Author Topic: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?  (Read 17436 times)

northmn

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Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« on: August 15, 2008, 03:47:56 PM »
I posted this in the antiques section and haven't received any responses yet.  Its kind of a cloudy grey area for discussion.  I know that fowlers had changed with the developments of locks and nocks breech, but have only a vague idea of when they went to long barreled sigle shots to shorter gunds more suitable for wing shooting.  I think maybe the ability of towers to produce shot may have also increased interest in actual wing shooting over pot shooting.  Some of the single fowlers really do not work as well for wing shooting.  The locks are over large and slower and the barrel length can hamper their handling.

DP 
« Last Edit: August 15, 2008, 03:49:18 PM by northmn »

timM

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2008, 06:03:46 PM »
Interesting topic Dave. I agree that sure is a cloudy grey area! I have seen 18th century european fowlers in the shorter 30" barrel range. Then I have seen late percussion fowlers in the 40" plus barrel length and everything in between. Also New England fowlers in the 50" plus barrel lengths into the 19th century. I guess maybe there are no generalizations until the late muzzle loader period?

Wing shooting on fowl seems likely with a flintlock, pot shoting more likely. Hunting the faster birds like dove and quail would be a real challenge with any flinter.

I have been a life long  quail hunter and I don't believe I would have much success using a flinter on my local mountain quail.......these birds are fast! When you get them up they rise a foot or so above the sage and then dive for cover. 

I wonder if any of the ALR membership hunt birds with a flinter? 
tim

Offline T*O*F

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2008, 06:54:15 PM »
Sporting Guns by Richard Akehurst traces the evolution of the fowling piece from the 16th century thru the breechloader.  135 photos of original guns, evgravings and woodcuts from 1500 on.   Mostly British and European guns.

You want the one published by Octopus, not the others.  Numerous copies under $5 on abe.com
« Last Edit: August 15, 2008, 08:00:35 PM by TOF »
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northmn

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2008, 08:20:48 PM »
Thanks for the book reference.  There was one rather humorous article I remember by a gentlemean that used a flintlock to hunt woodcock.  He claimed a low success rate but really enjoyed it as his primarly recipe for cooking woodcock was:  Take one woodcock and 5 pounds of hamburger.  He claimed one woodcock goes a long ways in cooking.  I don't shoot them any more and save themfor others as I feel the same way about their taste.

DP

Offline Dphariss

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2008, 09:03:19 PM »
George in English Guns and Rifles  Shows  two fowlers one from 1775 (hallmarked) and one circa 1780, one is 1/2 stocked the other is full stocked but the stock is cut to allow the upper portion of the forend to stay on the barrel when it is removed (not shown in the photos) and "with barrels slightly under 36".
This is pate VIII pg 134
Plate VII shows a double dated to 1750 but there are no details I can find except that it has no rollers or links in the lock. This plate also shows a longbarreled fowler 39", of the Queen Anne style that dates to the 1775 time frame as well

George also points out that some earlier long guns had their barrels shortened at a later date.
He attributes the shorter barrels to better powder. Pg 119. Though it is possible that the improvements in the breeches, which increased velocity could have contributed.
Dan
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BobT

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2008, 09:16:35 AM »


This is a photo of my great grandfather with his fowler taken about 1880, I have no information on the gun other than it was a left handed percussion gun. I'm guessing  that he had the gun made to order, at least I know that his later cartridge guns were "ordered special". He was a waterfowl hunter so he may have ordered a longer than normal barrel.

Bob

northmn

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2008, 02:28:23 PM »
The gun still looks like it could be swung if wanted for waterfowl.  I did not think of it till now but the differences would be more for upland shooting as waterfowling often permits mounting the gun during decoying.  Also, especially in the 1880's, long barrels were thought to give extra range and tighter patterns.  There were arguements about the advantages of MLs over Breechloaders and chokes started to appear.  Hinton in his book the Golden Age of Shotgunning speaks about the arguements concerning ML's vs cartridges.  ML's could be loaded to any level desired in the field while you had to take what was loaded with cartridges.  Also cartridge gun shooters would be up quite a while in the evening loading while the ML hunters could sit around the lodge and B.S. and pursue other pleasantries.  He talked about hunting where they might shoot more than a couple of hundred rounds a day.  Most of us don't shoot that much a season.  I like the little companion in the picture.  Good chance he helped a lot with the waterfowling.

DP 

Offline Feltwad

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2008, 10:24:30 PM »
From 1760 give or take 10 years saw a major change in the length of gun barrels. The short barrels are mostly the credit of the Manton brothers with their improved lock helped by Nocks patented breech. With a change in game shooting with the introduction off battue shooting required a short barrel gun for shooting flying, Mantons short barrel sxs with a sunking top rib and their improved lock which did speed up ignition time fitted  this type of game shooting not forgetting the improvment in the grade of powder.
Before 1760 shooting flying was almost nil, most game was shot sitting, this was done from behind a blind, today we call it a hide, also common were the cut outs of animals such as a cow or a horse. These early flintlock's had a much slower ignition not forgetting that the powder was very coarse and needed a long barrel to burn all the charge.
Today there are a few dedicated flintlock shooters who use original sxs flintlocks for shooting game. I personally have shot game flying with a flintlock but most of my game shooting is with an original  percussion sxs shotguns in different bore sizes.
Feltwad



« Last Edit: August 16, 2008, 10:38:57 PM by Feltwad »

Offline T*O*F

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2008, 10:50:34 PM »
Quote
He was a waterfowl hunter so he may have ordered a longer than normal barrel.


Grandpa's gun really doesn't have a long barrel.  For comparison, I took the top gun in the picture below and placed it in the same position and angle.  I'm 6'1" and my gun came to my shoulder level.  It is a late 1800's gun.

Bottom to top, barrel lengths are:
30.5
32
36
42



Bottom 2 are English.....top 2 are American.  Also note that 3 of them are back-action locks for fastest lock time, and they all are light, fast handling guns capable of being swung on waterfowl.

Quote
Before 1760 shooting flying was almost nil,

Markham wrote Pteryplegia in 1727 and wingshooting is mentioned in the late 1600'.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2008, 11:02:26 PM by TOF »
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Offline Feltwad

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2008, 11:19:27 PM »
TOF
The two English s/b percussion guns in your photo are much later than the flintlock period. Both are fitted with back action locks of the 1835 period  credited to George Lovell.
As I live in the UK I may be able to provide some information on them from my records if you can supply the makers name plus the proof marks.
Feltwad

Offline T*O*F

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2008, 03:06:18 AM »
Quote
I may be able to provide some information on them from my records if you can supply the makers name plus the proof marks.

Bottom gun has Wilkes on the lock and Birmingham proofs.  Barrel has been shortened and refitted.  Evidence of underlug and thimbles being moved.  12 bore.

The next one up has Payton & Co.  engraved on the lock.  London engraved on top flat of barrel.  London proofs on bottom flat.  Also the word "roses" and TH stamped there.

It's a 12 bore which I still shoot once in a while.
Dave Kanger

If religion is opium for the masses, the internet is a crack, pixel-huffing orgy that deafens the brain, numbs the senses and scrambles our peer list to include every anonymous loser, twisted deviant, and freak as well as people we normally wouldn't give the time of day.
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Offline Feltwad

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2008, 09:33:58 AM »
Wilkes was a well known name in the gun trade working in Birminghan from 1830 to 1900,most were lock makersThe most likely but not certain maker of your gun could have been a John Wilkes  a gun and rifle maker of Summerhouse Lane, Birmingham.1830-1838.I agree the barrel has been added and is much older looks like it is from a full stocked flinter and has been fitted with a percussion breech plug.
The name of Payton & Co i have no information , the word Rose is the barrel maker most likly Arron Rose, Birch Hill Mill,Halesowen, Worstershire 1840-1851.TH could be the proof examiner .at the Tower Proof House.
Hope this has been of some help
Feltwad

Offline James Rogers

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2008, 01:42:39 PM »
From 1760 give or take 10 years saw a major change in the length of gun barrels. The short barrels are mostly the credit of the Manton brothers with their improved lock helped by Nocks patented breech. With a change in game shooting with the introduction off battue shooting required a short barrel gun for shooting flying, Mantons short barrel sxs with a sunking top rib and their improved lock which did speed up ignition time fitted  this type of game shooting not forgetting the improvment in the grade of powder.
Before 1760 shooting flying was almost nil, most game was shot sitting, this was done from behind a blind, today we call it a hide, also common were the cut outs of animals such as a cow or a horse. These early flintlock's had a much slower ignition not forgetting that the powder was very coarse and needed a long barrel to burn all the charge.

Feltwad

I agree with Feltwad's post except we disagree with the circa 1760 date of shooting flying being almost nil. There are just too many earlier references to "shooting flying" and instruction on how to do so to discount them as not being a little more of the "sporting" gentleman's style of shooting.   
I am not trying to say that wing shooting was being perfected in England prior to circa 1760 but was at least growing in it's infancy to be able to generate a noticeable change in shooting by that time frame.

 The appearance of the English SxS gun must also be added to the reasons why barrels shortened. We have powder quality improvement, an increased surge of wing shooting and lock improvements but the trend to SXS doubles occurs about the same time we see barrels get shorter also. Double SXS guns had been made on the Continent earlier but I think Griffin was probably the first guy in England to get the ball rolling with the SXS there in about 1760. When the "in crowd" started going for the SXS as all the rage a little later, the barrels shortened  to allow for efficient use of them.


northmn

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2008, 04:21:57 PM »
Thanks for the information.  I had my theory backwards.  The rise in popularity of wing shooting may have led to demand for the increased output  towers provide, which helped making the first one practical.  Or as likely, one has little to do with the other.  It was said that the first tower built in the US was due to the high cost of shot.  Ruperts method yields somewhat round shot, which is not as bad as some folks think, especially out of a BP firearm and no choke.  Upon reading background on this stuff I found out Rupert was the first governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, so that his method was likely widespread.  I have hunted with a flintlock for flying but learned that shooting ruffed grouse in heavy cover is not a job for a musket.  I am building a true fowler at this time.  I have shot both ducks and grouse with a percussion double (ducks before steel), but found that I had just as much fun with a BP cartridge gun (hammered) but had trouble getting a good one.  I finally have a nice little 16 hammer gun that should work well.  In a ML flintlocks are more fun.
I suggest that shooting flying was a game of the wealthy gentry in the 1700's and that the "commoners" pot shot their game.

DP

tg

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2008, 10:12:54 PM »
"I suggest that shooting flying was a game of the wealthy gentry in the 1700's and that the "commoners" pot shot their game."

Some of us "commoners" still knock a Grouse or Quail off a stump with a  shot from a fusil from time to time...

Offline Feltwad

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #15 on: August 18, 2008, 12:05:31 AM »
"I suggest that shooting flying was a game of the wealthy gentry in the 1700's and that the "commoners" pot shot their game."

Some of us "commoners" still knock a Grouse or Quail off a stump with a  shot from a fusil from time to time...
As I have said shooting flying before 1760 was almost nil yes maybe the local squire was lucky and shot a pheasant flying but 99% of game that was put on the table here in the UK at that period came from traps , decoys and sitting shots.

As for a commoner to knock of a pheasant was a risky busines it could get him hanged or deported to a British colony.During the percussion period gun makers did produce a gun that was adapted by poachers for the taken of game and became known as a poachers gun. This gun came with a skeleton stock which folded forwad over the lock and action the barrel unscrewed in the middle,and the whole gun could be hidden inside an over coat.
I have enclosed a couple of photos of this type of gun from my collection
Feltwad



Gun in a folded postion

« Last Edit: August 18, 2008, 12:13:42 AM by Feltwad »

northmn

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #16 on: August 18, 2008, 02:36:03 AM »
TG your darn right we commoners do.  A ruffed grouse zipping through the tag alders is darn tough with a modern gun.  With the flintlock trade gun/muskets I used I didn't give them any more of a fighting chance than I had to.  I would even try to wait for them to stop walking.  That folding gun is interesting has everything but a silencer.

DP 

FlintRock Rob

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #17 on: August 18, 2008, 05:50:53 AM »
Feltwad,
Thanks for posting pics of that poacher's fowler, very interesting!
Wouldn't that be a fun gun to build, hardly any woodwork at all there, although it might be hard to manage the damascus barrell that also unscrews in the middle… :o

Daryl

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2008, 05:43:14 PM »
Feltwad - did the gun makers sign the "Poacher's Gun"?  That gun looks like something I'd have used in my youth.  As with my little .22, it could have wrapped up in newspaper and been tied to the handlbars of my bicycle very nicely.
: Most interesting, thank you very much for posting this.

Offline Feltwad

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2008, 08:03:21 PM »
Feltwad - did the gun makers sign the "Poacher's Gun"? 

Daryl Most gun makers signed there guns this also applied to the provincial makers .The provincial makers some would buy in the complete gun from the Birmingham Gun Trade and put on their own name and some bought in parts such as barrels ,locks and action and build the gun in their workshop.The Birmingham Trade also supplied a complete gun to other trades such as ironmongers etc most of these did not applied a name .The gun in this thread does not hold a makers name
Feltwad

Daryl

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #20 on: August 19, 2008, 02:23:01 PM »
TKS Feltwad, for the explanation.

Offline Dave B

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2008, 06:34:14 AM »
This is great. I have never seen one like this before. Thanks for sharing your collection with us. One of the builders out here in our area was talking about the English sporting guns and that they got shorter when they started shooting birds on the wing and then when the unlanded gentry wanted in on the deal they started making the take down guns so you could put the gun in a case that traveled under the seat of a carrige.  I had a nice double percussion 12 ga that had only 24" barrels. I attemped to shoot a grouse in a tree at twenty yards. There was twigs and bark flying every where and after the smoke cleared the grouse was still bobbing his head trying to figure out what the heck just happened. I sold it not long after that and learned allot sence then. I now have a  sxs english 12 ga with 30" barrels and will properly work up a load for it before going out again. Grouse beware.
Dave Blaisdell

Daryl

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2008, 08:05:58 AM »
Dave, it depends a lot on the load. If the muzzle pressure is too high, it will blow the wads into the shot cloud with disatrus effect, as you found.  Without a choke of some kind to slow the wads down, you should to re-try the short gun with softer loads.  2 1/2 drams and 7/8oz to 1oz of shot should do it. Of course, you'll have to juggle wads around.  I have a friend with a 10 bore Westley Richards double which does wonderful job on clay birds with 1 1/8oz loads.  In his 6 bore double ball and shot gun, he uses only 1 1/2 oz shot. It's just a pop-load in that big gun, but hammers birds, live and clay.

northmn

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2008, 04:31:45 PM »
One of the interesting aspects on shotguns comes from the British best guns or game guns.  Many were 12 gauge but short chambered for say 2 1/2 inch.  Feltwad would likely know the English gentleman whose studies prompted this.  I believe it was Burand.  Anyway, the square load came out of these studies due to the shot string effect.  As I mentioned elsewhere, the square load is one whoce hieght is equal to the diameter when loaded.  The lightweight 12 ga best guns utilized this principal to an even greater extent by using loads even shorter in length.  A one ounce load in a 12 ga. whether BP fowler or suppository is a very efficient load.  There is less set back on the bottom layers of shot and much less stringing. Too tall of a shot column and shot gets deformed and spins off into never never land.   The best example of this is the poorest designed shotgun ever, the 3" 410.  Brister did his shot string tests on the 410 compared to the 28 gauge becaue they had the same shot load.  The 28 shot an almost perfect pattern on his 40 mph sheet.  The 410 had a pattern something like 5 feet long.  Many claim the 2 1/2 inch will kill doves and quail as well as the 3 inch. 
A one ounce load in a 12 will put more pellets in a flying bird than a lesser gauge using the same load, unless its a straight away.  The heavy loads are best used for turkeys or  ground swatting.  I used to shoot one ounce in sporting clays and could tell no difference between them and 1 1/8.  Trap scores went up when they required the one ounce (28 gram) load due to lesser recoil.
 The other issue of interest is the English formula is where the shot charge should weigh no more than 1/96 of the gun weight.  Hence one ounce to a six pound gun.  Again, that ain't all dumb whether fowler or suppository.

DP     

Daryl

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Re: Changes in Fowlers 18th -19th Century?
« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2008, 07:48:07 PM »
I can attest to the smallest bore, the .410's 2 1/2" being as good as or beter than the 3".  Pertaining to ML's, my .44 smoothie with 1/2oz shot broke 10 sraight and beat all the buys shooting 1 1/2oz (or more) in their 12 bore doubles at the local rendyvous. Too, the 45gr. 2F charge didn't hurt at all, not surprisingly, while the others were 'cheek rubbing' after the event.  Long shot columns and flying birds don't mix well.  come to think of it, this should be in the 'Dove' Thread.