This is a rare example of an early 18th century Robert Rowland breech loading automatic priming flintlock cartridge sporting gun, formerly of the iconic collection of William Keith Neal, and now being offered out of the renowned collection of Joe M. Wanenmacher Jr. Loading is performed through the act of the user gripping the front of the trigger guard, acting as a latch, and pulling it rearwards, which unlocks the breech and allows the barrel to to rotate upwards. It utilizes a removable thick steel cartridge that is able to be loaded with powder and ball and reused, acting as the chamber when inserted into the breech end of the gun. When the barrel rotates for loading, it simultaneously loads more powder into the flash pan, grabbing from a reservoir that is able to be filled from the right side of the flash pan, and essentially acting as an automatic priming system. This advanced gun was far ahead of its time in many respects. "R ROWLAND LONDON" marked on top of the barrel at the breech, deeply sunk oval London proofs at the left quarter of the breech, and "R/ROWLAND" marked in two lines on the lock. Ornate border and scroll engraving on the barrel, barrel tang, lock, hammer, flashpan loading door, sideplate, wrist plaque, trigger guard and buttplate. Walnut stock with minor raised relief shell carving at the wrist ahead of an oval silver plaque inscribed with fancy script initials "PR", likely belonging to the esteemed individual this gun would have been made for. A William Keith Neal collection tag numbered "G318" is hanging from the trigger guard. This gun shares strong similarities with LOT 1311 in this auction, also out of the renowned collection of Joe M. Wanenmacher Jr. The caliber is estimated, the muzzle flares to approximately .80. Another example of one of these Robert Rowland flintlock cartridge guns with a "1718" date marking is known to exist (Bonhams April 29, 2010), one is located in the royal Armouries collection (Object Number XII.11142) and one is pictured and described on pages 128-129 of the book "Early Firearms of Great Britain and Ireland, from the collection of Clay P. Bedford". Provenance: The Collection of William Keith Neal; The Collection of Joe M. Wanenmacher Jr
Very good, exhibits mostly bright surfaces with a few areas of dark brown patina, scattered light pin-prick pitting mostly concentrated on the round portion of the barrel, some light wear to a few of the markings on the barrel address, and defined engraving. The steel cartridge is a professionally made modern replacement. Stock is good as lightly sanded and re-oiled, with some light handling marks and dents, a large visible reattached/partially repaired split at the wrist, and clear relief carving. Mechanically excellent.
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