Author Topic: English Griffin Rifle  (Read 1946 times)

Offline Mattox Forge

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English Griffin Rifle
« on: May 22, 2023, 03:33:25 AM »
I received an English rifle Saturday from the UK. This is somewhat similar to the Pendrill I got last year. According to Holts, the maker was Joseph Griffin son of Benjamin Griffin. I haven't measured the twist, but it looks faster than what was in the auction write up, more like 3/4 turn in 36 inches. I am amazed that something that is as old as this is still in as good a shape as it is. The bore is in great shape.
Mike

The Griffin is the upper one in this photo.










































Offline moodyholler

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2023, 04:02:49 AM »
I really like this one. Particulars?

Online smart dog

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2023, 04:25:46 AM »
Hi,
Nice rifle! Something is a bit odd about the stock.  It is not of the quality you would expect from the Griffin family and the butt plate looks more like something from the end of the 18th century or early 19th century.  The lock is easily from the 1720s-1740s, possibly before Joseph Griffin finished his apprenticeship. I wonder if it was restocked from older parts.

dave
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Offline Feltwad

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2023, 10:18:44 AM »
Hi,
Nice rifle! Something is a bit odd about the stock.  It is not of the quality you would expect from the Griffin family and the butt plate looks more like something from the end of the 18th century or early 19th century.  The lock is easily from the 1720s-1740s, possibly before Joseph Griffin finished his apprenticeship. I wonder if it was restocked from older parts.

dave
I would say that is correct  a restock  the lock mortice gives it away and the refreshed moulding and carving seen it all before still a good example
Feltwad

Offline WESTbury

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2023, 02:04:36 PM »
I would say that is correct  a restock  the lock mortice gives it away and the refreshed moulding and carving seen it all before still a good example
Feltwad

Does not matter if it's restocked & refreshed, it is a great looking piece, congratulations.
I've always liked those English single bridle locks that closely resemble the earlier Land Pattern locks.
Kent
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Offline Mike Brooks

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2023, 03:29:44 PM »
There are several other things about this gun that gives me the Mr. Spock eye brow. The square breech tang. The lack of a hooked breech. Barrel pins instead of keys , and the octagon  fading to round rifled barrel.  All unusual features for a big name maker.  Never say never I guess.  I agree with the restock theory.
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Offline WESTbury

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2023, 06:51:35 PM »
There are several other things about this gun that gives me the Mr. Spock eye brow. The square breech tang. The lack of a hooked breech. Barrel pins instead of keys , and the octagon  fading to round rifled barrel.  All unusual features for a big name maker.  Never say never I guess.  I agree with the restock theory.



"We are not about to send American Boys 9 to 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian Boys ought to be doing for themselves."
President Lyndon B. Johnson October 21, 1964

Offline Eric Kettenburg

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2023, 07:45:39 PM »
You know just as an aside, my wife can do a Mr. Spock eyebrow with either eye like you wouldn't believe.  Totally serious.  For some reason, though, it always seems directed at me...
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Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2023, 08:30:21 PM »
Interesting theories. Did Griffin only make high end, full featured guns like Boss did in the 19th century?

How would a typical gamekeepers rifled gun have been fitted out?

This piece is certainly very well made, but fairly plain. There was very little expense put to convenience features. The standard of workmanship is fairly high though, certainly better than contemporary military pieces I have, more akin to a livery Volunteer carbine by Nock. Whoever worked on it knew what they were doing at least at a journeyman level.

I haven't had the chance to dismount the barrel or any of the pinned furniture to see if it was reused during any sort of restocking. When I am able to clean it, I will take some photos and post them.

Mike

Offline Jim Kibler

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2023, 03:19:04 AM »
I'll pile on.  Before reading the comments I thought the same word.  It's not typical of English stocking.  Too many oddities....

Online smart dog

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2023, 03:46:11 AM »
Hi Mike,
You need to start from the premise that English rifles were not made for the common citizenry.  They were made for the wealthy land owners that could hunt fallow and red deer or for officers bound for India or America where they could hunt big game. This changed as the empire grew toward the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries.  So, while fairly plain rifles might have been made for game keepers, the majority were well made and exhibited a higher quality than your rifle.  The very narrow comb and butt plate are not 18th century characteristics until the very end of the century.  The lock pre dates 1740 at least so Joseph Griffin was unlikely to be the maker.  It is a fine gun but not a clean representative of the type.  By the way, it was the fast twist, many groove rifling that Ezekiel Baker rebelled against to design an effective military rifle capable of longer range accuracy.  John George fully describes how English makers went down the rabbit hole of many grooves and fast twist producing guns that produced disgraceful accuracy with anything beyond light short range loads.

dave

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Offline Pukka Bundook

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2023, 04:53:26 PM »
Agree with Smart Dog, re the stocking up being later.
At first sight I thought heavier stocked than an original.
Its still a great rifle and  both Griffins are makers that I appreciate the most!
It could well be that the lock, sideplate and trigger-guard by what I can see, (no fillet in the trigger-guard) were Benjamin Griffin.  Stocked up later.

Rifling still looks wonderful !

Offline James Rogers

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2023, 11:38:45 PM »
Neat rifle! I agree on a later in the period re-stock. The lock and parts that I can see look from the 1740s in my opinion.
Can you show an overhead and a behind shot of that buttplate?

Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2023, 07:23:00 PM »
Some more particulars:


Here are pictures of the butt plate







Front sight detail



A closer view of the proofs:
I think the indistinct one is the view proof that was struck unevenly and then partially filed off. It appears to be the top half of the crown portion of the Foreigner's mark that would be between the final and view proof. I suppose the view proof was filed off when the barrel was originally struck down or restruck.





Thanks for all of the insights into this rifle's probable history! After I get it taken apart, I'll post more photos.

Mike


« Last Edit: May 24, 2023, 07:48:41 PM by Mattox Forge »

Online smart dog

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2023, 09:45:04 PM »
Hi Mike,
If that indistinct proof mark is the "foreigner" stamp, it identifies Benjamin Griffin as the maker.  He was never granted freedom of the London company and had to have his barrels proved under the foreigner's fees and mark.

dave
"The main accomplishment of modern economics is to make astrology look good."

Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2023, 10:46:36 PM »
Hi Mike,
If that indistinct proof mark is the "foreigner" stamp, it identifies Benjamin Griffin as the maker.  He was never granted freedom of the London company and had to have his barrels proved under the foreigner's fees and mark.

dave

Dave,

Thanks. That's what my references indicate. Unfortunately you can see that the mark is pretty indistinct. However, it does not look like any of the rampant griffin heraldry type stamps that Joseph used, and does appear to be the top of a crown, so it might be a Foriegner stamp.

The Benjamin Griffin guns I can find pictures of that show the proofs, tend to show very shallow view proofs as well as the crown over F stamp between the final and view stamps. The fast twist rifling is typical of early attempts at rifled gun making by English gunsmiths, like you said above. Benjamin Griffin, rather thann Joseph would make more sense as the original maker for the metal parts. Which would mean this is a pretty early English rifle barrel if it was made by Benjamin.

Mike
« Last Edit: May 25, 2023, 02:52:52 AM by Mattox Forge »

Offline James Rogers

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2023, 11:18:23 PM »
I also think thats a foreigners mark. I believe all the parts on that gun are of the same period including that buttplate. I am also at the same time estimate as my prior post. I think this is a Ben Griffin rifle that was restocked by someone else in a later period. Very neat. Thanks for sharing.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2023, 02:44:07 AM by James Rogers »

Offline smylee grouch

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #17 on: May 25, 2023, 02:55:29 AM »
I think I might need to be educated as I see no rear sight. Is it just missing or did they come rear sight less?  :-\

Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2023, 03:04:11 AM »
I also think thats a foreigners mark. I believe all the parts on that gun are of the same period including that buttplate. I am also at the same time estimate as my prior post. I think this is a Ben Griffin rifle that was restocked by someone else in a later period. Very neat. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for the confirmation on the foreigner's mark.

What are your thoughts on the iron ramrod? Do you think a rifle from the 1730s or there abouts would have had an iron ramrod originally? I thought the metal rod was odd. However, a wood rod that slim would be inadequate for a rifle of this bore.

Mike

Offline James Rogers

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2023, 03:31:00 AM »
I also think thats a foreigners mark. I believe all the parts on that gun are of the same period including that buttplate. I am also at the same time estimate as my prior post. I think this is a Ben Griffin rifle that was restocked by someone else in a later period. Very neat. Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for the confirmation on the foreigner's mark.

What are your thoughts on the iron ramrod? Do you think a rifle from the 1730s or there abouts would have had an iron ramrod originally? I thought the metal rod was odd. However, a wood rod that slim would be inadequate for a rifle of this bore.

Mike
Mike
I only think it's a foreigners mark being that Benjamin would have had his barrels so marked. Being defaced, its my assumption thats what it is.
I am not all that versed on rifled guns so can't speak on the rammer. The question of the lack of rear sight is a good one as well. Also Mike's point of a straight flat barrel breech tang is unusual.

 As an aside...I have pictures from the auction house of this gun and it appears that the swell at the entry pipe is not only swelled out on the sides but also looks like it swells downward from the bottom line of the gun. Is that the case? I have not seen that on original stocked guns but have seen it on a few contemporary pieces. IIRC a Bess swell does not extend downward past the bottom line of the stock and only swells to the sides. Can anyone comment further?

Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2023, 04:31:27 AM »
James,
The bottom line of the stock does not "swell". It follows a same curve as the forearm lower line out to the entry pipe as you would expect. The sides of the stick swell out in a fashion similar to a brown bess, but no where near as pronounced as a bess stock does. The square tang is unusual on an English gun. Even a plain breeched English made gun. I wonder if the barrel was reworked and reproached for some reason, or if German styling was used because it was a rifled barrel.

 It is hard to tell what may have happened in the life of a gun. I have a gun I bought from Holts a few years ago that appears to have started life in John Manton's shop as single barreled flintlock fowler in the late 1790's. At some point the middle of the gun from the front of the lock just at where the false breech would have been was replaced by a rotary lock breech loading mechanism. The rear half of the flintlock was retained and converted to a hammer sidelock. It's a really nice 220 year old 16 gauge breech loading shot gun woth a Manton twist barrel on it.
I guess if the barrel was good, they kept using it as long as they could, restock, rework, etc. and keep going.
Mike

Offline James Rogers

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2023, 04:56:19 AM »
This was the picture that made me wonder about that feature.  I guess it was just the camera angle.



Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2023, 05:16:07 AM »
Yes, that's catching the side swell. Holts doesn’t take full straight on side views for some reason.
Pardon my bad photo, there is a shadow under the stock in the area of interest.



Mike
« Last Edit: May 25, 2023, 05:20:57 AM by Mattox Forge »

Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #23 on: May 26, 2023, 07:30:04 AM »
Another Benjamin Griffin gun, presumably a rifle, since it uses the screw plug breech loading mechanism. It only has the definitive proof as well, but no foreigner's mark. I wish they had a photo of the tang. This has a rear sight filed into the rear of the barrel.

https://www.nramuseum.org/guns/the-galleries/road-to-american-liberty-1700-to-1780/case-4-shot-heard-round-the-world/griffin-breechloading-flintlock-musket.aspx



















Mike
« Last Edit: May 26, 2023, 08:32:01 AM by Mattox Forge »

Offline Mattox Forge

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Re: English Griffin Rifle
« Reply #24 on: May 27, 2023, 11:19:46 PM »
Photos of disassembled hardware
The hardware all seems to have only one hole for the pins.
















The barrel lugs have their holes slightly ovaled as you would expect.







It seems like the rough stocker painted the inletted surfaces with white lead. The other inletting is bare wood.















Mike

« Last Edit: May 28, 2023, 01:35:39 AM by Mattox Forge »