A Very Fine Cased Percussion Presentation Rifle.
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46” overall, 30” browned twist octagonal .500 sighted barrel. Rifled with four bright spiral grooves, with Birmingham proofs. Engraved with recipient's name 'J.H. Thornhill Esquire' along the top flat at the breech. Three blued folding leaf back sights each with central platinum line, case hardened breech with two gold lines and engraved with foliate scrollwork on top, pierced platinum plug, border engraved case hardened tang decorated with foliate scrollwork. Case hardened flat detented lock and hammer decorated en suite. Highly figured half stock with chequered grip and fore end, the latter with dark horn cap, border engraved blued steel mounts all decorated with foliate scrollwork and comprising butt plate, spur trigger guard, case hardened trigger plate with shaped finial, blued set trigger, engraved barrel bolt escutcheons, sling mounts, original brass-mounted ramrod. In its original lined and fitted brass mounted mahogany case with accessories including brass mounted powder flask embossed with a scallop shell on each side, brass bullet-mould, patch cutter and leather sling. The exterior of the lid with flush fitting brass carrying handle centred on a vacant circular escutcheon.
In very fine near mint condition, bore is mint. Unusual that a rifle of this quality is not signed by its maker.
A newspaper cutting hand dated April 1854 and pasted to the inside of the lid reads: 'On Tuesday the 18th instant, a handsome case, containing a very superior got up rifle piece, &c, was presented to J.H. Thornhill. Esq., Surgeon, Darlaston by Mr James Wilkes, at the Vine Inn, of the same place, as a mark of gratitude for the kind attention paid to him by that gentleman during his late illness; a circumstance which the medical profession seldom have the opportunity of boasting of.'
James Wilkes was possibly the maker of this rifle, he was also the Licensee of the Vine Inn (1851-1865) and gun lock maker as was his father before him, William Wilkes.
Darlaston was the centre of Gun Lock making in the 18th to mid 19th centuries.
John H. Thornhill, surgeon of New Street, Darlaston.