Welcome to College Hill Arsenal
Suhl Made P-1853 Enfield by V.C. Schilling

Suhl Made P-1853 Enfield by V.C. Schilling

  • Product Code: FLA-1960-SOLD
  • Availability: Out Of Stock
  • $1.00

Here is a really cool variation of the Pattern 1853 Enfield rifle-musket that is rarely encountered. For many years I have used the analogy that the P-1853 was the AK-47 of the Victorian era. This pattern of rifle musket was literally used by almost every country around the world during the period and was manufactured in a number of countries during its period of use. During the Crimean War, the British contracted to have these muskets produced in America by Robbins & Lawrence of Windsor, VT, by the gun trade in Li’ge, Belgium, at the St. Etienne Armory in France and by the gun makers of Suhl (Thuringia) as well. These same makers were also involved in manufacturing P-1853 Enfields that were used during the American Civil War as well. US Ordnance documents confirm that the US firm of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham purchased approximately 1,700 of these “Suhl Enfields” to complete an order for 10,000 muskets from the state of Ohio. It seems obvious that other importers like James Hoey, Herman Boker & Co, etc would take advantage of the opportunity to purchase “Enfield type” rifle muskets from Germanic makers at a discount price and pass them off as the more desirable and higher quality English muskets. US Ordnance documents indicate that ordnance officers clearly identified and cataloged Suhl (sometimes mislabeled as “Prussian”) made Enfields as being delivered, and lists them with either “iron or brass mounted”, although the iron mounted guns were likely the Württemberg M-1857 rifle musket, that simply resembled the Enfield. References in both Todd’s American Military Equipage 1851-1872 and Hartzler, Whisker, Yantz & Noe’s Firearms from Europe indicate that at least two types of Suhl lock markings are known, as well German Enfield muskets being delivered with unmarked locks. The known lock markings include the SP & SR (Spangenberg & Sauer of Suhl) and VCS (Valentin Christoph Schilling, also of Suhl). Both of these makers had a very close relationship as they were members of Spangenberg & Consorten (S&C consortium). S&C produced the M-1849 German Federal Naval Rifles for the short lived German Federation (circa 1849) and the consortium included not only Spangenberg, Sauer and Schilling, but also Sturm and C.G. Haenel; all names that are familiar to any serious firearms enthusiast and in most cases are companies that are still making fine arms today!

This is a very scarce P-1853 Enfield Rifle Musket, produced in Suhl, Thuringia. The gun is simply marked on the lock, forward of the hammer, VCS, indicating that it was produced by Valentin Christoph Schilling of Suhl. Schilling was a major player in the Suhl gun trade, with his roots going back to as early as 1816, and the firm remaining in business until the early 1900’s, before being absorbed as part of a larger manufacturing consortium. The gun follows the standard Enfield pattern with a 39” barrel in .577 caliber with 3-groove rifling. The gun has an overall length of 55”, which was the British standard prior to the 1” reduction of stock length in 1859 for RSAF produced muskets. This length proves that the sample muskets provided to the Suhl makers were the earlier Type III’s of the Crimean War era. As is typical of Suhl made arms of the era, the gun is hand made and assembly numbered throughout. The assembly number 17 appears on nearly every part, including screw heads, the bottom rear of the barrel bands, etc. The brass furniture, the rear sight and the breech of the barrel are additionally marked with a Gothic S, which I believe indicates “Schilling”, although some sources claim its meaning is “Suhl”. The gun is in about NEAR VERY GOOD condition, with the primary condition issue being that it has been cleaned to very bright. The metal is mostly smooth, with some areas of light to moderate pitting present around the breech and bolster area, and only minor pinpricking present scattered over the rest of the gun. The deeper pitting around the breech does show some darker age discoloration. The bore of the musket is in about GOOD, with visible 3 groove rifling present. The bore is very dark and dirty and shows moderate pitting along its entire length. The bore might improve with a good cleaning. The lock is mechanically excellent functions very crisply on all positions. The entire gun is well made with excellent wood-to-metal and metal-to-metal fit. The original Enfield style long-range rear site is present, complete and fully functional. The original front sight / bayonet lug is present near the muzzle. The ramrod under the barrel is an original “Enfield” pattern ramrod, which is full length and retains threads at the end. The gun also retains both sling swivels, which appear to be original. The brass furniture has been lightly cleaned and now has a slightly mellow, golden color, which is not unattractive. The stock is in NEAR VERY GOOD condition as well. It is full length and solid with no breaks or repairs. The stock has also been cleaned, and the edges have been lightly rounded and the sharp lines slightly smoothed. The stock shows some minor wood loss from “burn out” behind the bolster, the result many firings and the caustic cap flash of the mercuric percussion caps. The stock exhibits the typical bumps, dings, wear and tear that a 150-year old military gun stock should show. A set of initials, C L T is present on the reverse of the buttstock. These are almost certainly the initials of the soldier who carried the gun during the American Civil War.

For the collector of European import arms, the Enfield rifle musket is typically one of the first purchases. It often makes sense to add a number of Enfields to such a collection to represent the many variations that saw use during the war: London & Birmingham makers and those even rarer guns manufactured outside of Great Britain, but still imported to the North and South for use during the conflict. This is a great chance to buy a nice example of a very scarce Enfield variation, at the price of a run of the mill, “meat and potatoes’ P-1853. Over the last ten years I have only had the opportunity to own two Suhl Enfields, and I’m sure you will be very glad to add this scarce gun to your collection.


Write a review

Please login or register to review

Tags: Suhl, Made, P, 1853, Enfield, by, VC, Schilling