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Aug 5th, 2016
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Imperdix, pamtnman
Total Likes: 2
Original Post (Thread Starter)
by Argo44
Argo44
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/B001IC8QPK
http://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:

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

28 years later....a Reilly SxS in memory of General Palit:'

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]
Liked Replies
by Imperdix
Imperdix
Wincanton in Somerset.
1 member likes this
by Argo44
Argo44
You're right Gil. This was mentioned once before when we discussed the pin-fire SN 10054 (see above p.53). I believe this is the oldest datable extant UK made pin-fire - late summer 1856.
[Linked Image from jpgbox.com]

Re the comments in the article by Mark Crudgington: "Mark advised caution about dating guns with limited information, commenting; 'Modern , especially American ideas , of how the gun trade of the 18th and 19th C worked always appear to me to be based on a modern model that is irrelevant within an historical perspective."

Mark told me he knew of two Lang's which allegedly had original 1854 receipts but he has never actually documented this story - and he later said the earliest datable Lang SN is 1858. (Per Lang's own pamphlet he claimed he began to make center-break pin-fires in early 1854)
. . - In the Diggory article Mark expressed skepticism about my dating methods for Reilly SN'd guns.
. . - I have had conversations with him on several subjects from this time period and he is quite opinionated on lots of things; However, to my knowledge he has never actually read through the details of the methods I used to write the history, date Reilly guns, etc. He has been wrong on some of the topics we went over. (The British class system it seems still sits heavily on the Island from some of his comments - I discussed this with David Trevallion - this is a sociological observation, not a value judgement).
. . - Donald Dallas' view of this research is the opposite to that of Mark's - see p. 53
(This is not an attack on Mark, the son of a legendary researcher and gunsmith Ian Crudgington and a noted gunsmith in his own right and the holder of an alleged excellent collection. It's just that those credentials and his opinions may not be accurate for true history).

Diggory put a bid in on that gun maybe because of our discussion about it; but, possibly because of the Reilly History it went for as I recall £ 2,750. And yes I did take a dig at Diggory about that phrase (though of course it is sort of accurate). smile

edit: And I continue to believe until other evidence is posted - not just hear-say - that this rifle is the earliest extant UK made center-break pin-fire...based on the Reilly research above. (And that dating chart is NOT whimsey).
1 member likes this

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