Monday, June 9, 2014

The gun in the attic

Tacitus' brother was closing up the old family homestead and found an old gun in the attic.  An old gun.

He has a lot more pictures, with a more detailed view.  He's looking for any ideas about what the rifle (shotgun?) might be and where it might have come from. Dad told me about our old family rifle, but Tacitus doesn't have this.  Cool mystery.

UPDATE 9 June 2014 13:06: Link added.  Oops.


Old NFO said...

He'll have fun researching that one!!! :-)

Goober said...

I didn't read tacitus's post at all, jjust looked at the pictures, but here's what I've got...

Well, it's a percussion cap, so it's likely mid-1800's vintage. That particular ignition style was invented circa 1820, and came into wide use throughout the next decade. It more or less petered out starting in the early 1860's as the metallic cartridge became a thing.

So that narrows the date of manufacture down quite a bit.

It is not a rifle. It is a shotgun. From the picture, it appears to be a 12 or 16 gauge, but it's hard to tell without some scale. Smoothbore muskets were a thing of the past once the percussion cap era came around - a smoothbore was a shotgun by that time. Period. The need for and use for smoothbore muskets had expired by the time the percussion cap was invented.

It is a muzzle-loaded gun, which appears to be missing it's ramrod.

The ELG proofmark establishes the shotgun's point of manufacture as belgium. That does not mean that the shotgun was purchased there, though.

What indicates to me that it was actually originally sold in belgium is the monte-carlo style stock, which was popular in Europe but not the US. THat being said,the europeans didn't favor the "straight stock" design that this shotgun has - that was more a US thing. So that stock is kind of a strange hybrid.

There isn't anything about this piece that suggests it's anything fancy or rare (other than the low serial number - one wonders, 44 out of ????)


I conclude that this was a sporting gun, likely not used for self-defense in any meaningful way (generally, shottys used for self-defense are double barreled for that quick follow up shot). Likely, it was used for bird hunting like a shotty is supposed to be used. THe real mystery is why was it walled into the house like that?

Hat Trick said...

A link to Tacitus' post would be nice. :-)

Geodkyt said...

It's a generic Ye Olde Barn Gun.

Tacitus2 said...


Largely agree. The only thing linking it to "defending the homestead" was the family tale of fleeing the Sioux Uprising. I would expect that anything that could be loaded and carried would have been.

Why walled off in the attic? Nobody now alive can say...