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Early English Trade Gun and Carolina Gun the Same Thing?

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DavidB1757

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Early English Trade Guns and Carolina Guns the Same Thing? Or very close to the same thing? If not, what are the differences? This question may have already been answered here somewhere but I cannot find it. Thanks
 

DavidB1757

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Also, would these have been common during the Revolutionary War?
 

tenngun

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Can’t say.
It seems Carolina guns were mostly south. Trades to the Cherokee and other south east tribes into Alabama, Spanish Florida, and Tennessee. Where as in the north the English tried to imitate the French trade guns. So the early NWG looked more like an FDC with the Dutch sea serpent side plate
But that’s just how it looks to me
 

DavidB1757

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What made me wonder was the claysmithguns website page on "Trade Guns" has a Carolina trade gun and also an Early English. Other than the paint I can't tell a difference between the two. Both also have the serpent side plate. All his guns are made from originals aren't they?
 

Trot

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Definitely talk to Clay, but I can see several differences. The serpent sideplates are different, they definitely have different lines if you look closely. The Carolina gun also has a longer barrel.
 

Loyalist Dave

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Early English Trade Guns and Carolina Guns the Same Thing? Or very close to the same thing? If not, what are the differences?
You're correct in that at a glance, you are simply holding a trade gun, however, since Mr. Smith bases his on actual examples, there are differences that you find...,

Barrel length is longer on some of the trade guns,
The Early English Trade Gun circa 1740 has a lock with a bridled frizzen, while the others do not...,
The presence of a thumb escutcheon (the inletted metal piece in the stock between the tang and the stock-comb) is not on every gun...,
The presence of band reenforcing the nose of the stock near the muzzle of the gun, as well as other hardware differences...
And of course how the stock is finished

Also, would these have been common during the Revolutionary War?
Unfortunately, you have to be much more specific in your question, and because we keep finding out more and more about the time period, the answer may change....

So YES trade guns were inexpensive and thus would've been considered "common" enough, BUT...,

Where is the owner living? It's my understanding that the trade guns painted blue are a Virginia and North Carolina thing, hence the name "Carolina Gun"...

IF you're talking Maryland, probably not, as Maryland was one of the few colonies that maintained colonial armories with lots of muskets, and bought more just a decade or so before the AWI...

Pennsylvania, being founded as a "Quaker" colony was the only colony that didn't have a militia law, so there was no requirement for the male population to own a gun, so maybe not so common in PA, BUT...,

George Morgan in 1760 at his trading post in Kaskaskia [in Illinois these days] sold trade guns, but which type? Morgan ordered his guns through partners based in Philadelphia PA, so ooops while PA didn't have a requirement for the male population to own a gun for militia use, PA did have a large seaport and imported a lot of gun and rifle parts, and finished product...

So again it's tough to answer all the questions. I can say though that IF you dropped the coin on a Clay Smith gun, you'd likely keep it for your lifetime.

LD
 

plmeek

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As Rich Pierce, tenngun, Loyalist Dave, and others have pointed out, an "English trade gun" is a generic term while a "Type G" or "Carolina" trade gun are specific patterns of trade gun.

T. M. Hamilton was a recognized expert in archeological gun parts in his day even though he was not educated as an archeologist. He wrote a number of books and articles on Indian trade guns during the Colonial Period. He studied collections of archeological gun parts across the country and came up with an identification and classification system for the different types he saw. In his book, Early Indian Trade Guns: 1625-1775, he describes 18 different trade guns and labeled them by letters from Type A through Type R. Most people are only familiar with his Type C, Type D, (both French guns) and his Type G (English).

Some of Hamilton's types very only in the details of some of the gun parts. Most people would not notice the differences between his Type G and Type Q, for instance. Many of Hamilton's types are identified only by parts from archeological sites with no known surviving complete guns.

Not all guns with "serpent" style side plates are Indian trade guns, by the way. Serpent and dragon side plates were frequently used on military and civilian arms not intended for the Indian trade.

Some of the guns listed for Indian trade are simply identified in period documents as "fowling pieces" and may have been the same guns that were also sold in the civilian market.

The side plate on the gun Clay Smith calls English Trade Gun circa 1740 is not one of Hamilton's types, suggesting that it isn't found in the archeological record. That side plate probably can be found on surviving fowling pieces (it looks familiar to me but I would have to search my references to see if I could find and example), but I'm not sure it typifies a trade gun. Since Clay uses a generic term for its name, it may be a combination of types that he has made into a single gun.
 

DavidB1757

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I really appreciate all of these responses. Very informative. So an early English trade gun circa 1740-60 could have been used in the French and Indian war carried by either Indians or colonial militia and could also have been used in the Revolutionary war by regular colonists, militia or even farmers/hunters? Given that there were so many English trade guns made, I wonder which would have been more common, a fowler or a trade gun? I read a lot about fowlers in the revolutionary war but not so much about trade guns.
Thanks again for the detailed responses.
 

brazosland

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Another question is whether any white would be caught dead with one of these guns intended for the Indian trade. Like driving a Kia...maybe worse.

I’m sure some ended up in the hands of folks on the frontier if they were taken from dead Indian raiders. Turned to barn guns perhaps.

Folks were very particular then about things we would find inconsequential. Using one of those guns may have just been “not done, old boy.”
 

rich pierce

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Clay’s site indicates he makes many of these trade guns stocked in maple. Beech was common on Carolina guns and walnut was used on just about everything else. Maple was used rarely or never to stock English or French trade guns. When buying a custom gun, it’s helpful to sort out how “correct” you want to be. Clay’s guns are great- I’m not knocking his work.
 

tenngun

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Another question is whether any white would be caught dead with one of these guns intended for the Indian trade. Like driving a Kia...maybe worse.

I’m sure some ended up in the hands of folks on the frontier if they were taken from dead Indian raiders. Turned to barn guns perhaps.

Folks were very particular then about things we would find inconsequential. Using one of those guns may have just been “not done, old boy.”
French tended to supply guns to colonials from the same sources they used for trade guns. So a French cour de bois, or a farmer at one of the far flung forts would likely have the same arms the Indians were getting.
Cheap fowlers were made for British colonials from the UK and often the Dutch. Such guns were no better quality then trade guns, but not trade guns, and then only snob factor was between them.
However a man could get caught and lose his gun in the frontier for some reason. And the only gun he could get his hands on was a trade gun.
Some years later Glass is thought to have carried a NWG for some time after his bear encounter. And there is the recording of the creole on the frontier reaching for a NWG first.
Given the volume of trade guns that came in to the Americas it’s hard to not see some in the hands of British/ American whites. Tecumseh did trade his NWG for a rifle. And several government made trade rifles in the pre 1821 times and trade rifles made post that time were used by whites.
 

Notchy Bob

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I think the "Carolina Guns" are one type of early English trade gun. There is a really good overview of these by Lee Burke in the American Society of Arms Collectors Bulletin 65: pp. 2-16 : 18th Century English Trade Guns - "Carolina Guns"

For many people, "trade gun" means "Northwest gun." It is clear from your post that you know the difference, but just for comparison, here is another bulletin article, by Charles Hanson, that discusses the role of Northwest guns in the Indian trade, although he did not make the distinction clear in the title of his presentation: Indian Trade Guns

While browsing through the bulletins this morning, I found another, more recent title that may be of interest. I haven't even had time to read it yet: Indian Trade Guns: A Brief History, by William Reid.

One of the most prolific of the early English makers of trade guns was Wilson, a multi-generational family of gunmakers. You may find some information of interest here: The Wilsons: Gunmakers to Empire, by DeWitt Bailey. There was one very important 18th century English trade gun, known to collectors as the "O'Connor Gun," which was made by Richard Wilson. Most of the Carolina guns had engraved flat brass "serpent" sideplates, but this one had a cast brass sideplate similar to those used on Northwest guns. The O'Connor gun also had more of a French pied de vache styling in the buttstock. This interesting musket was described in detail in T.M. Hamilton's Colonial Frontier Guns, which I believe is still in print. Most of Hamilton's earlier works are no longer in publication, but you may find used copies for sale.

I think Danny Caywood used the O'Connor gun as the inspiration for his Wilson Chief's Gun. Here are a couple of pictures of it from the Caywood website:

Caywood Wilson 1.1.jpg


Caywood Wilson 1.2.jpg


Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

Capt. Jas.

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Also... don't assume when seeing "trade gun" that is was just for the Indian trade. Trading guns, although some were made according to specific order requirements for the Indian trade were the single shot break actions and 870 expresses of the day and available at stores for sale.
 

DavidB1757

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Thanks Notchy Bob a lot! That's a bunch of great information on these guns. I've also been looking for that old map where Tennessee used to be part of North Carolina.
 

Artificer

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I really appreciate all of these responses. Very informative. So an early English trade gun circa 1740-60 could have been used in the French and Indian war carried by either Indians or colonial militia and could also have been used in the Revolutionary war by regular colonists, militia or even farmers/hunters? Given that there were so many English trade guns made, I wonder which would have been more common, a fowler or a trade gun? I read a lot about fowlers in the revolutionary war but not so much about trade guns.
Thanks again for the detailed responses.
If you haven't seen this, I think you may like it.
Hunting Guns in Colonial America (ladybemused.com)

Gus
 

Nameless Hunter

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plmeek

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So an early English trade gun circa 1740-60 could have been used in the French and Indian war carried by either Indians or colonial militia and could also have been used in the Revolutionary war by regular colonists, militia or even farmers/hunters?
It is difficult and dangerous to make generalized statements such as those above. There is no question that Indians were allied with the combatants in the F&I War and the AWI, and they would have used trade guns. There were colonists that sometimes led but often accompanied Indians on raids. Whether these colonists used trade guns, civilian guns, or military guns probably can't be proven. The same for militia. Many colonies required male citizens to be part of the militia and to provide their own arms. Some may have owned trade guns because they were inexpensive and commonly available. There really wasn't much, if any, difference in quality between an Indian trade gun and a low end civilian fowling piece.

Below is a photo of four contemporary guns made by Jack Brooks. These guns illustrate that most trade guns (the NW trade gun is the exception) were simply inexpensive versions of civilian fowling pieces.

At the top is Jack's interpretation of a high end English fowling piece. It is silver mounted and engraved with patterns and styles inspired by guns pictured in Great British Gunmakers 1740-1790 by W. Keith Neal & D. H. L. Back. It has a hook breech and keys instead of pins. The barrel is temper or fire blued.

Below it is another gun that Jack made for a good friend to represent a mid-grade English fowling piece mounted in brass without the hooked breech. The barrel was polished bright and is pinned in the stock. This gun is fitted with a sling and engraved with dates and locations that represent activities and engagements of the customer's 4th-great grandfather experiences during the Rev War. Essentially, it represents a fowler/musket.

The third and forth guns from the top are Jack's versions of the Type G trade gun. The third down has been painted red and decorated with folk art designs that Jack copied from a F&I War era powder horn. It represents a Type G that might have been carried by a colonial trader or frontiersman that personalized his gun with his own decorations.

The bottom gun is a Type G painted with vines such as those on the Bumford gun.

All of these guns are based on the work of Richard Wilson and his firm and utilize the same architecture and barrel dimensions. The locks vary to represent varying quality. The high end gun has Chambers lock with bridles on the tumbler and frizzen. The mid-grade fowler has a lock with a bridle on the tumbler only. The Type G trade gun has neither tumbler or frizzen bridle. On the originals the quality of the barrels would vary too and obviously the mounts reflect the quality of the guns from sliver to cast brass to wrought sheet brass mounts. The quality of the thumb pieces and engraving also varies.

IMG_6992_1800.jpg



DavidB1757, you started out asking about the Carolina or Type G trade gun and early English trade guns from Clay Smith's website. I assume your question about trade guns used during the Rev War still pertains to the Type G. The answer is not particularly clear or is a matter of interpretation.

Below is a map of historical sites from the Lee Burke paper that Notchy Bob linked above in Post #13 showing where Type G gun parts have been found. These archeology sites primarily date well before the Revolutionary War. The exception that Burke pointed out is the Spanish Fort site along the Red River in Texas and Oklahoma labeled 12 on the map.
Lee Burke Map of Archeological Sites.jpg


The Spanish Fort site is thought to have been occupied by a group of Wichita Indians called Taovayas from the 1750s and into the 1800s. French and English gun parts have been found at the site. Of the English gun parts, both the Type G and Northwest trade gun parts were found. It should be pointed out that these gun parts were primarily surface finds.

The long period of occupancy and the surface finds makes it very difficult to conclusively date all the gun parts.

Lee Burke chose to interpret both the Type G and NW gun parts as introduced by English traders known to be in the area as early as 1772 and possibly as late as 1785. So Lee Burke sees the Type G trade gun still being made at the time of the Rev War.

But there are other possible interpretations. Early French explorers on the Lower Mississippi reported seeing Indians with guns. Guns that were most likely English that came all the way across from the East Coast.

The Indians had extensive trade networks going back thousands of years. Indians that had direct contact with European goods often acted as middlemen that traded the goods on to more remote tribes. These in turn would trade with tribes even further away.

So it is plausible that the Type G parts found at the Spanish Fort site date to the mid-1700s consistent with the other sites on Burke's map.

Under that interpretation, and consistent with the other archeological data for the Type G's which indicates the it was made from about the beginning of the 18th century to about the 1750s, then one wouldn't expect very many Type G trade guns to still be functional enough to be used in the Rev War.
 

Brokennock

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I was hoping someone would post that map, and the source of it.

I could be wrong, and it could be too broad a generalization, but, my impression has been that the Type-G predates the "Northwest," but that there is some overlap as the "Northwest" takes over and the Type-G phases out.

I've often wondered if the Type-G phases out and the Northwest takes over, and does so North and West of the bulk of the Type-G territory, as rifles become more predominant in the area of the Type-G and rifles are later to take hold in the areas dominated by the Northwest gun?
 
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