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Old October 14, 1999, 05:21 AM   #1
blake7
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Dear All,
First I would like to say thank you to all the great people who provide such excellent information on the Springfield Model 1855 Pistol/Carbine I asked about. The weapon belonged to the questioner's great grandfather and is a family heirloom so he was very pleased with the information.
I received another riddle today. I was asked for help on the following: "I have a double barrel flint lock rifle that was aquired through an estate. Don't know anything about it, but will describe it and markings. It is 44" in length, two barrels and two flintlocks. It is a muzzle loader. It has a decorative carved wood stock of a lion, which has cabochon eyes. There is an oval with the letters E L G and a star within the oval. It has "16.s or 8" engraved on the barrel. There is the letters NG with a crown above it and also the letters FG are on the barrel. Letters IB on the stock. Any help at all would be appreciated, as to what type of rifle and the era. Could find no date."
Please let me know if you recognize the animal described in the post and it's particulars if possible.
Thank you.
Sincerely, Blake
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Old October 14, 1999, 11:20 AM   #2
fal308
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Do you know if this is a shotgun, rifle or combination? Smooth-bore or rifled? The ELG and star within a vertical oval and a crown attached on the top is the final Belgian proofmark. The oval proof began in 1810. If no crown above the oval it indicated final proof of muzzleloading shotguns with a standard load rather than a proof load. The crown over oval was a voluntary proof indroduced in 1891 to keep up with the German proof law of 1891. After October 18, 1898 there was a rule imposed that all exported barrels had to have the crown over oval mark or be reproofed, excepting muzzleloaders with standard proofs.
There should also be a 'perron'. It looks sort of like a rook in a chess set, for lack of a better description. The perron mark should be on the chamber or lock.
There should also be an intertwined EL if it is a shotgun, which is the temporary or provisional proof mark.
Could the NG or the FG actually be AE using the right leg of the A as the vertical member of the E? And is there a star above it? This would be an inspector's mark.
The 16s or 8 sounds like a caliber designation. Could the s actually be a 5? Or another number partially obscured? On June 6, 1892 a decree was issued calling for additional markings of barrels which were submitted for voluntary proof and passed. The weight of the barrel in grams as well as the chamber dimensions in millimeters had to be added. There was no set method as to how the marks were to be applied though. A decree on July 11, 1893 specified that the bore diameter or gauge be determined 8.6 inches from the breech or receiver. Another decree on january 30, 1897 recognized the use of choke-bored barrels and the marking CHOKE for smoothbored barrels, while partially rifled choke-bored barrels were marked with CH B RAYE. On October 18, 1898 the gauge marking style was specified. This changed over the years.
Sorry I can't help with the stock. Sounds like a custom-made (or at least customized) proposition.
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Old October 17, 1999, 02:23 AM   #3
blake7
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Dear fal308,
Thank you for the excellent help. I sent your response to the owner and asked him to answer the questions you had. Here is his reply:
In answer to your questions:
1. There is a crown above the oval
2. There is a perron
3. There is an intertwined EL, which is under
the 16.5 (It could be a 5, not 8 or s)
4. The EG,FG,AG, not quite sure, looks more
like an F, but there so hard to read.
There is no star above it.
5. There are also the letters MG on the
barrel.
6. The Letter IB on the barrel and stock
could be some sort of mark instead, almost
looks like a backward B and J
7. I do have pictures if you would like.

I hope that helps. Please let me know if you would like to see pictures or need additional info. Once again, thanks for the help and keep them all 1/2 minute of angle.
Yours, Blake
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Old October 17, 1999, 08:42 AM   #4
fal308
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Thanks for the offer of pictures but I don't think that will help much as one can't really see the detail needed in photographs. Somewhere on the barrel and action there should be one or two initials in capital letters with a star above it/them. This would be the inspector's mark. All Belgian weapons would have this mark before being allowed out of the factory. I would imaginge that one of the series of initials that you have provided is actually the inspector's mark. Is there the same initial(s) on both the action and the barrel? If so, see if there is any indication of the star mentioned earlier. That would be definitive proof of the inspector's mark. I imagine that some of the other initials are the maker's marks. I don't have any information on those marks. Though with much handling some of these could have been rubbed smooth. I believe the 16.5 is the caliber designation as stated. With no choke information on the barrel I believe I would date the weapon in question to before 1897. The IB (J backwards B)could possibly be a foreign (not Belgian) proof mark though other countries accepted Belgian proof marks. Even today all Euporean weapons are proofed, by law.
Another way to narrow the date would be to measure the bore. Measure at the muzzle and 8.6 inches in from the muzzle. If the measurement equals the caliber designation 8.6 inches in, then the weapon was made after 1893. If the muzzle dimension equals the caliber designation then it was made before 1893.
Starting in 1891, there was a voluntary proof with semi-smokeless powder for smoothbarrlled weapons with loads of shot. This had a special designation also. It consisted of a Belgian lion (facing right) over the set of initials EC and the lion and initials were separated by a horizontal line. Later other special marks were introduced to indicate the specific powder used in a given proof.
Hope this helps.
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Old October 22, 1999, 03:10 AM   #5
blake7
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Dear fal308,
I think this last reply to the fantastic information you supplied tells alot about why my questioner can't seem to quite grasp what's being asked. Please take a look and give me your ideas. I truly appreciate you help.
"I found the letter Y on one of the barrels with a mark above it, probably a star, but not really defined.
I also discovered another MG with a crown above it on the other barrel, so both barrels have these initials with the crown.
I am sorry that I cannot be of more help. This weapon was left to me after my fathers passing and I know absolutely nothing about fire arms and I would like to sell it, because I really can't appreciate it, just a dust collecter. Do you think that there is any worth to it?"

Thanks again for all your help.
Yours, Blake
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Old October 22, 1999, 07:57 AM   #6
fal308
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The Y with star (if correct) is most likely the inspector's mark. The barrels were inspected after they were finished with any machining and were attached together but while still in the white.
There is a very wide spectrum in pricing. If there was a definitive makers mark I'm sure it would go for more. The value could be anywhere; $50US for a wall-hanger on up to ? for an extremely rare collectible specimen. I'm not really an expert on these so I have no idea on pricing of old Belgian flintlocks. Have you suggested this person take it to an appraiser? I would imagine most fine antique dealers would know of a firearms appraiser know is knowdelgable in older firearms.
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Old October 22, 1999, 03:08 PM   #7
James K
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If it is a shotgun*, I have seen a fair number of the type. It has Damascus barrels, of course, making it dangerous to fire, even with black powder. The carving on the stock is fairly common, with animals a favorite subject. Since the gun is not marked with a maker's name, it is probably a product of any one of the dozens of small gun shops in the Liege area at the time. If it appears to be fairly well finished, it was likely a low-to-medium priced hunting gun. If it is of a lesser quality, it may have been a trade gun for shipment to Africa or someplace (like America) where people wouldn't know a quality gun if they fell over it.

*You say it is a rifle. Are the bores actually rifled, or is it a shotgun? A rifle would be unusual, a shotgun very common.

Jim
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Old October 23, 1999, 10:42 AM   #8
fal308
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Jim,
I was wondering whether it was a shotgun or rifle also. After looking at the markings, I saw it had a shotgun proof mark on it. Usually this doesn't have much bearing, but in the case of Belgian proof marks, I would take this as acknowledgement of being a shotgun and not a rifle.
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Old October 23, 1999, 10:43 AM   #9
fal308
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Thanks for the clarification on lesser quality weapons disposition. I forgot to add that to the original post.
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Old October 23, 1999, 03:03 PM   #10
James K
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I was not trying to be funny about America. Tons of low-quality Belgian guns were brought over, mainly around the last turn of the century. Actually, a flintlock would probably be a little early for that massive influx, but Liege was an arms center long before there was a Belgium, and their guns went all over the world.

A double rifle would be unusual at the period but not unknown. It would probably be around .50 and of course the barrels would be rifled, a condition that should be noticeable with a bore scope.

Jim
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Old October 23, 1999, 09:34 PM   #11
blake7
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Dear Jim & fal,
I have written to the individual that posted the note on the BB I moderate and explained to them how to check for rifling. I suspect this is a shotgun, but thought I ought to make sure before advising them. I will let you know their response.
Thank you for all the really fine help.

Sincerely, Blake
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Old October 24, 1999, 02:13 AM   #12
blake7
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Dear fal & Jim,
I just had a reply to my question about the barrels. As expected the barrels are smooth not rifled.
Thanks again for all the help. It's great to find a forum where the members not only answer questions but actually know the answers. I am very impressed!!! Thanks.
Yours, Blake
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