RARE USN GOSPORT NAVY YARD PRIMING FLASKN

$4,500.00

Quantity Available: 1

Item Code: 490-6824

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Gosport Shipyard was the original name of the facility in Portsmouth, Virginia, that was founded in 1767, passed into the hands of Virginia in the Revolution, was leased from that state by the U.S. government in 1794, purchased by them in 1801 and known thereafter as the Gosport Navy Yard or the Norfolk Navy Yard, with the latter name becoming dominant after U.S. forces recaptured it in 1862 from Confederate forces who had seized it in April 1861. This “GNY” marked copper, naval artillery priming flask is rare- one of just 500 ordered produced in 1842 to replace the old-fashioned naval priming horns that had been improved several times over the years, but still used cow horn for the body of the flask. The new pattern retained the thumb-lever of the older flask, but employed a copper body deemed “more convenient,” cheaper, and safer. They were produced in two slightly different forms, with those coming from the Navy Yard Washington and marked “NYW” seeming to be more rounded and the Gosport “GNY” marked flasks a bit flatter, something asked for the 1842 letter ordering 500 to be made. The actual number of Gosport flasks is likely to be under that, since the order for 500 is thought by some to be the combined total for both versions of the flask.

The flask measures about 11-inches overall with the tapered spout about 3-inches, and the body about 8-inches wide and 6-inches thick, intended to hold a pound of priming powder. The body shows very clear “GNY” marks on the middle of each side and is untouched, showing a good seam, just some shallow indentations on the flats, with both carrying rings, and the spout and brass thumb-lever in place. Only the flat lever spring is missing. The flask is unpolished and has a great old patina showing as a pleasing coppery brown mixed with some darker clouds with some thin grayish-white along the raised seam on one side, and the other showing a tad darker with more scattered grayish-white. The carrying rings are rounded as specified in the production order.

This would make a great addition to a collection of early U.S. Navy material and a display related to naval gunnery, and since the Gosport Navy Yard was captured by Confederate forces who did their best to salvage material in facility (most notably raising the USS Merrimack,) the flasks can be taken by as secondary Confederate accoutrements:  percussion locks using primers had been introduced not long after the flasks had been ordered, but some flasks may have been used by necessity and others were very likely kept in ready reserve in case other methods of ignition failed.   [sr] [ph:L]

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