This unique five-chamber flintlock rifle was manufactured by Elisha H. Collier circa 1820. The Collier patent five-chamber design was invented by Artemus Wheeler of Concord, Massachusetts. 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. This rifle has a fluted, five-shot hand turned cylinder, octagon barrel with rifled bore (9 grooves) and automatic primer. The barrel has a fluted top strap and an under rib with two iron ramrod pipes. It is equipped with a post front sight, fixed rear sight, and brass mounted wood ramrod. The receiver has a flush fitted lock plate and tang. The top of the barrel rib is engraved "E. H. Collier 123 London" in Old English script and is engraved behind the rear sight. "E.H. Collier" is engraved on the side of the lock plate in Old English letters above "123 PATENT." The primer magazine is marked "E.H. COLLIER 123" and "PATENT." The revolver is decorated with well-executed scrollwork and patriotic engraving. The receiver tang is fully engraved with stylized stands of colors and arms centered on a British shield and detailed engraved borders. In addition to the maker's markings, the lock plate is engraved with leaf borders, open foliate designs that integrates a serpent and a stand of arms with a British shield. The bottom of the trigger guard is engraved with detailed borders. The cylinder collar is engraved with open foliate designs. To rotate the cylinder, the hammer must be at the half or full cock position before cylinder can be pushed back into the collar and turned to the next chamber. The rifle has a browned barrel and cylinder, and the remaining metal surfaces are blue. The barrel has a Damascus twist. The cylinder is not fitted with a front face plate as found on known revolver examples. Mounted with a nicely walnut stock featuring a checkered wrist and a flat butt with steel buttplate featuring engraved borders. An eight-pointed star with a flower in the center is inlaid on the left flat, and a blank silver thumb escutcheon is on the top of the wrist. This rifle is pictured and described in the book "The Art of the Gun: Magnificent Colts, Selections from the Robert M. Lee Collection" (pages 60-61). The rifle was formerly of the famed Warren Anderson Collection.
Good. The rifle has a mottled gray patina with moderate light pitting overall. Traces of the Damascus pattern remain on the barrel. The wood is very good with a number of minor handling marks, a few pressure dents and a minor crack near the toe. Mechanically fine. The Collier revolving firearm is unique and is generally acknowledged to have influenced the design of the Colt revolver. Collier revolving arms are extremely rare and this is the first Collier revolving rifle we have offered. This may be your only opportunity to acquire an extremely rare Collier flintlock rifle at our auction! Provenance: Robert M. Lee Collection.
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