Rich Hollis & Sons Shotgun, English Made

Discussion in 'Smoothbore' started by B Tom, Jun 30, 2019.

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  1. Jun 30, 2019 #1

    B Tom

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    Is anyone familiar with the smoothbore black powder shotgun I inherited (photos attached). It was manufactured in Birmingham England probably between 1832 - 1840. It has Rich Hollis & Sons engravings on lock plate with no model #. Bore ID is approximately 0.678 to 0.688", and bore wall thickness approximately 0.074". I originally thought it was a 16-gauge shotgun, but based on bore diameter it may be a non-standard 15 or 14 gauge. Overall length is 48" and barrel length is 32.5" (includes a 12" octagon barrel at breech section). I'd like to hear on historical facts about this gun, and, if anyone has actually shot with one I'd like to know what black powder grade is used, black powder load, shot size/type and shot oz weight. Also any advise on how to to properly load it with wads & cards. The percussion nipple looks like a #11, but definitely an unknown non-standard type (I guess English type design with too much taper at the cone). Cone tapers down to a length of about 0.335" with a final cone diameter of about 0.218". The cone top is approximately 0.165" diameter with a hole measuring 0.079". The thread journal length is about 0.203" and thread diameter about 0.235", with about 26 threads per inch (it actually seems like a metric type of 6mm-1 thread, so I am not sure if this is usual for an English made gun). In fact, I am not sure the nipple is an original. So, any and all feedback would be appreciated.
     

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  2. Jul 1, 2019 #2

    Artificer

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    "Indenture of mortgage from Thomas Baker of Birmingham, gent., by the direction of John Britten of Birmingham, button burnisher, to Richard Hollis of Birmingham, gun maker, of leasehold land and premises in Church Street. 22 June 1830
    Birmingham City Archives MS 3375/408469"

    and

    From Bill Curtisra
    "Richard Hollis (1817-1831 then '& Son' until 1840). Gun and Pistol maker, 40 Loveday Street, Birmingham 1817/32 then Staniforth Street to 1840."

    Your fowler appears to be an inexpensive yet "workmanlike made" gun and probably "made for the trade."

    I don't have a chart for cap sizes, but there were a number of sizes available in this period and some that fell out of use. The 26 Thread Per Inch size Nipple threads were quite common both in the UK and here in America during the period, though the nipple does appear to be original and locally made for the gun.

    Gus

    P.S. Due to the age of the gun, I have to recommend it being gone over by a competent gunsmith before you fire it for safety and I would personally lash it to an old tire and use a very long pull string on the trigger to fire the first couple of shots.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2019
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  3. Jul 1, 2019 #3

    B Tom

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    Thank you Gus. This is a good start. I am in no hurry to try out the gun, and only if it is safe to do so (I will definitely stand behind a tree when I pull the string). When I get the technical aid on how to properly load the gun, I will need to see if I can find a nipple with the same thread size as the original however using a real #11 cap, or possibly musket cap. Do you imply the gun was probably built for the North American beaver trade?
     
  4. Jul 1, 2019 #4

    dave_person

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    Hi B Tom,
    No, Gus likely is not referring to the beaver trade but guns made in England for trade and export, often to retail merchants and hardware stores in many countries including the US. It also could be what one of our British friends describes as an ironmonger's gun. Guns sold in hardware stores within the UK.

    dave
     
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  5. Jul 1, 2019 #5

    TFoley

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    With the nipples being of that inordinate length, the caps are more likely to be of the Joyce style than anything you'd encounter easily these days. Fer'instance, #26 Joyce caps were used on the Colt Walker revolvers made and sold by Colt's Blackpowder firearms in the early '80s - the so-called Second generation model. I changed the nipples out for long #11 style, due to the difficulty of getting hold of the very long Joyce-style caps, although I had an original tinful. Also, please note, British-made guns, and by that I mean guns made in England, Scotland and Ireland, then AND now, do NOT use any kind of metric thread. Metric threads are furrin', and only the Frogs etc. would use such a thing as the Metric system.

    It's simply NOT the done thing, Sirrah.
     
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  6. Jul 1, 2019 #6

    Tom Compton

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    Track o’ The Wolf carries cards and wads for 14 bore. Mine has British proofs 1856-1860. 11, 13, 14 and 15 bores were pretty common in that time period. Tho the tubes may be long, if the taper is right they’ll work just fine. Mine are 1/4-28.
     
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  7. Jul 1, 2019 #7

    B Tom

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    Interesting. Sounds like the gun was one of those types sold as a low cost general purpose shotgun for the local poor farmer or regular guy to rid of vermin or hunt small game.
     
  8. Jul 2, 2019 #8

    B Tom

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    Yeah, I did not think the nipple was metric, but I was very puzzled by its resemblance to 6mm-1 thread. I will look around and see if I can find a #11 cap with standard Imperial units. Thank you for the info on Joyce caps since I never heard about them before.
     
  9. Jul 2, 2019 #9

    B Tom

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    I am not sure a 1/4" thread will fit into 0.235" (as measured on the thread diameter of the current nipple). I may have need to buy a nipple with 1/4" thread to give a try for fit. Also, I don't know at this point if the gun is 15 or 14 gauge (but I am leaning towards 14 gauge, which is what I believe you are also indicating). I have seen the cards and wads on Track of the Wolf as you suggest. I will probably hold off until I know I can find a #11 nipple that fits well on the gun. I imagine FFg black powder needs to be used. What should the load be for such an old gun of questionable metallurgy (50, 60, 70, 80 grains by volume?)?
     
  10. Jul 2, 2019 #10

    Tom Compton

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    A decent hardware store will have 1/4-28 thread screws to try in the bolsters. My 14 has both barrels stamped 14 along with the proof marks. It’ll be a week before I can get an accurate bore measure of my14. I don’t trust my memory-I’ve had it 20+ years.

    Most references I’ve seen refer to equal volume of powder and shot, see below
    https://www.muzzleloadingforum.com/threads/powder-measure-shot-loads-chart.21119/. Also an old saying something to the effect that less powder more shot shoots tight. A heavy 12ga load is 3 1/4 drams of powder and 1 1/4 oz of shot. In a modern 14 (if such a thing existed) I’d stay lighter than that for max and cut it back further due to the age of the gun.

    I haven’t lubed over powder or over shot cards. Some long time percussion shotgun shooters recommended soaking cushion wads in Murphy’s Oil Soap. I did and it worked ok. Haven’t done any experimenting in years - not many shot gunners in my part of Texas.

    Good luck with the smoothie,
    TC
     
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  11. Jul 2, 2019 #11

    Zonie

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    A external Class 1, 1/4-20 thread can have a major diameter that is .237 minimum diameter but the thread pitch isn't close to 26 threads per inch.
    Then, there is a 1/4-24 and a 1/4-27 thread but both of those are UNS or "Special" threads so the chances of finding a nipple that uses them is about impossible.

    A external 6mm thread has a major diameter of .236 and a M6 X 1 mm thread has a thread pitch that is equal to a 25.4 threads per inch.

    If the existing nipple has a major diameter of .235 and a thread pitch of 26 tpi I'd say a M6 X 1 mm threaded nipple should be just about right.
    Fortunately, a lot of the CVA and Tradition guns use a M6 X 1 mm nipple so getting one to try would be easy. :)
     
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  12. Jul 3, 2019 #12

    B Tom

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    I will look into the link. Thanks. Also, please let me know what the bore ID is on your #14 when you get a chance. You measurements may confirm my gun is also a #14.
     
  13. Jul 3, 2019 #13

    B Tom

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    I agree with you that the M6 x 1mm may be the right fit even if it is an English made gun. The feedback I have received from one or two of the replies suggests my gun was made in England for trade and export to other countries. I am beginning to wonder if my gun was built with a metric nipple for export to France, and then the gun at some point sailed across the Atlantic to North America along with the French owner or for sale to the large French speaking population (example: Quebec, Canada). I'm just using my imagination. I will certainly explore the M6 x 1mm option.
     
  14. Jul 3, 2019 #14

    hawkeye2

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    "if my gun was built with a metric nipple for export to France"

    My experience working as a mechanic on British motorcycles and owning them too tells me that would never happen. They didn't bother to use US standard fasteners on the bikes they built to export to us so it's unlikely they bothered with a nipple on a shotgun in 1850. Have you looked into Whitworth threads yet? BTW a lot of British cars & Land Rovers were exported without regard to our threads too.
     
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  15. Jul 3, 2019 #15

    Artificer

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    Very much agree with Hawkeye2. As I vaguely remember, there was at least one other "sort of standardized" British Machine thread style (if not two more) besides the Whitworth threads, when this fowler was built. I would like to make it clear my phrasing of "sort of standardized" British Machine thread style" was due to the fact that there was still not much standardization of machine threads in Britain, or the U.S. for that matter, during this period. It was only after the British began using the "American Interchangeable Parts System of Manufacture" in the 1850's that British thread sizes became more standardized.

    Also, confusion that period "Non Standard" INCH thread sizes/dimensions might have been Metric; has been going on for quite some time here in the U.S. Dixie Gun Works published this inaccurate information on early American screw threads in their catalogues since at least the 1960's and may still be doing it today. When Dixie first published this inaccurate information, though, there was not nearly the research done on period machine threads.

    Gus
     
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  16. Jul 3, 2019 #16

    Feltwad

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    The standard nipple thread for British shotgun and sporting rifle from the beginning of the Percussion period was for 12bore and smaller 1/4 BSF and for the larger bore such has 8,6,4 was 9/32 BSF.
    For the military type of weapon was much larger a whit worth type was used and the nipple took a top hat cap.In that period there were several makers of caps see advert
    Feltwad
    [​IMG]
     
  17. Jul 3, 2019 #17

    TFoley

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    AAMOI, ALL firearms made at the Royal small Arms Factory, Enfield Lock, subsequently called 'Enfields', and those made for the government contracts by LSA, BSA and others, used the so-called Enfield-pattern thread. This was carried on by Parker-Hale in their replication of the Enfield-series of firearms, in which the original patterns, jugs and gauges were used to ensure authenticity. The most obvious use of this unique thread can be found on the ramrod end, which has a thread-form unlike any other.

    BSF, by the way, stands for British Standards, Fine and remains in use even today in certain applications, mainly electrical components. Mainstream British-built manufacturing of all kinds has been fully metric since 1971, when the metric system was supposed to have been adopted nationwide.

    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight.

    That's why, over here, you will see ALL distances in miles, land in acres, beer in pints and ranges in yards :) Try telling a horseman that his horse is 2m high, or that hounds are found in tens, rather than 'couples', or try and buy ten eggs instead of a dozen [you'd have to change the shape of the egg-box, for a start....] Vehicle economy is in miles per gallon, and cars' engine outputs are in BHP, archery draw-weights are in pounds, and so is the strength of fishing line and climbing ropes...speed of airplanes is in MPH, flying heights are in feet, ships sail in knots over water that is so many fathoms deep. Tides are in feet and wind speed is in MPH. The railways have tracks 4ft 8 1/2" apart, too, and always will have.
     
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  18. Jul 3, 2019 #18

    Feltwad

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    Has a fellow Brit I must say you forgot to add one main saying such has a brace of pheasants, grouse , or partridge .
    Feltwad
     
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  19. Jul 3, 2019 #19

    Artificer

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    Feltwad,

    Thank You!! BSF was one I was thinking about, but could not remember earlier!

    Gus
     
  20. Jul 3, 2019 #20

    Artificer

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    Having visited the Midlands twice in the middle 90's for the World Muzzle Loading Championships, I got quite an enjoyable laugh and fond memories, thanks to your post. Thank You.

    Gus
     

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