Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 227: Unique Henry Nock Revolving Flintlock Carbine

Auction Date: December 2, 2016

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $20,000 - $30,000

Unique Henry Nock Revolving Flintlock Carbine

Manufacturer: Nock Henry
Model: Flintlock
Type: Carbine
Gauge: 44
Barrel: 18 inch fluted
Finish: brown
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 9422
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 91
Class: Antique

This unique six-camber flintlock carbine was manufactured by Henry Nock (1741-1804). Based in London at 10 Ludgate Street from 1772 to 1804, Nock produced several innovative weapons and was a supplier of military arms during the Napoleonic period. The carbine offered here features a fluted, six shot, hand turned revolving smooth bore barrel cluster and an automatic primer system. A similar example, which was identified as being manufactured circa 1800, was documented in Clay Bedford's article "Collier and His Revolvers." Bedford attributed the revolving design to Artemus Wheeler of Concord, Massachusetts. Bedford documents a 12 inch rotating barreled gun manufactured by Wheeler which uses a similar rotating barrel cluster design found on this gun but lacks the automatic primer system. Wheeler filed a patent for his design in the United States in June 1818. The British patent was filed in November 1818 by another American, Elisha H. Collier. Elisha Collier operated "Collier & Co., Gunmakers" in London from 1818 to 1827 and sold revolving pistols, rifles and shotguns. Experts are uncertain if Collier manufactured his own firearms; several prominent London gunmakers including Rigby, Nock and Mortimer may have made the revolving firearms sold by Collier & Co. R.L Wilson states that the Collier revolving arm is "important to the study of the Colt revolver, because there can be no question that [Samuel] Colt saw Collier revolving arms during his boyhood voyage to India and England on the [S.S.] Curvo (1830-31). Although Colt did not copy features incorporated in the Collier, the existence of these arms was undoubtedly a spur to his fertile imagination, and he later (in addressing the Institution of Civil Engineers) made it a point to be critical of the features in this important predecessor arm." Wilson speculated, "Had Collier's revolving hand and long guns been popularly accepted, perhaps Colt's pistols would never have been developed" (see "The Book of Colt Firearms," page 2-4). When Colt entered the firearms market in the 1830s, his designs were a major step forward for revolving firearms. Each barrel on this carbine features a series of three deeply struck British proofs at the breech and gold around the touchhole. The "H. NOCK LONDON" signed barrel collar is German silver and features engraved floral bands and military/patriotic motifs. Additional engraved military/patriotic motifs appear on the lock plate behind and forward of the hammer, barrel tang, buttplate tang and trigger guard, and "H. NOCK" is signed in a gold oval incorporated in the engraving ahead of the hammer. The pan is highlighted in gold. The straight grip stock has checkering on the wrist, a silver thumb escutcheon engraved with a crown and flat steel buttplate with extended tang.

Rating Definition:

Good. The barrel cluster retains 60% artificial brown finish showing thinning to a gray. The buttplate and trigger guard retain traces of faded blue finish, and the lock and hammer have a smooth brown patina. There are a few scattered patches of minor pitting. The German silver is very good with a crisp engraving. The wood is fine showing a long crack radiating from a knot, a few gouges and a number of minor pressure dents and scratches. The barrel cluster is slightly loose, but the action functions properly. A unique example of an innovative early 19th century firearm that would find a prominent place in most advanced antique firearm collections.

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