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August 29, 2023
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An Extremely Rare & Massive 7 Bore Single Barrel Flintlock Big Game Rifle by John Manton, One of Only Three Such Impressive Manton Rifles Known With Silver Presentation From the Marquis of Huntley. Serial Number 1480, Circa 1791; Ex Collection: W. Keith Neal.
Cal. 7 bore (.875 groove dia. multi-groove rifling)
S# 1480 (1791)
Only two other large bore John Manton rifles are known. This exceptional early example has 33″ swamped octagon barrel of stub twist with under rib fitted with two beaded pipes which hold rosewood ramrod with brass head and tail (worm under tail). Top flat is fitted with one standing leaf rear and brass bead front sights dovetailed through. Breech end is deeply impressed with oval gold poincon of Manton’s second style stamped “MANTON” “LONDON”. A gold band is also at breech end. Touchhole is gold lined. Bottom of barrel is stamped with London proofs and S#. Breech iron is engraved with some scroll and a stag. Early style flintlock with rebated tail has borders of lockplate and serpentine cock decorated with oval moulding as found on “Best” guns before 1800. It is interesting to note that this work is very precise and smooth and must have taken many man hours to accomplish. After 1800 locks generally had border engraved chamfered plates. Later flintlocks after CA 1810 had flat plates and were much less work to make. Lock features semi-waterproof gold lined pan, bridled roller frizzen with small roller on tail which rides over hump on feather spring. Spring itself is nicely filed with bulbous finial. Serpentine cock is also well filed and held at half cock with back sliding safety. Center of lock is engraved “-MANTON-“.
Internal inspection shows temper blued parts and well filed bridle with scroll decoration. Trigger is “set”. Stock of lightly figured dense European walnut measures 14 1/4″ over steel buttplate with long top tang engraved with running stag. Stock features swept right hand cheekpiece, early style square grip checkering with intentional over runs and horn forend tip. Double beaded trigger guard with early type fat pineapple finial has engraving of stag on bow, tang ends in a curl forming pistol grip. Stock attaches to barrel with two captive side bolts through oval silver escutcheons. A bale-type sling loop is at forend with matching loop on flattened toeline. A full-size silver sideplate is tacked on and engraved “A Gift From The Most Noble” “The Marquis of Huntley” “To Captain David Rofs of Kendeace”. (sic.) (The Marquis is most likely George Gordon who became the 5th Duke of Gordon on his father’s death in 1810. He rose to the rank of General of the “Gordon Highlanders”.) A family crest of a strutting fox passant (Ross of Kindace) is surmounted by the Ross legend “CAUTE NON ASTUTE” on a banner. This crest is over the initials “DR”. Silver oval at top of grip is engraved with the crown of Marquis over the monogram “MJC” ?.
UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: Copy of Bonhams sale info.
PROVENANCE: George Gordon, Marquis of Huntley, David Ross, William Keith Neal Collection (described on pg. 67 “THE MANTONS: Gunmakers”), Sold Bonhams Nov. 10, 2005 Lot 30.