Original British 1815 Chambers Patent Type Double Lock Repeating Musket
Original Item: Only One Available. We sold a very similar one of these a few years ago and recently a collector in Europe contacted us to inquire if we wished to purchase another. Well, we did, so here it is!
This is incredibly rare; the second one of only three that are known to exist, the third of which is in the permanent collection at the Royal Armouries Museum of Leeds, England.
Originally conceived by a Joseph Belton of West Middleton, Pennsylvania in 1777 and offered to the Continental Congress resulting in an initial order for 100 muskets. However, due to the ongoing Revolutionary War and the British occupation of Philadelphia the guns were never delivered.
A generation later in 1812 Joseph C. Chambers, an enthusiastic multi shot firearm inventor and correspondent of Thomas Jefferson, took up the idea.
From the book Borders Away II: Firearms of the Age of Fighting Sail by William Gilkerson page 146-147:
According to his correspondence, Chambers was able to demonstrate a prototype repeating musket in 1812. An unknown but probably small number of others were built, assembled, converted in the same year. No descriptions of these guns has survived, but Chambers' letter of December 19th, 1812, to the War Office catalogues (in addition to the detached repeater) a single repeater and a double repeater- that is, a musket firing only a single chain of charges, and another with a second lock attached at forward touch-hole The chain it touched off fired until stopped by the last round in the barrel, which was not fused. Behind it lay the last charge which could be fired at will by the rear lock: thereafter the gun could be loaded and fired like an ordinary musket.
The type’s only survivor is the Tower musket, built at Woolwich by Bland in 1815, copying the double-lock Chambers guns Bland had helped make in 1813. In the absence of any known American example, the Bland musket is the only double-lock Chambers-patent type repeating gun extant from which any extrapolation can be made.
This extraordinary musket is close to the one we offered previously but varies slightly. It is fitted with two triggers and two locks, the forward hammer is 11 inches ahead of the rear hammer. The forward trigger fires the forward lock which ignites the series of charges (forward most charge first working backwards toward the rear lock). These discharge one after another with a few seconds delay between firings. The last charge is not fused to the series and that is fired by the rear lock. Thereafter the musket can be used as a single shot weapon until the careful loading of another multi-charge or repeating load can be executed.
The story really starts in 1815 when the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich under the supervision of a Canadian John Bland, a former employee of Joseph Chambers produced a series of the double-lock repeating muskets with assorted charge capacities for trial purposes for the British Government. The trials took place in 1816 but the system was never adopted and just and one lonely example now resides in the Royal Armories in Leeds.
In 2012 two other examples, with the front locks in different positions, were released from a private collection. This is is the second of those examples.
It is constructed using an oak third pattern 1796 Brown Bess converted to add a sea service pistol lock with a second touch hole and a modified trigger guard with double trigger system the project seemed quite doable. However, in 1816 the Napoleonic wars were over and the innovative project ceased.
Clearly the real effort was the carefully prepared chain of charges that allowed the shooter to discharge the front load first and then automatically work backward to fire the second, third and fourth shots at intervals. Unfortunately, to our knowledge, no examples of these multi chain charges are known to exist today.
A fabulously rare 39" third model Brown Bess converted in 1815 into a double-lock repeating musket which other than then the prototypes were never produced or adopted.
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