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Old family gun...ID help requested

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ae48

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This is an old gun that my grandmother (born in 1916) says belonged to her grandfather in the 1800's in Indiana. There are no obvious marks/words inscribed on it. She doesn't know how he got it, but she thinks that the end of the muzzle was sawed off, and may have been even longer. She or someone once told me that it may have been a flintlock, converted to use percussion caps. Any help with identifying its make and year is appreciated.
 

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hawkeye2

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It was never a flintlock. An approximate date for it would be 1840 to 1860. It looks like it is in very good shape and I would consider shooting it (after a competent individual inspects it). It doesn't look like it was cut down but some photos of the muzzle area would help. Personally I don't believe it has been shortened based on the full length photo.
 

Phil Coffins

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I agree it is a nice piece from the mid to late 1800s and could of been made in the US or Europe. If an import there should be proof makers on the barrel.
Have you checked if it is loaded? They often are.
 

ae48

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It was never a flintlock. An approximate date for it would be 1840 to 1860. It looks like it is in very good shape and I would consider shooting it (after a competent individual inspects it). It doesn't look like it was cut down but some photos of the muzzle area would help. Personally I don't believe it has been shortened based on the full length photo.
 

ae48

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Thanks to all of you for your opinions...very helpful. I just dug up an old letter from my Grandmother, explaining that the rifle has been in our family for 8 generations...she also says: "The gun was sent from France to be used by Americans in the Revolutionary War, but it was not used in that war, but was used in the War of 1812" Is it possible that it was made in the 1700's? I remember someone once commenting that there may be no proof marks on it because the French were trying to support the revolutionary cause without identifying their guns to the English...not sure if that's accurate.
 

Heelerau

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Funny how old family stories go, its mid to later 19th century, it was always a percussion single barrel shotgun. It is a nice serviceable piece, and as has been suggested, do check to see if it is loaded. It might be made in Belgium, it could be American, you would need to remove the barrel and have someone look for any marks stamped, proof etc. It is far to late to have been involved in your Revolutionary war. Makes me wonder if there might have been another old gun in the family, now lost or gone to another distant part of the family that might have been the original candidate for this family tale, meaning there is a basis to the story, just attached to the wrong gun
 

Rudyard

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Whatever its origin and ide bet its Belgium of maybe Birmingham circa 1900 more than 1800 .No way could it fit the story . its not a' rifle', its just an inexpensive import gun of no pretensions but appears to look in fair condition . But it illustrates the way such items get romanticized.
.Rudyard
 

ae48

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Funny how old family stories go, its mid to later 19th century, it was always a percussion single barrel shotgun. It is a nice serviceable piece, and as has been suggested, do check to see if it is loaded. It might be made in Belgium, it could be American, you would need to remove the barrel and have someone look for any marks stamped, proof etc. It is far to late to have been involved in your Revolutionary war. Makes me wonder if there might have been another old gun in the family, now lost or gone to another distant part of the family that might have been the original candidate for this family tale, meaning there is a basis to the story, just attached to the wrong gun
Thanks much! Very helpful, as I know next to nothing about these old firearms. I may take it to a professional, and won't try to fire it. Good to know for now that its 19th century....maybe, as you say, the story my grandmother is thinking about is about another gun. All the best,
 

ae48

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Whatever its origin and ide bet its Belgium of maybe Birmingham circa 1900 more than 1800 .No way could it fit the story . its not a' rifle', its just an inexpensive import gun of no pretensions but appears to look in fair condition . But it illustrates the way such items get romanticized.
.Rudyard
Hi Rudyard, thanks much! Yes, these family stories are hard to verify, but at least I know a little more now. Very interesting that it may be from Belgium...I may look into that some more. All the best,
 

troy2000

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My great grandfather had a collection of old family guns, according to my dad. My grandfather inherited them, and during the Great Depression on top of two failed harvests, they disappeared off the wall one by one...
 

Rudyard

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Dear ae48 . Thank you for your kind reply I fear I wasn't as diplomatic as Heelerau. If you take the ramrod out or a similar long stick and put it down the barrel withdraw it then put it alongside the barrel you will see where to bottom is if its just an 1" or so that's just the breech plug . If it sticks out about 2" or more that suggests a load still in it. But it could be no more than paper or whatever some child pushed down years ago .(I had one had Scottish news paper of 1900 period). Most owners of muzzle loaders will likley have some sort of rod with a corkscrew like worm on the end to pull out such items if you can blow down the barrel & air comes out then its empty ( Since it hasn't gone off in all those years it isn't likley to go of by blowing down it ) There might just be a ' worm' on the rod that's in it it will look like a thin brass tip but there might if original be a screw off cap that covers the worm so that the owner can draw out the waddings ect if there are any . Avoid any' Modern ' gunsmith. If you Google up National muzzle loading rifle Association they should be able to tell you of an area rep who would be sure to understand such matters . .Where abouts are you ?I could send you the area reps contacts .
Regards Rudyard
 

TFoley

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I had one had Scottish news paper of 1900 period).
Beat ya!!! We had a half page of text from an unknown newspaper showing the date in 1897 - celebrating Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee. The gun containing it, and a decent load of black powder, had been on the wall of a local pub in much more than living memory, as a photo from 1911 clearly showed. We reloaded it, capped it off, and fired it, as indeed it should have been fired - in the air!
 
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I can think of several stories surrounding several rifles made by my 4th GGF that are simply not true - but the stories get told and sent dow. through generations and as soon as you get to a few verified facts and hard dates the stories don't add up.
One such story is that my 4th GGF made the rifle that fired the first shot at the battle King's Mountain.
He wasn't born until 1783!!!
But the family who owned the rifle (signed by him so it was post 1800) had the barrel heavily engraved on the top flat pronouncing it as the rifle that fired the first shot.
Enough to make me vomit.
My aunts still believe the myth that that bloodline is from 'Dutch Holland' - because of the family oral history. They were German, from Darmstadt and sailed OUT OF Holland (documented).
BUT THE FAMILY said....
 

oldwood

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L and R makes a fine back action percussion lock w/ fly in the tumbler. Back in the 70's , repaired an original late back action target rifle from perhaps the Pgh. , Pa.school rifle building . Was .40 cal. half stock gun in near perfect condition. All I fixed on it was the set trigger mortise needed shimmed , due to wood shrinkage. Couldn't bring myself to shoot it 'cause it wasn't mine.. ........oldwood
 

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