VERY GOOD CONDITION CONFEDERATE IMPORT BARNETT P53 ENFIELD

$3,250.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: G3919

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J.E. Barnett and Sons, “consistently sold their arms to Confederate agents and southern buyers throughout the war” (The English Connection, p. 17.) They dealt not only with the Confederate Ordnance Department, but also with the states of Georgia and South Carolina through S. Isaac, Campbell & Co., for whom they managed (in some curious way) to purchase British surplus arms as well. The company supplied a number of different firearms. This is an excellent example of their Pattern 1853 Rifle Musket bearing the unambiguous mark of a Confederate-employed inspector (or “viewer”) on the buttstock just forward of the buttplate tang.

The wood is very good or better and has a warm brown color. The buttstock has few handling marks or dings. There is one small check at the rear of the lock plate and some short vertical scratches on the lower right forestock just below the rear sight. Otherwise it rates very good/plus. The ramrod channel shows very minor wear from the rammer being drawn, but no chipping. The wood has good edges around the lock and on the left flat. The left flat shows traces of what might be vertical stock maker’s cartouche forward of the rear lock screw and escutcheon. The wood to metal fit is tight. The brass fittings show a matching, even medium tone. The buttplate shows some dings and pitting in the curve, but the edges and tang are smooth. Screw slots are sharp, not gouged from turning, and show some thin, faded blue.

The lockplate is smooth and shows a mottled pewter tone with the hammer showing some blue. The lockplate is crisply marked with one of the six known Barnett marks for imported rifles: the, “crown, big ‘TOWER’ and block  ‘BARNETT’/ ‘LONDON’” stampings noted on p. 102 of The English Connection. The left breech shows the lion/small G London provisional proof mark, the crown/V London view mark, and the crown/GP final proof mark of the London Gun Proof House. The marks omit the bore size, as is commonly done when it is placed on the underside of the barrel. A few small vise marks are evident. A nipple protector and chain is in place. The protector is fashioned from a piece of lead and connected to the chain with a small figure-8 link. The barrel is smooth with no pitting, just some very slight crustiness at the bolster showing it was actually used, and shows very full coverage of old blue turned plum brown thinning slightly toward the muzzle. Both sights are in place. The rear sight is complete and shows some nice color. The barrel bands preserve most of their color in a subdued blue. Ramrod and sling swivel are in place. The bore is excellent.

On the wood just above the buttplate tang is visible an oval or circular Confederate viewer’s mark. The initials of the viewer are difficult to make out, but are present. The CH/1 mark in a circle of Curtis and Hughes, a team of viewers working at Barnett, are most commonly found on Barnett guns in this spot, but we can’t be sure those are the initials and the border may be more of an oval than a circle. It might possibly be a block SL in a circle (E.C. p. 115,) though that mark is on a Birmingham gun. (Interestingly, however, a script SL in an oval appears on a Barnett rifle musket, also noted on the same page in E.C.) Viewers employed to inspect these Confederate guns, however, often worked for more than one firm or purchasing agent and firms often had more than one viewer or team of viewers. The style and placement of the marking, however, are absolutely typical of Confederate inspection/view markings and we can say with certainty it is Confederate export gun even if we cannot certainly identify the particular viewer.

The British P53 Enfield was a highly regarded weapon and, given the numbers imported by the Confederacy, is in some ways more a typical Confederate arm than any made in the south. This is a very nice example by a prolific maker and supplier of arms to the Confederacy.  [SR]

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