Join Date: Nov 2005
Here's one for the real pros! What is this rifle? Cook and Brother?
Ok, I have here what I believe to be an original Civil War musket. My Dad bought it for 35 bucks in the 1950s when he was a teenager. It was really old then and already showing some pitting. He bought it from the widow of an elderly man whom my Dad knew in the neighborhood. She was selling off all of his old guns, and Dad said he wished he had the money to have bought them all, as he was selling original Harper's Ferry rifles and other Civil War rifles. But Dad bought this one because it was marked "CS" and because it was the only one that actually fired. We always thought it was a Cook and Brother rifle, but I am not so convinced, as it looks nothing like the Cook firearms I've seen recently. The markings are all wrong. I'm not so concerned with the value as I am with trying to figure out who made the musket. Thanks!
The wood is possibly maple. (I am no expert on wood, but my Dad was a woodshop teacher for 34 years at the local high school, and he says it looks a little like maple, and from the visible grains in the stock, possibly oak). But we don't think it is walnut or cherry, which I've read were the two woods used by the Cook and Bro. Armory.) However, I will say that I do have an original enfield which I have used for comparison, and the wood on the unknown rifle is darker in hue and has these lovely "highlights" that are sort of randomly located throughout the grain.
The barrell is 37 & 1/4" from the tip of barrell all the way to where the line is that separates the barrell from the rest of the gun.
The hammer has a checkered grip on the thumb part (where you would use your thumb to pull it back). There is one screw holding the hammer to the lock plate, with two metal pegs just behing the hammer.
In the bottom left hand corner of the lock plate (hammer side) there is a small "CS". Also, just forward of the hammer there is ".COOK." (There are two very small dots before and after the word "COOK" and they are centered, not periods as I have typed). But you get the picture. Also, the "K" on "COOK" appears to have been double stamped, as the most prominent K is slightly crooked and directly on top of the less prominent K, but both are semetrical in size and it is as if the machine hit the metal once, and then the piece moved slightly making the second hit a bit off. The only other mark on the lock plate is the number "8" which is the same type font as the other markings, but on the far right (most forward part) of the plate.
Now, the barrell is also marked. On the left side of the barrell (left meaning the side opposite the hammer, as if to the firer's left)-- on the left side of the barrell just about 3" forward of the wood, and slightly cut in half by the wood (hidden by the wood) appears to be the letter "T". Again, it is slightly cut off by the wood, so it could be a "J" insted. About one and a half inch more forward (toward the end of the barrell) is what appears to be "OG8O" Both of these unique barrell markins are stamped deep, and very close to the wood of the rifle. In fact, the second "O" in "OG8O" could be a different character, as it is slightly lower than the "OG8" and somewhat hidden by the wood.
Now, on the side of the gun immediately opposite the lock plate and hammer, there is a small plate that holds the inner workings together. I am not sure as to what this is called, but to give you a clear idea it is directly above the rear sling ring, just forward of the trigger mechanism. This piece of metal is very thin, and it is about 3 and 1/2 inches in length, but not perfectly straight. It has round edges, with a screw fastened in the front, and a screw fastened in the high, rear portion. About 1/2" right of the front screw is the letter "S". And about right smack in the middle of this metal piece is what appears to be a sideways "T" or perhaps the shape of a blacksmith's hammer, with the handle left, and the head of the hammer to the right. Therefore, it looks like a sideways "T". Just to the right of this character is again the letter "S" and what appears to be a lightly stamped number "7"
Now, there is a marking on the heel of the butt plate, right next to the screw holding the plate into place. (Note I am talking about the very rear of the rifle, not the screw that is on top of the stock, as the butt plate curves and it fastened with one screw on top of the stock, and one on the butt of the stock). So, just above the screw on the rear of the butt plate is the stamp "S 8" , or perhaps "8 S" , depending on how you hold the rifle. Now, these characters appear to not have been stamped deep enough to last the ages, so what they actually look like to me is an incomplete S and an incomplete 8, each missing the top (or bottom, depending on how you hold it) curve in each character. So, I suppose, to just add to the confusion, it could actually be an "8 8" , although one certainly resembles more of an "S" and the other resembles more of an "8". Now, these two characters are offset just slightly, as one is 1/8" to the right of, and slightly above the other.
The only other marking I see on this weapon is on the rear of the two rings. (I mean the barrell rings, you know how civil war enthusiasts say, a two-ringed or 3-ring rifle). On the left of the rear ring is what might be two small letters "c c", or perhaps two small crescents facing downward (as if you are firing the rifle). On the opposite side, there is a very clear (Romanesque or classic font) letter "P" or perhaps lower case "h" with the opening on the h facing towards the firer. In fact it resembles a lower case greek letter mu, which resembles our letter "h". Again, it could be a capital "P" with the enclosure on the "P" a bit too worn to look complete.
Just forward of the rear ring is a sort of ring locking mechanism that appears to be spring tensioned. It is just a straight piece of metal protruding from the wood just forward of the ring. The forward ring (closest to barrell) has lots of pitting, and I can't make out any characters at all.
My front sight post is intact, and small, but where the rear sight probably should be there is a square indention in the top of the barrel.
The ramrod might not offer any clues as to the maker of the weapon, as it might be a repro. It has on it several characters, but I will only tell you here what I can clearly read, just as it is stamped on the Ramrod:
"OXWFI D NO. TH.T.PATENTED S"
Just to be perfectly clear, there is an indecipherable letter or character prior to these letters on the ramrod, and a couple of the T's are not completely clear, so this is what it might say:
"(Single Unknown Character) OXWFI D NO.IH.I.PATENTED S"
Also, the ramrod, when placed its slot on the underside of the weapon, is perfectly flush with the end of the barrell when pushed all the way in.
Now, just another note about the barrell. It appears to be a half of an Octagon near the rear, between the hammer and the rear sight indention. In other words, it is geometric, with 5 sides visible, and if it were a complete octagon the other 3 sides would be below the wood and therefore, not visible. However, just about an inch and a half forward of the rear sight indention (where I believe my rear sight should be), the barrell forms completely round and is continued to the end as a perfectly round barrell.
I used a reproduction lead .58 caliber bullet to measure the barrell width as .58 caliber, but I suppose it could be .577 also.
There are no markings on any of the screws, as I know was often the case with the Cook and Bro. firearms, and the markins I've told you about are all that is present. I've looked all over this weapon for anything else, and I can't find anything.
The color of all the metal on the weapon appears brown now, and I am assuming that this was the original color, although I suppose it could have been blued, but not likely, as the metal really is brown throughout, not silver and no sign of blueing. In fact, I don't see any sign of brass either, but I must admit that I should have a professional do a really intricate cleaning, as time has taken its toll on the piece. There may be some slight sign of silver color on the rear ring (real barrell ring), but like I said it really is more of a brown color, and I don't think it is all rusty, as no rust comes off on a cloth slightly soaked with US Army Issue rifle lubrication.
Finally, the total length of the weapon from tip to tail is 52 1/2".
Also, the rifle is in by no means pristine condition. I see where the stock has cracked at some point in time (you know, just behind the metalworks, where stocks on those muskets always cracked), and someone actually inserted a pin to hold it together. Also, there appears to be some glue filling the crack as well.
One other note, is that I don't see anywhere on this rifle where I might attach a sling. I mean, there is an obvious sling ring--or loop-- attached to the front of the trigger guard, but then nothing else anywhere on the rifle, so I am not sure what's up with that. I mean, I don't see how anyone could have carried the musket with a sling with only one loop for it? Dad believes the front (forward) barrell ring has been replaced. Maybe that is why it does not display any markings like I found on the rear barrell ring?
Now... This weapon does work and fire great. I haven't done it in years, mind you, and I wish that I never had, but when I was a kid I didn't know any better, and I used to get a kick out of firing the black powder charges with the percussion caps in my back yard. My Dad thinks the rifle isn't worth much at all given the shape it is in, and he doesn't understand why I am "wasting my time" trying to identify the maker. However, given a really thorough cleaning by a professional, I believe it would be a fine piece for my budding antique firearms collection (providing I can find a maker). I am just wondering if having it cleaned is even worth the money.
Thanks for all your help fellas, look forward to hearing from anybody who had enough patience to read this entire letter. Email me anytime with any comments or questions. I'll try to have photos online in the next few days for anyone that might be interested. Email me for the photos if you are interested.