Blunderbusses are widely recognized for their use by and against boarding parties in naval combat, especially by the British Navy and pirates. This has made them highly desirable collectibles. Those with brass barrels were especially suited for the high seas since they are resistant to salt water corrosion. British blunderbusses were also issued to the Royal Mail coaches to defend against highwaymen. They were used by civilians on private vessels and on land for self-defense. Their flared muzzles acted as a funnel and made reloading much easier while bumping along in a coach or on the rolling seas. Most reports indicate they perform similar to modern short barrel shotguns of the same bore size making them well suited for close quarters offensive and defense engagements. John Knubley began his career as a gunmaker in the county of Yorkshire in the 1760s before moving his business to London where he is recorded at two addresses on Charing Cross between 1786 and 1794. He became gunmaker to the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Clarence and Prince Edward, and was a contractor to Ordnance between 1790 and 1794. Upon his death in 1795 his business was taken over by Samuel Brunn and continued trading as Knubley & Co. or Knubley & Brunn until 1797. Dating to circa 1790, this blunderbuss has a brass barrel with turned slightly belled muzzle and short octagonal breech section with border engraving, signed “London” on the top barrel flat and struck with Tower private proofs on the left of the breech. “Knubley” signed at the center of the lock. A flower is engraved on the bottom of the trigger guard was well as on the buttplate tang. Figured walnut stock fitted with brass mounts including the screw side plates, trigger guard with acorn finial, and buttplate. Includes a horn tipped wooden ramrod housed beneath the forearm. Caliber is estimated, flares to approximately 1 1/4 inches at the muzzle.
Very good, retains attractive bright patina on the brass barrel, scattered brown patina on the iron surfaces with scattered light pitting, and sharp markings and engraving in the metal overall. Stock is also very good as lightly sanded and re-oiled, with attractive grain, some light scratches and dents, a light repair on the left of the forend around the front barrel pin, a crack ahead of the lock, a repaired section and a crack ahead of the left flat, and slightly undersized at the barrel tang and around the buttplate. Ramrod is present but broken. Mechanically excellent.