This very attractive example of a Pattern 1853 Type III “Enfield” rifle-musket bears the (CROWN) / SH / G5 mark that many collectors believe to be the mark of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham of New York. However, there is no evidence that this is actually the mark of that company; in fact substantial circumstantial evidence exists to support the belief that it is in fact a Confederate import mark. An in depth study over the last year into the origin of the claim that this is the mark of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham has determined that it is simply gun show lore, with no basis in fact. The primary arguments in support of the mark being Confederate are these:
1) Every mark in this location (top of the butt comb, in front of the butt plate tang) that has been identified has been proven to be a Confederate mark. Including the famous JS / (ANCHOR), the various versions of the (CROWN) / SH / C / (ARROW) Sinclair, Hamilton & Company mark and the CH / 1 inspection mark of Curtis & Hughes. To date, no identified mark in this location has been proven to be a US mark, British mark, or the mark of any other country or military organization. All positively identified marks have been Confederate.
2) No evidence exists that Schuyler, Hartley & Graham ever marked the guns that they imported (or the domestic guns they sold). They imported thousands of guns, other than Enfields, from all over Europe and sold arms from US makers like Whitney and Mass Arms. To date no other guns have surfaced with the SH / G# mark, which suggests that this is most likely not their mark.
3) An extensive study of period documents, as well as the writings of the principles of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham located only ONE reference to the company as “SHG”, in all other cases the name was fully written out. Interestingly, period documents regularly refer to Sinclair, Hamilton & Company as “SHC”.
4)The mark has five variants, with the number after the “G” being either a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5. Sinclair, Hamilton & Company used five “furnishers’ for their 2nd Confederate contract for 30,000 P-1853 Enfield rifle muskets. These are the “JS/Anchor” guns with engraved numbers on their butt plate tangs. The furnishers often marked the comb of the butt with a single initial to indicate that they delivered the gun. The marks were B for EP Bond, F for Parker, Field & Son, K for James Kerr, (these 3 being London makers), S for Scott & Son and J for CW James (these last 2 being Birmingham makers). Just because their furnisher’s mark appeared on the stock, did not mean that they built the gun, only that they delivered to Sinclair, Hamilton & Company under this contract. It is rational to presume that the number following the “G” in the SH/G# mark refers to the furnisher for the contract.
5) The supposition in the last line of the above argument is further bolstered by the fact that an SH/G# marked gun is known to exist that also bears a furnisher’s marking letter. This is clear evidence of a gun with a known Confederate mark also bearing the SH/G# mark.
6) The final "smoking gun" recently appeared on the market. it is an "SHG1" marked P-1853 that also bears the Sinclair-Hamitlon SH / C in an oval mark that is occasionally encountered on the breech of P-1853's. In this case the mark is at the end of the Birmingham proofs at the breech. This appears to be iron clad evidence that the SHG# mark is in fact another Sinclair, Hamilton & Co mark.
The guns that bear the (CROWN) / SH / G# mark are usually found with additional marks. Typically a script cartouche will be found on the flat opposite the lock, and a set of inspectors initials will be found on the barrel, near the breech, either after or above the barrel proof marks. Several sets of initials have been noted on the barrel of SH/G# marked guns, including J.P. and S.W.. The numbers that follow the “G” in the mark range from 1 to 5, with 3 being the most often encountered number. 1 and 5 are practically never found on a gun. This supports the theory that the numbers refer to the furnisher who supplied the gun, as it is well documented that the furnishers of the JS/Anchor 2nd contract guns (30,000 in all) all supplied the guns in varying numbers. James Kerr supplied only 500, less than 2% of the contract, while CW James delivered 10,000, fully 1/3 of the contract! To date, all of the SH/G# marked guns have been P-1853 rifle muskets from Birmingham makers, marked TOWER on the lock dated 1862 or 1863. That is until I turned up this one. It is a truly interesting example of a SH/G# marked gun.
This P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket is clearly marked with the (CROWN) / SH / G5 on the comb of the stock, forward of the buttplate tang. As noted earlier, “3” is the most common mark, and I have only seen a couple of “5” marks in my entire life. The gun is particularly interesting in that the lock is blank on the exterior, with no marks what so ever. The barrel is marked with London Commercial proof marks, and is to my knowledge the only known example of an SH/G# marked gun with a London proved barrel. There is no doubt that the barrel is original to this gun, as it fits the gun perfectly, is assembly marked to the gun and bears the additional S.W. inspection mark often encountered on the SH/G# guns. The toe of the stock is clearly marked with the name TAYLOR & NEWMAN. This is the standard location for a Birmingham gun maker to mark the guns that he delivered (sometimes called the master contractor mark). Taylor & Newman was a Birmingham gunmaking firm listed in the directories as Gun, Rifle & Pistol Makers. They were established in 1861 and remained in business until 1883. They were located at 270 Newtown Road the entire time that they were in business. Little is known about the firm, but the fact that they went into business in 1861 may well indicate that the American Civil War and the resultant arms contracts may have been the reason the firm was organized. This gun may be the classic example of a Birmingham maker purchasing guns from a London maker to complete a contract. The opposite situation is well known, and a number of Barnett marked Enfield’s are known that bear the Barnett mark in the wood, but have Birmingham TOWER marked locks and Birmingham proofs on the barrels. These guns obviously filled a void in a time sensitive Barnett contract. It appears that this London produced gun did the same for Taylor & Newman, allowing them to complete a contract on time.
The gun is in about VERY GOOD+ condition overall and is 100% original and correct. As noted the exterior of the lock is unmarked. As London makers normally put their names on the lock, it makes sense that an unmarked one would be delivered in a gun destined for a Birmingham contractor. The interior of the lock provides no additional clues as to the origin of the lock or gun, and is marked only with a GS on the mainspring boss stud. The lock functions crisply, and is mechanically fine. It works well on all positions. The breech of the barrel is marked with the usual London commercial proof marks, a 25 gauge mark (for .577 caliber) and the extra inspector initials S.W.. The bottom of the barrel is marked with the initials H.P. (likely the barrel maker) and with the mating marks: \ \/ | . The surface of the barrel has a mostly smooth, mottled brown over gray patina. There is some pitting and peppering in the breech and bolster area, as is usually found on percussion guns that saw any real service. The area from the breech to the back of the rear sight shows this minor roughness. The balance of the metal is mostly smooth with only some small, scattered light patches of oxidized peppering and pinpricking. The bottom of the barrel retains about 90%+ of its original deep, dark, rust blued finish. The entire portion of the barrel protected by the stock is just gorgeous. There are also patches of original blue blended with plum brown patina on the top of the barrel, under the barrel bands. This indicates that the finish loss on the barrel is from use and cleaning in the field, as the bottom of the barrel was apparently never touched. The gun was not intentionally “struck bright”. The bore is very dark and dirty with moderate to heavy pitting along the entire length. The bore has no discernable rifling, however, a good cleaning may reveal that the rifling is merely concealed by 100+ years of dirt and crud. The original long-range rear sight remains in tact, as does the front sight/bayonet lug. An original ramrod is in the channel under the barrel, and it is in very good condition. It is full length, including the threads on the end. The rod is either an original replacement, or the stock has slightly shrunk, as the rod fits the channel very tightly and is nearly impossible to remove from the musket. It can be removed by inserting a tool in the slot of the jag head, to use as torque to twist the rod and pull it free from the gun, but it takes significant effort. Both original sling swivels are present on the gun, and all three of the barrel bands retain their original screw end doughnuts that prevented the barrel band screws from being completely removed from the bands. The brass furniture has a wonderful deep, deep golden patina. The only real defect worth noting is that a small hole has been drilled in the bottom of the buttplate to allow the insertion of a metal rod for mounting and display. The gun was obviously displayed on a wall with a rod in the muzzle and another in the butt for support. Thankfully you don’t display the bottom of a buttplate and the minor issue does not in any way affect the displayability of the musket. The stock of the musket is in NEAR FINE condition, and retains strong edges throughout with no indication of having been sanded or refinished. The flat, opposite the lock is stamped with a script J.C in an oval cartouche, a mark often found on SH/G# guns. There is an additional set of initials at the tail of the flat, but I could not read them. They may read JP. The stock is full length and solid, with no breaks, repairs or cracks noted. The stock does show a number of the normal bumps, dings, scratches and minor mars from service and use, but shows no abuse or serious damage.
Overall this is a very interesting example of what is almost certainly a Confederate import marked and used P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket. While the meaning of the initials SHG are still not absolutely clear, I am quite sure that they are another variant of the Sinclair, Hamilton & Co mark. I believe that the “G” may indicate something along the lines of “Gunmaker” or “Group” followed by the furnisher’s code number, or it may simply be that the stamp was not made correctly, and the “G” was supposed to be a “C”, the result of a hastily written or read work order. In any event I am quite convinced that the SH stands for Sinclair Hamilton and the numbers represent gun furnishers for this particular contract. While the condition of the gun is certainly not pristine, the gun is essentially untouched and shows real field use, just what we want to see in a Confederate long arm. Pristine examples never really fought. The gun has a wonderful “been there, done that” look, and is not a parts gun or one that has been messed with in any way. This is one Enfield that you will not have to make any apologies for, definitely came here for the war and would look wonderful in any display of American Civil War memorabilia. The fact that this is currently the only known example of a London proved (CROWN / SH / G# marked gun makes it even more unique and may well be worth putting away as an investment for when more information about southern contracts during the war surfaces or comes out in print.SOLD