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Approximately 549 first type Nock seven-shot volley guns were delivered to the British Royal Navy during the Revolutionary War between c. 1779-1780, and only approximately 106 more of the second type like this one were delivered after the Revolution between c. 1784-1788. Though often referred to as the Nock Gun or Nock Volley Gun, these distinctive multi-barrel firearms were actually designed by James Wilson in 1779. Henry Nock has received most of the credit as he was contracted to manufacture the guns and thus his name is the one marked on the guns. They were adopted by the Royal Navy for use by sharpshooters firing from the crow's nest down onto enemy ships. The cluster of barrels produced a tighter shot group and had greater range than a blunderbuss. They have a single touch hole, and the barrel group is designed to have all barrels fire near simultaneously. They were issued towards the end of the American Revolution and also saw use in the French Revolutionary Wars and early Napoleonic Wars before being pulled from service in 1804 or 1805. Admiral Horatio Nelson claimed their severe recoil could cripple his marines and also created a real risk of alighting ships' sails and rigging on fire thanks to the impressive fireball produced by these massive guns. They have also become famous as distinctive firearms in historical fiction, including in the "Sharpe" tv series and "The Alamo" (1960). This example was previously part of the famous Clay P. Bedford Collection and was displayed in the "Early Firearms of Great Britain and Ireland" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and appears in the exhibition catalog on page 156. It is certainly one of the finest examples in private circulation and is likely the finest example on this side of the Atlantic. It has six outer barrels around a central barrel. There is a blade front sight on the rib between the upper barrels, Ordnance proofs, "H-NOCK" signed on the right barrel, a dished rear sight on the standing breech, an iron ramrod fitted in pipes between the lower barrels, the Georgian cipher and "TOWER" on the tail of the lock, reinforced cock, "Queen Anne" style reversed frizzen spring, brass furniture, and walnut buttstock with a storekeeper mark on the right. Provenance: The Clay P. Bedford Collection; The Peter Wainwright Collection; Property of a Gentleman
Very good with mottled gray and brown patina and light pitting on the lock and barrels, attractive aged patina on the brass furniture, and fairly minor overall wear for a naval weapon of the age of sail. The stock is fine and has smooth oiled finish, a few very minor dings and dents, and general minor wear. Mechanically excellent. This is a very attractive example of a scarce and iconic British martial long arm from the late 18th century.
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