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So, is that metal tab protrusion between the hammer & fence the striker?



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Looks similar to the Pape patent with retractable firing pins. The pins were quite elaborate in design.

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That advertisement is a good find, Gene.

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Argo44 Offline OP
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Raimey, Here is what 12bore wrote about 14983 (p.17).

This is a very rare mechanism. The hammers are flat nose or noseless. The strikers are retractable with the cocking of the hammers. This gun could be considered a "false hammerless" design. The firing pins are connected internally to the cocking rods on the exterior of the action, which are in turn connected to slots via the anterior portion of the hammers. Very ingenious and another way to invent the mousetrap!

I made the comment that I looked similar to the old Lancaster base-fire system from 1860 (this from Diggory's May 2020 issue of Vintage Gun Journal (but I think Dayrl is right about the Pape patent - would like to know more about this patent):
https://www.vintageguns.co.uk/magazine/ace-of-base-fire
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 02/16/21 11:02 PM.

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====================================================================================================
SN 88, Pair of Duelers, Now the Earliest known Reilly


A gentleman in UK read the Reilly history posted on Diggory Hadoke's on-line magazine Vintagegunjournal and wrote to Diggory. He has a pair of J.C. Reilly Duelers, SN 88 with "Holborn Bars, London" on the barrels. These are now the earliest known Reilly's, which would date per my chart to early 1829 (but could just as well be 1828). The owner believes they were commissioned and bought by his great-great-great grandfather around 1829.

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Re-posted below is SN 176, a pair of duelers formerly owned by Terry Buffum, sold about 5 years ago on Amoskeag:
-- the similarity between the two sets of pistols is remarkable (Terry's does not have a safety).
-- Terry always wondered why his two duelers carried identical serial numbers. With the appearance of SN 88, it appears this was the way J.C. Reilly numbered his pairs of pistols.
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

To have a gun like this come to light is an emotional high....(along with a belated acknowledgement of a term recognized world-wide as standing for excellence and commitment - "ROLL TIDE"!)

Last edited by Argo44; 02/25/21 09:09 PM.

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============================================================================================
E.M. Reilly letter to "the Field" 26 Dec 1857 on Breech Loaders


Vic Venters managed to obtain the E.M Reilly letter to "The Field" on breech loaders published in the 26 December 1857 edition. He obtained this through his contacts at the magazine - but because there may be copyright issues, the entire letter will not be literally posted as yet. However, here are a few comments on the points made in the letter:

. . .1) Reilly began looking at French and Belgian breech loaders as early as 1847 possibly earlier:
"This system differs from other novelties inasmuch as it has been extant about a quarter of a century and it has been in operation in some sporting circles these twenty years."

"Some of the arguments which the opponents of the breech-loading system bring forward against its soundness and stability might have been received ten or fifteen years ago, when the originality of the design and curious simplicity of the construction rather took us by surprise. It had not then been so undoubtedly proved, as by the long experience we have had since in extensive and constant use, that the solid flat false breech which the breech ends of the barrels close against is as sound, as durable, and for all purposes of resistance of the charge, as secure and perfect as a breech permanently screwed into the tubes themselves; and they undergo the same proof as muzzle-loaders."

"Estimating their powers by the French and Belgian guns that have passed through our hands many years ago, we thought they would be covert guns for short distances; but it soon became apparent with superior workmanship and finer qualities of metal for the barrels, that extraordinary shooting powers might be achieved with the breech-loader;"


. . .2) Reilly apparently invested in machinery to manufacture the guns and he seemed to have an intimate familiarity with the manufacturing process (though the article was basically couched as a counter-point to anti-breech-loader diatribes - in particular safety, durability, power).
"All the patents have long ago fallen in; anybody who does not object to the expense of the necessary tools and machinery, and who can teach his workmen, may set to work and make these guns. The great facts of safety and durability have been fully established by the wear and tear of a longer period than a good fowling piece is generally supposed to continue serviceable in hard shooting; and the breech-loader, which requires less care in cleaning, etc., exhibits less appearance of deterioration than the capper cap-gun after the same length of time in hard wear."

. . .3) The breech-loaders were originally bought by UK shooters as something of a novelty; It subsequently came as a surprise how easy they were to shoot, clean and how reliable they were:
"Until quite recently purchases were made from sheer curiousity, in the most disbelieving spirit as to their utility, but admitting the ingenuity and apparent goodness of this workmanship. The desire was to possess something new, taking its merits upon trust; and it has often been, with no less surprise than gratification that all doubts were dispelled, and the new gun found to be more agreeable to use and possessed of greater power than those on the old plan."

Comment: First Extant Reilly pin-fire breech loader is 10054, made probably late summer 1856. There is an extant Reilly breech loader 10354 made in summer 1857. This indicates the E.M. made about 300 guns during this period (J.C. made another 100...see the chart). Probably at most 10% of the 300 made by EM were breech loaders = 30 guns - probably a lot less - 15 guns maybe? The Extant SN Reilly guns are pictured above.

Note: By December 1857
-- Lang had been producing breech loaders for nearly 4 years (estimate maybe 70 guns?)
-- Reilly for 1.5 years (estimate 15 guns?);
-- Blanch for a year (estimate 5 guns?)
-- Haris Holland for 9 or 10 months (5 guns?).
-- The technology was still 3 years away from infiltrating Birmingham.
-- There were a few other gunsmiths making them - Henry Tatham had made a couple per letters to the Field
etc.
In other words there were not that many UK made breech loaders being shot in the country at this time (Dec 1857) - maybe 100? if that many?


. . .4) Reilly did not have a high opinion of some of the guns imported into UK from Belgium and France at the time.
"The only objections worth of any notice that have been adduced are those imperfections known to exist in the very worst specimens – the cheap Belgian and French guns, many of which kill very well, and last a fair time, inferior as they may be."

"There have been good grounds for prejudices for it has has been badly made, though richly ornamented and, in fact has not been properly understood by the manufacturers until of late years"


Comment: There is something odd about the tone of Reilly's comment; i.e. - "Isn't the quality of those ornamental Continental guns awful but they sure do shoot well and should be fine once British quality takes over." i.e. The obligatory nod to British parochialism while supporting the concept and promoting the innovation .

. . .5) He had a belief at the time that the chamber should taper at the cartridge end and should not end "abruptly" at right angles as were found on European breech-loaders.
"Very few of the barrels for breech-loaders actually made in this country have been chambered with an abrupt termination, or shoulder, to meet the inner end of the cartridge-case; almost every one has been eased off at a moderate angle."

Comment: Apparently Lang originally followed the Lefaucheux chambering model touting this as an "advance." UK gunmakers filed off the chamber "shoulders." Lang then claimed he was the origin of this change. Lang apparently had a character that inspired a lot of upset in the UK gunmaking fraternity).

. . .6) He spent a lot of time discussing the wadding of reloads and the fact that cartridges did not need to be cut, etc.

. . .7) He seemed to believe that in late 1857 a lot of barrels used in UK breech loaders were imported from Belgium.
"Very few of the barrels for breech-loaders actually made in this country"

. . .8) He thought the British cartridge industry to be lazy or very conservative.
"Moreover, there has been until recently considerable difficulty about obtaining an ample supply of cartridge-cases, and no one knows better than myself the persuasion it required to induce our apathetic English to undertake their manufacture, although a model was put into their hands that they had only to follow a pattern without the least exercise of the inventive faculty."

Comment: Shortly thereafter Reilly decided to begin manufacturing his own breech loading pin-fire cartridges.

If I get permission from "The Field" I will post the letter. It can be interpreted in several ways - as an advertising brochure, an advertisement for his guns, a promotion for breech-loaders, etc. The fact remains that at the time, no-one in UK challenged the fact that Reilly was making breech-loaders at New Oxford Street.

(A letter to the field in early Jan 1858 in response to Reilly's above letter was published above- reposted below):
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 03/16/21 07:53 PM.

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Very interesting, Gene. Thanks for posting this, and I look forward to hearing more.

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Indeed, remain ever stalwart & >>Roll Tide, Roll<<



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======================================================================
Change in the History:
London gunmakers in April 1858 urge Arsenal to re-evaluate the Prince breech-loader


The Prince breech-loader patented in 1855 was a revolutionary weapon and was undoubtedly the finest military rifle of its time. It was never adopted by any army.

Reilly SN 10782, "New Oxford Street" on the rib - First Extant Reilly-made Prince - summer 1858:
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Arsenal had just adopted the .577 Enfield rifle-musket muzzle loader in 1853. Prince repeatedly outshot the Enfield. In April 1858 12 prominent London gun-makers petitioned Arsenal to reopen the competition. At the time the Prussians had been using a needle-gun breech loader since 1848. These gun-makers felt the time had come for the Prince. Arsenal was hide-bound and refused. 5 years later after the Prussians stunning victory over the Danes, the world's armies began scrambling for breech-loaders...the British wound up with first the Snider as a stop-gap (1866) (see p.12) and then the Martini-Henry (1871).

In the history I had recorded that Reilly was one of the 12 gun makers who petitioned Arsenal. Not so...the petition is posted below. The history has been changed. Reilly, the Irish Catholic was not an overt "revolutionary." But Reilly was supportive and an authorized manufacturer of the Prince. The first extant gun made at the new 315 Oxford Street manufactury (opened in early August 1858) was a Prince SN 10811..

Note: the qualifying phrase, "And having beyond no interest whatever in Mr. Prince's breech-loader..."

"The Field", 24 April 1858
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

It is quite possible that EM Reilly did not sign the letter because he might have had a financial stake in Prince. Green did not sign that petition either - he had a financial stake in Prince.

Prince and Green about this time went into partnership. When that ended about 1860, Green later signed over manufacturing rights to his own breech-loader patented in 1862 to Reilly (several posts above) which Reilly then extensively promoted in summer 1864. Prince, Green and Reilly along with Dean, Blanch and a couple of others seemed to always be together in that time period.

(Reilly was wily and a very consummate businessman. One wonders whether he set this whole thing up..it's possible. There was a LOT of money to be made. In any event, the Empire lost a great early breech-loading rifle). (But given that they had to fight no sophisticated opponent for the next 55 years other than the South African boers....ho hum').

It was difficult to find what gun makers actually signed that petition, even on Prince centric sites. so I'll list them below for the benefit of internet searches:
-- John Blanch & Sons
-- John Blissett
-- Wm Bishop
-- B. Denver
-- Geo Fuller
-- J. Greenfield
-- E. London
-- John Manton and Son
-- Moore and Woodward
-- Saml Nock and Co.
-- Parker Field and Son
-- Henry Tatham
-- Henry Wilkinson

Last edited by Argo44; 02/28/21 11:01 PM.

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===================================================================================
SN 8082 - Joseph Charles Reilly - 1856 - JC 7000 series - date 1856


This ebay advertisement turned up in a search recently. 8082:
www.ebay.com/itm/Antique-Shotgun-Joseph-Charles..
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

The gun, certainly a muzzle loader, is in the JC 7000 series. It would be dated 1856 and would be one of the last guns made by Joseph Charles at 502 New Oxford Street. Without details it's difficult to know more but undoubtedly Veni Vidi Vici is on the barrel.

The site on eBay is dead. If anyone knows more about this gun, maybe someone from Derby, Conn.? - please post....it's an important historical artifact.

I've sent an email to a couple of gun shops in Derby, Conn. Hopefully more information can be found on this gun.

Last edited by Argo44; 03/04/21 08:10 PM.

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