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I have received a lovely, heavily engraved and decorated muzzle loading rifle from an estate, and I really cannot figure out what it is. Percussion cap, peep sight, and hex barrel at the chamber tapering to rounded. Eight rifling grooves.

Any experts able to ID this beauty? Literally no marks whatsoever on the gun. No proofs on the barrel, no manufacturer's marks on the stock, no serials, no name. The only identifying mark is the shield with two crosses, and the suit of armor and Papal-looking guy shown just behind the lock, above the wrist.




Note that the outline of the shield and the two crosses are actually gold in color, although it doesn't show in the photo.





The hammer is particularly striking (I'm allowed a pun, right?)







Several more photos and higher resolutions in this album:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157644526685253/

Thanks!
 
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TP or one of the other experts should be along shortly to ID this one properly. My own thoughts, though I'm no authority by any means, is that it's a German bench rest target rifle. The engraving and stock profile has "Deutschland" written all over it in my opinion. No identifying marks as to maker, etc, says possibly a German Guild piece, no?
 

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I'm no expert either, but the shield and crosses make me think it's Swiss. Have seen similar on some very high end Swiss rifles. What an incredible find, can I say I'm envious.
 

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One thing for you to consider DocHawk, your term "rifled musket" is wrong for this gun, it is a rifle, pure and simple. The rifled musket was a military smoothbore musket that was modified by rifling it's smooth bore.

That being said, I'm certainly no expert on European civilian firearms of the percussion period, but my best guess - and it may be wrong - is that it is Swiss.

Or, it could be from one of the states that became Germany.

It may even be Czech, I honestly don't know, I will have to stick by Swiss until someone more knowledgeable comes along with the answer you are looking for. Are there any markings on the barrel saying what city t was made in or a maker's name? Probably not, I'm sure you would have posted pictures if there were, just had to ask.

Thanks for showing it to us Doc, wish I could have been more helpful, it is a beauty and I do hope someone comes along with information for you. Maybe Joe is out there somewhere?
 

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I'm here... and would have said almost exactly what TP has already said. Mid-19th century Germany or central europe. I confess I've never liked these overly ornate, heavy-featured target rifles so what I know about them is just what I've picked up in passing. The rear sight is a type common on Swiss rifles, but that means almost nothing. It could have been copied almost anywhere.

I should add... its a reasonably high quality combination hunting/target rifle. The adjustable tang sight was for target work and you are lucky to have it. The sight on the barrel was for hunting. One of the mistakes we moderns often make is to confuse quality with decoration. In the mid-19th century the services of very good engravers was relatively cheap. The stepped lockplate and "bun nut" retaining the hammer speaks more to the quality of the rifle than the engraving does... though NONE of these rifles were inexpensive in the sense that "farmer quality" American rifles were at the same time. The fact that it is not signed at all suggests to me it is the product of one of the major arms making centers and that it was intended to be sold elsewhere, perhaps made in Suhl and intended for sale in Bohemia (this is just a guess!) where a local dealer or "maker" would put his name on it. This didn't always happen, so there are unmarked rifles about. Much of Eastern and central Europe had wealthy land-owning gentry but very little industrial capacity in the mid-19th century.
 

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The emblem does not match any of the Swiss Cantonal coats of arms.

Czechoslovakia did not exist at this time , but no coat of arms of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, matches either.

tac
 

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Tac,

I don't think the coat of arms represent the maker or his town/region/state. If it isn't just for decoration, it is most likely related to the initial owner of the gun. Secondly, if Joe is correct and the gun was produced for export, the engraving may have been applied later at the place of sale.
 

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The emblem does not match any of the Swiss Cantonal coats of arms.
Good information Tac, but I am not sure that the emblem was intended to represent a place of manufacture, it could denote the coat of arms of a family, either the manufacturer or the man for whom the gun was made.

Czechoslovakia did not exist at this time , but no coat of arms of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, matches either.

tac
Right you are of course. I had should have said the region that became Czechoslovakia, perhaps Bohemia or Moravia.

And Joe, thanks, an excellent post.
 

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[...] Czechoslovakia, perhaps Bohemia or Moravia. [...]
As export destination, possible. However, the longer I look at this gun, the more it appears of Germanic origin to me. I have seen period rifles of very similar appearance (lock and stock) from Frankfurt, Regensburg and Suhl makers, some half stock but others with full stock. Judging from the fairly plain stock of this rife, it was more likely a utility hunting rifle rather than an elaborate show piece.

BTW, the present peep sight seems to be a later addition, the original used to sit in the square socket a bit further up on the tang. Since it is missing there is no way telling whether it looked Swiss or not. Besides, most of the target peep sights in the German, Austrian and Swiss area of the time were to some extend similar in appearance. And since this is more of a hunting rifle, the missing peep sight was probably one of those smaller hunting peep sights (hence the fairly small socket) and not one of those sophisticated target peep sights of the period.
 

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I totally agree that it looks VERY Germanic. However as the OP has not found any proof marks on that I would have expected to have found under the Prussian and AH rules, it is not possible, so far, to determine its originating country.

tac
 

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Nice piece and definitely show wear from use. Thinking Scheutzen free rifle. Hole near triggerguard may be for palm rest for offhand free style shooting involving the sling as a shooting aid. MAy even be special ordered imported for German/Swiss style shooting clubs of late 1800s. Proof marks under the barrel may tell the tale but extreme caution urged as wood shinkage may cause brittleness or cracks if improperly taken apart.
Looks like a a carefull preservation may be in ordnung to keep this beauty around another century or so.
 

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I totally agree that it looks VERY Germanic. However as the OP has not found any proof marks on that I would have expected to have found under the Prussian and AH rules, it is not possible, so far, to determine its originating country.

tac
At least according to Greener, proof wasn't compulsory in Germany until 1892 and was still optional in Austria-Hungary at that date. This rifle clearly predates 1892. Interestingly (and confirming what Greener says about the subject) the 1885 edition of Greener makes no mention at all of German or Austrian proof... Of course, this rifle also predates the unification of Germany. If any of the independent German states had a compulsory proof law, I've yet to hear of it.
Again (in the spirit of conjecture, for that is all that is possible in a situation like this) it may be that, if made for the wholesale market, neither the maker or the reseller wanted it proved as, if it was going to a different country, this would just advertise that it was not the product of whoever was selling it. Proof marks are very useful when present, but their absence often does not tell us much. For instance, in the early 19th century Anglo-American gun trade British proofs were commonplace but as time went on, say by the middle of the century, they tended to be stamped on the bottom of the barrel rather than being visible. I suspect this was because the re-sellers did not want to advertise where the parts were made though I think that very few buyers understood the proofs at all. I have a really splendid tapered octagonal barrel engraved "Lane & Reed Boston" on the top flat with B'ham proofs underneath. It dates from about 1850. I've also had dozens of Lane & Reed militia muskets, all British made, dating from before 1832 and most of those had the B'ham proofs clearly visible.
 
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