Author Topic: Please help ID this new gun  (Read 887 times)

Offline Darthur

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Please help ID this new gun
« on: April 21, 2017, 03:59:40 AM »
 Hello All,
I recently picked up this gun. I have been looking through the archives trying to find guns to compare it to hopefully to try and find out more about it. I initially thought it was a cut down full stock percussion conversion, now I am not so sure.
 It has barrel on it that is marked London on the top of it and a couple of crossed scepter marks on the side of it. On the underside it has some other marks that I am unsure of.
 The lock is marked AW Spies, which I understand was an American company from the early 1800's and has been converted to percussion at some point. Possibly could have had the lock changed out when converted I suppose. It looks like it may have been retrofitted and even filed down to fit the inlet.
 It is 62 3/4" OAL. The breech is about 1 1/8" wide and tapers down to 3/4". Measures 11/16" inside 0.58 cal maybe?
 Nice engravings on the brass pieces.
 What do you guys think?
sure hope I downloaded these pictures correctly.





upload image



















Offline boman

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Re: Please help ID this new gun
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2017, 05:53:12 AM »
Based on your description and the pictures,  I'm guessing this was at, one time, a full stock gun made in England for the "trade" in North America.  The barrel shows tower(of London) proofs---double stamped crossed scepters; and the triggerguard and buttplate are commonly accepted as of English origin.  The buttstock shape is very similar to English tradegun/fowlers imported to the US for sale by sutlers, traders and merchants. You might try and find out when AW spies was in business and where. If my guess is correct it also most likely the lock was "private labeled" for them and is original to the gun as it was ordered from England. 

The other possibility is that the gun was rebuilt using the iron and brass parts from a previously imported gun and the spies lock was added or reused as a conversion lock.

Steve

Offline Darthur

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Re: Please help ID this new gun
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2017, 12:34:11 PM »
Thanks for the information.
 I had seen pictures of crossed scepters before but they always had a crown with them and I wondered why there were two of them. I thought they might not be original or even possibly faked. I had read somewhere that some arms makers would put similar markings on their guns to help them sell better. I cannot tell if the marks on the underside are stamps or just tool marks from where it has been worked on at some time. The one seems to be oddly placed out on edge of the barrel flat. Is there a way to tell an approximate year it may have been made by the markings on the barrel?
 Nice to know the brass fixtures are English origin. That most likely means they were with the barrel originally.
 Just by internet search I found the AW Spies was a business as an importer in NY, NY in the early 1800's. 
 The gun at first impression seems extremely long but when put next to one of my other guns it really is not and it does shoulder up nicely.
 I can see no evidence of any barrel lugs for it to have been pinned to the stock. Just a single lug for a wedge underneath the octagon part of the barrel. The dovetail for the wedge lug looks like it may have been done at a later time. It just looks less carefully done than the front sight dovetail to me.




When I bought this gun I thought it was just a conglomerated assortment of repurposed parts put together at some point. That was OK with me since I was looking for something I could re-stock as a project.


Offline smart dog

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Re: Please help ID this new gun
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2017, 02:13:25 PM »
Hi,
The photo of the barrel marks is not very clear, however, the 2 marks could either be Birmingham proof marks or private Tower of London proof marks.  I cannot tell given the image.  That the gun is labeled "London" is irrelevant because many Birmingham guns where marked "London" as a marketing device and many London makers used Birmingham barrels.  All nonmilitary British guns that had proofed barrels will have 2 similar proof marks on the barrels.  The first is the view mark, which is the original inspection of the barrel, and the second is the proof mark stamped after the barrel was fired with a proof charge.  Generally, in Britain, gun barrels were made and proofed in Birmingham, or by the London gunmaker's guild (the proof marks with the crowns to which you refer), or you could pay the Tower to privately proof your barrels.  The Gunmaker's guild marks were crowns over a "V" for view and then a crown over "GP" for proofing.  They also had a crown over "F" for foreigners proof if you were not a guild member but you paid them to proof your barrel.

dave
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Offline Darthur

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Re: Please help ID this new gun
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2017, 02:44:25 PM »
 Ok I understand how the proof markings worked now. Wish I could get better pictures. I can zoom them in on my phone and they look a little better but manipulating them on the computer before posting them is beyond what I know how to do. LOL

Offline The Rambling Historian

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Re: Please help ID this new gun
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2017, 04:49:02 PM »
Some info on Spies:
Adam W. Spies (c. 1800-1891) was a retailer and agent in New York during the 19th century. His father was a veteran of the War of 1812 and other ancestors fought in the Revolution. He worked for the Wolfe family in New York City as a teenager and was sent by them to Birmingham as their representative. According to his obituary he returned to the states and was married in 1832 and was so successful in New York City as a hardware and military goods merchant that he was able to retire in 1850. He was also a member of the early New York City Fire Department starting in 1818. "A.W SPIES" has been seen marked on swords, firearms, and even buttons known to have been produced by other makers such as Ethan Allen suggesting he was primarily a merchant though some also believe he produced firearms including Deringer inspired pistols.

I his New York Times obituary http://www.swordforum.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=91520&d=1280289570 that discusses much of this information. There is a lot of incorrect information out there about him in books and online. I've seen it said that he was a swordsmith from Birmingham (likely based on his name being stamped on swords sold in his store in New York), that he died in 1860, etc.
“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living."- Marx

Offline Darthur

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Re: Please help ID this new gun
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2017, 08:55:01 PM »
So that puts the lock date somewhere after 1832 and probably the rest of it too. Interesting stuff on Spies. I enjoyed reading it.
Thanks

Offline smokinbuck

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Re: Please help ID this new gun
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2017, 10:38:25 PM »
I think, at best, you have what's left of an old english fowler. At worst it is a parts gun as you origonaly thought.
Mark
Mark

Offline smart dog

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Re: Please help ID this new gun
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2017, 12:32:19 AM »
So that puts the lock date somewhere after 1832 and probably the rest of it too. Interesting stuff on Spies. I enjoyed reading it.
Thanks
Hi,
The lock was originally a flintlock.  You can see where the pan was cut off and there are holes in the lock plate for the frizzen spring.  On the end of the butt plate return there seems to be engraved tulip leaves.  I believe that design was popular on guns for the Indian trade in North America.  The acorn finial on the trigger guard was very popular during 1770-1785, after which the pineapple finial tended to dominate on English guns. 

dave
"Flick Lives!"

Offline Darthur

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Re: Please help ID this new gun
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2017, 02:40:01 AM »
I really enjoy trying to figure out the history of an item like this. It is fascinating to me. I need to order the Grinsdale book on fowlers and do some enjoyable reading.