This is a very early example of a French Saint Etienne 1716 contract grenadier musket, which were reportedly procured by the French Navy Ministry from private gunmakers between circa 1716-1729. These 1716 contract grenadier muskets are described on pages 303-306 of George D. Moller's book "American Military Shoulder Arms Volume I" with this exact musket pictured on three of the pages. Page 303 of the book states, "The configuration of the Saint Etienne musket described and illustrated here generally conforms to the Model 1716 grenadier musket manufactured at Tulle and is believed to be either a variation of that arm or possibly a musket made for sale to the navy or the French India Company. In addition to its length, the musket differs from those made at Tulle in that its brass mountings are of different configurations, it has a forend band, and the stock does not have raised plateaus at the breech." It has an early wooden ramrod with an iron tip, front sight that doubles as a bayonet lug on top of the barrel, brass forend band and ramrod ferrules, a single iron barrel band, the remaining fittings are brass including the early S shaped side plate with decorative projections, and sling rings are located on the left of the barrel band and left flat of the stock. "LEJAY" above "A ST. ETIENNE" marked at the center of the early lock; according to Moller this marking is believed to have been added on the lock at a later date during an overhaul due to Lejay, a private contractor, being recorded as active around 1760. "G•CR" is marked on the underside of the lock. A deeply stamped proof mark consisting of a fleur-de-lis above initials (hard to read) on the top left flat of the breech. "P. CIZERON" is marked on the bottom of the stock behind the lower tang, the name of the inspector and supervisor of the Royal Manufactory at Saint Etienne between 1717-1740. A star and a large fleur-de-lis stamp marked on the left of the buttstock ahead of faint remnants of lightly carved initials. Small "GDM" (George D. Moller) collection initials marked at the toe of the stock. Includes a reproduction leather sling. There is currently an obstruction inside the breech end of the barrel. Provenance: The George Moller Collection
Very good, exhibiting smooth brown patina on the barrel, a mix of gray and brown patina on the lock, and scattered light to moderate pitting overall. Stock is good as lightly sanded and re-oiled with scattered scratches and dents, numerous chips/absent sections and cracks on either side of the forend, a chipped/absent section ahead of the lock, a crack running between the trigger guard finial and the front of the lock, a crack behind the lock, a chipped/absent section to the left of the barrel tang, and a crack at the left of the buttplate. Mechanically excellent. 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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