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Argo44 Offline OP
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*74 1878-81: Two outlier Trade Labels

There are two attractive floral outlier trade labels from this period:

. . . . .Label 1:*74a This is a label from Reilly .450 BPE SxS rifle SN 21369 (Serial numbered in 1878 per the chart).*74b The label is from 315 Oxford Street (pre-Nov 1881). It has floral capitals which more resemble those from UK gun labels in the 1890's.*74c

. . . . .Label 2:*74c This label is very similar to the above. It came in a case for SN 10354, a Reilly SxS muzzle loader shotgun from 1857, transformed per records into a center-break, U-L breech-loader allegedly in 1895-1904 (per the consigner).*74d However the label has the "502 New Oxford Street" address...pre-Nov 1881. It could be that the case is not original to the rebuilt gun or that the consigner's information about the date of the modification of the gun was wrong. It probably is the latter since it's difficult to imagine an owner completely transforming a muzzle loader to an U-L shotgun as late as the turn of the century.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


*75 1869-1890: Reilly and Pigeon Guns

From the late 1860’s to 1890's Reilly was heavily involved in building pigeon guns. His first specific advertisement for a purpose built pigeon gun was in 1869.*75a His guns regularly won or placed at all levels of competition, his first recorded win being in 1872.*75b He regularly donated guns to be awarded as prizes in pigeon shoots, both at the most prestigious UK shooting clubs and at international events.*75c

In 1882 Reilly won the year-long Hurlingham “gun-makers’ cup” championship per the 1883 Holt’s Shooting Calendar*75d and followed that up with repeat wins in 1883 and 1884. Reilly’s pigeon guns from these early 1880 years were specifically built to match the Hurlingham weight limits and thus can be used, along with other data, as something of a sanity check on date markers for dating Reilly guns. Following are examples:

. . . . .For the 1882 season Hurlingham rules weight limit for pigeon guns was fixed at 8 lbs., The below Reilly pigeon gun was built in late 1881 for the upcoming 1882 season. It weighs 8 lbs. exactly and was serial numbered in December 1881; it was owned by noted SxS aficionado and helice marksman Cyril Adams:

. . . . . . . . . .SN 23574 (Dec 1881) - E.M. Reilly & Co., (address not mentioned). 12 bore; Shotgun SxS; S-L, Pigeon gun, third bite, hammer gun. Side clips; Flat file cut rib; low profile hammers; 31" Whitworth Steel barrels; 8 lbs. (Cyril Adams) *75e

. . . . .For the 1883 season Hurlingham weight limit was reduced to 7 lbs. 8 oz. The below three Reilly Pigeon guns serial numbered in autumn 1882 were built to this standard, 24534 being a Cyril Adams gun:

. . . . . . . . . .SN 24365 (Sep 1882) - E.M. Reilly & Co., (address not mentioned). Shotgun SxS, 12 bore, top lever; Side clips; Flat file cut rib; low profile hammers; 31" Whitworth steel barrels, pigeon gun. 7 lbs. 8 oz.*75f

. . . . . . . . . .SN 24534 (Nov 1882) - E.M. Reilly & Co., 315, Oxford Street, London. 12 bore SxS Shotgun pigeon gun; top lever, hammer gun; Side clips; Flat file cut rib; low profile hammers; 31” Whitworth steel brls. 7 lbs. 8 oz (Cyril Adams)*75g

. . . . . . . . . .SN 24650 (Dec 1882) - E.M. Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London and rue Scribe, Paris. 12 bore, S-L, hammer gun. Side clips; Flat file cut rib; low profile hammers; Pigeon gun, 30” Whitworth steel brls. 7 lbs. 7oz*75h

. . . . .There is a Reilly pigeon gun built to "The Gun Club" standard weight in 1881 which was several ounces heavier than Hurlingham, which was previously owned by Cyril Adams:

. . . . . . . . . .SN 23355 (mid-1881) - E.M. Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London & rue Scribe, Paris. 12 bore. Top lever, pigeon, hammer gun. 32” brls. 8 lbs. 14.5 oz.*75i

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The Monte Carlo "Casino" pigeon shooting tournament in January of each years was regarded as a sort of unofficial world championship.*75j. A well known Italian marksman pigeon shooter Giuseppe Guidicini*75k using a Reilly pigeon gun placed 2nd in the 1884 Casino pigeon shoot and won it all for the 1885 season (shot in Monaco in January 1886). Reilly advertised his win in the London papers in January and early February 1886.*75l

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The following quote is from Wyman's 1888 Industrial Encyclopedia on Reilly Pigeon gun success:

At the end of the 1882 season “Holts” Calendar gave the aggregate of winnings, of which the following statement was made about Messrs. Reilly’s guns.
--“Season of 1882, won at the principle shooting clubs near London – 17 Prize Cups, value £519; a Gold Medal, value £50; a silver medal and £6,148 in specie (equivalent to $750,000 today); which was nearly twice as much in prizes and specie as by guns of any other maker.”
-- In the season of 1883 Messrs. Reilly were again very successful, and gentlemen shooting with their guns at Hurlingham and the Gun Club won 16 Cups, value £505, and £3,162 in specie results which again placed Reilly a very long way in front of other gunmakers.
-- In the season of 1884 they headed the list of winning guns, their patrons securing cups and £3,982, nearly £3,000 in money prizes.
-- In 1885 they were also successful, 13 cups and £2,603 being the prizes won by their guns at the principal shooting clubs.
-- The Grand Prix du Casino, the principle "objet d’art" of the International Meeting at Monaco was won in 1886 by Signor Guidicini, the Italian sportsman who was second the previous season Besides the valuable trophy, estimated at 5,000 francs, the Signor won 18,250 francs, (about $200,000 today) killing 19 birds consecutively within the limited boundary, shooting with one of Messr. Reilly’s full-choke 12-bore pigeon guns, defeating seventy-four other competitors
*75m


*76 1882: Reilly and Steel Barrels

In January 1882 Reilly advertised for the first time guns equipped with Whitworth compressed fluid steel barrels.*76a The Whitworth compressed steel barrel originally was a 1865 patent and was marked with the Whitworth “Grain Sheaf” trademark.*76b The patent was extended in 1879 for 5 years. However, such was the regard for the Whitworth product that even after the patent expired in 1884, gun makers still put the “Grain Sheaf” trademark stamp on their barrels as a sign of quality; it is on a Reilly 16 bore steel barrel numbered in 1886 for example.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Note: This advertisement is important for two more reasons - It has the old and new addresses for both Reilly workshops and it mentions Reilly selling ready-made "off the rack" or by custom fitting. The address for both workshops 502 New Oxford and 315 Oxford changed in November 1881 to "16" and "277" (Chapter XI, 72). In 1881 Reilly first announced he was selling ready-made guns; his serial numbered guns total topped 1000 guns in 1882 (Chapter Xi, 69). It also illustrates Reilly's sole distributorship of Sharpes Rifles in UK.

The first known Reilly with “Compressed Steel barrels” (per the advertisement), which are presumably Whitworth since no one else had “compressed steel,” is the above December 1881 Cyril Adams pigeon gun:

. . . . .SN 23574 (Dec 1881): - E.M. Reilly & Co., (address not mentioned). 12 bore; Shotgun SxS; S-L, Pigeon gun, third bite, hammer gun. Side clips; Flat file cut rib; low profile hammers; 31" "Compressed Steel" barrels; 8 lbs. (Cyril Adams)*75b

The first Reilly steel barreled gun, which actually pictures the “wheat sheaf” Whitworth trademark, is another pigeon gun from above 24365:

. . . . .SN 24365 (Sep 1882): - E.M. Reilly & Co., (address not mentioned). Shotgun SxS, 12 bore, top lever; Side clips; Flat file cut rib; low profile hammers; 31" Whitworth steel barrels, pigeon gun. 7 lbs. 8 oz.*75c

There is an 1876 Reilly SxS rifle that appears to have steel barrels, but may be blued Damascus, the advertisement gun description being minimal; If these are in fact original steel barrels they pre-date Purdey's use of Whitworth steel by 4 years:

. . . . .SN 19953 (1876): - E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford Street, London. 500 BPE. Rifle SxS. U-L hammer gun, steel barrels. Round back-action lock. 28”*76c

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

It's interesting that as late as 1888 WW Greener in his book Modern Shotguns stated that Whitworth Steel barrels were not as strong as high-quality Damascus. Reilly for his part continued to use Damascus for the majority of his barrels up to the early 1900's. By that time the Damascus blanks came from Liege.


*77 1853-82: Reilly endorsed by prominent explorers and hunters

Throughout the 1870’s and 80’s Reilly published endorsements of his guns by famous big game hunters and explorers in his large advertisements.**77a.

Top: 1878 ad from Paris Exposition catalogue.
Bottom: 1880 advertisement.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

These included:

-- Henry Morton Stanley, the Welsh-American and perhaps the most famous of all African explorers.*77b. He searched central Africa for Livingstone (“Dr. Livingstone I presume”), became the first European to descend the Congo from Lake Tanganyika and then returned to lay out the posts for the King of Belgium that assured control of the Congo, etc.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

. . . . .Quote from How I Found Livingston:

. . . . . . . . .“For the rifle , with due deference to old sportsmen, of course the best guns for African game are the Lancaster and Reilly rifles.”*77c

-- Dr. David Livingstone:*77d British missionary and noted African explorer who traveled widely in southern and central Africa, being the first to traverse the continent at that latitude. He searched for the source of the Nile discovering numerous lakes and rivers in what is now Tanzania, Malawi, Congo and Zimbabwe. He disappeared in the late 1860’s for 6 years 4 of which he was ill, prompting huge European interest in his fate. Stanley set out in an expedition sponsored by his newspaper the New York Herald and found him in 1871.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

. . . . .Quote from How I Found Livingstone:p.58.

. . . . . . . . . .“...during the time I traveled with Dr. Livingstone the Doctor lent me his heavy Reilly rifle with which I seldom failed to bring an animal or two home to the camp….. The feats related by Capt. Speck and Sir Samuel Baker are no longer a matter of wonderment to the young sportsman when he has a Lancaster or a Reilly in his hand.”*77e

-- Frederick Selous, noted Victorian era African hunter and author:*77f Salous was an amazing man. He set out for Africa at the age of 19 in 1871 and became one of the most famous African hunters and later conservationists. His charisma enveloped everyone who met him including Theodore Roosevelt and it is believed he is the model for the "Alan Quartermaine" movies. He was killed fighting the Germans in East Africa in 1916 at the age of 65. Although Selous used mostly muzzle-loaders up to about 1880 he did take a Reilly rifle with him on his first trip to Africa (perhaps influenced by Samuel Baker); it was an U-L breech-loading SxS chambered for the .577 “boxer” Snider cartridge:

. . . . . . . . . .“Frederick Selous, 21, traveled light with just a blanket, a bag of cornmeal, two crude muzzle-loaders and two leather sacks–one for powder, the other for shot. His fine Reilly double rifle was stolen almost as soon as he arrived in Africa.“ *77g

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

-- Sir Samuel Baker:*77h 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.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

. . . . .The Rifle And Hound In Ceylon (1853, republished in 1872 with the below quote):

. . . . . . . . . .”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. Mr. Reilly was most successful in the manufacture of explosive shells from my design; these were cast-iron coated with lead, and their effect was terrific.*77i

. . . . .“Exploration of the Nile and Abyssinia.” (1868)

. . . . . . . . . .Among the guns Baker listed for his expedition were “Two double rifles, no. 10, by Reilly”*77j


*78 1882-1885: International Expositions:

1882 Calcutta Fair: Reilly exhibited at the 1882-3 Calcutta fair (a British Empire only affair) and won a medal.*78a

1884-1885 London Exposition: Reilly won a Gold Medal at the 1884 "London Exhibition" and was highly praised for his exhibit at the 1885 London International Inventions Expositions where he won a silver medal.*78b

Note there were three different international expositions in London in 1884-85;
-- An exposition at Crystal Palace;
-- the International Health Exposition of 1884; and
-- the International Inventions Exposition of 1885.
Reilly apparently won a gold medal at the International Health Exposition, although he publicized the medals only as “London Exhibition 1884.” The medals from the International Health Exposition appeared on his labels in 1885.*78c

Reilly also won a silver medal at the International Inventions Exposition, mentioned in several advertisements. However, the medals were never put onto his labels;

Reilly's exhibit at this exposition is described in Wyman:

Messrs. Reilly & Co.'s stand at the International Inventions Exhibition of 1885 was acknowledged to have been one of the best appointed exhibits. (…..3 paragraphs of detailed description of guns found including .450 and .500 heavy double rifles, breech loading hammer and hammerless guns with ejectors, A&D boxlocks, Cape Guns, boys and naturalist guns, etc.…..)..helping make up a well-appointed miniature gun-shop in the Exhibition Hall*78d.

Note: One Reilly "naturalist" shotgun exists from this period (a small gun made to take wildlife samples without tearing them to shreds):

. . . . .SN 25851 (1884:) E.M. Reilly & Co., 16, New Oxford Street, London and rue Scribe, Paris. Shotgun SxS. 410. Side lever, hammer gun. Naturalist's "sample" gun.*78e.

Last edited by Argo44; 07/04/24 10:51 PM.

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Argo44 Offline OP
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*79 1884-1885: Reilly outlier label

Outlier label with the three kings: Two examples of yet another Reilly "outlier" label from this period have been found. It is for 16, New Oxford Street and mentions both 277 Oxford Street and 2 rue Scribe Paris. It has the coats of arms of the Kings of Portugal, Spain and Netherlands. It also mentions “wholesale and retail,” and “Gun and Rifle Manufacturers.” How this Reilly label fits into the label chronology is unclear but the guns associated with the label were numbered in 1884 and 1885.*79a

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


*80 May 1885: Closure of 2 rue Scribe, Paris

In early-may 1885 rue Scribe was closed and the shop was moved to a new location at 29, rue du Faubourg, Saint-Honore. The move is confirmed by Reilly advertisements in the French press (13 may 1985).*80a In the main-stream London press “Rue Scribe, Paris” was present in advertisements in “The Field” in late July 1885 but noticeably absent in the same ad in early August 1885.*80a

. . . . .SN 27340 (July 1885): The last extant SN'd gun with rue Scribe on the rib is 27340, a 12 bore SxS top-lever, hammer-gun, shotgun. The address on the rib is “New Oxford Street, London & rue Scribe, Paris.”*80c


*81 May 1885-July 1887: Paris Branch moved to 29 rue du Faubourg, Saint-Honoré

In mid-May 1885 Reilly opened the new shop at 29 rue du Faubourg, Saint-Honoré, Paris; the date is confirmed by an advertisement in “Le Sportsman” of 13 May 1885.*81a

Rue du Faubourg was a prestigious location - Coco Chanel's apartments were above it in another century.*81b In addition to very fashionable Paris shops, Some Parisian gun makers had factories/workshops/show rooms on rue du Faubourg. The road was also the heart of the English speaking community living in Paris a la “Belle Époque” including the home of the British ambassador to France. A sales-shop in that area was a logical Reilly commercial decision and an upgrade from 2 rue Scribe.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Paradoxically, this new Paris shop address was not publicized in the UK in the way 2 rue Scribe had been. It was not included the almost daily UK Reilly advertisements. in fact most post July 1885 Reilly advertisements in the London papers carry no mention of “Paris” at all (although “Paris” continued to be mentioned in some long term advertising contracts with guide books up to 1887).

A series of small ads did appear in the January-February 1886 London press touting a win at the Monte Carlo pigeon shoot by Italian champion pigeon shooter Giuseppe Guidicini using a Reilly with the rue du Faubourg address (chapter *75). The paid for articles were no doubt placed by Reilly.*81c

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The closure of the shop at rue du Faubourg was announced by advertisemens in the French Press in late May 1887 after losing its lease and the shop was definitely closed in July*81d Its wares were auctioned off including 51 firearms.*81d The reason for closure, beside termination of the lease, was listed simply as “cessation de commerce à Paris.” Reilly clients were asked to direct their inquiries and orders to the Reilly shop at 16, New Oxford Street, London.*81e

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

No extant guns with the rue du Faubourg address on the ribs or barrels have been found. Although three Reilly’s numbered after the closure of 2 rue Scribe do have “Paris” on their ribs, most extant guns numbered by Reilly over the following two years made no mention of Paris at all.

Five different gun case labels have been found with this address. The rue du Faubourg labels are generally in the classic post 1861 Reilly format but are not usually scalloped (one out the five is scalloped). They feature the usual main 16, New Oxford Steet address with the 277 Oxford street branch; the rue du Faubourg address is located where 2 rue Scribe had been for 17 years. The labels illustrate the 1867 Paris medals in the upper left hand corner and the 1884 London International Exposition medals in the right.*81f

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The scroll work on the rue du Faubourg label is different from that on the classic pre-1885 Reilly label and seems to precede the scroll later used on the stand-alone 16, New Oxford Street label with no Paris address issued after July 1887. (see chapter 82 below).


*82 July 1887: Change in Reilly labels

The labels for both London branches changed slightly with the closure of the Paris branch in July 1887. The labels were used up to May 1897 and the closure of 16, New Oxford, Street.

. . . . .-- 16, New Oxford Street, continued with the scalloped corners, double outlining following the model of the 1861 and 1868 labels. It has the 1867 medals in the upper left corner but with the 1884 London International Exposition gold medal in the upper right.*82a
. . . . . . . . . .The new label also advertised different guns in the scroll work at the bottom of the label.*82b
. . .Top: 1861-1885;
. . .Middle: rue du Faubourg 85-87;
. . .Bottom: Main label after July 1887 closure of the Paris branch.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

. . . . .-- 277, Oxford Street also continued its label tradition without the scallops or border lining.*82c
. . . . . . . . . .Likewise some of the descriptions in scroll work in the center of the new label were changed.*82d
. . .Top: Pre July 1887
. . .Bottom: Post closure of 29 rue du Faubourg.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


*83 Reilly in the Late 1880's:

Reilly exhibited at the 1889 Paris World's Fair, the "Tour Eiffel" Exposition Universelle,*83a and won a silver medal.*83b However, 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.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

A nasty law-suit "Reilly vs Booth" on easement limitations to the Salvation Army Hall behind his establishment at 277 Oxford Street was litigated. The legal decision is cited to this day.*83c

The fact is, something changed with the firm after 1886. Reilly's guns regularly won competitions*83d and were donated to be given as prizes at high-end shooting competitions. *83e Advertisements continued to fill the papers publicizing his sale of all sorts of guns, “Elephant and Tiger Rifles,” Magnum Express Rifles,” “Express double and single Rifles,” “Self-extracting hammerless shotguns,” etc.*83f Many ads noted his offering of his “Special Pigeon Guns,” “of great power; Hurlingham weight, Whitworth barrels, below line-of-sight hammers.”*83g

But, the company just gradually seemed to go backward. His guns used many of the latest patents but numbered guns made per year gradually declined from its height of 1050 in 1885 to about 900 in 1889. The cocky swagger of the 1860's seemed to have burnt itself out.


. . . . . XII. DEATH OF EM REILLY; DECLINE AND FALL: 1890-1918:


*84 1890: Death of E.M. Reilly and aftermath:

In July 1890 EM Reilly contracted broncho-pneumonia and passed away.*84a, 84b, 84c

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, who he referred to as “my reputed son,” was 23 and apparently working as a locomotive mechanic (see below).

In his will*84d E.M left a sum of about £8,000 (about $1.2 million today). This was in addition to the two buildings held freehold (probably by the company), the guns, the tools, etc. (The structure of the company and Reilly’s partners, if any, are still not known).

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. EM specifically did not leave his wife the "trade books."*84e However, newspaper articles on the later death of her son Edward Montague seem to indicate that Mary was indeed running the company during this time.*84f

With EM’s death 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 on their majority 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 intertwining’s 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
-- kowtowing 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 after Mary’s death, 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. Pretending you are upper-class in Uk when all you have is money is a dead end - ask Harry Gordon Selfridge.*84g

*85 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. (There are two important points to emphasize: It would be hard to overemphasize the prejudice Irish faced in England during this time; nothing, no commercial business success, no royal patronage, could have overcome this. And, none of the London gunmakers at the time, even Purdey, would have been considered "gentlemen." Their livelihood depended on kowtowing to the British aristocracy.)

-- 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 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, full of himself, 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. In 1855 EM and Blanch's son William seem to have encouraged each other to tackle pin fire breech loaders.)

-- 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 rationalized the Reilly serial numbers, created new trade labels, and advanced new and risky products.
-- 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, Manton and a couple of others - and given that he manufactured well in excess of 6,000 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. One must wonder if he got his dander up after being snubbed by the Royal Family; he seemed to turn mockingly towards anti-gun-making establishment; giving the proverbial finger to Purdey doesn't win friends.
-- He also at least early on was a practicing Catholic and may have had a chip on his shoulder about this. As late as the 1960's John Le Carre commented in a "Murder with Quality" about this lingering English phenomenon of religious persecution. He dreamed big dreams and the biggest was snagging a contract with Arsenal. One must wonder whether his religion played a part in his inability to obtain this.
-- Paradoxically, by 1843 E.M. Reilly (Reilly, Jnr) had joined the Masonic Lodge. An advertisement in “The Freemason” from 1843 identified him as “Brother Reilly Junr.”*8i The Catholic Church held that any person identifying with or assisting the Freemasons was excommunicated. How Reilly reconciled this conundrum is unknown.
-- He would not have been regarded as a "gentleman" by the English class conscious society; no commercial gun maker was; and definitely not so when he took up with Mary Ann, a 20 year old and had four children out of wedlock. He was a businessman and a trader and though he tried to be royalty respected, he was insulted. He returned the insult by being successful.
-- 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 only two known photos of E.M Reilly (from Sally Nestor's posting on ancestry.com) are attached.*85a

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

-- Edward Montague Reilly his first "son" (reputed) 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 somewhat in his father's footsteps. He was designated as an executor of EM's will (along with Mary). He apparently later worked on locomotives. He did not seem to have advanced education and one wonders if he were a bit "slow." His father's sneering references to him cannot have improved his psyche. In about 1893 he came down with tuberculosis and ultimately fell from an upper window at 277 Oxford Street in July 1895.

-- Mary Ann Reilly, E.M.'s wife, 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 "C-o-x." 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.

. . . . .A photo is attached which possibly shows EM and Mary walking on Oxford Street near 277.*85b

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 06/20/24 09:42 PM.

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*86 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. The number of serial number guns built by Reilly continued to decline after E.M.’s death from about 810 in 1890 to 240 in 1897.

Yet, advertisements for the firm's products continued to fill newspapers and journals,*86a although as the decade went on, the regular newspaper ads became smaller in size and content.*86b
1. January, 1892 “Fashion Magazie”
2. 1895. Warren’s Travel Guide
3. 1895, “The Field” (last ad for 4 years in “The Field”).
4. 1893, “Volunteer Services Gazette”

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Some beautiful guns were made the finest being sidelocks with a sprinkling of big bore SxS rifles.*86d Reilly even built SxS’s chambered for the .303. Quote from WW Greener’s “The Breech Loader" (1898): “My late father took with him a double .303 ejector built by Reilly and Co., and he did excellent work with it at all kinds of game.”*86e

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

And perhaps 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. Again a quote from “The Breech-Loader” p.378: “In conclusion, I think that I shall be offering good advice by recommending intending investors in .303 arms to go to the best makers and get good value. The work of Greener, Reilly, Westley Richards, etc., can be relied on… (signed Hjenry T. Glynn, Sadie Hall, Transvaal)"*86f

Case labels during this time period continued to be the classic 16, New Oxford Street or 277, Oxford Street labels which were adopted after the closure of 2 rue Scribe (previously pictured). Note the new instructions for reloading with smokeless powders including “E.C., Schultz or Walsrode”:

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Presentation Case labels continued with the now standard blue velvet interiors:

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Note: In 1896, London proofs changed again with the addition of “Nitro Proof” and “1 1/4 oz Max” added. Toby Barclay marketed a gun serial numbered by Reilly in late 1898 but with the pre-1896 proof marks on the barrel.

. . . . .SN 35079 - E.M. Reilly & Co., (address not mentioned). 12 bore. Shotgun SxS. SLE; brls proofed pre-1896; Southgate pat 12314; Southgate ejector trip pat 8239)*86g


*87 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. The closure date is illustrated by identical Reilly advertisements in the "Sporting Gazette." On 1 May 1997 the ad has both 16, New Oxford Street and 277, Oxford Street. On 8 May 1897 the identical ad has only the 277 address.*87a

What happened to the building and to the machinery is unknown. The furnishings and tools probably were sold at auction someplace. The building, however, was still intact in downtown London in the 1970's; Donald Dallas said he used to walk past it every day on his way to the London School of Economics and think about Reilly having been there for half a century.

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 Reilly's hand-made and measured guns in a middling cost category seemed to decline. Reilly serial numbered gun production dwindled. The company's management after 1890 did not seem to have E.M.'s business sense or "touch” and perhaps 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. (Reilly made about 400 serial numbered guns a year at 502, New Oxford Street in 1857; when 315 Oxford Street was opened production increased to about 650. Thus it looks as if 277 had a maximum production capacity of 250 guns. Once Reilly sales reached that point, there was no point keeping two workshops and retail stores open)

. . . . .SN 34723 - The last extant SN'd gun from 16 New Oxford Street is 34723, an elegant 12 bore SxS, top-lever, Damascus-barreled, hammer-gun, shotgun with Birmingham (re)proofed 30" Damascus barrels.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

For the record the Reilly shop manager at 277 at this time was James Curtis, no additional information.


*88 1890-97: label and presentation case changes

in the early 1890's 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. The extant presentation cases for the most case are from 277 Oxford Street. After the closure of 16, New Oxford Street, the cases became pretty uniform. All have blue felt with the address and name printed either directly on the felt in gold letters or on a black leather label affixed to the cloth.*88a

After May 1897 the trade/case label was completely changed from the 1861-base label format and modernized.*88b 16 New Oxford Street was of course no longer on the label.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The new “modern” label displayed four sets of medals won in 1876 (Philadelphia), 1878 (Paris), 1884 (London) and 1873 (Vienna) (although there is no evidence that Reilly actually exhibited in Vienna)*88c It advertised “magazine guns” and emphasized "conversions, alterations and repairs" which perhaps at this point in the company history was an important revenue stream.


*89 1899: Death of Mary Ann Reilly; Bert takes over:

In January 1899 Mary Ann Reilly died - she was only 54.*89a No details of her death are known; no will has been uncovered. She died as she lived with much unknown about her except for her apparent formidable will.

It looks as if her two oldest surviving sons, Charles Atol. and Herbert Horace Percy (Bert) assumed control over the firm after her death. The 1901 census lists them both at 277 Oxford Street and both said they were gunmakers.*89b However, it is pretty evident that the younger brother Bert was in charge.

For whatever reason, there was a noticeable change in newspaper advertisements very soon after Mary’s death.
. . . . .-- Reilly went from having tiny ads in the late 1890’s to large format ads in “The Field” and “The Sporting Gazette.”*89c
. . . . .-- Reilly began re-using “Gun & Rifle Makers” vice “Gun Manufacturers” in his advertisements.*89d
. . . . .-- Reilly began again to advertise Eley cartridges in 1890's perhaps giving up his cartridge making revenue stream.*89e (Reilly cartridges may have been made by Eley anyway for some time). Note: Reilly since the early-mid 1990's had been advertising several different types of smokeless power one could have loaded in his shells including “E.C., Schultz or Walsrode” and included instructions attached to his gun cases on loads for these powders. However, for Reilly to finally actually acknowledge Eley (after some 20 years) was quite a step indicating that as production and revenue fell, reality had to be faced; And this reality probably intruded enough to include outsourcing gun components).
. . . . .-- Reilly for the first time also advertised using a '"try-gun" to fit customers to their bespoke guns.*89f

And yet the bleeding continued. Serial numbered gun production numbers declined steadily:
-- 250 in 1897,
-- 160 in 1898,
-- 100 in 1899,
-- .75 in 1900,
-- .70 in 1901.
Clearly management could not keep a full complement of skilled workers in-house building such a small number of guns.


*90 Move to 295 Oxford-Street, 1903-4; Trade Label Update

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. It appears to have come as something of a surprise to some people. “The Field” editor was in the Reilly showroom in early February looking at rook rifles.*90a

Attached photos and maps:
. . . . .Map of Oxford Street*90b
. . . . .Contemporary photo of the area; 295 looks to be a considerably smaller building than 277 and much smaller than the current building on the site.*90c
. . . . .Google Map photo of the current building at 295.*90d

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Note: Newspaper ads for Reilly stopped in late February or early March 1903 while Reilly was still at 277, and did not resume again until May 1904 with the shop located at 295 Oxford Street.*90e 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.

For 1903, the chart has Reilly making only 8 guns in an 8 week period before closing (and that might be optimistic). When gun making resumed in May 1904, the chart has him making 40 guns for 1904:

. . . . . SN 35386 (1903): The last extant gun made at 277 Oxford Street should be 35394 a .410 SxS shotgun (private gun - no details).*90f

. . . . .SN 35394 (1904): The first extant gun with 295 Oxford Street, London on the rib is 35394 (it has a second serial number on it from an unknown source), a .410 single-barrel side-lever rook rifle, dated by the below chart to May 1904.*90g

The trade label continued to be the 1897 “4 medal” label but with “277” crossed out and “295” stamped above.*90h. Instruction label in the case likewise had the struck-out 277, but later used only 295. (both examples below are from guns made by Reilly 1880-1897 and refurbished after the move to 295 Oxford Street). No presentation cases with only "295" have as yet been found.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


*91 1904-1912: Reilly reduced to finishing guns bought in the white?

With this possible shutdown of the company for 14 months, it is doubtful that young Bert Reilly 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 serial numbered n the 1880’s that bear the 295 address on the barrel or case placed after they had obviously been brought in for new barrels or for service.*90a His case labels and advertisements seem to confirm this.*91b .

Reportedly during this period (per IGC) at least one gun was built with "J.C. Reilly" and the old "Holborn Bars" address on the rib. No photos exist of this alleged gun and additional information was not provided by IGC which did not footnote its Reilly history.

There is an extant Reilly rifle converted to a shotgun which is a pair with a new four digit serial number code. What this means is unclear. This gun very much resembles Reilly rifle SN 35554:

. . . . .SN .1833 (Outlier which in the chronology should date to late 1830's) - E.M. Reilly & Co., (rebarrelled by John Harper). 12 gauge SxS Shotgun. BLE. Repurposed from a big bore rifle. 26" barrels, pistol grip. #2 of pair*91c

. . . . .SN 35554 (1907): E.M. Reilly & Co., 295, Oxford Street, London. .500/.465 SxS Nitro Express rifle, BLE. (This cartridge was introduced by Holland&Holland in spring 1907.*91d

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

There is one Reilly SN 35614 which has a serial number on the barrel for Holloway sent in by Marc Crudrington. This is one of the very few serial numbered Reilly’s, which appear to have been built definitively by a firm other than Reilly himself. The Holloway SN would date the gun to 1911. This in and of itself is significant since it skews the “numbered guns built chart."
. . . . . . . . . .-- (At the same time there is something odd about this gun; the engraving seems to revert to pre-1860 Reilly engraving and looks nothing at all like the other surviving Reilly’s from that time period. The differences are so striking as to call into question the authenticity of the gun, its serial number and address).

. . . . .SN 35614: E.M. Reilly & Co. 295 Oxford Street, London. 12 bore SxS Shotgun; self-cocking, Side-lock, ejector built by Holloway SN "H8113" (1911) *91e

This said, there are other Reilly’s from 1911 including an extant pair, which have no outside-worker marks on them as far as can be determined from auction house advertisements and which look like proper Reilly's.*91f

. . . . .SN 35673 (1911): E.M. Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London. 12 bore. Shotgun SxS. Sidelock. #1 of pair.
. . . . .SN 35674 (1911): E.M. Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London. 12 bore. Shotgun SxS. Sidelock. #2 of pair.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The last extant serial numbered Reilly gun found so far is SN 35678, E.M. Reilly & Co., (address not mentioned). 12 bore Shotgun SxS. Boxlock.

Last edited by Argo44; 01/02/24 12:21 AM.

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*92 June 1912: Bankruptcy

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.*92a

In December 1911 the company was changed to a limited liability company with George 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. It also appears that Reilly deliberately attempted to sell off as much stock as he could before bankruptcy was declared. Whether he also tried to move machinery and other items out of 295 is possible but not knowable.

Bankruptcy was declared on 06 June 1912 (publicized on 08 June 1912 in the London Monday morning papers).*92b

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

. . . . .—SN 35678 (1911?): The last extant gun with 295 on the rib is 35678, a 12 bore SxS BLE shotgun.*92c

Note: Per the 1911 census Bert Reilly no longer lived on the premises of his workshop at 295 Oxford Street, a first for a Reilly owner.*92d Reilly's had lived in their shops since at least 1835.

*93 1912-1918: 13 High Street, Marylebone

Bert Reilly opened a small gun repair shop, "E.M Reilly & Co., Gun Maker," at 13 High Street, Marylebone in 1912 after the bankruptcy.
. . . . .—Attached map of Marylebone*93a
. . . . .—Attached googe.map photo of 13 High Street.*93b

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

No advertisements can be found for the shop though per London postal address, telephone and business directories they identified themselves as "gunmakers."
. . . . .—attached 1912 Post Office Directory – Reilly, E.M. & CO., Gun & Rifle mfrs, still at 295*93c.
. . . . .—attached 1915 Street Directory – Reilly, E.M & Co. Gunmakers, 13 High St Mrlebne*93d
. . . . .—attached 1916 Street Directory – Reilly, E.M., Gun Maker 13 High St Mrlebne*93e

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).
. . . . .—attached 1918 Street directory – Reilly E.M., Gun Maker 13 High St. Mrlebne*93f
. . . . .—attached 1918 phone directory - Mayfair 406 Reilly E.M., Gun Maker, 13 High St Mrlebne*93g
. . . . .—attached 1919 directory – E.M. Reilly not found.*93h

(Note: IGC 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. Since the newspaper report of the 06 Jun 1912 extraordinary meeting to decide on bankruptcy states it was held at 295 Oxford Street, this IGC detail has to be called into question.)


. . . . . XIII. CHARLES RIGGS ERA; 1922 – 1950:


*94 Charles Riggs era, August 1922-1950?:

In August 1922 The Reilly name was bought by a sporting goods dealer named Charles Riggs. Riggs apparently decided he could use the name to promote his premium line of guns made In Birmingham (possibly built by Osborne/Midland or perhaps Holloway - based on similarity of engraving).

Charles Riggs was born in 1874 in London, one of 8 children of John Riggs. In 1878 Epping Forest, Essex, northeast of central London was saved from the ax by Parliament in the Epping Forest Act. A number of “retreats” were located there which were popular day visits for Londoners. John Riggs in particular owned several such auberges or hotels and passed them on to members of his family. One of these, “Riggs Retreat,” was located in Buckhurst Hill, Essex.*94a It was a large establishment and could allegedly sit 400 visitors for afternoon tea at one time. It featured a balcony wrapped around a huge beech tree.*94b, *94c.

By the early 1890’s Riggs’ Retreat was being run by a young Charles Riggs, who looks to have had a knack for business. In the mid 1890’s Charles Riggs began advertising Riggs Retreat as an ideal stopping point for touring bicyclists and he himself apparently became an avid cyclist. The ads in “Cycling” continued virtually weekly from 1897-1907.*94d By the mid-1900’s tennis tournaments were also being held at “Riggs’ Retreat.” Riggs likely sold tennis and cycling equipment. Golf courses were located in close proximity to the retreat and he probably became involved with that sport as well. This no doubt was his introduction to the sporting goods industry.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Also in the mid-1900’s Riggs’ Retreat became a meeting point for the Essex Yoemanry Militia.*94e Riggs as host to the militia probably became interested in guns and in the unit in the early 1900’s and quite probably also began to sell firearms at Buckhurst Hill. By 1907 he was a corporal in the Essex Yoemanry and was one of the founding members of the “Yoemanry Rifle Club.” He is mentioned in rifle match results.*94f

Business for his sporting goods stores at “Riggs Retreat” must have been profitable for in November 1908 he opened a shop in central London “C.Riggs & Co.” at 11, Queen-Victoria Street, where he advertised BSA guns, rifles and ammunition. The advertisements mention that the company was also located at Buckhurst Hill, Essex.*94g

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Around 1910 Riggs apparently sold “Riggs Retreat” (or possibly one of the other Epping Forest resorts similarly named). At that time he moved his London sporting goods shop to 3, The Arcade, Broad Street Station, Liverpool-Street. He marketed guns and rifles, selling mostly BSA products with his name on them.*94h. He is listed in the 1911 census as "Gun and Rifle Maker."

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

In 1912 he moved the company to 107, Bishopsgate billing himself as a sporting goods company. There he sold tennis and golf equipment, bicycles, soccer and cricket equipment, was involved in boxing, sold BSA motorcycles and sold guns and ammunition.*94i, *94j, *94k. His catalogs include all sorts of BSA firearms including advertisements for .303 SMLE Enfields and the like.*94l He allegedly marketed his own ammunition under the name "the Bishop" made by Eley up to at least 1914. He, also originally had his own “Riggs” brand of sporting guns and billed himself as a “gunmaker” even though his guns were built in Birmingham:
. . . . .Advertisement for a “Riggs Gun” *94m
. . . . .Case and Label for a “Riggs gun.”*94n

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Charles Riggs was by this time a sergeant in the Essex Yoemanry Militia. He wrote a pamphlet in 1915 “Practical Points of Musketry.”*94o Beginning in 1911 Riggs sponsored an annual reunion of the Essex Yeomanry (His task no doubt made simpler by his past occupation as a hotel owner and caterer).*94p Among other businesses, he brokered the sale of 1,500 Martini-Henry's to local militia groups early in WWI.

Riggs bought the Reilly name in August 1922. (Most Reilly history summaries put the date of purchase as 1917; this is belied by the dates of newspaper advertising). How and why Riggs got interested in the Reilly name is unknown.
. . . . .attached - 1st ads:*94q
1. . . . . . . . . .1922 advertisement
2. . . . . . . . . .18 Aug 1922, “Essex Newsman”
“Guns: Reilly and Co., Famous Gunmakers 100 years in Oxford Street, ask you to send for List, 107 Bishopsgate, London. C11."
3. . . . . . . . . .30 Sep 1922, “Essex Newsman”
"Guns: Best English Make, £4 to £40 to suit your pocket. Send for full illustrated list. E.M. Reilly & Co., Ltd., 107 Bishopsgate, London. C11. Estd 100 years in Oxford Street".
4. . . . . . . . . .07 September 1922, “Wales Brecon”
"Guns: Best English Make, £4 to £40 to suit your pocket. Send for full illustrated list. E.M. Reilly & Co., Ltd., 107 Bishopsgate, London. C11. Estd 100 years in Oxford Street".[/I]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The Riggs' 1922-23 catalog highlights the adoption of the Reilly name with a glowing introduction:*94r

. . . . .“The WORLD FAMED HOUSE OF E.M. REILLY & Co., late of Oxford Street, London, W. is now amalgamated with the house of CHARLES RIGGS & Co. Ltd of 107 Bishopsgate, London: E.C., thus making one of the strongest combinations ever known in the Gun Making and Sports Goods business….

. . . . .”The 'House of Reilly' is too well known in gun circles to need any comments here having been established nearly 100 years and its reputation for craftsmanship and value is a household word. All our guns in future will be named “E.M. Reilly & Co., London” thus adding another 25% to the value should you ever desire to sell it.”


The Riggs catalog featured the Reilly name as the centerpiece of his quality gun line-up, ahead of the BSA Guns. Riggs stopped specifically mentioning the Reilly name in advertisements by January 1923 but continued to label his guns as "E.M. Reilly & Co., London."

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Riggs continued to use the Reilly name on his Birmingham made guns for the next 25 years, selling over 24,000 guns (based on serial numbers). He died in 1950; “subscribers” who took over his shares in the company, per newspaper reporting pledged to continued to “carry on the business of manufacturers of and dealers in guns, rifles, pistols, revolvers.” Advertisements for Charles Riggs & Co, were still being placed in the Chelmsford newspaper in 1960. Riggs allegedly remained in business until 1966 (not confirmed; however, eyewitnesses remember walking into the sporting goods store in the early 1960’s and seeing only a few BSA air-guns).

Riggs-Reilly guns usually have "E.M. Reilly & Co., London" on the ribs; Sometimes "E.M. Reilly & Co., Ltd." As a further identifier, most of the Rigg's-Reilly's have "Prince of Wales" half pistol grip stocks, something the original Reilly firm almost never made. All the Riggs-Reilly’s were proofed in Birmingham. Riggs'-Reilly named guns have six-digit serial numbers and appear to begin at around 128000. (On occasion a Riggs-Reilly will have a 4 digit serial number). 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.

Examples of extant Riggs-Reillys:*94s
. . . . .SN 128466 - E.M. Reilly & Co., London. 12 bore SxS Shotgun, 29" barrels. Nfi. 1st extant Riggs-Reilly
. . . . .SN 134481 - E.M. Reilly & Co., London. 12 ga. SxS shotgun. BLNE. 30” steel brls. 2.5” chambers
. . . . .SN 136720 - E.M. Reilly & Co., London. 12 ga SxS Shotgun. hammer gun, extractor
. . . . .SN 139564 - E.M. Reilly & Co., London. 12 bore SxS Shotgun, hammer-gun
. . . . .SN 139801 - E.M. Reilly (address not mentioned). 12 bore Shotgun SxS. Hammer gun
. . . . .SN 150570 - E.M. Reilly & Co., London. 12ga. Shotgun SxS. Boxlock non-ejector. (Brum proofs) Last extant Riggs-Reilly

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Riggs was quite a self-promoting character and comes across in advertisements and articles as something of an annoying, pretentious, status-climbing, individual with a large ego and a huge amount of hubris and energy. There are pictures of him medaled like a royal prince claiming marksmanship trophies that the historical record doesn't support.*94t He billed himself as a yeomanry sergeant early on*94u but had promoted himself to Lieutenant later on in life.*94v He very well could have rubbed the gun establishment the wrong way.

. . . . .Charles Riggs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Prince Charles
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Reading Rigg's letters to the London Press etc., can be grating (such as this 1914 letter about his son having "the time his life" on the western front in WWI).*94w 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 - helped soccer clubs, contributed money to a down and out boxer, etc. - but apparently not a lot of friends in the close-knit gun making fraternity.

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

What a come-down in advertising: from weekly ads in "The Field" and almost daily advertisements in the major London newspapers, the major travel guides of the country and the most important sporting events of the year, to Rigg's tiny advertisements in the "Essex Newsman," the "Chelmsford Chronicle" and the Bracon, Wales County papers.

Note: The legend that Reilly was a retailer only probably came out of the Riggs era. There is no mention of this claim until 1990's and by that time anyone who remembered the original Reilly company had passed away and memory had faded.


. . . . . CONCLUSION .


*95 Conclusion:

Over the course of 90 years 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 in house. Though Reilly targeted relatively budget buyers, 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 finely artistic style and consistently classy. Reilly's best guns were as good as those produced anywhere in England at the time.

Gene Herbert Williams, Sep 05, 2018; last updated March 10, 2024

Last edited by Argo44; 03/23/24 10:45 PM.

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. . . . . ADDENDUM

List of extant guns is on p.57.

A. =============Reilly SN Date Chart==============

There are several criteria used for dating the serial numbered guns:
. . . . .1. There are about 25 chronological markers such as shop address changes for which dates are known; These include a few guns which are dated.
. . . . .2. Serial numbered guns with addresses on ribs were matched to the above address changes.
. . . . .3. Sanity checks were used - guns chambered for certain cartridges invented at certain times, guns corresponding to advertisements in newspapers, guns with labels and proof marks matching the postulated dates, etc.
. . . . .4. Changes in proof marks can be helpful but are not reliable markers
. . . . .5. Nor are patent use numbers for the most part.
For footnoting and methodology, see p.57

Legend:
. . 1828 - Year
. . 001 - 050 - Black - Main SN Chronology, SN’s by year
. . 7021 – 8186 (Blue) - JC "7000" series numbers by year
. . 4500 - 6000- not represented on the chart as yet - a hypothetical JC Reilly number series from 1840 - 1847;
. . 50 (Black numbers) – guns numbered in one year
. . I. Aug’28: Chronology: - Date markers. Chronological date marker events
. . . . .-- *1. 88: - Gun serial numbers matched to date markers.
. . . . .-- **1. 7201 – Serial number sanity checks
. . ##1. 1855 - Proof stamp change

Note: It appears that J.C. Reilly had a "5000" series of numbers from about 1841-1847. There are five such extant guns. This series has not yet been factored into the below chart. (There is an upper date limit marker for this "series" - SN 5991 - which is post March 1847 from the address on the rib. However, there is no lower date marker for the series other than the 316 High Holborn address on the ribs - which could theoretically extend back to August 1835.)

Year: . . Mainline SN . . JC 7000 series. . . . # of guns SN'd in year

1828: . . 001 - . .050. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50
. . I. Jul ’28 - 1st advertisement for guns made at Holborn Bars
1829: . . 051 - . .180. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .130
. . . .-- *1. 88 – Feb ‘29 - First extant SN’d Reilly
1830: . . 181 - . .320. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140
1831: . . 321 - . .460. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140
1832: . . 461 - . .600. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140
1833: . . 601 - . .750. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .150
1834: . . 751 - . .900. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .150
1835: . . 901 - .1060. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .160
. . II. Late Aug ‘35 – Move to 316, High Holborn
. . . . .-- *2. 1024 – Oct ‘35 – 1st extant SN’d gun with High Holborn address
1836: ..1061 - .1240. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .180
1837: ..1241 - .1420. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .180
. . . . .-- *3. 1292 – Feb ‘37 - Last serial numbered hand-gun
1838: ..1421 - .1600. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .180
1839: ..1601 - .1810. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .210
1840: ..1811 - .2030. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .220
. . III. Aug 1840 - Company name in ads changes from "J.C. Reilly" to "Reilly"; EM possibly becomes a full partner in the company.
1841: ..2031 - .2260. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .230
1842: ..2261 - .2490. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .230
1843: ..2491 - .2720. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .230
1844: ..2721 - .2960. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .230
1845: ..2961 - .3180. + 7000 - 7020. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
1846: ..3181 - .3320. + 7020 - 7130. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250
. . . . .-- *4 . 7021 – Jan ‘46 – 1st extant JC Reilly 7000 series; High Holborn address
. . . . . . . .-- *4a . 7023 – Jan ‘46 – 2nd extant JC Reilly 7000 series; High Holborn address
1847: ..3321 - .3350. + 8350 – 8480. . + 7131 - 7230. - . .260
. . ++1847 - UK financial crisis
. . IV. 27 Mar ‘47 - moved to 502 New Oxford Street
. . V. Apr-Dec ‘47 - “Removed from Holborn” in ads
. . . . .-- *5. 3329 – Jan ‘47 – last extant main-line SN’d gun at High Holborn
. . . . .-- *6. 8378 – May ‘47 – 1st extant mainline SN’d gun with New Oxford St. address
. . . . .-- *7. 7201– Sep ‘47 – 1st JC 7000 series with New Oxford St. address
. . . . .- **1. 7201- Sep ‘47 “Removed from Holborn” on trade label
1848: ..8481 - .8640. + 7231 - 7330. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . 260
1849: ..8641 - .8800. + 7331 - 7430. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270
1850: ..8801 - .8960. + 7431 - 7540. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270
1851: ..8961 - .9130. + 7541 - 7640. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270
1852: ..9131 - .9300. + 7641 - 7740. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270
1853: ..9301 - .9490. + 7741 - 7830. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280
. . ++1853, Oct - Crimean War begins
1854: ..9491 - .9680. + 7831 - 7930. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1855: ..9681 - .9880. + 7931 - 8030. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300
. . ##1. 1855 - Proof stamp change; required bore size stamping (Reilly already stamped bore sizes)
1856: ..9881- 10170. + 8021 - 8120. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . .390
. . VI. 1856, Aug – First Reilly advertisement for a Lefaucheaux-style center-break gun.
. . . . .-- *8. 10054 – Aug ‘56 - 1st extant SN’d Reilly center-break gun; Date matches ads
. . . . .-- **2. – 1856 production numbers: Increase after success at Paris
1857: 10171 - 10500. + 8121 - 8200. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . .410
. . ++1857 - Indian Mutiny
. . VII. Sep ‘57 - JC Reilly retires; end of JC "7000 series" SN's.
. . . . .-- *98186 – Aug ‘57 – Last JC 7000 series extant gun marked “Veni, Vidi, Vici”
1858: 10501 - 10910. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 410
. . VIII. Early Aug ‘58 - 315 Oxford St. (Oxford Street) opened
. . XIX. Early Aug ‘58 – Company name changes to “Reilly & Co.”
. . . . .- **3. 10655 – May ‘58 – Early break-action gun; Demand spurred opening of 315 Oxford Street
. . . . .- **4. 10738 – Jun ‘58 – 1st Prince patent (1855) breech loader rifle
. . . . .-- *10. 10782 – Jul ‘58 – Prince Pat with “Reilly, New Oxford St."
. . . . . . . . . -- **10a. 10811 – Aug ‘58 – Prince Pat: 1st gun with “Reilly & Co.” and 1st with “Oxford Street” address.
1859: 10911 - 11350. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 440
. . X. Mar ‘59 – Company Name changes to E.M. Reilly & Co. (Gun Makers)
. . . . .-- *11. 11227 – Dec 1859 - 1st extant SN gun with "E.M. Reilly & Co." on rib
1860: 11351 - 11800. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450
. . XI. Aug 1860 - Name become E.M. Reilly & Co. (Gun Manufacturer).
. . [color:#FF0000]XII. Dec 1860 - SN 11716 – Plaque on rifle - presented as a prize Christmas 1860

. . . . .-- *12. 11716 – Dec ’60 - Plaque on rifle - presented as a prize Christmas 1860
1861: 11801 - 12250. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450
. . ++1861 - US War Between the States - flush times for Enfields, sniper rifles, etc.
. . XIII. Early Apr ‘61 - Trade labels change to "Gun Manufacturers"; (see separate chart for dating trade labels).
1862: 12251 - 12710. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450
. . XIV. Aug 1862 - SN 12532 – Documented London exposition gun bought by Prince of Wales
. . . . .-- *13. 12532 – Aug ‘62 – Documented London exposition gun bought by Prince of Wales
1863: 12711 - 13160. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450
1864: 13161 - 13590. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
. . ++1864, Feb - Second Schleswig War - Breech loader shock
. . . . .-- *14. 13326 – May ‘64 – Green Bros breech loader patent use #’s 16; Date matches ads
. . . . . . . . . .-- *14a. 13333 – May ‘64 – Green Bros breech loader patent use # 23; Date matches ads
1865: 13591 - 14020. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1866: 14021 - 14460. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 440
. . ++May 1866 - UK financial crisis
. . . . .- **5. 14115 – May ‘66 – 1st extant SN’d original C-F shotgun (see 1866 patents for C-F shotgun primers)
1867: 14461 - 14910. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450
1868: 14911 - 15610. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 700
. . ##2. Proof Change:
. . XV. Early Feb ‘68 - 2 rue Scribe, Paris opened
. . . . .-- *15. 14983 - Mar ‘68 – 1st gun with rue Scribe, Paris address
1869: 15611 - 16310. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 700
1870: 16311 - 17010. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 700
. . ++1870, Aug - Franco-Prussian War
1871: 17011 - 17710. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 700
. . XVI. Oct ‘71 - 17574 - 1871 Gun with date plaque - given as a gift 1871.
. . . . .-- *16. 17574 - Oct ‘71 – Rifle presented as a gift; history is available.
1872: 17711 - 18310. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1873: 18311 - 18910. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1874: 18911 - 19510. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1875: 19511 - 20110. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
. . ##3 – Proof Change: “Not for Ball” added
1876: 20111 - 20690. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
. . . . .- **6. 20459 – Jul ‘76 - 1st extant Reilly with confirmed "Not for Ball."
. . . . .- **7. 20623 – Dec ‘76 – Last Reilly with Purdey Pat 1104 use# 4928; pat expired 01 May ‘77
1877: 20691 - 21270. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 580
1878: 21271 - 21850. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 580
. . . . .- **8. 21839 – Dec ‘78 – Last Reilly with Scott spindle pat 2752, use# 8699; pat expired 25 Oct ‘79.
1879: 21851 - 22430. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 580
1880: 22431 - 23010. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 590
. . . . .- **9. 22482 – Jan ‘80 - 1st extant Reilly box-lock; Reilly advertised boxlocks in May 1875 but did not really push the genre until 1880
1881: 23011 - 23630. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 620
. . XVII. Nov ‘81 – Oxford Street renumbered: 502 to 16; 315 to 277
. . . . .- *17. 23536 – Nov ‘81 - 1st use of renumbered addresses 277, 16 on a gun
. . . . .- **10. 23536 – Nov ‘81 - 1st use of renumbered addresses 277, 16 on a box lock
. . . . .- **11. 23574 – Dec ‘81 - 8 lb pigeon gun, the ’82 Hurlingham weight limit, made for 1882 season
. . . . .- **12. 23574 – Dec ‘81 - 1st Reilly gun with a Whitworth Steel barrel; Reilly began to advertise Whitworth steel barrels in early Jan '82.
1882: 23631 - 24680. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1050
. . . . .- **13. 1882 increased production – Selling off the rack and buy boxlocks in the white
. . . . .- **14. 24534 – Nov ‘82 – 7lb 8oz pigeon gun, the ’83 Hurlingham weight limit, made for 1883 season
1883: 24681 - 25730. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1050
1884: 25731 - 26780. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1050
1885: 26781 - 27820. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1040
. . XVIII. 13 May 1885 – Paris branch transferred from rue Scribe to 29 rue du Faubourg
. . . . .-- *18. 27358 – Jul ‘85 – Last extant Reilly with rue Scribe on the rib
1886: 27821 - 28860. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1040
1887: 28861 - 29900. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1040
. . XIX. 08 Jul 1885 – Paris branch closed; guns auctioned off
. . ##4. Proof Change: “Not for Ball” replaced by “choke” etc.
1888: 29901 - 30940. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1040
1889: 30941 - 31840. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 900
1890: 31841 - 32650. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 810
. . ++Jul 1890 - EM Reilly dies
1891: 32651 - 33250. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
. . XX. Feb 1891– SN 32760 – Plaque on gun – “presented on 26 Mar 1891”
. . . . .-- *19. 32760 – Feb ‘91– Plaque on gun – “presented on 26 Mar 1891”
1892: 33251 - 33600. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 350
1893: 33601 - 33880. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1894: 33881 - 34160. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1895: 34161 - 34400. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
1896: 34401 - 34640. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
. . ##5 - Proof change
1897: 34641 - 34900. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
. . XXI. Early May ’97 - closure of 16 New Oxford Street
. . . . .-- *20. 34723 – Apr ’97 – Last extant Reilly with 16 New Oxford Street address
1898: 34901 - 35030. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
1899: 35031 - 35140. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
1900: 35141 - 35240. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 75
. . . . .- **15. 35186 – Aug ‘00: - Post 1897 trade label; London 1896-1904 proof marks
1901: 35241 - 35325. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
1902: 35326 - 35395. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
1903: 35386 - 35393. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 08
. . XXII. Feb ‘03 - 277 Oxford St. closes
. . . . .-- *21. 35386 – Jan ‘03 - Last extant SN with 277 Oxford (?)
1904: 35394 - 35435. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
. . ##6 - Proof change: "Nitro Proof" and max load added.
. . XXIII. May ‘04 - 295 Oxford St. opens
. . . . .-- *22. 35394 – May ‘04 - First SN with 295 Oxford
1905: 35436 - 35475. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1906: 35476 - 35515. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1907: 35516 - 35555. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
. . . . .- **16. 35554 – Dec ‘07 - 500/.465 Nitro Express SxS BL rifle – cartridge intrduced spring ‘07.
1908: 35556 - 35575. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
1909: 35576 - 35589. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
1910: 35590 - 35599. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
1911: 35600 - 35685. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
. . ++1911 - Bert Reilly apparently selling off stock knowing bankruptcy is coming.
. . . . .- **17. 35614 – Feb ‘11 - built by Holloway, SN H8113 (dated to 1911)
. . . . .-- *23. 35678 – Dec ‘11:- Last extant Reilly
1912: 35686 - 35700. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
. . XXIV. 06 Jun ’12: Bankruptcy declared 06 June; vacated 295 Oxford Street
. . XXV. Aug ’12: 13 High Street, Marylebone opened
1913 - 1918: Zero known. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
. . XXVI. Jul ’18: 13 High Street, Marylebone closed

Post August 1922 – c1950: 128000 - 150000. - . . . . . . 22,000?
. . XXVII. 20 Aug 1922 – 1950? - Riggs production
. . . . .-- *24. 128466 – 1922 - 1st known extant Riggs marked SN’d “Reilly”
. . . . .-- *25. 150570 – 1950? - Last known extant Riggs marked SN’d “Reilly”

B. =============Footnotes to identified gun list==============

. .1) Process: The process of dating the guns was difficult but with a methodology that was refined as the research developed, basically as follows:
1. Identify known chronological markers – usually dates of the change of addresses on ribs but occasionally dated SN’d gun.
2. Identify the first and last serial number associated with these known chronological dates and make a reasonable estimation of how many gun serial numbers should be alloted to each year, factoring in other data.
3. Sanity check the conclusions by looking at various guns to see if their parameters fit the postulation.


. .2) Chronological date markers:
. . . . . I. 1828, Jul - 1st advertisement for guns made at Holborn Bars: 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 makes it clear that he was selling guns made by him. For this reason 1828 is listed as the start date for Reilly gun manufacture.
. . . . . II. 1835, Late Aug – Move to 316, High Holborn: Per newspaper advertisements in late August Reilly moved to 316 High Holborn. Example: “Joseph Charles Reilly will be removing at the end of this month, to the spacious premises, 316, High Holborn…” (“London Morning Chronicle,” 24 Aug 18). For a year after the move from Holborn Bars, the phrase “Removed from Holborn Bars” appeared in his advertisements.
. . . . . III. 1840, August - Company name changed to just "Reilly in ads.
. . . . . IV. 1847, 27 Mar – J.C. Reilly moved from High Holborn to 502 New Oxford Street on 27 Mar 1847. “The lease of these premises will expire at Lady-day next, and he is RE-MOVING to another Establishment in New Oxford-street, the Elizabethan Buildings. (“Morning Post,” 20 Mar 1847). This is confirmed by a follow-on ad “Premises in Holborn having expired at Lady-day last, he has REMOVED to 502, NEW OXFORD STREET…” (“Morning Advertiser,” 31 Mar 1847)
. . . . . V. 1847, Apr-Dec - “Removed from Holborn” in ads. “Reilly, Gun-maker, New Oxford-street – REMOVED FROM HOLBORN,” (“Illustrated London News,” 03 Apr 1847); By late November 1847 the phrase was no longer used. This is an important item for dating guns using the trade label as a confirmation.
. . . . . VI. 1856, Aug – First Reilly advertisement for a Lefaucheaux-style center-break gun. Reilly began working on a break-action gun in 1855, probably as a result of Lang’s exhibit in Paris. His first advertisements for a Lefaucheaux style break-action gun appeared in August 1856 and he is recognized as one of the pioneers of the genre.
. . . . . VII. 1857, Sep - JC Reilly retires. He announced in newspaper ads, “JOSEPH CHARLES REILLY is retiring in favor of his son Edward.” (“London Daily News, 02 Sep 1857). End of 7000 series SN’s.
. . . . . VIII. 1858, Early Aug - 315 Oxford St. (Oxford Street) opened, almost certainly as a result of surging demand for Reilly breech-loaders. The first ad for 315 appeared in “The Field,” 07 Aug 1858. “REILLY, 502, New Oxford-street; and the Shooting Galleries, No. 315, near the Regent-circus.”
. . . . . IX. 1858, Early Aug – Company name changes to “Reilly & Co, Gun Maker.” Apparently when 315 Oxford Street opened, Reilly changed the name to “Reilly & Co.” Several newspaper ads use this name. Reilly later wrote that he took on some new partners at this time (unknown). The company likely established the new workshop because of skyrocketing demand for Reilly center-break guns as mentioned in “the Field” article in Oct 1858.
. . . . . X. 1859, Mar – Company Name changes to "E.M. Reilly & Co, Gun Makers." This name first appeared in ads in March 1859. (“E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford Street,” 05 Mar 1859). Although “Reilly & Co.,” continued to be used for awhile in other ads.
. . . . . XI. 1860, Aug – Company Name changes to E.M. Reilly & Co., Gun Manufacturer (singular)
. . . . . XII. 1860, Dec – SN 11716 - Plaque on .577 Enfield rifle with E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford Street, London, on the barrel shows it was presented as a prize Christmas 1860. It was probably serial numbered several weeks before.
. . . . . XIII. 1861, early Apr – Reilly trade labels changed definitively using “Gun Manufacturers” (pl) for the first time confirmed by both advertisements and by the 1861 census. This is important for using trade labels to help date a gun (see separate chart).
. . . . . XIV. 1862, Aug – SN 12532 – Documented Sep ’62 London exposition gun bought by Prince of Wales. This gun was discussed in a Bradshaw guide to the exposition September 1862 and was likely numbered 8 weeks earlier. It has the Prince of Wales feathers on it.
. . . . . XV. 1868, Early Feb - 2 rue Scribe, Paris opened. First mention of rue Scribe was an ad in “Le Derby,” 04 Feb 1868. First mentioned of rue Scribe in UK was in an advertisement in “The Field,” 09 Feb 1868.
. . . . XVI. 1871, Oct - SN 17574 - Plaque on a .500 double rifle given as a gift to his brother by Leonard Jerome (American grandfather of Winston Churchill), probably after their return from a "millionaires's uint guided by Buffalo Bill Cody in summer 1871.
. . . . . XVII. 1881, Nov – Oxford Street renumbered: 502 to 16; 315 to 277. This renumbering date is verified by numerous “before and after” advertisments from the period.
. . XVIII. 1885, 13 May – Paris branch transferred from rue Scribe (Grand Hotel) to 29 rue du Faubourg, Saint-Honore. Move is confirmed by an advertisement in the 13 May 1885 edition of "le Sportsman" in Paris. Advertisements in the Bell’s Life in late July 1885 continued to list rue Scribe, Paris. Identical advertisements first week of August 1885 had no Paris address.
. . XIX. 1887, 07-08 July – Paris branch Branch closed definitively and its contents, 51 guns, auction off per May-August advertisements in the Paris press.
. . XX. 1891, Feb – SN 32760 – Plaque on gun – “presented on 26 Mar 1891”. The gun is a boxlock presented by sons to a father. I was no doubt ordered and serial numbered a couple of months before presentation.
. . XXI. 1897, Early May - closure of 16 New Oxford Street. Idential advertisments in “Sporting Gazette” show 16 present on 01 May 97 and no longer there on 08 May 97. Reilly had been at 16 (formerly 502) New Oxford Street for 50 years. However, by 1897 new gun sales had declined to 240. It was economically impossible to keep two workshops open making such a low volume of guns.
. . XXII. 1903, Feb - 277 Oxford St. closes. The last ad for 277 Oxford St. appeared in “The Field” on 14 Feb 1903. An article in the same issue indicated “the Field” editor had shortly before visited Reilly’s shop to inspect an air-gun. Reilly disappeared from print after these advertisements and did not surface again for 14 months. He apparently sold the building and moved on.
. . XXIII. 1904, May - 295 Oxford St. opens, The first advertisements for 295 Oxford Str. Appeared in the 21 May 1904 edition of “The Field.” Reilly labels at this time used the old labels with 277 crossed out and 295 stamped above it.
. . XXIV. 1912, 06 Jun - Bankruptcy declared 06 June; vacated 295 Oxford Street. This was announced in the London Gazette on Monday 08 June 1912. 295 shortly after was taken over by a high-class London woman’s tailor.
. . XXV. 1912, Aug - 13 High Street, Marylebone opened. After the closure of 295 Bert Reilly opened a small gun repair/sales shop in Marylebone as “E.M. Reilly & Co.” The shop was tiny. No guns with this address on ribs have been found; no advertisements for it exist. It was listed in London 1913 post office and telephone directories.
. . XXVI. 1918, Jul - 13 High Street, Marylebone closed. E.M. Reilly & Co. was listed in the 1918 post office and telephone directories; The shop was not so listed in 1919.
. . XXVII. 1922, 18 Aug - Riggs production. Per newspaper advertisements Charles Riggs bought the Reilly name in August 1922. The first ad appeared in the 18 Aug 1922 edition of the “Essex Newsman.” 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 128000. In addition to 6 digit serial numbers most "Riggs-Reilly's" had "Prince of Wales" stocks.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


. .3. Gun SN’s matched to Chronological Dates:
. . . . . -- *1. . . . .88 – Feb ‘29 . .- 001 is chosen as the number of Reilly first gun. 1st extant SN'd gun is 88 a pair of .50 cal hexagonal Damascus barreled dueler percussion pistols. Addresses on barrels are "J.C. Reilly, Holborn Bars, London." The owner, a private UK citizen, wrote that his great-great-great grandfather bought them in London in 1829. Date Marker footnote I.
. . . . . -- *2. . . 1024 – Oct ‘35 . .- Reilly moved to 316 High Holborn in late Aug ’35 (see X footnote above). The 1st extant SN’d gun with High Holborn address is SN 1024. It is am 8mm pocket pistol hammergun with a steel barrel, marked “Reilly, 316, High Holborn, London.” Reily later made and sold dozens of these small pocket pistols. Date Marker footnote II.
. . . . . -- *3. . . 1292 – Feb ‘37 - Last serial numbered Reilly-made hand-gun. It is a 120 bore, steel barrel, percussion miniature pocket pistol marked “Reilly, London.” No other serial numbered Reilly nand-guns have been found though he sold hundreds of them over the next 75 years.
. . . . . -- *4. . . 7021 – Jan ‘46 – In 1846 JC Reilly appears to have split his numbering systems. He kept a series starting at SN 7000 for himself, while the main-line serial numbers continued, possibly overseen by now 30 year old EM. 7021 is the 1st extant JC Reilly gun in the new JC Reilly 7000 series. It is a 20bore single barrel muzzle loadiing percussion shotgun, a “boy’s gun.” It has the 316 High Holborn address on the barrel. Date Marker footnote III & IV.
. . . . . . . . . . -- *4a. . 7023 – Jan ‘46 – As confirmation of 7021, 7023 is an 11 bore, SxS percussion shotgun with J.C. Reilly, 316, High Holborn, London, on the rib
. . . . . --*5. . . 3329 – Jan ‘47 – Upon the move from High Holborn to 502 New Oxford Street the mainline Reilly serial numbers were jumped up 5,000 numbers from about 3350 to 8350 (see footnote III above). The last extant main-line SN’d gun at High Holborn is 3329, a 10 ga/.58 cal SxS percussion shotgun with Joseph Charles Reilly, 316, High Holburn, London.on the rib.
. . . . . -- *6. . . 8378 – May ‘47 – Once installed at 502 New Oxford Street (27 Mar 1847, date marker III above) the mainline Reilly serial numbers were jumped up 5000 numbers from 3350 to 8350. 8378 is 1st extant mainline SN’d gun with New Oxford St. address; It is a 10 bore SxS perussion Shotgun with J.C. Reilly, 502, New Oxford Street,London, on the rib. "Removed from Holborn" is on the trade lable. Date marker footnote IV.
. . . . . . . . . . --*6a. . 8463 – Nov ‘47 – As confirmation of the above, SN 8463 labeled in late Nov 1847) is a 390 cal SxS percussion 5 groove rifle with “Reilly, New Oxford Street, London;” on the rib. Like 8378, 8463 has a trade label with "J.C. Reilly, removed from Holborn." Date marker footnote IV.
. . . . . -- *7. . . 7201 – Sep ‘47 – The first JC 7000 series with New Oxford St. address is 7201. It is a .577 cal. Single barrel percussion rifle. The trade lable includes "J.C. Reilly, removed from Holborn."
. . . . . -- *8. . 10054 – Sep ‘56 - This is the first SN’d extant Reilly center-break gun made on the Lefaucheaux principle. It is a 15 bore, SxS pin-fire, single bite, forward U-L, break-action gun with Reilly, 502, New Oxford Street, London. On the rib. See Date Marker footnote VI) (Note: This is possibly the oldest extant UK-made center-break gun.). Date Marker footnote VI.
. . . . . -- *9. . . 8186 – Aug ‘57 – Last JC 7000 series extant gun. It is a .650 ca. Minie ball, single-barrel percussion rifle with “Reilly, New Oxford Street, London.” On the rib. It is alo marked “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered), Ceasar’s quote which JC Reilly began to engrave on his 7000 series guns in 1855. Date Marker footnote VII.
. . . . . -- *10. .10782 – Jul ‘58 - - Reilly, New Oxford Street, London. .(not “Reilly & Co.”): 577 cal; Rifle; single barrel, breech loader, hammer gun.31" brls. Frederic Prince patent. Date Marker footnote VIII and IX.
. . . . . . . . . . -- *10a. 10811 – Oct ‘58 - 1st extant SN gun with "Reilly & Co." on rib. Also first Reilly SN’d gun with the Oxford Steet adress. The gun is a .25 bore, single barrel Prince Patent breech-loader hammer gun. See Date Marker footnote VIII and IX.
. . . . . -- *11. .11227 – Sep ‘59 - 1st gun with “E.M. Reilly & Co” on the rib. It is a .577 cal. Enfield 3-band rifle. Date Marker footnote X.
. . . . . -- *12. .11716 – Dec ’60 - Plaque on rifle - presented as a prize Christmas 1860; It is a .577 Enfield rifle. muzzle loader, volunteer rifle with E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford Street, London; on the barrel. It likely was number 3-4 week before presentation. Date Marker footnote XI.
. . . . . -- *13. .12532 – Aug ‘62 – Documented Sep ’62 London exposition gun bought by Prince of Wales. It is a 12 bore SxS, percussion shotgun guilded/gold washed and commented on in the 16 Sep 1862 Bradshaw guide to the fair. The Prince of Wales feather emblem is on the gun. Date Marker footnote XII.
. . . . . -- *14. .13326 – May ’64 – In early Marc ’64 Reilly announced that he had manufacturing rights to the Green Bros. .577 cal. single barrel patent breech loaders in the London press. Per newspaper advertisements he made a number of these guns in May ’64 for the then upcoming trials for a UK interim breech-loader (ultimately won by Snider). 13326 is Pat use #16 with “E.M. Reilly & Co., 502, New Oxford Street, London” on the barrel, certainly made in May 1864.
. . . . . . . . . . -- *14a. 13333 – May ’64 – Green Bros Pat use #23 with “E.M. Reilly & Co., 502, New Oxford Street, London;” on the rib. The guns have consequative Reilly SN’s and Green Bros. pat use numbers.
. . . . . -- *15. .14983 - Mar ‘68 – 1st gun with rue Scribe, Paris address; It is an 8 bore SxS, C-F, U-L hammer gun shotgun with “E.M. Reilly & Co., New Oxford Street, London & 2, rue Scribe, Paris” on the rib. The hammers are unusual. Date Marker footnote XIII.
. . . . . -- *16. .17574 - Oct ‘71 – Rifle presented as a gift with an 1871 plaque, probably fall ‘71. Date Marker footnote XIV
. . . . . -- *17. .23536 – Nov ‘81 - 1st use of renumbered addresses 277, 16 on a gun. This is a 12 ga SxS BLNE shotgun with steel parrels (A&D patent use#3814 with “E.M. Reilly & Co., 277, Oxford Street, London” on the rib. Date Marker footnote XV.
. . . . . -- *18. .27358 – Jul ‘85 – Last extant Reilly with rue Scribe on the rib. 12 bore SXS side-lock, top-lever, extractor shoggu with “E.M. Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London & rue Scribe, Paris” 0n the rib. It has Perkes Pat action use#603 and the Scott Gas Check Pat use#1614. Date Marker footnote XVI
. . . . . -- *19. .32760 – Feb ‘91 – Plaque on gun – “presented on 26 Mar 1891” as a birthday present to a father from his sons. It is a 12 bore SxS top-lever, BLE rifle and was probably ordered six weeks prior to presentation. Date Marker footnote XVII.
. . . . . -- *20. .34723 – Apr ’97 – Last extant Reilly with 16 New Oxford Street address. 12 ga top-lever, hammer-gun SxS shotgun with “E.M Reilly & Co., 16, New Oxford Street, London.” On the rib. See Date Marker footnote XVIII.
. . . . . -- *21. .35386 – Jan ’03 – Believed to be the last extant SN’d gun numbered at 277 Oxford St (the address is not clear). .410 SxS Shotgun. Top lever, Hammer gun. Date Marker footnote XIX
. . . . . -- *22. .35394 – May ‘04 - First SN from 295 Oxford St. .297/.250 Single barrel rook rifle; central hammer, S-L, ejector. with “E.M. Reilly & Co. 295, Oxford Street, London” on the rib. Date Marker footnote XX.
. . . . . -- *23. .35678 – Dec ‘11 - Last extant Reilly, a 12 bore SxS top-lever boxlock shotgun (address unknown). Date Marker footnote XXI
. . . . . -- *24. 128466 – Sep 1922 - 1st known extant Riggs marked SN’d “Reilly,” a 12 bore SxS boxlock shotgun with “E.M. Reilly & Co., London,” on the rib. Date Marker footnote XXIV.
. . . . . -- *25. 150570 – 1950? - Lastt known extant Riggs marked SN’d “Reilly.” It is a 12 gauge BLNE SxS shotgun with “E.M. Reilly & Co., London,” on the rib.
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


. . 4). Sanity Checks: - Checking individual guns to see if they match the dating hypothesis:
. . . . . **1. .7201 – Sep ‘47 – The first JC 7000 series with New Oxford St. address is 7201. It is a .577 cal. Single barrel percussion rifle. The trade lable includes "J.C. Reilly, removed from Holborn."
. . . . . **2. – 1856 production numbers : After his triumph at Paris in 1855 - "all guns were sold and many orders booked." The increase in production by 100 guns for 1856 reflects this.
. . . . . **3. 10655 – Mar ’58 - Early 1858 Reilly pinfire on the Lefaucheux principle numbered shortly before the April “the Field” trials; No one in UK could have made that gun for Reilly other than Lang or possibly Blanch; "The Field" mentioned that fall 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.
. . . . . **4. 10738 – Jun ‘58 - Reilly began making under license Prince Patent breech loaders soon after the Patent was taken out in 1855. Reilly may have been behind a March 1858 letter signed by 12 London gunmakers urging Arsenal to reconsider the Prince. 10738 was serial numbered in summer 1858 - 1st extant Prince Patent gun.
. . . . . **5. 14115 – Mar ‘68 - E.M. Reilly & Co., (address not mentioned). Shotgun SxS; center-fire, U-L, non-rebounding hammer gun; wedgefast forearm; First extant center-break, center-fire shotgun. (In 1866 two patents were issued for centerfire primer shells for shotguns making C-F shotguns practical).
. . . . . **6. 20459 – Jul ‘76 – In summer 1875 UK proofmarks changed to include “not for ball” for a choked shotgun, as a result of Greener’s Spring ’75 demonstration of the concept. Reilly first adversed a choked shotgun in May ’75. The first extant Reilly shotgun with the new markings is 20459, a 16 ga. Shotgun SxS. S-L, hammer gun, marked “E.M. Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London & rue Scribe, Paris” on the rib.
. . . . . **7. 20623 – Dec ’76 - Purdey patent 1104 use #4928, the last Reilly with a Pat 1104 use #. The Purdey patent expired 01 May 1877. (There are later guns with what appears to be the Purdey double-bite system but the Patent use numbers are not mentioned or displayed in photographs)
. . . . . **8. 21839 – Dec ‘78 – Last Reilly with Scott spindle pat 2752, use# 8699; pat expired 25 Oct ‘79. This gun from late Dec '78-early Jan '79 does not have the Purdey Patent 1104 use number. (Purdey double bite patent 1104 and the Scott Spindle patent were often used together.)
. . . . . **9. 22482 – Jan ‘80 - 1st extant Reilly box-lock; Reilly advertised boxlocks in May 1875 but did not really push the genre until 1880. Really did write a blurb on his company in 1885 claiming that beginning in 1880 he strongly promoted boxlocks.
. . . . . **10. 23536 – Nov ‘81 - The address numbers for Oxford Street were rationalized in November 1881 - before that time there were 7 houses on Oxford Street numbered "315." 502 New Oxford Street became "16" - "315" became "277." 23536 according to the chart would have been numbered in Nov '81.
. . . . . **11. 23574 – Dec ‘81 - For the 1882 season 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.
. . . . . **12. 23574 – Dec ‘81 - 1st Reilly gun with a Whitworth Steel barrels. Reilly began to advertise Whitworth barrels in early Jan 1882.
. . . . . **13. 1882 production numbers : In January 1882 Reilly noted in an advertisement that he was selling ready-made guns. At the same time he began for the first time to strongly promote boxlocks patented in 1875 per an article in the UK press. Reilly production jumped from an afterage of 650 a year (for the previous 15 years) to over 1000 a year with no expansion of manufacuring faciities. This likely indicated a change in his business model and his using boxlocks bought in the white from Birmingham and finished in London, as did the entire London trade.
. . . . . **14. 24534 – Nov ‘82 - For the 1883 season 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.
. . . . . **15. 35186 - Jun ’00 - Dated on the chart as 1900; iThis gun has a post-1898 trade label and London 1896-1904 proof marks
. . . . . **16. 35554 – Dec 1907 - 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 spring 1907.
. . . . . **17. 35614 – 1911 - Reilly SxS shotgun built by G&S Holloway with H8113 SN on barrel. The Holloway SN is documented as 1911. Reilly apparently sold off most of his guns in late 1911 due to catastrophic losses at 40% mark-down, which explains the high number of guns sold in 1911. (This gun is so different in styling from other Reilly’s that there may be a questions about its authenticity.)
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


. . 5) ##1 - ##6 - London proofmarks (Diggory Hadoke's chart)
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]


C. =============Dating chart for Reilly Labels==============
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 06/23/24 08:29 PM.

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Really Serial Numbered Martini-Henry. Again this is not to bring back the Reilly line - the history is written; but this gun has just changed that history a bit:

Chapter 53 above on p.94), a chapter on Reilly built Martini-Henry, the final paragraph states this:

"There are many extant Reilly-made sporterized Martini-Henry’s in half a dozen calibers, one being an 8-bore (cal .775) big game gun. Several are pictured.(*53h, *53i, *53j, *53k) He engraved and retailed M-H’s; he may have assembled rifles himself at the 315 Oxford Street manufactuary using actions and barrels sent from elsewhere. Like the other gun makers, however, none of these have Reilly serial numbers. Reilly apparently did not serial number assembled guns."

Well here is a Reilly Martini-Hentry SN 33899. It does NOT have the Martini-Henry patent logo or the traditional Braendlin Armoury Co. crossed pennants roundel (example shown below from another Reilly).

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

I guess once the patent expired (and the question of who held that patent is still up in the air), Reilly did make those guns. This is the first one I've run across; never say never in the gun world:

https://auctions.holtsauctioneers.c...+++736+&refno=++194231&saletype=
GOOD .577-450 (M/H) SINGLE-SHOT SPORTING RIFLE SIGNED E.M. REILLY & CO., serial numbered 33899 and 50951, 
circa 1900, with 28 3/4in. ovoid blued barrel, matted machine engraved flat sighting plane signed 'E.M. REILLY & CO. 277 OXFORD ST. LONDON W.', dove-tailed fore-sight, rear-sight of three folding leaves and one standing notch (originally equipped with an additional ladder now absent), border engraved action with machine engraved panels to both sides, tear-drop cocking indicator and thumb safe to right hand side, Reilly's serial number (33899) to top of wrist, chequered pistol-grip walnut butt-stock with roll-engraved iron heel-plate, finger lever with loop tip, chequered walnut splinter fore-end with moulded horn tip and eyelets for sling 


[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 11/17/23 02:15 PM.

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This is not meant to bring the Reilly line back; The book is still being edited.

However, For the first time in three years a Reilly gun has come to light which required extensive changes in the dating chart on p.57.
https://www.rockislandauction.com/d...raved-e-m-reilly-co-12-bore-double-rifle

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

This is SN 32760 , a 12 bore SxS rifle, top lever, BLE with 28" barrels. It is adorned with a plaque saying it was presented as a birthday present on 26 March 1891. This means it was likely ordered and numbered a couple of months earlier.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

The chart on p.57 had this serial number as being made in 1893. The chart has been updated which required moving a lot of serial numbers backwards in time a couple of years.

This changed a few things, altering the dated serial numbers based on known data points from the July 1885 closure of rue Scribe (last SN 27340) to this March 1991 (32760), up to the May 1897 closure of 16 Oxford street (last SN 34723).
1) Reilly's average production of 1040/50 serial numbered guns a year in the 1880's did not decline until after E.M.'s death in 1890. After his death there was a much steeper descent.
2) It moved several guns serial numbered in the 30300 series which still have the 1887 proof stamp "Not for Ball" (including Terry Lubzinski's Reilly from this board) back to the year 1888, a more understandable date.

These are all educated guesses based on certain "marker" numbers. There are 24 specific datable data points for Reilly serial numbers identified from 1828 to 1912. This becomes one of them. See p.57 footnotes to explain the process.

As more guns come to light, the chart will continue to be refined. (There are currently 575 Reilly guns with serial numbers whose parameters are known in the database, 1.6% of his total output over 90 years. In addition there are about 40 early Reilly's in my database whose serial numbers were not published in the advertisements. Hopefully they'll reappear).

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

Another Reilly has come to light which requires revision of the dating chart. This is SN 17574, with an 1871 dedication plaque on it. My chart puts that SN in the middle of 1872; the chart must be modified:

-- The dating chart needs to gain about numbered 300-400 guns from mid-Feb 1868 opening of Rue Scribe, Paris (1st SN 14983) up to fall 1871 (17574)

-- and lose 300-400 numbered guns from fall 1871 to the next chronological marker in Nov 1881 (1st SN 23536).

-- A couple of "sanity check" guns on the chart will have to be accommodated: For instance 20459 - the first confirmed by photos extant Reilly with "Not for Ball" - is currently dated Jul, 1876. It looks to be staying pretty much in the same date-place and will anchor the analyses.

https://www.rockislandauction.com/d...ble-rifle-of-lawrence-r-jerome-from-1871
Lot 3065: E.M. Reilly & Co. Double Rifle of Lawrence R. Jerome from 1871
Historic Engraved E.M. Reilly & Co. Jones Rotary Underlever Hammer Double Rifle in .500/.450 No. 1 Express Inscribed to Lawrence R. Jerome from his brother Leonard W. Jerome, Grandfather of Winston Churchill, in 1871, the Same Year the Brothers Participated in the Famous "Millionaires Hunt" in the American West with General Sheridan and Buffalo Bill Cody
Auction Date: May 21, 2023
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Winston Churchill's mother Jeanette was of course an American nee "Jerome." Her father Leonard Jerome presented this gun to his brother Lawrence in New York City in 1871. Leonard Jerome was fantastically wealthy. . see profile.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leonard_Jerome

The write-up is very long and mentions that Leonard Jerome had been in Europe as an observer of the Franco-Prussian war. It is quite likely that he bought the rifle later that year from Reilly. It could have been ordered in Paris or London. The gun could not have been a birthday gift to Lawrence. . .he was born Jan 20, 1820. It could have been presented after their return from the Cody guided hunt that summer . .sort of a one-upmanship - "You failed to drop that Bison and lost your horse in the process - so try this one."

Last edited by Argo44; 11/15/23 06:55 PM.

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A Reilly percussion gun is being auctioned tomorrow at wilson55 in UK which is causing some reevaluation including changing the dates on several guns - resolving the "problem" of several "outlier" serial numbers:
https://www.wilson55.com/auction/lo...e-by-side-shotgun/?lot=167136&au=443

REILLY PERCUSSION 10 BORE DOUBLE BARREL SIDE BY SIDE SHOTGUN
Reilly percussion 10 bore double barrel side by side shotgun, probably bored out from a rifle, the 27.5inch broadly patterned Damascus barrels of stout proportions and proofed as a 12 bore, the fine scroll engraved lock, named Reilly, chequered stock with scroll engraved steel furniture and pineapple finial trigger guard.


No SN on the Tang but SN 5759 on the barrel.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

This is the fourth, possibly the fifth Reilly from the 1840's in a hypothetical 4500-5900 series of numbers. These serial numbers cannot be explained very well but cannot be ignored. I wanted to post this in case someone is looking at that gun or has a Reilly that might fall into this series.

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

Here is the current text from the Reilly history edited after the appearance of the above gun:

*14 Hypothetical J.C. "5500" Serial Number series early/mid 1840's:

There are four (possibly five) extant Serial Numbered SxS percussion guns ranging from 5512 to 5991 from apparently the early to mid-1840's which are very similar; It may be that J.C. Reilly had a 5500 serial number series of some sort. If so this would increase the number of guns made from 1840-48 by some 500. if this series were connected to 4573 it would add a good 1,500 guns to the total Reilly made during this period.

It may be that J.C. and E.M. split their gun numbering series around 1840 when E.M. apparently became a full partner (and when the firm began using just "Reilly" in its advertisements) well before the move to Oxford Street, E.M. keeping the main-line series and jumping it to 8350 in 1847 and J.C. numbering guns with the 4500-6000 series and jumping those numbers to the 7000 series in 1846; More guns are needed to establish this point. (There is an upper date limit marker for this "series" - 5991 - which is post March 1847 from the address on the rib. However, there is no lower date marker for the series other than the 316 High Holborn address on the ribs - which could extend back to August 1835.)

. . . -- SN 4573 - c1841, a 7 gauge, smoothbore, short single barrel, dangerous game gun with "J.C. Reilly, 316 High Holborn, London" on the barrel. The gun appears to be from the 1840-1844 timeframe.*13a

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

. . . -- SN 55121843-47?, 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; *14a

. . .-- SN 55801843-47?, 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); *14b

. . .-- SN xxxx1843-47?, 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.” *14c

. . .-- SN yyyy1843-47?, The engraving on 5512 and 5580 also match quite well a 16 bore Reilly SxS percussion shotgun with “Reilly, 316, High Holborn, London” on the rib.*14d

. . .-- SN 57591845-47?, a 10 bore SxS percussion shotgun, serial numbered “5759” on the barrels; no SN on the tang. No address on the flat filed rib; "Reilly" on the action. The seller speculated that the barrels had been rebored from a 12 bore rifle; The barrel is substantial and is stamped "12." The rib possibly was relaid at that time and the scroll guard trigger/pistol grip tang replaced.*14e

. . .-- SN 59911847-48?, a 17 bore SxS percussion rifle, serial numbered “5991” on the barrels. “991” is found on forend stock, hammers and ramrod. “Reilly, New Oxford Street, London” is engraved on the rib; “Reilly, London” on the side plates. The case has a post December 1847 Reilly label pasted over a Lang label from 7 Haymarket Street, from circa 1845-1848. If this serial number is part of the hypotheical “5500” JC series, then it may indicate that the series was continued for some reason into the late 1840’s and used along-side the new “7000” series. *14f

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 05/21/23 10:10 AM.

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This post has been split for academic reasons.. This post deals with 4 "outlier" serial numbers: They may have been rationalized. (Much of this was covered 5 years ago but with less understanding).

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
There are 4 "outlier" SN'S 2008, 3007, 3402, 3514: which analysis may have rationalized; they all appear to possibly have been part of known Reilly serial number chronologies. (And with the addition of 3402 and 3514 to the 1847-48's, this creates an anomaly related to the 3350 series that will require some analysis.)

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2008
This is "Wootang"'s gun.
. . .-- SN 2008 - c1840, a 14 bore SxS muzzle-loader shotgun with "Joseph Charles Reilly, New Oxford Street, London" on the rib and bore size stamped on the barrel. The address would date it between April 1847 to circa September 1857 when J.C. retired; The gun, however, looks to be early 1840's.*13b

This gun originally was tentatively dated to c1854 in the dating chart. It has been moved back to 1840, where this serial number should be, as part of the Reilly main-line serial numbers. The address discrepancy (using New Oxford Street) may be because its barrels were redone and re-engraved by Reilly after 1847. There is precedence for this - see SN 5512.

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3007
Reilly U-L pin-fire 3007; The SN per the chart should be from 1845 but with E.M. Reilly & Co., 315 Oxford Street, London on the rib. I had speculated that it actually might be "13007." However, it has Birmingham proofs on the barrel. It is possible this was an original percussion gun from 1845 updated to pin-fire by Reilly sometime after 315 opened in August 1858. (There is another Reilly percussion gun SN 10354 from 1857 which was converted to an U-L center-break gun in 1878 per documentation). It will be re classified as an 1845 gun.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

http://www.tennants.co.uk/Catalogue/Lots/225065.aspx
A 19th Century 16 Bore Double Barrel Pinfire Shotgun by E.M. Reilly & Co., 315 Oxford Street, London, the 73.5cm browned steel barrel signed on the rib, with Birmingham proof marks and numbered 3007, with signed foliate engraved back action, under-lever break, walnut stock with chequered grip and fore-end


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3402
This is a Terry Buffum gun:
..3402 - E.M. Reilly & Co. Oxford St., London & rue Scribe, Paris. .58 cal. SxS rifle; 4 grove twist. Hammer gun, muzzle loader. (E.M. Reilly label on the original case)

The gun was so odd as to SN and components that it has been ignored up to now. The address is post Feb 1868. But this gun per serial number should have been numbered originally in 1847 as part of the "3350" series. It may have been serviced, or re-engraved post 1868 when the label and address were added. 4 grove rifling in 1868 was not current nor were "scroll guard pistol grips." The Damascus barrel pattern is simple twist which is 1820-1850. The gun now is repositioned on the chart to 1847.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
3514
SN 3514. This is a 13 bore Shotgun SxS; muzzle loader, hammer gun with Reilly, 502, New Oxford Street, London, on the rib. It has an 1856-59 case label and a 13 bore stamp.

The gun was dated on the chart to c1856 only because of the label and called an "outlier." However, it looks like a much earlier gun. I'm inclined now to put it back to 1847-48 and conclude that the 1856 label was added when it was brought in for maintenance in the late 1850's (a look at the label does seem to confirm that it was changed). This would indicate that EM Reilly continued occasionally to use the "3350" series numbers after the jump to 8350 in 1847. I've moved it from 1856 back to 1848. (Note: the use of "502" rather than just "New Oxford Street" did not appear on other extant Reilly's until about 1853. But nothing is absolute about the gun industry.

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 05/06/23 08:04 PM.

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Chapter *32: August 1858: Opening of 315 Oxford-Street - New Label & Chapter *33: The Shooting Gallery at 315 Oxford Street have been changed courtesy of Stephen Nash. Steve noticed this 08 Dec 1855 advertisement in "The Field":

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

315a Oxford Street is indeed the Reilly workshop which opened in August 1858 with a "50 yard" shooting gallery. Evidently Reilly with new partners (unknown) bought out Williams Squires and kept the galleries opened. The history has been modified to give Squires credit for creating the shooting galleries.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Steve got this from the IGC database on William Squires: "In 1854 William Squires opened as a gun maker at 315a Oxford Street. Reportedly, between 1858 and 1860 he moved out of London to Croydon, Surrey, where he set up in business in Church Road, but this is unlikely because he was recorded in the 1861 census living at 6 Great Titchfield Street, Marylebone, with his wife, Katherina E (b.1829 in Rotherhithe) and Sarah A, Edith M (b.1853 in Stepney), Emma A (b.1855 in Marylebone), Mary C (b.1851 in Marylebone) and Amy H (b.1859 in Marylebone). He appears to have closed in 1863."

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Chapter *94: Charles Riggs era, August 1922-1950?: has been greatly changed with a lot more information on Charles Riggs and his activities.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 08/26/23 08:05 PM.

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