COLLECTION: Mechanical Arts & Arms

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British "American-style" Rifle for Indians

1778-1783
Origin: Europe, Great Britain, England, London
O: 60 1/4"; Barrel: 44"; Lock: 6 1/8" Bore; about .58 caliber in the grooves and about .53 caliber across the lands.
Iron, steel, walnut and brass
Museum Purchase and Partial Gift, Mr. Tom Bradbury
Acc. No. 2007-28
British imitation of a Lancaster Co (PA) rifle made specifically as a trade item for Native Americans serving the Crown Forces during the American Revolution. Details include;

Lock; flat, unengraved. All external parts restored by Historic Trades Gunsmiths (from modern castings).

Barrel; Octagonal. Brass blade front sight, rear sight missing.

Mounts, Cast brass triggerguard, nosecap & buttplate with filed sheet brass rammer pipes. Sideplate made by Chris Swann to replicate lost original.

Stock; Walnut, with carving around lock, sideplate & barrel tang mortises, along rammer channel & entry pipe. Original wooden patchbox cover & spring. Comb of buttstock and cheek piece nicely carved with "C" scrolls & foliage. Sheet brass wrist repair executed by Chris Swann to replicate lost original.
Label:Since a small number of rifles are documented as having been in Indian hands by the 1740s, it isn't surprising that many more were owned by Native Americas during the French & Indian War. While these rifles would have been of American or European manufacture, it wasn't until the Revolutionary War that the British began making such firearms for the Indian trade.

Closely following an eastern Pennsylvania style rifle, these London-made arms were a rare reversal for the English trade, where a distinctly American item was directly copied to satisfy demand. This example, by William Wilson & Co., is one of two grades of Indian rifles offered by the firm during the war, and cost either £2. 12. 6 or £2. 10. 0.

Nearly identical rifles were also made by other English gunsmiths, and bear the names of Grice or Barnett on the lockplates. Taken as a group, of the Indian rifles made by these three makers between 1778 and 1783 (fewer than 2,000), less than a handful survive.
Provenance:Decended in the family of Tom Bradbury of Maine.
Mark(s):Breech struck with the London Gunmakers' Company view & proof marks in addition to Wilson's mark (a star over 'RW').

"V" struck in the rammer channel between the entry and middle pipes. Other illegible marks and in said channel between the middle and top pipes.