Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3168: E.H. Collier Five-Chamber Flintlock Revolving Rifle

Auction Date: December 6, 2020

Incredibly Rare and Historically Significant E.H. Collier Five-Chamber Flintlock Revolving Rifle

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $35,000 - $55,000

Incredibly Rare and Historically Significant E.H. Collier Five-Chamber Flintlock Revolving Rifle

Manufacturer: Collier Patent
Model: Flintlock
Type: Rifle
Gauge: 563
Barrel: 28 inch round
Finish: brown/blue
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 972
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 96
Class: Antique

The cylinder gun was first patented in America by Artemas Wheeler of Concord, Massachusetts on June 10th 1818. Five months later his partner Elisha Collier patented the design in England on Nov 24th 1818. After attempts to interest both the British and French military with the Collier First Model failed, Collier went on to perfect the design circa 1820-24 with the Second Model, marketed for civilian use in England and her Colonies. Bespoke rifles and shotguns were made for sportsmen and finely crafted pistols made for self-defense. Collier’s revolver links the handcrafted and machine-made firearm traditions. The lock, stock and barrel are built with the exacting standards of the Georgian gunmaker and the cylinder is machined according to the latest methods of Britain’s Industrial Revolution. Recent research has determined that John Evans machined the cylinders of the Second Model. The name S. Nock has been found on a First Model lock plate and the mark WF (William Fullard) is struck on the barrel of two First Model Colliers. Gunmakers S. Nock, W. Beckwith and T. Mortimer all signed a certificate supporting the Collier. These famous gunmakers may have been involved in the manufacture. Of the approximately two-hundred fifty Colliers built circa 1818-27, around eighty Collier and Collier-licensed firearms are known today in museums, private collections or are published in print. Only twelve Second Model flintlock rifles have come to light, indicating its considerable rarity. This rifle has a fluted, five-shot hand turned cylinder, a 28” octagonal 26 bore barrel with 9-groove rifling and 1:44” twist rate. Its repeating magazine frizzen primer is fully operable. The barrel has a fluted top strap and an under rib with two iron ramrod pipes for a brass mounted wood cleaning rod. The short iron ramrod is stored in the heel of the stock. It is equipped with a post front sight and morticed rear sight. The receiver has a flush fitted lock plate and tang. The trigger has a safety mechanism that was standard on the Second Model rifle. This Second Model Collier was expertly engraved and the trophy of arms is visible on the top frame and trigger guard. The lock plate decoration is in fine condition. Martial instruments and weapons sit atop a spray of flowers around the sidenail, and the diabolical Basilisk serpent peers out from a twist of acanthus leaves. One look from a Basilisk killed with its glance, an apt symbol for a firearm. The top of the barrel rib is engraved "E. H. Collier 123 London" in Old English script and an engraved face of a big cat stares from 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 Second Model Collier begins the lineage of 19th century revolvers and was patented in England nearly two decades before Colt patented his revolver in 1836. 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).” (see "The Book of Colt Firearms," page 2-4). Furthermore, Collier’s revolvers feature prominently in the 1851 and 1852 Colt patent infringement trials, which is a testament to Collier’s influence on Colt’s firearms. For further reading see, Williams, D.J. and Nicholson, B.E., Man at Arms, ‘A Fresh Look at the Collier Revolver, Part 1 and Part 2’, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 14 – 21, and vol. 42, pp. 11-15, Mowbray Publications, April (2020). 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).

Rating Definition:

Good. This rare and historically significant rifle has a mottled gray patina with moderate to 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. The fit and finish of the manually-turned 5-shot cylinder, with its unique male-female barrel to cylinder joint, is still tight. Mechanically fine overall. Collier's rarely come up for sale and this may be your only opportunity to acquire an extremely important Collier flintlock rifle! Provenance: the famed Warren Anderson Collection, The Robert M. Lee Collection, The Gillespie Collection and Property of a Gentleman.

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