This is a very early example of a French Saint Etienne musket originally manufactured in the late 1690s and arsenal updated with brass mountings during the Seven Years' War era (1756-1763). These brass mounted Saint Etienne muskets are described on pages 299-302 of George D. Moller's book "American Military Shoulder Arms, Volume I" with this exact musket pictured from various angles and three of the pages. Page 299 states, "There are, in American collections, a very few muskets made at Saint Etienne that, because of their brass mountings, have been attributed to early French naval contracts. These muskets may have been made by the Saint Etienne manufactories under direct contact with the Navy Ministry, or they may have been among those that Tulle manufacturer Martial Fenis de la Comb obtained in Saint Etienne for supply under his navy contracts. It is more likely, however, that they were made at Saint Etienne under contract with the French Compagnie des Indes [French India Company] for commercial sale." The picture caption on page 299 states, "This Saint Etienne musket was originally similar to the 1696 contract grenadier musket configuration. It was stocked to the muzzle and had a single barrel band, three ramrod thimbles, and a tapered wood ramrod. It probably was equipped with upper and lower bands and modified to accept an angular socket bayonet and a steel ramrod sometime in the 1750s." The picture caption second from the bottom on page 301 states, "This early musket's lower swivel differs from those of later arms in that it is riveted to a ring around a bolt in the stock's left breech flat. The butt plate tang has a modified fleur-de-lis profile." It has an iron ramrod, bayonet stud on top of the barrel, "crown/V" marked on the left quarter of the breech, faint remnants of the Saint Etienne marking at the center of the early lock, and inspection initials marked on the side plate and inside the lock. "EE" ahead of an inverted "LE" carved into the right of the buttstock. Small "GDM" (George D. Moller) collection initials marked at the toe of the stock. Includes a reproduction socket bayonet, later replacement leather sling, and a chipped piece of wood originally forming a part of the forward area of the lock. Provenance: The George Moller Collection
Good, exhibiting brown patina overall with scattered light pitting and mild flash pitting. Stock is also good, with scattered scratches, dents, numerous cracks, moderate and mild chips, and an otherwise attractive figure overall considering its age. Mechanically fine with a very strong mainspring. Early French muskets such as this one are very rarely seen in any condition today. This fantastic example of an early French musket would make an excellent addition to any advanced early martial or Pre-Revolutionary War era collection!
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