Edit Note: The current New History of Reilly is on p.54 of this line; the list of extant guns, dated is on p.44 - (the history is regularly updated and moved to the last page of the line)
Gentlemen, I am new. I am a Vietnam Vet, 2 tours, Special Forces, MACV-SOG and have spent some 25 years of the last 40 serving abroad for our country. I'm a gun enthusiast but not an expert. I recently bought an English hand-made EM Reilly, 12 ga. SxS hammer-gun shotgun after thinking about purchasing an English double for 25 years. The reason?
I served at the American Embassy in India for three years in the late 1980's. My landlord was Indian Army Major General D.K. (Monty) Palit, former chief of operations of the India Army (during the Indo-China War), Sandhurst in the 1930's, WWII Indian Army veteran, and noted military author. He was from an upper-class Indian family which had adopted British customs when it came to gun-sport (late 1880's on). He had 5 doubles on his wall passed down by his father and grandfather, I believe they were: a 12ga Holland & Holland, a 12ga E.M. Reilly, a 16ga possibly Army-Navy, one I'm not sure of and a 20ga. William Evans.
I had a CJ-7 Jeep in New Delhi at that time; he had the hunting permits; and we went out often in the Falls of those three years, hunting ducks, dove and quail in the brilliant yellow mustard fields of Uttar Pradesh on the Gangetic plain. He used his H&H; I used my Remington 870 - a pump - something he informed me one didn't do in polite society (I countered that in Alabama we might have a dog - here he had 5 shikaris and a couple of servers cleaning the birds and making duck-curry sandwiches - different places, different solutions). But the idea that I needed a SxS became fixed - even more so when he gifted my wife the 20ga William Evans as we left country. Since then I've held dozens of English SxS's. Nothing felt right.
Gen. Palit's books and obituary:https://www.amazon.com/D.-K.-Palit/e/B001IC8QPKhttp://www.india-seminar.com/2008/586/586_in_memoriam.htm
Then at a gun show in November this Reilly hammer gun just stuck to my hand. It was 6 lbs 1oz, chambered for 2 1/2; 30" Damascus barrels; twin triggers; no ejectors; with that beautifully slim upper stock and receiver back that comes with hammer guns - It was similar to the General's E.M. Reilly as I remembered it; Perhaps I had imprinted on that gun? But whatever It felt like a rapier, while everything else now seemed like battle-axes. The seller had about 15 guns from very high-quality makers. He said I was the only person ever to show interest in the Reilly. He insisted on my shooting it..I did and couldn't part with it..It had some imperfections; it wasn't pristine, had been worked on; I paid too much but it was my gun,
The Serial number is 34723. On the rib is the name and address of the maker, E.M Reilly & Co., 16 New Oxford Street, London. I believe this shotgun was made in 1898 and it is perhaps one of the very last guns produced at the Reilly store at this location where they had worked for 51 years before they closed it (to be explained in subsequent posts).
I'm by no means an expert on English handmade doubles - there are contributors here who definitely are. However, After buying the Reilly I've done some research. I believe the Reilly numbering system (for long guns - hand guns had another entirely different system) from at least 1830 to 1905 was consistent, always numerically ascending (with a possible break of some 5000 SN's when the Store was transferred in 1847 per below) and that there are enough guns on the internet and enough known events associated with certain serial numbers to enable one to get a pretty good idea of when an individual Reilly was produced, possibly within a couple of years. And I've discovered some erroneous information which has been widely disseminated (Brown's Vol 3 being one of them).
I thought I'd share some of these findings with this extremely knowledgeable group and with the SxS shooting community at large with a request: that owners of Reilly's post their guns on this line, including serial numbers, Company name and address as imprinted on the guns and patent numbers if possible, and photo. With this information available in one spot surely the chronology of E.M. Reilly Serial Numbers can be refined.
I'll add three moe posts - 1) History of the firm (including various patent dates); 2) Important "date marker" serial numbersed guns; and 3) a list of 100 Reilly guns with serial numbers I've found on the internet in serial number order.
L-R: Author; Patel (who made the duck curry); General Palit, in New Delhi, November 1988:
28 years later....a Reilly SxS in memory of General Palit:'