Some of the least often encountered variants of Civil War used Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle musket are those arms produced by the London Armoury Company. The London Armoury Company was established in 1856 with the sole intention of producing military arms for British War Department, as well as export markets. The board of directors and shareholders in the company read like a “Who’s Who” of the 19th century English gun trade, and included (among others) Archibald Hamilton, Robert Adams, Richard Ashton, James Kerr, John Deane and William Harding. The London Armoury Company (LAC) produced arms have the distinction of the being the only machine-made, fully interchangeable parts Enfields to be imported during the American Civil War. The guns are instantly recognizable by the brass lock escutcheons, which have rounded wings instead of the normally encountered square wings, the use of Baddeley Patent barrel bands in the lower and middle positions, and the use of screws with domed heads, instead of heads filed down to the contours of the gun. The Baddeley Patent barrel bands were an improvement over the standard Palmer clamping bands used on the typical Type III P-1853, and used a smaller, recessed tension screw and a more rounded profile of the band, to reduce the chances of the bands and screws catching on uniforms and equipment. These improved bands were adopted by the British military for the Type IV P-1853 and became standard during the mid-1860’s. Only those arms produced at the London Armoury Company and at the Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) at Enfield Lock (the British National Armory) were manufactured with Baddeley bands during the American Civil War. The high quality, interchangeable part guns from LAC were very desirable for both US and CS purchasers and both sides attempted to arrange to buy as many of these first class muskets as possible. However, the British government also preferred the London Armoury guns to those of other contractors, and considered only the LAC arms to be of the same quality as those produced at the RSAF. As a result, the majority of P-1853’s produced by the London Armoury Company through mid-1862 (when the British contract expired), were delivered to the British War Department. Southern purchasing agent Caleb Huse certainly felt he had an inside track with the London Armoury Company, as the managing director was none other than Archibald Hamilton who was also the principle in the firm Sinclair, Hamilton & Company; a primary supplier of arms and equipment to the Confederacy. However, Huse” post-war claim to have arranged for all L.A. Co arms not contracted for by the British Government to be delivered to the Confederacy is not quite accurate. He noted “I succeeded in closing a contract under which I was to have all the arms the Company could manufacture, after filing a comparatively small order for the United States agent. This company during the remainder of the war turned all of its output of arms over to me for the Confederate army.” The small contract that Huse was referring to was one for 1,300 (100 guns per week for 13 weeks) P-1853’s entered into by LAC and the State of Massachusetts in mid-1861, to be delivered at the rare of 100 guns per week for 13 weeks. Hamilton was apparently a businessman first and foremost, and a supporter of the southern cause secondarily. Even after the expiration of British contract and the Massachusetts contract, some arms were still being delivered to US buyers. This is indicated by the fact that do date less than 3,400 London Armoury Company P-1853’s can be documented by the invoices and receipts found in the McRae Papers. This number (when combined with the Massachusetts contract) essentially accounts for all of London Armoury Company’s excess production (arms other than those delivered on the British military contract) from mid-1861 to mid-1862. At that point, all of the London Armoury production capacity of some 1,300 guns per month (or some 33,800 gun from July 1, 1862-December 31, 1862) was theoretically available for Confederate purchase, but extant example and period documents do not indicate anywhere near that number were delivered. Today, London Armoury produced P-1853 Enfields of any type are very difficult to find, and those with any Civil War provenance or markings are particularly difficult to located.
This London Armoury P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket is a rare example of one of the US purchased guns. The gun is in about VERY GOOD+ condition and bears a US inspectors cartouche on the flat, opposite the lock. The gun is clearly marked in two lines on the lock, forward of the hammer: 1862 / L.C. Co, and with the usual (British Crown) / VR to the rear of the hammer. The lock is plain, without boarder line engraving and has a plain hammer, without “feathers”. The lock has a smoky gray patina, with some hints of faded case coloring mottling around the edges. The lock is mechanically excellent, is very crisp, and functions well on all positions. The breech of the gun is marked with a pair of L.A.C. marks, as well as the usual London commercial Proof, View & Definitive Proof marks, along with a single 25 gauge mark, indicating .577 caliber. There is also a small A mark, next to the view mark, which might indicate “America” or simply be a US inspectors mark. The size and placement is similar to the US inspection initials often found on 19th century US rifle and musket barrels. The barrel has a mostly smooth, pewter gray patina, with scattered light freckling and minor surface oxidation over most of the surfaces, and areas of darker brown age patina from just in front of the middle band back toward the rear sight. The only real areas of pitting noted are around the breech and bolster area, wear some minor erosion from cap flash has taken place. The balance of the barrel shows only some light scattered peppering and minor pinpricking. The gun has no bore to speak of, and appears to have been bored smooth at some point in the past. The gun retains its original long-range rear sight, and the leaf is marked with the same L.A.C. stamp as found on the breech. The gun retains both of its original sling swivels, including the correct “rounded” swivel on the triggerguard bow. The gun retains the correct barrel band configuration as well, with a pair of Baddeley patent bands in the lower and middle positions and a Palmer band in the upper position with the sling swivel and screw protector still in place. An original, correct ramrod is in the channel under the stock, and appears to be original to the gun. It is full length and retains its original threads at the end. The brass furniture has an attractive, medium mustard patina. The gun also retains all of the correct, original domed head mounting screws. The stock of the gun is in about VERY GOOD+ to NEAR FINE condition, and is full length and solid, with no breaks or repairs noted. The obverse buttstock is stamped with the usual London Armoury Company roundel, which reads: LONDON ARMOURY / BERMONDSEY around the date 1862 in the center. The flat opposite the lock bears a script US inspection cartouche within an oval, which appears to read either “LR” or “LB”. I do not know who this inspector is. The stock shows the usual scattered bumps, dings, dents and handling marks that one would expect to find on a 150 years military long arm, which saw service during the Civil War. Amazingly the stock shows on signs of abuse. The stock retains good lines and edges, with the only rounding and wear being from actual use, not sanding. As would be expected from a London Armoury produced musket, the wood to metal fit is excellent throughout.
Overall this is a really a very nice condition, complete and correct example of a scarce London Armoury Company produced P-1853 Enfield rifle musket. The gun retains strong US inspection marks at the breech and on the stock flat, and is a rarely encountered example of a US inspected Enfield rifle musket. While Confederate marked Enfields are scarce and very desirable, the reality is that US marked Enfields are much more difficult to find; although they do not demand the prices, nor have the cache of their Confederate counterparts. I doubt that I have had 1 US marked Enfield for every 10 CS marked ones that I have owned. This gun would be a great addition to any collection of Civil War long arms and would be especially at home in an advanced Enfield collection, which would simply not be complete without an London Armoury Company gun, and a US marked Enfield. This gun allows you to add both to your collection with a single purchase.SOLD