Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 1129: Henry Nock Royal Navy Flintlock Seven Barrel Volley Gun

Auction Date: September 11, 2021

Rare and Highly Desirable Documented Revolutionary War Era Royal Navy Contract Henry Nock First Type Flintlock Seven Barrel Volley Gun

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

Rare and Highly Desirable Documented Revolutionary War Era Royal Navy Contract Henry Nock First Type Flintlock Seven Barrel Volley Gun

Manufacturer: Nock Henry
Model: Volley Gun
Type: Shotgun
Gauge: 52
Barrel: 20 inch round
Finish: bright
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 4511
Item Interest: Very Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 96
Class: Antique

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 approximately 106 more of the second type 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. Nock volley guns are described on pages 273-275 of George D. Moller's book "American Military Shoulder Arms Volume I" with this exact gun photographed on all three pages. The book states, "On July 28, 1779, James Wilson 'presented a new invented Gun with Seven barrels to fire at one time' to a British Ordnance board conducting firing trials of rifled arms... this arm underwent trials at Woolwich and was recommended for use as a weapon that could be fired from the 'round tops,' or crow's nests, to the decks of enemy ships at close range." At such distances, one of these guns would still hit a small area and do far more damage than a single shot from a musket, and a traditional blunderbuss would have had an immense spread at that range. The book continues, "The volley gun used in the trials, as well as two prototypes made by London gunmaker Henry Nock, were rifled. It was later found that rifling was not necessary, and all subsequent arms were made with smooth bores... Some are believed to have been aboard ships of Admiral Rodney's fleet when he engaged the French fleet of Admiral Count de Grasse in 1782." This engagement occurred during the Battle of the Saintes in the West Indies, April 9th–12th, 1782 during the American Revolution, and was considered a major naval victory that restored British naval dominance in the area and put an end to the French threat to nearby British possessions. The Nock volley guns were pulled from service in 1804 or 1805 due to safety concerns relating to their excessive recoil that reportedly injured sailors, including breaking shoulders, and risks of alighting the rigging and sails. Their menacing look has earned them roles in movie and television history including scenes from The Alamo, Sharpe, Master & Commander: The Far Side of the World, Turn: Washington's Spies, and more. This example is the first type smoothbore variant, and has six barrels fitted around a central barrel. The barrels have Tower proofs, and the right barrel has "H. NOCK" (very faint) at the breech. The concave rib between the upper two barrels has a blade front sight, and the standing breech is grooved to act as a rear sight. The "Queen Anne" style lock is marked with "TOWER" (very faint) and the Georgian cipher on the tail, and "6/HN" is marked inside the lock. Brass trigger guard, side plate and buttplate. "G3091" marked on the buttplate tang. "GDM" (George D. Moller) collection initials marked at the toe of the stock. Provenance: The George Moller Collection

Rating Definition:

Very good with attractive dark brown patina overall, evident of genuine period use. Brass fittings retain an attractive original patina. Stock is also very good with numerous scattered dents and scratches from period use. Mechanically fine. This impressive Nock seven barrel flintlock volley gun would make a prized addition to any early British martial or Revolutionary War collection!

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