• This community needs YOUR help today. We rely 100% on Supporting Memberships to fund our efforts. With the ever increasing fees of everything, we need help. We need more Supporting Members, today. Please invest back into this community. I will ship a few decals too in addition to all the account perks you get.

    Sign up here: https://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/account/upgrades
  • Friends, our 2nd Amendment rights are always under attack and the NRA has been a constant for decades in helping fight that fight.

    We have partnered with the NRA to offer you a discount on membership and Muzzleloading Forum gets a small percentage too of each membership, so you are supporting both the NRA and us.

    Use this link to sign up please; https://membership.nra.org/recruiters/join/XR045103

“MARKINGS” on Trade Guns

Muzzleloading Forum

Help Support Muzzleloading Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

1813, 1814, 1815, 1816​

This is just a very small part of the details available on the contractors and the numbers of firearms supplied in a few years as shown, good example of arms being supplied.

The Administration of Indian Gifts was handled by the BOARD OF TRADE during the first half of the 18th century and customary for the BOARD OF ORDNANCE to supply the firearms, gunpowder and lead, all included in those gifts. This practice stopped in 1753. For what reason it's not clear when reading supply lists. From this period, on the BOARD OF TRADE furnished the orders for arms and chose who was to build them. In 1755, the contractor of choice was Richard Wilson of Minories, London. Wilson and his son, William continued to supply arms for the North American Indian trade well into the mid 1790's.

A large number of the English guns came from Birmingham, England . Even though showing the LONDON stamp on the barrel, the trade of arms was not only to North America but Africa , India and several South American countries as well. One report claimed that Birmingham had 51 firms operating in gun related business' in 1777. If true, this would have had to have been the center of manufacturing for the Northwest guns. One reason of their success over the gun business of London was the natural resource of coal, timber, other raw materials and a large number of craftsmen from the family production lines making the various parts needed. Names such as Barnett, Chance, Grice, Sharpe, Whateley to name a few of the larger, better known firms. One reason the parts of their individual arms look like copies of each other. There's a good chance that a family could have been supplying several makers the same parts.

For example one group of "sawyers" produced the material for the stocks, while another group made locks and so on, with the arms manufacturer assembling the complete unit. The end result was an inexpensive weapon built in a short amount of time.

For a more detailed look at the numbers of arms, inspection marks and people involved in the supply of guns to the American Indian Trade see an excellent article written by DeWitt Bailey, THOSE BOARD OF ORDNANCE INDIAN GUNS-AGAIN, Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly, (DeWitt 17).

Also see GUN COLLECTOR'S GUIDE by Martin Rywell, for good drawings of the different proof marks and seals used by several countries.
Proof marks are found on the barrels stamped by ORDNANCE Storekeeper's and also Government Ownership markings on the locks and stocks. This method was used with all the contractors furnishing firearms. The Sitting Fox was found on the locks, but I have seen a few on the barrels and the Ordnance Crowns are found on the barrels, sometimes on the locks too. For more details, see the Museum of the Fur Trade and their firearms.

Here are proof marks of the different government contracts that had NW Gun contracts. Some are similar in shape, size and style. Others display the "Crowned Broad Arrow" (Ordnance approval mark) of contracted military and Indian arms associated with the civilian "Northwest" guns.









Shown below are a number of proof marks of different government contracts. Not all of these countries had NW Gun contracts, but did have military contracts per the author. Note how some are similar in shape, size and style. Many show the "Crowned Broad Arrow" (Ordnance approval mark) for contracted military and Indian arms associated with the civilian "Northwest" guns.

by Martin Rywell  


by Charles E. Hanson, Jr.​

Shown below are several proof marks of different Birmingham, London and Belgian contracts, some are similar in shape, size and style, some show the "Crowned Broad Arrow" (Ordnance approval mark) for contracted military and Indian arms associated with the civilian "Northwest" guns. 








The “SITTING FOX” logo.

Shown below are several different logos use on the Birmingham, London, Spanish and Belgian guns, similar in style for use on Indian arms associated with the civilian "Northwest" guns.


Here is the “big headed fox” associated with the North West Company. This is the earlier version of the normally seen “sitting fox in a circle”, with the later version shown below.



The “tombstone fox” associated with the Hudson’s Bay Company is shown above. While the “tombstone fox” shown below is believed to be associated with the John Jacob Astor guns. Note the fox is facing the other direction not like the “fox in the circle” stamping.


I have looked at dozens of examples without really being clear as to what the correct lettering is - “EB” or “PB”, (other than the “IA” designation being tied to Astor, was told it stood for [ IA ] “Inspected for Astor”).
The “EB” is believed to stand for Edward Bond the inspector for the Hudson’s Bay Company. He was a “viewer” that applied this stamp after his acceptance of the product, employed from 1771 until 1789 or 1790. He was succeeded by Phillip Bond with his employment as the official viewer of HBC guns until 1815. In later years, the second Edward Bond appears in company records as holding this position along with the firm of E. & W. Bond seen active in 1866 and 1867.
I was shown a few Barnett guns with 1805-1810 stamped dates on the tail of the locks and bearing the “tombstone fox” markings. My Sharpe flint gun with a date of 1816 on its lock has this. Yet both makers do not appear before or until 1820 in the HBC suppliers list. Hanson suggested that these guns may have been marked by a London viewer for the Northwest Company or the guns may have been trial arms for the HBC, or made for the Mackinaw Company, Southwest Company. He really didn’t know - just an educated guess.
Charles shared with me years ago information he had found from HBC records in London confirming the firm of E. & W. Bond being active in the 1850’s. The following letter to the Secretary of the Hudson’s Bay Company, is dated July 15, 1854:

Having been directed by you not to receive any more North West Guns at present from Messers E. Brooks & Sons of Birmingham, we think it right to inform you that nearly all the Guns necessary to complete their order, are marked upon the Barrels & Locks with the stamp of the Honorable Hudson’s Bay Company.
  The Barrels and Locks being viewed & marked in the rough state, before the Gun is commenced, this was necessarily done before we received yr. instructions.
We therefore beg you will be pleased to communicate this information to the Governor & Committee, in order that we may know if it is their wish that we should take any steps for having said marks canceled.

The Bond firm was located at 45, Cornhill, London. Later moving to Leadenhall Street , London and found in the 1870’s at Hooper’s Square, Goodman’s Fields, London , E. The name Bond has appeared as the “viewer” for HBC guns for over a century in that company’s records.
Now, lets add more confusion to the “sitting fox” viewer mark. In the book “The Northwest Gun” by Charles E. Hanson, Jr. he writes of more lettering under the “tombstone sitting fox” plaque.

The tombstone plaque also appears on Leman Northwest guns with “PA” substituted for “EB”. On English-made American Fur Company guns and on the Belgian “spurious name” imitations, the tombstone plaque and letters “IA” are used. In this case, the writer’s theory is the “IA” was originally selected for Jacob Astor - I and J being used interchangeably in sculpture and engraving years ago.

The discussion on these markings, who’s marks are what firms, direction the fox is facing, tail up or down, (which is the oldest), the locations of the “sitting fox” on the barrel, lock or stock and what dates this practice was being used, a book could be written on just this one issue alone on the NW trade gun. For those wishing more in-depth information on the “sitting fox”, see “The Northwest Gun” by Mr. Hanson. For me to repeat everything he has written would be wasting your time and taking away from his tireless research.


o Now here’s an interesting side note on the trade of guns and their use in other parts of the world: Example the country of India and “The East India Company”; same trade guns as those in North America, same makers from England, Spain and Beligium, only the “sitting fox” changes to an “elephant” or another animal stamped (depending on the company and country involved) under the flintlock’s pan or percussion cap’s drum and on the barrel.

After seeing an “East India Company” trade gun I had to purchase one of these guns (trouble with being a collector, having to have everything related to your collection). I found that the same trade was going on with these makers - English, Spanish and Dutch in other markets (countries) all over the world. For some reason we have been led to think that we in North America were the only place this style of trade gun was used or traded for by some of the writers of today, which was found to be not correct.
Bailey, DeWitt,“THOSE BOARD OF ORDNANCE INDIAN GUNS-AGAIN!” The Museum of the Fur Trade Quarterly, Spring 1985. 1 -20.
Blackmore, Howard L., “GUNMAKERS OF LONDON 1350 -1850”. York , PA , 1986. 126 -127.
Bailey, DeWitt and Nie, Douglas, “ENGLISH GUNMAKERS. LONDON ”, 1978. 43.
Rywell, Martin, “GUN COLLECTOR'S GUIDE”. 1961 -1962 Edition, Pioneer Press. Harriman , Tennessee .
Hanson, Jr., Charles E., "The Northwest Gun", Lincoln , NE : Nebraska State Historical Society, 1955.

Thanks Buck. Sure is fun having you on the board! :hatsoff:
Pichou said:

Thanks Buck. Sure is fun having you on the board! :hatsoff:

Yep, it's good to have someone posting with the depth of information gleaned from solid research that Buck has done. While it's a little late for my primary period of interest, it's still Good stuff.

God bless
Pichou said:
Thanks Buck. Sure is fun having you on the board! :hatsoff:

Pichou I'm enjoying trying to answer questions & sharing what I have learned with my research. Seems when you hang with a group of guys with the same interests you get in a mindset or something & don't see what others see or question. In just a few short days you guys have come up with some really good replies on the various subjects.

Heres an example on the tradeguns, we are reading, visiting different collections, writing back & forth on the guns. I'm gathering information, researching on anything connected with the trade in North America.

Then I see a gun advertised by a dealer as an "India Trade Gun". The pictures look like one of ours, the price is $775.00 with a 3 day inspection period. Call Hanson, he says buy, lets see what it is??? Receive the gun its in very bad condition, butt is rotted away from sitting on the ground, totally covered in rust. We take a bunch of pictures and return to dealer for refund, that went well.

This was the only really neat part on the gun look at the pictures, instead of a sitting fox its an ELEPHANT?






This is the rubbing with white chaulk.

:youcrazy: :shocked2: :hmm:​