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Old September 22, 2012, 09:20 AM   #1
Stressfire
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Found rifle....or most of one

In my line of work as a librarian, I get a lot of weird questions, but this definitely takes the cake for the week

Patron came in yesterday looking for a book on antique guns. After talking to him a bit more I find this out:

He was doing some work under his house and found, what I believe to be based on his description, the majority of an old trap-door rifle minus the stock.

I asked him to bring it in and I would attempt to identify it for him and try to find out if it has any value.

So here are my questions - to start anyways:
Depending on maker and model, would the remnants of a rifle that has sat in mud for god only knows how long even have any value?

Assuming it is still mud-caked and a bit rusty - what is a safe way to clean it up enough to ID from any stamps or markings without completely obliterating any monetary or collector value that it may still have?
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Old September 22, 2012, 10:30 AM   #2
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My first thought is that if it was buried long enough for all the wood to have rotted away, it is probably too far gone for any kind of restoration. It can always be cleaned up enough to have a "neat-o" display piece, but either way, it will have little monetary value.
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Old September 22, 2012, 10:43 AM   #3
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Well, that was my thought as well, but there may not have been a stock on it - it was found without one, but patron said there was no wood remnants near it
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Old September 22, 2012, 10:53 AM   #4
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IMHO its going to be pitted beyond repair with no value.
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Old September 22, 2012, 11:38 AM   #5
big al hunter
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For identification without damage I would soak it in motor oil for a day. Then scrub with a nylon brush. Dirt and rust will be loosened without further damage. Then rinse with mineral spirits, oil lightly with gun oil to prevent further damage. If scrubbing reveals pitting it is likely a total loss unless it was a famous persons gun and that would have to be verified for any value to be assessed. Fun to look into though. If you can, post pictures.
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Old September 22, 2012, 04:58 PM   #6
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Sounds like he has the makings of a conversation piece lamp.
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Old September 22, 2012, 08:07 PM   #7
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Seen many placed in various museams in that condition.
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Old September 22, 2012, 08:17 PM   #8
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Regardless of what others say, everything has value. Various types of people collect all kinds of things, the only question is: "is the potential value worth the drive to the nearest auction house?"

Either way it sounds like a pretty cool find. I would follow what one of the posters above me said in regards to cleaning it up then attempt to find some identifying marks on it to try and determine year, model, make etc...

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Old September 22, 2012, 09:07 PM   #9
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A suggestion:

Do NO cleaning or restoration work of any kind, until you can have someone who is very conversant with guns of that era examine the find.

Folks have posted about guns in that condition, and I see the general consensus is that if it's nasty, rusted up or without wood that it's worthless.

Here's a picture of a slightly rusted, discolored gun. Take a look at the pictures--then look at the price it sold for:

http://collectorebooks.com/gregg01/c...er/Lot-464.htm
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Old September 23, 2012, 09:52 AM   #10
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But that's a Walker and a rare Walker at that and the OP has part of a trap door which might bring 1000 complete and in good shape.
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Old September 23, 2012, 10:43 AM   #11
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Are you secretly "Rick, the librarian"?
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Old September 23, 2012, 10:47 AM   #12
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A gun friendly librarian who encourages a patron to bring a gun into the library.

Neato!
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Old September 24, 2012, 12:24 PM   #13
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Never assume...

Stressfire--When, as, and if, the patron brings in the firearm in question, you will have a MUCH better idea of its condition and how to proceed. If you then want help, a photo or 2 on this forum would probably get it for you.

Assuming the rifle is a rusty, useless, unidentifiable lump, is just as erroneous as assuming that all it will need to be completely restored is a new stock.

See what the guy actually has, then proceed.

IF he ever does bring it in.

Otherwise we're merely indulging in pointless guesswork.
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Old September 24, 2012, 12:35 PM   #14
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+ for powderman

What powderman says, he's spot on.. William
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Old September 24, 2012, 02:23 PM   #15
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Quote:
A gun friendly librarian who encourages a patron to bring a gun into the library.
Hah, yes indeed. Though sadly, while at work my holster must sit empty. Ohio laws being what they are, I did specify to him that I would likely need to look at it in the parking lot.

He has not returned yet. But I am hopeful as my own curiosity has definitely been piqued.

Powderman, that Colt looked pretty darn nice for it's age and use. And yes, I'm familiar enough with antiques to know that refinishing an old dresser, much less a firearm, is a horrible idea if one does not know what they are doing.

Is oil a bad idea? I don't plan on doing anything with it other than looking and attempting to identify it - certainly not wanting to "bubba" anything. I already told him that I would need pictures at the very least.

Hopefully I will have a better idea of what he has at some point soon.
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Old September 25, 2012, 05:32 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stressfire
Is oil a bad idea? I don't plan on doing anything with it other than looking and attempting to identify it - certainly not wanting to "bubba" anything. I already told him that I would need pictures at the very least.
I wouldn't do anything until you know just what you have. If this does end up being cleaned a DIY electrolysis tank would be the way to go. Amazing what you can do with a $15 investment.

Before.


After
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Old September 25, 2012, 06:26 AM   #17
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I can't add any thing Stressfire, but get pictures if you can. I'd like to see what this guy found.
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Old September 26, 2012, 03:18 AM   #18
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Hmm, might just be my nature, but I think it would be fun to start digging though old country/city tax records, census records and such to see if a famous name pops up as a previous owner. If a previous owner could somehow be tied to someone of importance or even a famous crime/criminal act- that would certainly drive up interest and value in a hurry. Of course such liklihood is very small- the search would be fun.
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Old October 3, 2012, 09:59 AM   #19
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If you are close to Lodi, Ohio...

swing by the "Log Cabin" shop during the week, Dan Kendig maybe able to ID it or know who can.

There are four variants of the Trapdoor:

1865 First Allin conversion [ this model used reline / brazed barrel inside the .58]
1966 Second Allin [Both in 50-70 cartridge, this model used specific made barrel]
1873 first true 45-70 variant with new parts not CW left-over as above]
1880's variant that had both the rifle & carbine barrels and rod bayonet.

Last edited by jrothWA; October 3, 2012 at 10:04 AM. Reason: more information
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Old October 3, 2012, 06:48 PM   #20
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The gun by itself would likely have little or no value. But that is where research starts, not where it ends. Who lived in that area? Was there a battle fought in that vicinity and could that gun have been used in it? Are there any markings on the gun other than the normal ones, like the name or initials of an owner?

The answers to questions like that could mean the difference between a rusty piece of junk and a piece of local history, worthy of a place in a museum.

Jim
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Old November 6, 2012, 03:35 PM   #21
Stressfire
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I know it's been awhile...

But the man finally made it back in.

Not much you can tell from the pics aside from that it used to be a gun barrel.

Condition is actually quite a bit worse that it was initially described, but if you all would, see what you can see.

Even a rough idea of make might be a nudge in the right direction.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg PB060083.JPG (30.2 KB, 102 views)
File Type: jpg PB060084.JPG (22.4 KB, 93 views)
File Type: jpg PB060085.JPG (19.0 KB, 88 views)
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Old November 6, 2012, 03:42 PM   #22
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And a couple more pics
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File Type: jpg PB060087.JPG (21.6 KB, 78 views)
File Type: jpg PB060089.JPG (19.1 KB, 71 views)
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Old November 6, 2012, 07:20 PM   #23
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Well, at first glance and just taking a glance, the action looks a heck of a lot more like a Flobert than a trapdoor Springfield.
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Old November 7, 2012, 12:57 PM   #24
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If it helps some photos of a m-1873 barrel and breach for comparison.
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Old November 7, 2012, 01:20 PM   #25
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More intriguing than the gun itself, is why would someone bury it?
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