A percussion rifle originating from Spain. Decorated with gold and mounted silver, signed “ASPE SEVILLA”, dated 1851.
The Springfield Model 1855 rifled musket,
The Springfield Model 1855 was one of the most unusual muskets produced for the US Army. It was also a great leap in technology which ushered the army from an age of Napoleonic Warfare into the age of modern warfare. The Model 1855 boasted several advances that were unlike all other muskets produced before it. First and foremost the M1855 had a rifled barrel and used the new and deadly conical shaped minie ball. Before the M1855 all muskets produced for the military were smoothbore, which mean’t they lacked the rifling of a rifle. This was done because muskets at the time fired a simple round ball. It took a lot more time to load a rifle because the user had to cram the ball against the rifling, whereas with a smoothbore the user only had to drop a slightly under-caliber ball down the barrel. Of course, this cost the smoothbore musket accuracy when compared to a rifle. The M1855 used what was called a minie ball. The minie ball was conical shaped and had a hollow rear end. Thus the user could simply drop it into the barrel like the older round ball. When the musket was fired, the minie ball would expand into the rifling, thus giving it accuracy. The minie ball was an incredible advance in firearms technology because it allowed muskets to have the accuracy of a rifle, but the speed of a smoothbore.
Another advance was that the M1855 used a much smaller caliber bullet than muskets before it. Older smoothbore muskets tended to use very large caliber bullets. British muskets, for example, were typically .71 caliber. American muskets where typically .69 caliber. The caliber of the 1855 was scaled down to .58 caliber because ordnance officials found that minie balls were more accurate at smaller calibers. .58 caliber would be the standard caliber used in the American Civil War.
The most unusual addition to the M1855 was the Maynard Tape System, invented by a dentist named Edward Maynard in 1845. Unlike other percussion firearms which used copper caps filled with mercury fulminate (percussion caps), the Maynard system used a paper tape filled with blots of mercury fulminate. A mechanism advanced the tape over the nipple of the musket when the hammer was cocked, and when the hammer struck it, a spark traveled down the nipple and ignited the main powder charge in the chamber. It worked much in the same way roll caps work in a toy cap gun today. The theory behind the Maynard System was that it sped up the loading process. Soldiers only had to worry about loading the rifle without placing a cap on the nipple. US Army Ordnance was skeptical of the new system, but Maynard found a friend in then Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, who was very enthusiastic about Maynard’s system. As a result, the Maynard Tape System was included in the M1855 design. While a great idea in theory, in practice the Maynard System proved to be impractical in the real world. Often the Maynard mechanism malfunctioned or failed to advance the tap directly over the nipple. Tests also found that the Maynard tape itself tended to misfire. The tape was also very susceptible to moisture, humidity, dirt, and mud. Before the American Civil War, most M1855’s were converted to regular percussion cap.
The Springfield Model 1855 was later replaced with the Springfield Model 1861 and 1863. Around 60,000 were produced.
Exceptional quality custom engraved Marlin Ballard single shot breechloading target rifle, dated 1875.
A German breechloading single schuetzen target rifle crafted by A. Frieberger of Augsburg, Germany, late 19th century.
A Boer Wars vintage Lee-Enfield Cavalry Carbine.
Belongs to a user on britishmilitaryforums. On the stock is carved the initials “E.B. Cecil” (an Australian private) and insignia of the 6th Queen’s Imperial Bushman.
One of a kind falling block single shot breechloading needle fire rifle. Originates from Austria, mid 1860’s.
The Austrian Werndl breechloading rifle,
During the Austro-Prussian War the Austrian Empire learned the value of having up to date technology due to a bloody defeat at the Prussians. While the Prussians were armed with Dreyse needlefire breechloading repeating rifles, the Austrian Army was still armed with a muzzleloading rifle musket called the Lorenz. While the Lorenz was a generation behind the Dreyse, the Lorenz wasn’t even a particularly good musket when compared to other muskets. Throughout most of the Austro-Prussian War, Austria would suffer terrible casualties as a result. Even in battles where the Austrian Army was victorious, they often suffered worse casualties than the Prussians.
In 1867 the Austrian Army righted the error of it’s ways by adopted the Model 1867 Werndl Holub breechloading rifle. Unlike prior muzzleloading muskets, the Werndl was a breechloading rifle which used self contained metallic cartridges. An invention of the designers Karol Holub and Josef Werndel, the Werndl rifle’s signature feature was its rotating drum action breech. To load the user simply had to rotate the breech block a little less than 180 degrees, insert a cartridge, then close the breech by rotating it back in place. This system of loading was faster than most other breechloading systems of the day, but since the design lacked an ejector, firing was slowed because the user had to removed empty casings by hand. Originally the Werndl was chambered for an 11mm rimfire cartridge (11.15x42R), but was later upgraded to use a more powerful and more reliable 11mm centerfire cartridge (11.15x58R). In trials the Werndl performed admirably, but tied with the American made Remington rolling block. With the judges in a deadlock, the Austrian Emperor personally chose which rifle should be adopted by the Austrian Army. As fate would have it, he chose the Werndl.
The Werndl rifle would rarely see action in the hands of the Austrian Army. However, many made their way to the Balkans, where they were used by revolutionaries and freedom fighters in the various wars of independence against the Ottoman Empire. They were also a common weapon used in the Balkan Wars in which Greece and various Balkan nations allied against the Ottoman Empire shortly before World War I. By WWI the Werdl was a heavily outdated weapon as most nations had adopted bolt action repeating rifles. By 1888 the Werndl was phased out in preference for the bolt action Mannlicher rifle. However the Werndl was still used by the Austro-Hungarian Army, primary as a reserve arm for rear echelon troops. Between 1867 and 1888 around 500,000 Werndl rifles were produced.
A rare presentation engraved Evan’s Lever Action Repeating Rifle, circa 1868.
Sold at Auction: $20,000
Elaborately decorated wheel-lock tschinke rifle originating from Silesia (now parts of Poland and Czech Republic). Dated to 1630.
Estimated Value: $6,500 - $11,000
Excellent condition and extremely rare Wesson and Levitt percussion revolving rifle, serial number 16, mid 19th century.
Estimated Value: $25,000 - $35,000
A beautiful flintlock Pennsylvania Long Rifle crafted by John Shell of Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Dated to 1817.
Sold at Auction: $6,000