
1885: 26781 - 27820. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1040. .*12. .July-2 rue Scribe closed
1886: 27821 - 28720. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 900
1887: 28721 - 29520. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 800
1888: 29521 - 30300. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 780
1889: 30301 - 31000. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 700. . . . .**16. 30768
1890: 31001 - 31680. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 680. .Jul-EM Reilly died
1891: 31681 - 32280. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1892: 32281 - 32830. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 550
1893: 32831 - 33280. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450
1894: 33281 - 33720. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 440
1895: 33721 - 34150. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1896: 34151 - 34670. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 420
1897: 34671 - 34920. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250. .*13. .May-16 New Oxford St. closed
1898: 34921 - 35080. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
1899: 35081 - 35180. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
1900: 35181 - 35255. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75. . . . .**17. 35186. .Jan-Mary Ann Reilly died
1901: 35256 - 35325. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
1902: 35326 - 35385. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
1903: 35386 - 35395. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10. .*14. .Mid-Feb- 277 Oxford St. closes
1904: 35396 - 35435. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 .*14. .May-295 Oxford St. opens
1905: 35436 - 35485. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
1906: 35486 - 35535. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
1907: 35536 - 35565. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30. . . . .**18. 35554
1908: 35566 - 35595. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1909: 35596 - 35625. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1910: 35626 - 35655. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1911: 35656 - 35685. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1912: 35686 - 35700. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15. .*15. .June-Bankrupt; vacate 295 Oxford St

Post Aug 1922 - ? 130000 - 150000. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20,000?. . *16

==================== Footnotes ====================

Methodology
-- Reilly serial numbered some 33,000 guns from c1825-1912. The chart is based on an analysis of over 380 surviving Reilly serial numbered guns and thousands of articles about and advertisements for Reilly in 19th century print media. However, the chart is modified as additional guns/into come to light.
-- The chart is designed to allow a Reilly owner to date his gun within a few months of its being serial numbered; it is more accurate from 1855 to 1905 due to the number of surviving guns.

Caveats:
-- Reilly did not serial number guns he did not make.
-- When 001 was numbered is unknown; Summer 1828 was chosen as a start date because of newspaper ads. Reilly was NOT on a list of London gunmakers published in 1825. The first existing gun is SN
88 a pair of .50 cal. percussion pistol duelers.
-- Reilly originally serial numbered pistols; that ended circa 1837.
-- The number of guns numbered per year are estimates based on date markers - the addresses on the ribs/barrels based on specific events such as moves to new addresses or change in address numbers which are historically proven. Obviously numbers actually made each year varied. The curve has been smoothed as much as possible to eliminate wild swings and verified by
sanity checks."
-- There is a huge uptick in numbers in 1881-82. Reilly apparently made the business decision to stock guns and sell ready-made/off-the-rack. If so he may have numbered them when sold, accounting for some discrepancies. His bespoke guns were probably numbered when ordered per general London practice
-- Patent numbers or patent use numbers on guns can help date a gun; 1) but many guns were modified/up-graded; 2) patent use numbers were rarely chronological. Manufacturers bought blocs of numbers in some cases. 3) Almost all pin-fires, the dominant SxS from the 1850's to about 1872 were modified to center fire. Ditto for non-rebounding hammers. 4)In addition the relationship of patent use numbers to gun Serial Number cannot be ascertained easily. For instance Henry patent rifling would be stamped on tubes - but when these tubes were stamped in relationship to when the serial number for the gun was entered on the books is not clear. 5) So patent numbers and patent use numbers can be sanity checks but no proof of date of manufacture. (example: SN
30768. A&D Boxlock patent number 8245. The SN dates the gun to late summer 1889. The A&D patent expired September 1889. No A&D use number should be on a gun after that date.)
-- Reilly prided himself on delivering bespoke guns in 1-3 months vice the 2-3 years of other makers. The guns would have been serial-numbered upon order. However, the SN chronology is based on rib/barrel-addresses from 15 or so key date-marker guns. These addresses would have been engraved and the ribs/barrels blacked/browned shortly before delivery. Thus serial numbers may precede the rib-addresses by several months.


*Marker Footnotes
*1 - Summer 1828 - Chosen as the start date for Reilly making guns. Reilly was NOT mentioned in an 1825 list of London gun-makers. Reilly was never a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers. The first ad in the London newspapers specifically for Reilly made guns so far found is in 1830. However, a July 1828 ad is pretty clear that he was selling guns made by him. Likewise, 001 is chosen as the number of the first gun. 1st extant SN'd gun is SN 88, a pair of Damascus barreled hexagonal .50 percussion pistols. Address on barrels is "J.C. Reilly, Holborn Bars, London."
*2 - Late Aug 1835 - Reilly moved to 316 High Holborn; 1st SN'd gun with High Holborn is 1024
*3 - Late 1845/early 1846 - JC Reilly appears to have split his main-line serial numbers with a series he kept for himself beginning around 7000. SN 7023 is the first of these with JC Reilly on the rib but still with the High Holborn address.
*4 - Last main-line SN with High Holborn on the rib is 3329.
*5 - Late March 1847 - Reilly moved to 502 New Oxford Street. The main line SN series was bumped up 5000 numbers; 1st SN'd gun with 502 along with "removed from Holborn" is 8378. (Note: This is a hypothesis since this gun was advertised as "8578," a number which another gun already carries. This gun is a J.C. Reilly SxS gun with the New Oxford St. address and "Removed from Holborn" on the label. (Reilly used the phrase "removed from Holborn" in his advertisements from early April 1847 to late November 1847; by December 1847 it had vanished).
*6 - First JC Reilly 7000 series with 502 Oxford is 7201 which also has "removed from Holborn" on the label.
*7 - early September 1857: JC retired; the last extant SN in the JC Reilly "7000" series (with "Veni, Vidi, Vici" on the rib) is 8186.
*8 - Circa 01 August 1858 - 315 Oxford Street opened . The company may have used the name "Reilly & Co., for a short while from this time to October 1859. The first gun with "Oxford St." and "Reilly & Co." is 10811 dated per the chart Fall 1858.
*9 - October 1859 - The company name changed definitively to E.M. Reilly & Co.; The 1st extant SN'd gun with EM Reilly on the rib is 11227.
*10 - mid Feb 1868 - Reilly opened 2 rue Scribe Paris; 1st extant SN'd gun with rue Scribe on the rib is 14983.
*11 - Nov 1881 - Oxford Street was renumbered; 1st extant Reilly with 277 Oxford street (or 16 New Oxford St.) on the rib is 23536.
*12 - July 1885 - Reilly closed rue Scribe; last extant Reilly with "rue Scribe" on the rib is 27340. *(Note: There are 3 later guns SN 27533, 27570 and 27854 with "Paris" on their barrels. All three have Whitworth steel barrels and are built on Scott Climax triplex actions. I've chosen not to use these as the end marker for rue Scribe, at least not yet; Reilly at this time was selling both off-the-rack/ready-made guns and bespoke guns made-to-order and I believe these may have been already engraved and sitting in the shop, but not numbered until sold. This is a subjective judgement of course. Additional serial numbers may change this.)
*13 - May 1897 - Reilly closed 16 (502) New Oxford Street. Last extant SN'd gun with 16 New Oxford Street on the rib is 34723.
*14 - March 1903 - - Reilly moved from 277 Oxford St. to 295 Oxford st. The last advertisement for 277 appeared in late February 1903. The first advertisement for the new workshop at 295 Oxford Street appeared in early May 1904, leaveing the possibility that Reilly completely shut down for 14 months. First extant gun with 295 on the rib is 35422
*15 - June 8, 1912 - Reilly declared bankruptcy. Last extant SN'd gun is 35678. Bert Reilly subsequently opened a small gun shop at 13 High Street, Marylebone as "E.M Reilly & Co.", which lasted to about 1918-early 1919; no guns with this address on ribs have been found, no advertisements for it exist.
*16 - August 1922 - (date confirmed-per newspaper advertisements) the Reilly name was bought by Charles Riggs. The name/address on the ribs was "EM Reilly & Co., London." Riggs' had historical connections to BSA - however, some believe his guns were built by Osborn/Midland. The serial numbers became 6 digits apparently beginning around 130000 - The first extant Riggs-Reilly so far found is 133805; the last is 150570. How many of these "Reilly" Riggs guns were produced or how Riggs' numbering system actually worked is not clear. In addition to 6 digit serial numbers most "Riggs-Reilly's" had "Prince of Wales" stocks. The original Reilly's never had this stock (as far a current research goes).

Sanity Checks:
**1. - 7201 would have been serial numbered in late summer-fall 1847. It has the 502 New Oxford St. address (post 23 March 1847) and the label "removed from Holborn" (which existed from April 1847 through November 1847.
**2. - After his triumph at Paris in 1855 - "all guns were sold and many orders booked." The increase in production by 200 guns for 1856 reflects this.
**3. 10054 - Earliest 1858 Reilly center-break, pin-fire gun found dated to Fall 1856 per the chart. Post 1855 label; Matching the earliest Reilly advertisement known for Fusils a Bascule which appeared in the London newspapers on 04 October 1856.
**4. 10655 - Early 1858 Reilly pinfire on the Lefaucheux principle; No one in UK could have made that gun for Reilly other than Lang or possibly Blanch; "The Field" mentioned at this time that Reilly along with Blanch and Lang were "overdone with orders" for breech loaders, likely the reason that in Aug 1858 he opened "the Manufactory" at "Arsenal House," 315 Oxford Street - to satisfy this demand.
**5. 10782 - He began making under license Prince Patent breech loaders soon after the Patent, probably as early as 1857. The gun was serial numbered in early Fall 1858 - 1st Prince Patent gun.
**6. 10811 This Prince patent gun is dated to Autumn 1858. It has "Reilly & Co. Oxford Street, London" on the barrel. "Oxford St" would indicate it were made at 315 Oxford St. opened first week of August 1858. "Reilly & Co., apparently was used from this time August 1858 to Fall 1859. (There are no pictures to confirm the Christies advertisement). 1st extant gun completed at 315 Oxford St.
**7. 11227 - Reilly began using "E.M. Reilly & Co." in Sep-Oct 1859. 11227 is the first extant gun with "E.M. Reilly & Co" on the gun rib and would be dated in Autumn 1859 per the chart.
**8. 11716 - Reilly .577 Enfield given as a prize Christmas 1860 per an inscription on the gun; The chart has the gun being numbered in late November, early December 1860.
**9. 12532 - In 1862 the London Exposition ran from late May to September. His exhibit included a gold washed muzzle-loader shotgun, much commented on at the time, which may still exist. If this is the exposition gun the chart has it being numbered around July 1862 rather than the start of the exposition in May. However, the article describing it was written in September 1862, validating the date chart.
**10. 13333 - Reilly obtained manufacturing rights to the Green Bros Breech loader and per a post on this board began to manufacture them about Apr-May 1864. This gun was number 23...The chart has it being numbered about May 1864.
**11. 19286. The below comment about 19286 was posted on a knowledgeable UK board. The chart has 19286 as being numbered in early 1875:
. . . . . . ."The action flats have the expected View mark, and they have the H Walker patent mark for his barrel bolting and safety for drop-down actions patent No 455 of 12 February 1872 ( Use No. 1098 ) . .Of equal importance to the marks are the ones that don't appear e.g. no NOT FOR BALL or CHOKE mark. The first of these was introduced in 1875, so this and the patent date mean the gun was made definitely not before Feb 72, or after 1875. "It must have been made a couple of years after 1872, say 1874 to early 1875, and we favour the latter because even if the gun was made by a large trade maker, the 1098 use number is quite a large number."
. . . . . . . . .NOTE: This IGC comment is misleading. If the gun had no choke, there would be no NOT FOR BALL stamp even after the new proof law…and most shotguns up into the 1880’s were cylinder bore; and there has yet to be found a patent use stamp for any patent holder in UK that is strictly chronological.
**12. 20623. Purdey patent 1104 use #4928, the last Reilly with a Pat 1104 use #. The Purdey patent expired 01 May 1877. This gun is dated per the chart circa April 1877.
**13. 23536. Oxford Street was renumbered in November 1881. 23536 is the first extant gun with the new numbers on the rib. The chart would date it to mid-November 1881.
**14. 23574. 1882 Hurlingham rules weight limit for pigeon guns was fixed at 8 lbs. This pigeon gun built in late 1881 for the new upcoming season weighs 8 lbs..
**15. 24534. 1883 Hurlingham rules weight limit for pigeon guns was changed to 7 lbs 8 oz. This pigeon gun built in late 1882 for the new rules weighs 7 lbs 8 oz.
**16. 30768. A&D Boxlock patent number 8245. The SN dates the gun to late spring 1889. The A&D patent expired in May 1889
**17. 35186 - Dated on the chart as 1901; it has a post-1898 trade label and London 1896-1904 proof marks
**18. 35554. Reilly double rifle chambered for .500/.465 with 295 Oxford St. address on the barrels. The chart dates it as late 1907. This cartridge was introduced by Holland & Holland in 1907.


---------------See p.57 for a complete date list of extant Reilly's------------

Last edited by Argo44; 08/04/21 04:54 PM.

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8645 - Pretty Fantastic SxS Muzzle Loader - compared to 8643 - a pretty fantastic SxS Muzzle Loader


Terry Buffum just sent me this reference: Take a look at a great Reilly SxS percussion gun SN 8645 (and also note that RIA got the date 1849 spot on because of the chart on this site):
https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail...on-double-rifle
Manufactured in 1849. Features a blade front sight, three-leaf rear sight (100, 150, and 200 yards), "REILLY. NEW OXFORD STREET. LONDON" signed on top near the breech, classic scroll engraving, a detailed scene of a stag on the patch box, two stags fighting on the trigger guard bow, and a checkered stock with smooth steel buttplate and 13 3/4 inch length of pull. Matching serial numbers are marked on the barrels, breech hooks, forend, and lower tang.
Very good with 90% plus of a the rebrowned finish on the barrel along with attractive twist patterns, strong original blue finish on the protected areas of the trigger guard, light original case colors on the locks and remaining furniture, mostly smooth gray patina on the balance, crisp markings and engraving, and generally only minor wear. The refinished stock is also very good and has mostly crisp checkering with a few worn spots, nice figure and contrast, and some minor marks and scratches. Mechanically excellent. A very attractive early double rifle. Provenance: The Malcolm King Collection.





Now compare it to 8643 sold a few years ago - Reilly could make some guns back then - (and I don't believe for a minute that "E.M" was on that gun...James Julia probably just upgraded "Reilly" to "EM.")
http://jamesdjulia.com/item/lot-1361-e-m...nal-case-40673/

E. M. REILLY PERCUSSION DOUBLE EXPRESS RIFLE WITH ORIGINAL CASE. SN 8463. Cal. .390 Groove diameter. 5-Groove Enfield type rifling. Approximately 1 turn in 50″. Unusual 24″ stepped octagonal barrels have extremely heavy breeches. Reilly, New Oxford Street. London. is engraved on narrow sunken top rib. Rear express sight is mounted on island base, has one standing, two folding leaves, plus an additional long ladder blade with very fine U-notches for precision shooting. German silver front blade is inset in raised front boss. Bottoms of bbls have London proofs and SN. Hickory ramrod has brass tip and tail, and is held by one long plain pipe mounted with sling eye. There is a retaining boss at front end of bbls which engages groove in ramrod tip. Barrels are made of unusual broad patterned skelp twist. Case hardened patent breeches have SNs on hooks, and vented platinum blow-outs. What appear to be original, square shouldered nipples are deeply set into fences. Breech iron is engraved with very nicely cut open scroll. Front action locks with high rounded serpentine hammers, are separated from bbls in Westley Richards fashion. Locks are engraved with more open scroll, as are hammers, which terminate in stylized dolphins heads. Lockplates are also engraved Reilly London and have vignettes of game; a recumbent stag on left, and running stag on right. There are silver flash guards between breech iron and lockplates. Scroll engraved trigger plate has circular finial. Trigger guard bow is engraved with another running stag. SN is on grip.





Last edited by Argo44; 11/14/20 08:00 PM.

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30358 side lever pigeon gun (Diggory) and 303xx side lever pigeon gun (Lubzinzski), both early 1889;
May 1889 -The end of the side lever?


Diggory has an interesting Reilly side-lever, hammer-gun pigeon gun for sale on his site SN 30358:
https://www.vintageguns.co.uk/gun-sales/reilly




Terry Lubzinski posted his similar Reilly S-L lever hammer-gun pigeon gun, SN 303xx, several years ago:
http://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=191402&page=all



Remarkable similarities in the guns, design, engraving, layout, Whitworth steel barrels, weight. Both were made at 277 Oxford Street. But Terry's allegedly still has a Paris address on the barrels (Reilly closed 2 rue Scribe in early August 1985) and still has "not for ball" on the proof marks (discontinued in 1887). Odd stuff.

Why was Reilly making so many side-levers at the time? Perhaps because he would't have to pay for the A&D Box-Lock patent (which incidentally expired in May 1889)? (Or it could just be that some pigeon competitors preferred hammer guns without a top lever?)

Comment: Reilly undercut his competitors on cost and rapidity of delivery. If you had to add several shillings to the cost of a gun for a patent like the A&D box lock, it took its toll on sales volume. There are no extant side-lever Reilly's that can be found so far after 1889 and the expiration of the A&D patent. Thus these two guns, early -1889 per the chart, may possibly be sorts of sanity-check markers for the year 1889.

Incidentally 30768 is the last Reilly with an A&D Box-Lock patent use number dated per the chart to May 1889. It is mentioned in the chart as a "marker sanity check."
30768 - E.M. Reilly & Co., 16 New Oxford Street, London. 12 ga. Shotgun SxS. BLE. A&D patent use #8245 (PAYs gun)(A&D Patent expired May 1889)

Edit: I have been corrected by very knowledgable members of this board. An A&D box-lock can indeed sport a side lever. I had always assumed a top-lever went with Box-Lock sort of like Tom with Jerry.

Last edited by Argo44; 12/10/20 09:23 PM.

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I really like the gun Diggory has on his sight, too much money to get it here though.


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=========================================================
17626


Very nice Reilly .450 SxS BPE rifle on Guns International, SN 17626
https://www.gunsinternational.com/g...rifle-450-3-1-4-bpe.cfm?gun_id=101563742
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

What's interesting about this gun is the write-up. The seller dated it definitively to 1872. This date surely came out of this site and the research that went into it. The Reilly line thus has indeed aided and changed gun history (thanks to doublegunshop and the contributions by all).

(Excerpt from p.44 extant gun list):

1872: 17311 - 17910. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600. . . . .**11. 17314
17314- E.M. Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London. .577/.450. Rifle Martini-Henry type single barrel.First Reilly Martini
17391 - E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford Street, London & Rue Scribe, Paris. 8bore. Shotgun SxS. pin-fire (converted), U-L, hammer gun. (Buffum)
17392 - E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford St., London; 16 ga SxS Shotgun; center-fire, Side Lever, hammer-gun. (Buffum)
17393 - E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford Street, London and 2 Rue Scribe, Paris; 12bore. Shotgun SxS. center-fire, Push-forward U-L, hammer gun. Purdey Pat 1104, use #948 (CBL1's gun)
17476 - E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford Street, London & Rue Scribe, Paris. 12 bore. Shotgun SxS. center-fire, U-L, Hammer gun (Buffum) (Purdey Pat 1104)
17495 - E.M. Reilly & Co., (address not mentioned); 12 bore Shotgun SxS. U-L, pin-fire converted, hammer gun. (Tomato Stake's gun)
17532 - E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford Street and Rue Scribe, Paris. 12bore. Shotgun SxS, muzzle loader. Once owned by Empress Eugenie.
17534 - E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford Street, London; 12 bore, SxS shotgun. center-fire, push-forward U-L, hammer gun, Purdy 1104 patent use # 1037.
17552 - E.M. Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London. 13 bore, Shotgun SxS. pin-fire (converted); U-L, hammer gun (reb87�s gun)
17556 - E.M. Reilly & Co., (address not mentioned). 12 bore, SxS shotgun. U-L, hammer gun.
17612 - E.M. Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London. 12ga. SxS shotgun, Center-fire, Thumbhole U-L, hammer gun.
17626 - E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford Street, London. .450 SxS Rifle. BPE. Center-fire, U-L, hammer gun. Henry Pat #408, 409

1873: 17911 - 18510. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
17979 - E.M. Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London & Rue Scribe, Paris. Rifle SxS. .577. U-L, hammer gun

1874: 18511 - 19140. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 630
.
.
.

Last edited by Argo44; 08/04/21 04:59 PM.

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============================================================================
1833 ??? - Riggs Production??? - Reilly design??? - classy


Terry Buffium sent this advertisement.
https://auctions.morphyauctions.com...CO__SCALLOPED_ACTION_BOXL-LOT493536.aspx

Some observations:
1). Guns with "E.M Reilly & Co. London", on the barrels, without an address is Charles Riggs production (post 1922)....Riggs also used a half-pistol grips (i.e. what has become known as a "Prince of Wales" grip) rare on Classic Reilly except for rifles and big-bore fowlers.
2). The SN 1833 is a first and one must wonder if Riggs had a separate number series for special guns.
3) The engraving is so particular to classic Reilly guns that it gives pause. Was a Reilly possibly involved in its design? The evidence is almost unmistakeable.
4) The gun is advertised as having 28" barrels but in the details 26+. The barrels are likely not original to the gun.

In any event my humble opinion is this could be a significant gun. If it is Riggs production, post 1922, it's possibly an indication that Bert Reilly remained involved in the design and manufacture of guns retailed by Riggs after 1922. (The original Riggs advertisement in 1922 would lead one to think that were the case).

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Edit: However, on second thought, there is something quite strange about this advertisement. This is the #2 of a pair. The barrels are 26". The weight of the gun is not mentioned but it looks very much like a Reilly rifle. One must wonder if this is a repurposed big-bore rifle turned into a shotgun and rebarrelled. The weight of the gun (not published) would tell the story. If not, then the barrels have been cut. The barrels are stamped "J. Harper," Possibly Birmingham gun/barrel maker John Harper discussed in this line.
https://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=456500

This likely is a real Reilly with a custom SN, though without the details - weight, pictures of the barrel flats and action flats/water table, etc., it's difficult to know. It just has the lines of a 295 Oxford Street Reilly rifle from the late 00's. I sent a note asking for this information from Morphy. I don't expect a reply unfortunately. (Morphy arrogance borders on something out of IGC - smile )

Here is 35554, .500/.465 Nitro Express rifle - 1907 on the date chart - look at the lines and the engraving. I now think 1833 to be an original Reilly rifle redone and rebarrelled....wonder if 1833 is meant to be a date?
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 08/04/21 05:02 PM.

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A UK friend (Papeman - owner of Reilly SN 26584) sent the below advertisement he found on the back of 1870 "Rural Almanac and Sporting Calendar." It is quite attractive and confirms much of the conclusions for this time period from the research on this line.


[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Here are some observations from reading the ad:
-- It has the 1867 Paris Universalle medals (post Feb 1868 I believe).
-- It has both branch addresses (Paris rue Sribe opened in Feb 1868)
-- It has "Gun and Rifle Manufacturers" which first appeared in advertisements in 1869.
-- It is still advertising pin-fires - the mainstay of Reilly center break guns up to about 1873. (the fences in the sketch look very thin - almost like a modified pin-fire).
-- And it is not advertising Martini-Henry's, which of course was not adopted for trial until June 1871.
-- It mentions an article in "The Field" from the July 6, 1867 issue written by the editor praising Reilly center-fire rifles which will be researched.
-- It has a list of agents abroad which will be researched (none in America - I believe he acquired Joseph Grubbs of Philadelphia as an agent around this time).
and:
-- The center-fire sketch shows a hammer system similar to 12bore's gun that I've only seen once; It is the earliest extant Reilly with the rue Scribe address on the rib: 14983, an 8 bore center fire shotgun (posted on p. 16 above). Very interesting:
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

6 Jul 1867 "The Field" on the Reilly exhibit at the Paris exhibition. The Editor of the "Field" used a Reilly rifle in India. You'd think if Reilly didn't make those guns, he would have said something. Oh well, the late 20th century kibitzers know more than that editor ever did.
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 08/04/21 05:16 PM.

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