View Full Version : Antique Musket
November 10, 2010, 04:49 PM
New to the site here. I found an old musket at an estate sale and decided to get it. I know nothing about guns but since the price was only $60.00 I decided to go for it. It appears to be a muzzle loading rifle with a ram rod. The wooden parts of it look like they were once finished but this finish has since rubbed off. The firing mechanism appears to have broken off long ago. The wooden piece which sits under the barrel is cracker, particularly since there is a knot in the wood which seems to be coming apart and furthering de-stabilizing the growing crack. The ram rod is metal and the corrosion on it appears to match the corrosion on the barrel, trigger and other old parts. The back end of the rifle appears to be stamped "O.B.F O'Neil", but I think the "O" could also be a letter "C" or even a "G". More than likely it's an "O". I purchased the musket in northern, Delaware (not sure if this is helpful), and the former owner apparently used to work for a prominent museum. I was wondering if anyone out there could tell me anything whatsoever about this musket. Many thanks for reading my message. I am most grateful for any information anyone can provide me with.
November 10, 2010, 04:50 PM
November 10, 2010, 04:52 PM
November 10, 2010, 05:18 PM
November 10, 2010, 05:19 PM
November 10, 2010, 08:39 PM
I'd be willing to bet that your gun is not a rifle, but a smoothbore. The first clue is that there's no rear sight.
It isn't a musket either. Military muskets are much more robust and include provision for attaching a bayonet.
It looks like the gun is an inexpensive trade gun, probably made in Belgium at any time from the 1850's to the 1950's. This type was often made for the African trade. Native Africans in the European colonies were usually permitted to own muzzleloaders for hunting and defense, but not breechloaders. I have one of these things with an 8 gauge bore (.835 caliber) imported by Stoeger as a KENTUCKY RIFLE (no kidding) probably in the late (19)40's or 50's.
IMO, the name stamped or burned into the buttstock is that of a former owner. This type of gun has little collector interest and, frankly, isn't worth much. You probably didn't get burned for $60. In this condition, it's a wall-hanger (even if you find a hammer that fits, the overall condition of your gun does not inspire confidence in its ability to hold together when fired even with a light charge of black powder). It's a good candidate for a project gun to repair and refinish. We might be able to get a little more information if you could make out any markings on the barrel and/or lock ("firing mechanism" from which the hammer is missing). The location of the estate sale and the fact that the owner worked for a museum have no bearing on the identification of the gun.
I hope this was helpful.
November 11, 2010, 03:07 PM
"It's a good candidate for a project gun to repair and refinish."
Sorry, but I disagree. Finding parts would be nearly impossible and (IMHO) any money or effort put into "restoring" that gun would be wasted. It is at best a wall hanger.
November 11, 2010, 03:53 PM
Agree with previous posts, wall hanger. Beyond restoring.
And, ditto, it is probably a smooth bore. Fowler, not a musket.
However, if there is something about it you really are attracted to, you may want to consider doing what I have in progress right now.
I had a similar junker but liked the lines and the way it came to shoulder. But it was beyond restoring.
So, I acquired a new, in the white, made 1800-1820 Belgium Damascus barrel, used the hardware from the old gun, bought a new flintlock (departure from original percussion), had the stock duplicated and right now a new fowler faithful to the lines of the old junker is in progress. Lot of work and a lot of money but it will be a real braggin' piece when finished. Plus I will shoot and hunt with it.
November 11, 2010, 07:30 PM
Many thanks for the information. I'm amazed to hear that it's a shotgun. So shotguns were made with ram rods as late at the 1950's? I always thought ram rods were ancient technology. In any event, I'm glad to know something about it. I posted on another website and was given an almost identical response. I've check for further markings and could find none, although the metal is pretty rusted. I'd love to more acurately date it if at all possible. Thanks again for telling me all of this information!
November 11, 2010, 08:32 PM
QED, that gun is a muzzleloader, therefore it needs a ramrod to stuff the ball or overpowder and overshot wads down the barrel.
Jim, my comment about restoring the gun was made with the intent of making it look functional, mainly to repair and refinish the stock, clean up the metal and replace the hammer. I recommended the gun not be fired. There are several possible sources of hammers (especially if it doesn't have to fit perfectly), such as Dixie Gun Works. In this case, a rough measurement of the reach between the tumbler and the nipple should yield a hammer that could be attached to the tumbler and at least make the gun appear complete. I wouldn't advise any further lock work.
November 13, 2010, 12:33 AM
The 1950's date was in conjunction with the possibility that the gun was made for sale in areas where "natives" were not allowed to own modern firearms. Muzzle loading guns are being made and sold today, and there is a lot of sporting interest, as well as muzzle loading hunting seasons.
Still, I think that gun is actually old (mid 19th century), but it is necessary to recognize that not all old guns are valuable or of interest to collectors.
For a wall hanger, it would not be necessary to even buy a hammer; one could be whittled out of wood in a few minutes and painted to match the sideplate. That way, no one would be tempted to (or be able) to fire the gun.
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