Rock Island Auction Company

Lot 3334: Chelembrom Magazine Repeater Flintlock Sporting Gun

Auction Date: September 12, 2021

Incredibly Scarce Documented Engraved, Silver Mounted and 1781 Dated Chelembrom Magazine Repeating Flintlock Sporting Gun with Bayonet

Price Realized:
Estimated Price: $20,000 - $35,000

Incredibly Scarce Documented Engraved, Silver Mounted and 1781 Dated Chelembrom Magazine Repeating Flintlock Sporting Gun with Bayonet

Manufacturer: European
Model: Flintlock
Type: Musket
Gauge: 40 Bore
Barrel: 34 1/2 inch part octagon
Finish: brown/gold/silver/bright
Stock: walnut
Item Views: 2053
Item Interest: Average
Serial Number:
Catalog Page: 184
Class: Antique

Dated 1781 in silver on the barrel, this exceedingly rare repeating flintlock was made by a gunsmith called Chelembrom (or Chalembrom), believed to be a Frenchman working at Pondichery in India. A contemporary of General Claude Martin, another French gunmaker who worked under the British in India, little is known about Chelembrom unlike Martin. Howard L. Blackmore notes three Chelembrom in his writings, namely the present gun, an example dated 1785 in the Musee de l’Armee, Paris and the last in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle (no. L413) which is from the collection of King George III. Blackmore notes the existence of two Indian craftsman-made copies of Chelembrom guns, one again in the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle (no. L430) and another in the Dr. Funderburg Collection in the USA. Another Indian-made copy from the armoury of Tipo Sultan was sold at auction in the UK in 2019. Blackmore notes in “Royal Sporting Guns at Windsor” (p. 50) the operation as follows: “With the muzzle pointing upwards the barrel and its magazines are turned in a clockwise direction. This movement leads to the following chain of events. A charge of powder is measured into the dropping tube and a small portion is deposited in the priming pan which is then closed and the lock cocked. The rest of the powder falls into a chamber in the brass receiver. At the same time a bullet is released and drops into a covered trough. The barrel is moved further round until it is opposite the bullet, which is thrust upwards into the barrel by a plunger or spring. The gun is then reversed and the barrel assembly turned back to its original position. The mouth of the barrel with its seated bullet then lies opposite a chamber full of powder.” Taking inspiration from late 17th century repeating guns by Lorenzoni and Callin, Chelembrom reintroduced the system in the 1780s. Blackmore further notes that whilst the action of this type of gun “… is basically safe in that the powder-magazine is detached from the point of ignition, it is so complicated that it is easily put out of action.” This gun is illustrated in and mentioned in H.L. Blackmore, “Guns and Rifles of the World”, p. 87, illus. nos. 687 and 688, and mentioned in H.L. Blackmore, “Royal Sporting Guns at Windsor,” p. 51. With browned two stage barrel with silver sunburst front sight, octagonal breech section inlaid with silver border lines and sprays of scrollwork, and signed “FAIT/PAR CHELEMBROM/1781” in silver. An assembly of tubular magazines are mounted beneath the barrel, with a gilt brass cap and sprung gilt brass central magazine block cast and chased with the portrait bust of bearded man. Each side of the forward part of the barrel and tubular magazine assembly with hardwood fillet, that on the right side with silver ramrod pipes housing a silver tipped ramrod. Gilt brass receiver with two hinged covers and engraved with scrollwork and a sunburst. Flat bevelled lock with stepped tail and engraved with flowering scrollwork and trophy. Hardwood butt carved in relief with flowering scrollwork around the gilt receiver-tang, and with carved drop points behind the lock and silver sideplate, the latter engraved with further scrollwork. The butt with silver wire inlay, the comb with velvet cheek-rest. Silver furniture comprising trigger guard with mechanism release “trigger” in front of the guard, buttplate with hinged trap cover for the socket bayonet, and small escutcheon inset at the wrist, all decorated with a combination of engraved or cast and chased flowering scrollwork. With small socket bayonet housed in the butt. Provenance: The Mark Dineley Collection

Rating Definition:

Very good. The barrel and tubular magazines are discolored to a mainly plum colored patina, some light surface corrosion marking throughout, silver inlay generally intact and in good condition. Gilding rubbed to brass elements. Lock a light grey patina with softened engraving. Some mechanical restoration work throughout with breech loosely fit. Butt with minor age related storage and handling marks, silver wire inlay in place, age related handling softening to silver furniture. Trigger guard has been replaced and recut in at least two attachment areas. Velvet cheek-rest with age rubbing and staining. Overall, this is a fascinating repeating system gun in very good overall condition which firmly falls into the “find another one” category.

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