Extremely Rare Unopened Calisher & Terry Ammunition Packet from the Malloy Collection - Published in Percussion Ammunition Packets
- Product Code: BP-1058-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
The Terry’s Patent Carbine, as produced by the Birmingham firm of Calisher & Terry was one of the more unique and innovative breechloading percussion arms to be developed in the mid-19th Century. The guns have always had a strong Civil War association with the Confederacy, primarily because of two very famous carbines that are in the collection of the Museum of the Confederacy. One of the guns belonged to famed Confederate cavalry general J.E.B. Stuart, and the other to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Stuart’s gun was a 30-Bore Type II carbine, with the retailer name THOMAS BLISSET – LIVERPOOL engraved on the top of the barrel. While documentable deliveries of additional Terry carbine have not yet been located, strong circumstantial evidence exists that at least some additional carbines saw use in the South, and as many as 200 may have been purchased by the US Government. In 1861, Henry Calisher traveled to New York with “200 Long Enfields”, which he offered for sale. It is not clear whether the guns were in fact Enfields, and in all probability they were Terry Patent carbines. Additionally, sources are split as to whether the guns were sold directly to the US government or the firm of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham of New York. As it is well known that a number of high profile arms were delivered to the Confederacy through purchases at the Schuyler, Hartley & Graham storefront in New York, it is quite possible that these carbines went south as well, via a “straw man” purchase by Southern sympathizers.
Terry carbines may well have travelled to the Confederacy as speculative cargo in the holds of Blockade Runners as well. Speculative cargo were those items purchased by the owners and/or investors in the Blockade Runner, who were allowed to import items to the South for their own monetary gain. Recent discoveries in US Maritime Court Records have revealed that many items never thought to be purchased by the Confederacy were in fact purchased as speculative cargo for resale upon their arrival in the South. Among these speculative weapons imports were Austrian Model 1851 cavalry carbines and Model 1842 muskets. Terry’s Patent Carbines have long been considered a rarely encountered arm, imported in very limited quantities by the Confederacy, and have been identified as such since the days of Claude Fuller & Richard Steuart’s Firearms of the Confederacy (pages 231-232 & Plate XXVI, Figure 3) and William Albaugh & Edward Simmons’ Confederate Arms (Plate 99, Figure 3).
William Terry’s patent for a bolt-action, percussion ignition, “Terry’s Patent Carbine” was issued on April 7, 1856. The design, as slightly modified Henry Calisher, was submitted to the British Board of Ordnance breechloading carbine trials in 1857, and in December of 1858 the Terry Carbine was approved for limited issue, with all of the firearms ordered being issued to the 18th Hussars. These first contract Terry carbines were “Type I” carbines, which were 26-Bore (.568 caliber) and rifled with 3 grooves. The carbines were also equipped with a sling bar and ring on the side of the gunstock, opposite the lock. The guns were marked with the usual British War Department ordnance ownership marks, including a Crown / VR to the rear of the lock and British military proofs on the breech. The total number ordered for the 18th Hussars is not known, but the regiment numbered some 700 men at the time of issue, so it is estimated that this initial order was for between 700-1000 carbines. These carbines remained in use with the 18th Hussars through 1864, when the guns were refurbished at British arsenal at Pimlico, which is where used arms were repaired and refurbished. The guns were subsequently issued to the South African Cape Mounted Rifles, who used the guns through about 1870.
A new pattern of Terry carbine was approved in November of 1860, and these Type II carbines were typified by a new 30-Bore (.539) caliber with 5-groove rifling with a rate of twist of 1:36”. The rear most barrel band was eliminated and was replaced with a flat key to secure the barrel to the stock, along with an action screw in the bottom of the gun and a single upper barrel band. A new rear sight was also adopted, replacing the previously used multi-leaf rear sight with a new long base “Enfield” style sight similar to that adopted for the Pattern 1861 Artillery carbine. The new pattern guns were also somewhat slighter in overall construction with lighter, thinner stocks and an overall length that was 1” shorter.
These guns were produced between 1860 and 1861 for the British government, with the majority of the arms going to New Zealand for the use of their militia, as well as Australian provincial police departments, including New South Wales and Queensland. In 1861, a final pattern of the Terry carbine was adopted, the Type III. The only difference between the Type II and Type III carbines was the change to a non-snagging Baddeley patent barrel band on the new Type III carbines, and the removal of the upper sling swivel. While Calisher & Terry were producing the carbines for their British military and provincial government contracts, they were also producing commercial rifles and carbines, in both “military” and sporting configurations. Total production of Calisher & Terry carbines is not known but based upon known inventories and their relatively limited survival somewhere between 5,000 and an absolute maximum of about 10,000 total carbines and rifles were produced. The guns may not have been serial numbered in consecutive order, and some gaps may exist. Calisher & Terry took advantage of the Birmingham gun trade to produce enough guns to fill their military contracts, and these guns are marked with the typical TOWER mark on the lock, with the date of manufacture. The custom of assigning serial number ranges was well established by other English gunmakers that licensed their patents. The best-known example being Robert Adams, who issued specific serial number ranges to makers like William Tranter, Joseph Brazier, the London Armory Company and others. This results in odd gaps in the serial number sequence and makes the dating of Adams revolvers solely by serial number problematic, as number 10,000 and 20,000 might was have been produced concurrently, but by different makers. It appears that none of the longer barreled rifles were never ordered by any government entity, but some surely saw use in the hands of private citizens and militia members, primarily New Zealand. All of the New Zealand militia used arms (whether provided by the British Government or via private purchases of commercial arms) are marked with on their buttplates with an NZ and an inventory number. The Australian provincial police used Terry’s are also marked on their buttplates with similar ownership markings. This means that only those carbines, which bear no British military marks or other territorial or provincial marks, can be considered as potential Civil War imported carbines. These guns would have been commercially proved guns, manufactured for the export and commercial retail markets, and would not have had the sling bar and ring, as these were only included on British Government purchased carbines.
The Type II Terry’s Patent Carbine as produced by Calisher & Terry was manufactured at their Birmingham workshops, located at 22-24 Whittall Street. The firm moved into that location in 1861 and remained there until they went out of business circa 1869-70. The “Door Bolt Breech-Loading Carbine” as it was more popularly known, was manufactured with a 21” barrel of 30-Bore (.539 caliber) with a 1 in 36” rate of twist. The carbines had an overall length of about 34” and weighed approximately 6 pounds, 4 ounces. The gun was loaded by pulling the action operating handle out, away from the breech, rotating it upwards about 90-degrees and pulling it back. This opened the primitive bolt and allowed the insertion of a self-consuming combustible cartridge in the breech. Pushing the handle forward allowed the bolt plunger to insert the cartridge in the throat of the barrel and sealed the breech. Rotating the handle back down and folding it in secured the bolt and locked the action closed. A standard percussion cap was then placed on the cone (nipple) and the carbine was ready to fire. The commercial guns were manufactured with a sling swivel on the upper barrel band and another one screwed into the toe of the stock. A cleaning rod was carried in the channel under the barrel and an extension with an integral cleaning jag was stored in the buttstock under an iron door. The guns were iron mounted and were blued. A snap cap (nipple protectors) was attached to a small mounting stud, forward of the triggerguard, via a teardrop shaped brass chain. The stocks were of varnished walnut and some of the commercial guns had checkered wrists and forends like many of the Volunteer Rifles of the era, while the military contract guns invariably had plain stocks.
An interesting indication that the Confederacy attempted to acquire a number of Terry’s Patent Carbines is a three page letter from Confederate General Colin McRae, contained within the McRae Papers in the collection of the South Carolina Military Museum & Relic Room in Columbia, SC. The letter dated December 3, 1863 and received on December 4, 1863 sets out a list of arms and supplies that McRae hopes to purchase. These include:
-20,000 Enfield Rifles such as are used in the British Army, which Bayonets + implements complete + packed in lead lined cases
-5,000 Carbines Terry’s Patent + the best description of that arm that is made
-5,000 Slings for same
-500,000 cartridges for do, best quality
-10,000 Pistols, Adams’ Patent, the best description of that arm that is made
-1,000,000 Cartridges for same
The order goes on to request belts and holster, as well as 250,000 pounds of saltpeter and 100,000 pounds of lead. While it is unclear if this order was ever completed, purchased and shipped, it certainly indicates that the Confederacy attempted to purchase at least 5,000 of what were almost certainly Type II and/or Type III carbines, along with some 50,000 packets of ammunition for the guns.
The ammunition packet offered here is the exact packet pictured in Percussion Ammunition Packets – Union, Confederate & European, by John J. Malloy, Dean Thomas and Terry White. The packet is pictured as Figure 293 in that book, on page 96, and was formerly part of the John J. Malloy collection. The packet is in VERY GOOD condition with moderate amounts of discoloration and surface dirt on the wrapper. The wrapper retains the original twine closure, but sadly only retains a portion of the block printed green paper label. The remaining portion of the label reads: None are genuine without the signatu(re), with the last letters of the sentence missing. Below this line are the printed signatures Calisher & Terry.
The packet measures nominally 2.75” long by 2.25” wide by 1” thick. The packet was wrapped in plastic by Mr. Malloy to protect it. The packet contains 10 cartridges for the Calisher & Terry carbine. It is not clear if percussion caps are contained in the packet, but I do not feel them in it, and they were likely supplied separately. While the packet is listed in the book as being nominally .577, using the .568” bullet from the Type I military carbine contract, I have to disagree. I believe that this packet, which is clearly a commercial package and not a British Board of Ordnance packet, contains 10 of the 30-bore cartridges with .539 bullets. This means that this could have been part of the potential Confederate purchase of Terry’s patent ammunition. Both variants of the cartridge used 2 drams of powder, a charge of nominally 55 grains. The patent ammunition relied upon a greased felt wad in the base of the cartridge to create obduration (gas seal) and keep the gases from leaking out the rear of the breech when the gun was fired. While this was fairly effective, it left the greased felt wad in the chamber, and when the next round was loaded the wad was then on the nose of the next bullet. The claim was that this allowed the next cartridge to clean the bore. The reality is that the wad made the accuracy of subsequent shots quite erratic. Cartridges based upon the same concept were used in the Wilson Patent capping breech loading rifle and the Greene Patent bolt action capping breechloader. In both cases, the ammunition created a good gas seal but also suffered from erratic accuracy. This packet is complete and unopened and would be a fantastic addition to the display of a Calisher & Terry carbine and other associated cavalry accouterments. This is a very rare opportunity to obtain an extremely scarce English ammunition packet from one of the most historic ammunition collections and pictured in one of the best reference books on the subject. This is the only packet of this ammunition that I have ever seen for sale, so don’t miss your opportunity to add it to your collection.