London Armoury P1853 Enfield Dated 1863
- Product Code: FLA-3438-SOLD
- Availability: Out Of Stock
The London Armoury Company was established in 1856 with the sole intention to produce military pattern arms for the British War Department, as well as for export markets. The board of directors and shareholders of the company read like a “Who’s Who” of the 19th century English gun trade, and included (among others) Archibald Hamilton, Robert Adams, Richard Aston, James Kerr, John Deane and William Harding. London Armoury Company (L.A.C.) produced arms have the distinction of the being the only machine-made, fully interchangeable parts Enfields to be produced in Great Britain other than those manufactured at the Royal Small Arms Factory (RSAF) at Enfield Lock; England’s national armory. London Armoury Company guns are instantly recognizable by their 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 (as of 1862), and the use of wood screws with domed heads, instead of heads filed down to the contours of the gun stock and hardware. The Baddeley Patent barrel bands were an improvement over the standard Palmer clamping bands used on the typical Type III P1853, 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 Enfield and became standard circa 1862. 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 years. The high quality, interchangeable part guns from L.A.C. were very desirable acquisitions for both US and CS purchasers during the American Civil War, 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 produced by the other London and Birmingham contractors, and considered only the L.A.C. arms to be of the same quality as those produced at the R.S.A.F.. As a result, the majority of P1853s produced by the London Armoury Company through mid-1862 (when their initial 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’s 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 filling 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) P1853s entered into by L.A.C. and the State of Massachusetts in mid-1861, to be delivered at the rate of 100 guns per week for 13 weeks. Hamilton, however, was apparently a businessman first and foremost and a supporter of the southern cause secondarily. Even after the expiration of the British and Massachusetts contracts, some arms were still being delivered to US buyers. This is indicated by the fact that to date, the purchase of less than 3,400 London Armoury Company P1853s can be documented by the Confederate invoices and receipts found in the McRae Papers. This number (when combined with the Massachusetts contract) essentially accounts for all the 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 the London Armoury production capacity of some 1,300 guns per month (or some 33,800 guns from July 1, 1862-December 31, 1862) was theoretically available for Confederate purchase. However, extant examples and period documents do not indicate anywhere near that number were delivered to southern buyers. Today, London Armoury produced P1853 Enfields of any type are very difficult to find, and those with any Civil War provenance or markings are particularly difficult to located and extremely desirable. However, British military contract London Armoury P1853s are relatively rare as well, due to the limited production of the gun when compared to the total numbers of “Enfields’ acquired by the British military during the 1860s. Early contract date guns, made in 1861 are particularly hard to find in good condition, as the London Armoury guns were designated as “First Class’ arms for use by the regular army. This means that L.A.C. guns tended to be issued and used by the British Army around the world and often saw hard use in harsh conditions.
This London Armoury P1853 Enfield Rifle Musket is a scarce example of one the commercial guns not produced for the British military, with a strong likelihood of having been sold to either Confederate or United States purchasing agents. The gun is an 1863 dated example, that is void of any British military marks and remains in an exceptionally high state of condition for a Civil War period commercial P1853. The gun is in about VERY FINE+ to NEAR EXCELLENT condition and is absolutely gorgeous. The gun is clearly engraved in two lines on the lock, forward of the hammer: 1863 / L.A. 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 sort of silvery pewter and smoky gray patina, with some hints of faded case colored mottling in the protected areas where the neck of the hammer kept the lock plate covered. The interior of the lock retains some nice traces of its original vivid case coloring. The interior of the lock is marked L.A.C over the mainspring and on the tumbler, bridle, and the inside neck of the hammer. The lock is mechanically excellent and is extremely crisp, functioning perfectly on all positions. The breech of the gun is marked with a pair of L.A.C. marks, as well as the usual British commercial Proof, View & Definitive Proof marks and with a 25 gauge, mark indicating the gun is .577 caliber. The barrel retains about 85%+ of its original blued finish which has a faded and thinned slightly, with some silvery areas of loss on the high edges, contact points and at the muzzle. The barrel shows some lightly scattered freckled oxidation and some very minor, lightly scattered areas of light pinpricking; mostly around the breech, bolster and muzzle area. There is also a small area of scattered surface oxidation and pinpricking on the obverse of the barrel near the muzzle, roughly the size of a thumbprint. The bottom of the barrel retains about 95%+ of its original bright, rust-blued finish. The bottom of the barrel is marked V P HD and the rear of the breech is with the number 2023B. This same number is found on the breech plug as well. The gun has a NEAR EXCELLENT bore, which is mostly mirror bright and retains very crisp rifling with only some very minor frosting in the grooves and some very minor pinpricking scattered along its length. The gun retains its original long-range rear sight, and the leaf is marked with a L.A.C. manufacturing stamp. The gun retains its original upper sling swivel, mounted on the upper barrel band as well as its correct, original London Armoury Company lower swivel. The L.A.C. and R.S.A.F. swivels were rounded oval loops, while the swivels used by all other London and Birmingham contractors had a more trapezoidal appearance. The gun retains the correct barrel band configuration as well, with a Palmer clamping band in the upper position and two Baddeley patent bands in the middle and lower positions. The Palmer band even retains the original washer at the end of the screw to prevent it from being completely removed from the band and being lost. This gun, with a production date of late 1863 is properly equipped with the newly adopted Baddeley patent bands, which became standard during 1862. The bands retain about 80%-90% of their original brilliantly blued finish. 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 gun also retains an original, period “Snap Cap”, or nipple protector. It is suspended from the triggerguard on an iron split ring with a correct teardrop shaped brass chain. The metal base of the protector is intact, but nearly all of the leather pad is missing. The brass furniture has an attractive, medium mustard patina, and the buttplate tang bears the number 3541, the meaning of which is not clear. As the number is stamped and not engraved, it is not a typical Confederate inventory number, but could be some sort of rack or inventory number used by either side. The gun also retains all the correct, original domed head mounting screws. The screws retain relatively crisp slots and the at least some of their deeply blued finish. The stock of the gun is in about VERY FINE+ to NEAR EXCELLENT condition as well, and is full-length and solid, with no breaks or repairs noted. As would be expected from a London Armoury produced musket, the wood to metal fit is excellent throughout. The stock is stamped L.A.C. inside the lock mortise, with the same pattern of stamp found on so many of the parts of the gun. The stock is extremely crisp and sharp throughout with outstanding edges and lines. The stock retains extremely crisp checkering at the wrist and forend that shows only the most minor handling wear. The stock shows the usual minor scattered bumps, dings, dents and handling marks that one would expect to find on a 150-years military long arm. Amazingly the stock shows on signs of abuse.
Overall this is a really outstanding condition, 100% complete and correct example of a scarce London Armoury Company produced Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle musket. This is a scarce and eminently desirable gun to add to any advanced collection of British long arms, or Patten 1853 Enfields, in particular. The gun is in wonderful condition and is extremely attractive, with the photos below not doing the condition of the gun justice. This gun is of sufficient quality to please the most discriminating collector and belongs in an advanced military arms collection, and with its lack of British military marks is a legitimate candidate to have been imported for use during the American Civil War.SOLD