View Full Version : 1785 Stagecoach Blunderburst Flintlock Shotgun

Greg G
September 22, 2000, 03:54 PM
Does anyone know or can anyone direct me to information regarding a 1785 Stagecoach Blunderburst Flintlock Shotgun? The gun is being auctioned to benefit a couple of charities, one being my place of employment, and we would like to have some information on this piece. The owner, I am told, has stated that the bidding for this gun should start at $20,000. I don't know the condition of the gun but I was told it is framed for display purposes. We would like to know more about the gun and the possible dollar range for its value.

I would appreciate any help I can get on this. I was given the description of the gun over the phone and the person that gave it to me said the gun was a Stagecoach "Blunderburst." I would imagine it should have been Blunderbuss but you never know.

[This message has been edited by Greg G (edited September 22, 2000).]

4V50 Gary
September 22, 2000, 09:23 PM
No reference to "1785 Stagecoach Blunderburst Flintlock shotgun" in my library. I think the auction house meant, "Blunderbuss, 1785." Regarding the term "stagecoach", I'm unsure whether the English ever used this term. "Coach" may be more appropriate.

We're going to need more information to help. Any other markings on the barrel, lock or stock? If you can describe the lock (lockplate shape, hammer style), side plate (shape), barrel (length, shape), trigger guard (style), it may help. Posting a picture or a link to a photo would help.

Here's some information I dug up on the Blunderbuss: In the British military, Blunderbusses were issued to the Navy (deck fighting for boarding parties or to defend from boarding parties) or for guard duty. It also saw use for crowd control (obvious reason), signaling or close quarter situations. In the later years (1846), they were also found useful in custodial (prison) settings. In the Austrian Army of 1781, it was issued to the front rank of Cuirassiers.

BTW, I'm skeptical of the $20k reserved price. It seems awfully steep, but I'm no expert on prices. If you don't have a Rifle Shoppe or Track of the Wolf catalog for parts comparison, suggest you grab a copy of George Neumann's, "Battle Weapons of the American Revolution" at your library.

[This message has been edited by 4V50 Gary (edited September 22, 2000).]

Greg G
September 23, 2000, 07:21 AM
Thanks for the reply, Gary.
I looked all over the internet for info on this gun and came up empty regarding value, etc. I did find some high dollar auction sites that listed guns that had sold and anything that old that was some kind of Blunderbuss never sold for more than $1600.
The info on this gun was passed along to me from our controller who probably got it from his boss who got it over the phone. I will tell them that without looking at the gun, knowing the maker, etc. it will be real hard to value it. A donor can set the value of a donation at just about any value he wants and it will be between him and the IRS. We don't want to represent a $1600 gun as worth $20,000 and lose our credibility with the public. We have an arms collectors club and a couple of other organizations around here that I might call for help. I appreciate the history on that type of gun, I couldn't find anything that detailed on the net. I will look into getting a copy of George Neumann's, "Battle Weapons of the American Revolution" as you recommended.

You have to be careful about offending donors by asking them to prove to us the value of an item, but at the same time we don't want to be embarrassed at the auction.
The auction will take place at an event that will benefit the charity I work for and there will be a lot of people there.

4V50 Gary
September 23, 2000, 09:50 AM
Museum Restoration Service (Alexandria Bay, NY, 13607-0070) publishes a book(let), The Blunderbuss. While I don't have a copy of it, (it's on the want list), their other book(lets) are excellant. You may want to check it out.

Greg G
September 25, 2000, 01:03 PM
Thanks, I'll check it out.

4V50 Gary
October 10, 2000, 04:00 PM
Just checked out the 1991 edition of Gun Digest. On pages 38 through 47 inclusive there is an article by Wilfrid Ward entitled, "The Weapons of the Mail Coach." The Blunderbuss served from 1783 to 1846 and its use was regulated to include penalties for firing the arms, otherwise than in defense of such coach, for keeping said arms "clean, well loaded, and hung handy." Failure to comply with the latter or for allowing some one to ride the mail coach or for falling asleep while on duty was dismissal. Makers include Wogdon, J. Harding, John Waters (Birmingham), Henry Nock and his son-in-law, James Wilkinson. Most were marked, `For His Majesty`s Mail Coaches," on the muzzle or along the barrel. Check out the article for more information.

James K
October 10, 2000, 04:19 PM
While blunderbuss type arms were made by some of the finest arms makers, principally in England, many were junk when made and have not improved any.

The worst were those made in North Africa in this century for the tourist trade. Some almost looked like guns; others were little more than a piece of wood, a piece of brass curtain rod, and a brass-painted kitchen funnel.

In any case, even with the best, $20k seems pretty high. I have seen some fairly nice ones go for under a tenth of that.


Greg G
October 11, 2000, 08:28 AM
I found an expert who is going to make an appraisal of the gun today. After talking to this guy and looking at all the guns he has for sale, I believe this particular speciman will probably appraise for around $1,500 at best. The guy who is making the appraisal has a really nice Naval Blunderbuss from the same time period for sale for $2,500. It has a nice looking brass barrel and much nicer wood on it than the one being appraised.