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Argo44 Offline OP
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Diggory Hadoke forwarded a query about a Reilly cape gun, based on the Reilly article he published 3 years ago. In correspondence with the Canadian gentleman he asked if I would post it. He is thinking of selling but hasn't a clue about value. Neither do I. Searching Guns International I can find only one Brit-made cape gun for sale, an Army-Navy at $4,500. Any opinions would be welcome: Here is his description of the gun:

Greetings I have just found your excellent website and am very impressed. I was researching my E.M.Reilly s/n 26445 which is a Cape gun in 12 bore and 577 BPE 3 1/4 inch . It is an under lever with beautiful Damascus barrels . It has been professionally refinished and the Damascus brought out to a magnificent finish. I felt you may want to add this info to your list of known Reilly guns. I can send some photos if this is of interest. I am curious to find out a ballpark value if that is possible as i am thinking of selling this gun. Thank-you

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

I responded as follows:

26445 would date per my chart to late summer, early autumn 1884. Reilly had surged his production of serial numbered guns in 1882 to enable him to sell off the rack; his box locks, about 40% of his sales that year from the limited number still in existence, probably were made in Birmingham like everyone elses and finished in London. I believe he made most of his side locks himself. (There are 22 Reilly's from 1884 existing or whose parameters were known through other means - catalog advertisements etc.; 10 of these are box locks.)

You can read the last published version of the Reilly history on p. 94, 95 of this site where all the Reilly research was posted. (This text is being extensively edited as I try to prepare a version for publication at some point). On that same site on p. 57 is the current Reilly extant or known gun list along with footnotes explaining the methodology.

I would very much appreciate seeing photos of your gun. In addition, what are the address(es) on the rib. It should be 16 New Oxford or 277 Oxford + rue Scribe Paris. Paris might be omitted. I unfortunately cannot estimate the value. I'd speculate in the $2,000 - $3,500 range depending on condition but Cape Guns are not a much known quantity. You might get an idea if you post it on Doublegunshop. I could do it for you if you'd like. I'm wondering if Trudeau's decision to ban all rifles in Canada would effect your gun?

As for history: The first advertisement for a Reilly cape-gun was back in 1858: - this snippet from latest edit of the history:


. . . . .1861: Cape Guns:*46i Reilly was one of the first to advertise “Cape Guns” (22 May 1958, “The Field”).*46i(1) The earliest extant serial numbered Reilly cape guns are:
. . . . . . . . . .SN 12207 - late 1861: E.M Reilly & Co., (address not legible); SxS Cape gun; 17 ga/.488 cal hammer gun, muzzle loader.*46i(2)
. . . . . . . . . .SN 12251 - early 1862: E.M. Reilly & Co., Oxford Street, London; SxS Cape gun 25 bore/.500 cal; percussion hammer gun.*46i(3)

The last extant Reilly Cape Gun is this New Zealand gun which unfortunately did not include the Serial Number. I believe it is contemporary with yours:

http://gunauction.co.nz/catalogues/38.pdf
New Zealand
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
169 - CASED CAPE GUN
A very fine cased Cape Gun by English maker Reilly. 30" 174 Side by side damascus barrels, 1 in 12 guage the other is rifled in .577 express cal. The rib between the 2 barrels is marked E.M.Reilly & Co with London & Paris address. Also has 4 engraved leaf sights and full swamping, plus London proofs underneath. The action also marked Reilly & Co and is borderline as well as scroll foliage engraved over most of the action including the hammers, top underside and lever. Excellent condition chequered Walnut stock and forend. The metalwork retains quite a lot of original browning on the barrels and thin original blue on the action and steel trigger guards. Included in its red leather bound case with trade label are dummy rounds, 175 cleaning rod, tools & reloading tools, oil bottle etc.
V.G.W.O.& C. A.L.R.


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Argo44 Offline OP
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There is always something to learn about these guns. Proofed twice in London? The miss-stamping on the right barrel changed from "20445" to "26445." I understand the "25" on the right barrel (50 cal. .577) and the 12 on the left for the shotgun...but what is that "18" all about? and the bit in the square? I can ask for better photos.

Last edited by Argo44; 11/04/22 10:38 PM.

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That is a rather unique piece, but I don't know if I would think it is a highly desireable piece. I own a few cape guns, and they understandably are European. This gun has rather plain engraving and wood work. There is also something odd about the Damascus welds which are internal to the fore arm/action. It may be an optical issue, but it looks like the welds weren't completely struck or removed. The biggest negative would be the obviously terrible amateur resoldering of the rear of the rib.

I have several German cape guns with more and better engraving, platinum inlays, better wood and metal and better overall condition. I purchased several of these for less than $2000 delivered in the past year. One was a Sauer underlever from the same period that looked much better, materials and workmanship were to a higher standard, and it was chambered for a 16 gauge shotshell/20 gauge "bore rifle" combination. It was in like new condition and was well under $2000. I will have to say that some of this was due to the general confusion over the rifled barrel chambering.

Unless you found a buyer that was a Reilly fanatic or obsessed with owning a British Cape gun, I think the gun would be in that range.

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Is the owner sure about the chamber length of the rifled barrel?

12 bore and .577 Snider (2 1/4 inch case) was a popular combination for British Cape guns, the military cartridges being widely obtainable throughout the Empire.

I note it has a push forward under lever rather than a Jones screw grip.

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Argo44 Offline OP
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Interesting observation on the Damascus welds. It was wondering about the top rib. There is no name/address on it. Usually this means it was sleeved or rebarreled. But clearly these are the original tubes for the gun.
Also there is also only one sight - the New Zealand example has three. Is it possible the rib was relaid at some point?

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Last edited by Argo44; 11/05/22 10:29 AM.

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The pattern is a 2 Iron variant of Damas Rosen, with prominent ribband edge (straight) and rod-rod (wavy) welds, which was often acid etched. I can't tell for sure but the barrels may have been lightly "pickled" to enhance the pattern.

Marholdt Waffen-Lexikon

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The .577 Snider was, for sporting purposes, a short range cartridge. The 1960’s Kynoch catalogue showed a drop of 13” at 100 yards and 57 inches at 200 yards for a 480 grain bullet at 1,250 fps muzzle velocity.

For military purposes with ladder sights it could be effective at much longer ranges, but when I had a 3-band Snider rifle it became clear from shooting at paper targets that the steep rise and fall of the bullet, even at moderate ranges below 200 yards meant that it would be very easy to shoot over or under the vital area of a deer.

The fact this rifle has a single leaf (for 100 yards ?) indicates to me that it was probably built for the Snider cartridge.

If it was rechambered for an express round early in its life that might explain the apparent double set of proof marks.

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Argo44 Offline OP
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Thank you Mr. Parabola...a very logical explanation for the chambering and the two proof marks and to Dr. Drew for the Damascus pattern. Now about that "18". If the rifle barrel were rechambered for 3 1/4 shortly after purchase and thus reproofed (same proof marks virtually), is there a chance that the shotgun barrel was originally an 18 gauge then bored out to 12 on reproofing?

Still curious about what's in that "square." It could be the post 1887 diamond with 12c in it? I can ask the owner if the shotgun barrel is choked but it would have had "not for ball" in the original proof in 1884 which should survive somewhere. (Unless when rebored from 18 to 12 it were bored with a choke?)

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Last edited by Argo44; 11/05/22 10:16 PM.

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Gene,

Going up from 18 to 12 would be a large jump, and would presumably involve re-chambering from a 16 bore case to 12.

It is far more likely that we are misreading a poorly applied 13 bore stamp, a common bore size then for guns built for the 12 bore cartridge.

A clean up of the .719 (+?) 13 bore tube prior to re-proof could easily take it up to .729 for 12 bore.

If you consider the orientation of the numbers within the “square” is simply the standard 12-bore chamber stamp rotated 45 degrees to fit the space avail.

This gun has been built with the external lines and presumably the weight of a 12 bore shot gun.

The 2 3/4 Express example in the New Zealand catalogue is built like a double rifle with pistol hand stock, sling eyes, Jones under lever and Express sights.

Last edited by Parabola; 11/06/22 08:13 AM.
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Argo44 Offline OP
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As unsual Mr. Para is right about the 13. Here are pictures. 12c is in the diamond. Based on this I'd estimate the gun were bought in 1884. Sometime after 1887 the rifle barrels was rechambered and the shotgun barrel honed out. The shotgun barrel measures .724 at the muzzle. But it it were honed to .729, that would mean there is .005 of choke.

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Here is the Canadian owne'rs story of the gun and some more details.

The 18 is actually a 13 and the square appears to be 12 over 6 or c ? . As for the s/n on the sg it looks like it was upside down and then re-stamped [these pics show better] . The bore size at muzzle is .724 in [cyl bore ?]. Also originally there were addresses on the barrels , but i do not recall which one. Now for the rest of the story.

I acquired this old gun at least 10 years ago from a very elderly lady whose husband had been gone many years. He was originally of English origin and this gun was his parents/grandparents . The story she told me was that his relatives had left England and had purchased this Cape gun to go and live in South Africa . After some time they moved to Canada . The gun was mostly discarded and lived in an outdoor shed for over 40 years and was eventually stored in a closet in the house that she lived when i got it. The condition was terrible. The stock was completely broken off behind the trigger guard and the action and hammers were rusted almost solid. It took me months of soaking and building screwdrivers to fit he screws.The barrels and parts were soaked in a liquid i got from a gunsmith here which removed a great deal of the surface rust basically leaving it black . Before this the only indicator of the Damascus was under the forearm. I was then able to locate a fellow who uses a method similar to the one featured in the Double gun Journal to restore the finish on the barrels. This is when the addresses were lost as well as some loss of material at the rear of the barrel fillet.

Last edited by Argo44; 11/06/22 05:23 PM.

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