Blunderbuss or blunderbust?

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by kentuk, Aug 8, 2012.

  1. kentuk

    kentuk New Member

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    Hello and thanks for taking time to look at my blunderbuss(?). I am a complete noob at this so any help is much appreciated. I've done some snooping around other threads and boards trying to determine if my blunderbuss is really old or an old fake. It is crude and mostly hand made from what I can tell, which made me skeptical. However, I've seen other rather crude looking examples online. Was this made in the Middle East, made for tourists....what's the story? Would they use gold for a tourist item, which I suppose the decoration is? What is the approximate age and where would it have been made?

    The trigger mechanism does "work"

    Let me know if a different picture would help. Thanks!

    Attached Files:

  2. rhmc24

    rhmc24 Member

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    It looks real and European mid 1700s but need photos with better lighting. Gun would benefit from professional quality cleaning.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
  3. rogertc1

    rogertc1 New Member

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    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
  4. kentuk

    kentuk New Member

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    I'll work on the photos with better lighting tonight. I got it from a fella who said it was his grandfathers, whom reportedly got it from France....

    It does have a flash hole.
  5. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    I don't think that one is a "Khyber Pass Special". It looks like it was a pretty high quality gun and the decoration does not look Arabic or Asian. Note that the cock appears to be welded, so "snapping" the gun will risk breaking it.

    Jim
  6. kentuk

    kentuk New Member

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    Here are a few more photos, perhaps of better quality. It does look as if the gold decoration has been worn off the very tip of the barrel, perhaps from firing. You can also see what looks to be a faint seam inside the barrel. The bumps on the stock are metal. Any other pics that would help?

    Overall length: 21"
    Barrel length: 10.75"
    Muzzle: 2"

    One post mentioned a professional cleaning. The pics do make it look rusty, which it really doesn't look in person. Is cleaning the way to go (not by me)?

    Found a similar one called Turkish: http://www.oriental-arms.com/photos.php?id=2149

    Attached Files:

  7. kentuk

    kentuk New Member

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    And a few photos more for good measure..

    Attached Files:

  8. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    The more I see the more confused I become, and the more it looks like oriental work. Still it looks lilke a "real" gun, not a dummy tourist gun. The "inlay" looks like gold paint, as there doesn't seem to be any incising like there would be with real inlay. The seam in the barrel appears to be a crack.

    What is the story on how you acquired the gun?

    Jim
  9. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Active Member

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    The gold is damascening-etching and selective gold plating.
    The seam in the barrel is interesting.
  10. rogertc1

    rogertc1 New Member

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    Great Pictures. I'd say in its long lifetime it was used as a firearm. I'd say real. However not in great condition.
  11. rhmc24

    rhmc24 Member

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    I'm with Jim K now, leaning to Near East origin.

    Decor smacks of Islamic. I recall something about the Koran forbids artistry showing things made by Allah, such as animals, people, flowers, etc., hence usually geometric designs.

    The crack, line, whatever in the muzzle looks like a forging fold after attack by time & rust.

    Lump on side of hammer is probably the outside of repair to the arresting lug to the lockplate as the hammer falls.

    Interesting that all the furniture is forged iron; usually of brass and done in only adequate quality.

    With the better pix, I have to back up on the cleaning recco. Probably best left as-is because most anything would affect the decor and only remove rust - which is not as bad as it first appeared. I would stabilize it by paste floor wax applied with a stiff bristle brush like a toothbrush to get into small places.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
  12. kentuk

    kentuk New Member

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    Jim, I got the gun in a trade, essentially for about $140, from a fella that said it was his grandfathers and that his grandfather said he got it in France. A pretty cool trade I'd say!

    Looks like the only brass is at the butt and the wire wrapped around the barrel, which could have been added later.

    Is there a "typical" way guns of this nature would have been made? Was it by a small gunsmith working out of his shop? Would this have been for a normal citizen or only the wealthy?

    Thank you for all of your thoughts! To sum up, 18th century Near East origin?
  13. 45Auto

    45Auto Active Member

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    To me, it looks like it's not that old, maybe 1950's. The quality is rather poor. Most likely Spanish made. Some of the parts might be old, maybe from a broken shotgun, all of it put together as a fake antique.

    One test which most of these guns fail is the spark test. If you clamp a flint in the lock will it produce a spark? If it does, at least you can say that the lock is old.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2012
  14. Hawg

    Hawg Active Member

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    If you blow it up a little bit the line in the barrel looks even more like a crack. The blob on the hammer doesn't appear to be a repair. It's only on the outside surface and there's no visible break on the front or rear of it. I dunno what it is.
    The touch hole appears to be rather large but from the face of the frizzen it does look as if it has been sparked fairly recently. I'm out, waay out of my league on this one but IMHO it's real and it's old but I have no idea how old or from whence it came.
  15. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    There is a good article in Wikipedia on the blunderbuss. As with other arms, some were high quality, made by top gunsmiths; others, made for the military, were serviceable but quite plain with little decoration. They were especially useful to people who might have to reload under less than optimal conditions, such as on horseback, on a moving coach, or on board a ship. That was the reason for the flared muzzle, which made it easy to pour a charge of powder and shot down the barrel without the need for the careful attention needed to load a shot charge from a flask or to to load and ram a close fitting ball.

    Their popularity in the Near East, supposedly came from their use by people mounted on camels. Based on limited experience, I think a camel rider would find it hard to load a conventional weapon while holding his nose, but that is another issue.

    Contrary to common belief, the blunderbuss would never have been used (except in a dire emergency) with loose scrap, stones, or the like. It was loaded with lead balls, just like a shotgun. The short stock, if used at all, was not placed against the shoulder, but against the body or the leg, again the sort of hold favored by a horseman or a coach guard.

    Jim
  16. kentuk

    kentuk New Member

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    The fella I got it from snapped it a few times, hence the marks on the frizen. I stupidly asked him if it worked prior to driving over to his place...so he tested it. I'm a bit too afraid to do such unless I really need to prove the point.

    My initial gut was it was fake when I first saw it, not knowing a lick about antique flintlocks. However, after looking around and seeing other early hand made, aka crude, examples, this gun seems more plausible. I have a hard time believing someone would go through the effort to make this look as genuinely old as it does. For instance, the metal rivets on the stock are worn down perfectly with the wood surrounding them. Plus, if I were to do a fake I'd go with something a bit more recognizable and valuable. But then again, I have no idea. It is definitely old...but is it 18th, 19th or 20th century old? Could totally be from the 50s and some kid played pirates with it every day of their childhood.
  17. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Most of the fakes of those guns have come out of the Near and Middle East or Spain. Most are not functional and were never intended to be, though some use bits and pieces from old guns. As an example, some have the entire cock, including the top jaw and the screw, cast in one piece of brass or iron; obviously, such a contraption could never have been intended to hold a flint.

    That gun does look like it was made as a gun, even though it also might have been made from parts of older guns. As to value, I really have no idea. Basically, it was worth (to you) $140; you could probably get that out of it, but I can't see it being worth a lot more.

    Jim
  18. kentuk

    kentuk New Member

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    Value isn't too important. Mostly interested in the history. As others have mentioned, if these things could only talk....oh the sights they've seen!

    I could be wrong, but the barrel appears to be made of damascus steel...you can see it in the third picture up from the bottom. Is that an indicator of anything significant? Also, another positive is the screws all seem to be hand made.
  19. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    If the gun is as old as I think, it is of an age when all barrels would have been Damascus and all screws hand made.

    Jim
  20. musketshooter

    musketshooter New Member

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    Made in Turkey for the tourist trade. Spent a couple of months in the manure pile. They have been making this type of "souvenir" for the past 150 years.
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