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Fine 1863 Dated Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket

Fine 1863 Dated Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket

  • Product Code: FLA-GB32
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $2,950.00


The Pattern 1853 Enfield Rifle Musket was the second most used infantry long arm of the American Civil War. The Pattern 1853 Enfield was an important weapon in military long arm history as it was the first small bore rifled long arm to see general issue to all British military personnel, effectively making every soldier a “rifleman” and eliminating both the smoothbore musket and the large caliber Pattern 1851 Minié Rifle as legitimate battlefield weapons. The reduced caliber .577” bore was a significant ballistic improvement over the .702” bore of the Pattern 1851 Minié Rifle and the overall design of the gun was the epitome of muzzle loading military firearms technology of the time. The Pattern 1853 would significantly influence the design of the new American Model 1855 Rifle Musket, and its replacements the Model 1861, Special Model 1861 and Model 1863/64, and would be the last of the percussion ignition, muzzleloading arms to see general service with the British military, being replaced by breechloading rifles about the time the Civil War came to an end. The Pattern 1853 was so revolutionary and so well designed that it was effectively the “AK-47” of the era, becoming the either the standard battle rifle for nearly every country in the world, or an equivalent “substitute standard”. Several million “Enfields” saw use across the globe during mid-19th century, so it is often difficult to determine if a specific Enfield rifle or rifle musket was here for the American Civil War, especially in the absence of specific US or CS markings on the gun. However, with somewhere in the neighborhood of one million Enfields being purchased and used by both sides combined during the course of the war, the very fact that the gun is here suggests that it may well be a veteran of that conflict.

 

This British Pattern 1853 Type III Enfield Rifle Musket is in FINE condition and is a classic example of the typical Civil War period imported Enfield rifle musket. The gun is devoid of any British military markings and is a typical Birmingham-made contract gun for commercial sale that was almost certainly destined for export from Great Britain. As a Birmingham produced gun it is also a wonderful example of the way the Birmingham Small Arms Trade worked during the mid-19th century with a master contractor assembling the gun from a variety of components made not only by himself but by other B.S.A.T. members. In this case the master contractor was Joseph Bourne and is clearly stamped J BOURNEin the toe of the stock, between the buttplate and triggerguard. Bourne’s {CROWN}/JB trademark stamp is also found stamped in the top of the barrel’s breech and in the wood behind the triggerguard. A small {CROWN} / B / SA / T stamp is found behind the trademark stamp in the wood behind the triggerguard as well, but there is no large Birmingham Small Arms Trade cartouche stamped in the obverse buttstock. Not all BSAT produced guns received this roundel cartouche and it is no uncommon for a small BSAT mark to be present but not the large one.

 

Joseph Bourne was a long-time member of the Birmingham gun trade. Originally, he was a member of the gunmaking partnership of Redfern & Bourne, during the mid-1830s and 1840s. In 1849 he established his own business at 5 Whittall Street, where he remained through 1878. In 1866 the firm became Joseph Bourne & Son and in 1879 the firm relocated to 9 St. Mary’s Row., where they would remain in that location through 1900. Bourne was a large manufacturer of military pattern arms for commercial sale and was a heavily engaged in the African arms trade market.

 

The lock of the gun is clearly marked with the typical British “Crown” to the rear of the hammer, but without the accompanying “VR” underneath that normally denotes British government ownership. The lock is clearly stamped 1863 / TOWER in two lines forward of the hammer. The interior of the lock is marked J BOURNE over the mainspring, which is an additional indication that Bourne actually contracted to assemble and deliver the gun. The lock maker’s mark is typically found in an arc around the mainspring boss, but there is no marking in that location. The assembly mating mark | | is found on the lower edge of the lock and is also found under the barrel and in the ramrod channel of the stock. The upper edge of the lock plate is numbered 2307, likely a production number for a lock contractor who was delivering a large number of locks to the trade. The barrel is marked at the breech with the three usual Birmingham commercial proofs: a Provisional Proof, a Definitive Proof and a Definitive View mark. These marks are separated by a pair of 25gauge marks, indicating that the gun is “25 bore” or .577 caliber. The underside of the barrel is marked with the usual assortment of initials, names and numbers typical of a Birmingham made Enfield. The numerical marks include a 114 / 114 on the barrel and breech plug mating them. The bottom of the barrel is additionally marked J BOURNE and BEASLEY BROS. The firm of Beasley Brothers was a part of a long line of Birmingham-based Beasleys who were gun barrel makers. Beasley Brothers operated from 1859-1863 on Rolfe Street and was the 1859 incarnation of the old-time firm of Beasley & Farmer which had been established in 1834. William Beasley, one of the principles, had received British Patent #14,163 in 1852 for a gun barrel rolling machine and received two additional patents, one in 1854 for another gun barrel making machine and one in 1856 for “improved rifling cutters”. As noted, the assembly mating mark | | is found under the barrel, mating it to the same mark on the lower edge of the lock and in the ramrod channel. The bottom of the barrel also bears the initials WW, likely that of one of the workmen who may have polished or rifled the barrel. The ramrod channel actually has two sets of mating marks in it. First is the mentioned primary assembly mating mark | |. The second mating mark is \ \ / / /. This secondary mark is also found on the lower rear edge of the barrel bands. Using two sets of mating marks is not uncommon of British firearms, particularly those made during the latter part of the 18th century and through the middle of the 19th century. The name E. DIXON is stamped at the tail of the stock flat. This is typically the mark of the “setter up” who actually assembled the gun. A search of the English directories reveals that an Edward Dixon worked as a gunmaker in Hexham, Northumberland from 1847 to 1858. It is likely that this is the Dixon who apparently assembled this gun, likely deciding to take more regular work under a major Birmingham maker, rather than relying on being self-employed in the trade.

 

As noted, the gun remains in FINE condition overall. The gun appears to be 100% original, complete and correct with the exception of the percussion cone (nipple), which is a modern replacement.  Nearly every part from the barrel bands to the lock, stock and barrel having one of the two sets of matching assembly mating marks on them. The gun retains about 20%-30% of its original rust blued finish on the exterior of the barrel, which has thinned and faded significantly, leaving the barrel with a streaky appearance that has blended with a lovely plum-brown patina. The bottom of the barrel retains about 80%+ coverage of thinning and fading original blue where it has been protected by the stock. The barrel bands have a rich plum-brown patina mixed with original blue that matches the barrel well. The metal of the gun is primarily smooth, with only some scattered freckles of minor surface oxidation and a few small areas of minor pinpricking present over most of the barrel. Only the breech shows any actual pitting, which is light but typical of the erosion caused by percussion cap flash. The bore of the gun is in about FINE condition as well, with fine, crisp rifling along its entire length. The bore is mostly bright with only some areas of scattered oxidation and some lightly scattered pitting. A light cleaning would probably improve the condition of the bore. The lock of the gun retains some strong traces of its original casehardened coloring on the exterior, with a mostly mottled and oxidized bluish-brownish patina with some areas dulled mottled blues, purples and grays. The interior of the lock retains about 40%+ of the original case coloring, again with fading and dulling. The lock is excellent mechanically and functions crisply and perfectly on all positions. The gun retains its original rear sight, although the tension spring screw is missing. This does not affect the function of the sight or the appearance of the gun in any way. The original combination front sight and bayonet lug is present as well. The gun retains both sling swivels, one on the front of the brass triggerguard and the other on the tension screw for the upper barrel band. An original period snap cap (nipple protector) is attached to the rear swivel with the correct pattern chain and base, but all  of the leather padding is missing. The original screw retention “doughnuts” are present on all three of the barrel band tension screws, a tiny part that is often missing from an Enfield when it is found today and a good indication that the gun has not been messed with much during its lifetime. An original full-length ramrod is in the channel under the barrel and retains good threads at the end. The patina of the rod matches the gun perfectly as well. The brass furniture has a rich, uncleaned golden patina that matches the condition of the balance of the gun perfectly and is very attractive. The stock is also in FINE condition. The wood to metal fit of the gun is wonderfully executed throughout, with no slop or gapping present. The stock is full-length, solid and free of any breaks or repairs. The stock has a really attractive medium brown color with a very attractive darker grain striping. The stock retains extremely sharp lines throughout and equally crisp edges and has absolutely never been sanded. The grain of the wood retains some raised “feathering” indicating that the stock has never been messed with in any way. The only condition issue worth noting is a small grain crack in the obverse forend near the forend cap that measures about 1.25-inches in length. The wood does show some scattered bumps, dings and minor dents. The stock also has some light surface scuffs here and there, with any wood wear nothing more than would be expected from a 150-year-old military musket. However, the stock really remains extremely crisp and sharp overall.

 

Overall, this is really wonderful example of a Civil War era Joseph Bourne produced Commercial Pattern 1853 Type III Enfield Rifle Musket that would be hard to upgrade from. A decade ago, I could find one or two Enfields in this condition for sale every year. Now I practically never see a gun this good on the market and I don’t know when I’ll see another this nice again. The gun has tons of eye appeal and is so much crisper and sharper than most Enfields offered for sale these days that the difference it is very obvious. If you have been waiting to add a really fantastic example of a Civil War era Enfield to your collection, now is your chance to get a real gem of a gun that you will be very pleased to own and display.


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Tags: Fine, 863, Dated, Pattern, 1853, Enfield, Rifle, Musket