Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3085: East India Company Windus Pattern 1771 Musket with MS Marking

Auction Date: September 12, 2021

Revolutionary War Era 1779 Dated East India Company Wilson Windus Pattern 1771 Brown Bess Flintlock Musket and Bayonet with Massachusetts Militia Markings

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $5,500 - $8,500

Revolutionary War Era 1779 Dated East India Company Wilson Windus Pattern 1771 Brown Bess Flintlock Musket and Bayonet with Massachusetts Militia Markings

Manufacturer: English
Model: Flintlock
Type: Musket
Gauge: 75
Barrel: 38 3/4 inch round
Finish: bright
Grip:
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 860
Item Interest: Active
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 62
Class: Antique
Description:

Richard Wilson's first contracts with the East India Company date back to 1733, and business with the company was carried on by the firm long after his death. These "Windus" muskets were manufactured for the EIC before the British military adopted the similar sized India Pattern. Aside from the configuration, these muskets have EIC markings and Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Windus's "crown/W" inspection marks on the barrels and locks. Some of these 1779 dated muskets are known to have ended up with New England militia units after likely being captured from EIC ships. The East India Company used the short Model 1771 (Windus Pattern) muskets to arm their infantry in the late 18th century. Some of these muskets were taken from an East India Company ship captured by American privateers. The Smithsonian included one of these muskets in their "On the Water" exhibit as part of a discussion of American privateers attacking East India Company ships during the War of 1812. Given that these muskets all seem to date to the late 1770s, they may have even been captured during the American Revolution and used by the Massachusetts militia during both the fight for independence and the War of 1812. Privateers were more important to the American war effort than they are often given credit for. Gunpowder, firearms, and other scarce and crucial supplies were captured from British supply ships and merchant vessels by privateers. Over 3,000 British vessels are believed to have been captured during the war. The Continental Army and various militia units depended on captured goods, especially early in the war. New England and the East India Company had a contentious relationship in the Revolution and War of 1812. The patriots that participated in the Boston Tea Party dumped over 340 crates of EIC tea into the harbor in response to the Tea Act which gave the company a monopoly on the tea trade with the colonies and the taxes on that tea that were part of the Townsend Act. Their ships, laden with valuable cargo including firearms and gunpowder, were prime targets for American privateers during both wars. The markings on this one indicate it was used by Massachusetts. The barrel has the East India Company heart bale mark on top along with "WILSON 1779" followed by "to MS," London proof and view marks flanking Wilson's "*/RW" maker's mark on the left at the breech, "1779" over the EIC bale mark on the tail of the lock and "WILSON" at the center, brass furniture, EIC bale mark on the right side of the butt, a brown leather sling, and a socket bayonet with the EIC bale mark, "WILSON 1779", "MS," and the "Baker" spring catch and a leather scabbard. The spring is also known as the "Indian Spring" and has been credited to Ezekiel Baker of Baker Rifle fame. George Moller's discreet "GDM" collection mark is by the toe. Provenance: The George Moller Collection

Rating Definition:

Fine with mostly silver-gray patina on the lock and barrel along with some light speckled oxidation and brown patina, repaired cock, light aged patina on the brass furniture, and fairly minor overall wear. The re-oiled stock is very good and has mild scrapes and dings throughout, some small flakes at the edges, and general mild wear. The bayonet is in matching condition to the lock and barrel, and the scabbard is good with mild wear including some cracks. Mechanically fine.



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