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#573509 - 06/08/20 01:55 PM Re: E.M. Reilly; History; Chronology; Serial Numbers [Re: Argo44]
Argo44 Offline
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Redoing the history/chronology - New start date for Reilly guns - changed from 1825 to Summer 1828


The fact that Reilly did not join the Worshipful Company of Gun Makers in 1825 (as was sort of alleged by a 1926 book) made me go back and look again at the first advertisements for Reilly guns;. Based on this, I've decided to move the start date for his actually making guns to summer 1828 based on following logic:

1. There were several ads for Reilly selling guns in 1828 and 1829 but no mention of him actually making his own guns (there are still newspapers from that period being copied and put on line so in a couple of years this might change again):

24 Aug 1828, "Bell's Life". - (read this carefully...it's coded)


14 Jun 1829, "Bell's Life" - (read this one carefully too).


2. The 1829 London Directory and London Post Office both still list him as "jeweler" (Sun Fire Company Insurance Documents show Joseph Charles Reilly as a Jeweller, silversmith and dealer in firearms July 1829):



3. The first advertisement indicating overtly he was specifically selling his own guns, legally proofed, is 18 July 1830, "Bell's Life":


4. The first advertisement where he identified himself as "Gun Maker" was May 1831 "New Sporting Magazine" (previously posted):


5. So, Originally I thought I'd hold him at his word and change the chronology and history to reflect summer 1830 as the date he began to make guns.

6. However, re-reading the 1828 advertisement, it seems clear he was making "unsanctioned" guns (which could be sanctioned by a "nominal authority" for "an exorbitant price"), and that these unsanctioned guns were quality guns. I.e., I think he was making them...but perhaps not submitting them for proof? The wording of the ad is subtle, almost code (psst, you want good gun...come eentoo zee alley...bargain)... The 1829 ad also makes clear that he was selling two types of guns, one group of guns that were his (that he was making?) and another group made by excellent makers (used guns). So....I'm going to put the start date for his making guns to Summer 1828.

This could change as more newspapers from that era come on-line - probably moving back to 1827-26 because you don't just start making guns and sell 50 in the first year. Oh wait, on second thought....Amazon, Walmart. £3 difference in a gun price in 1828 would be the equivilent of £350 today....you sold a good product that undercut the establishment price by 30% - voila...Walmart in 1828.

Note...In May 1902, 74 years and two generations later, H.H. (Bert) Reilly, to promote the company as it was struggling, added "Established 1835" to his advertisements (a lot of London establishments were doing this at that time). Bert Reilly obviously did not know the history of the company - we now know more than he did - which makes me wonder whether the company records had survived to his day - There were definitely records when E.M. died...here's an excerpt from his will:

"Also I give to my wife my household furniture, plate, linen, china, glass, picture books (other than trade books)...."

07 Jun 1902, "The Field":

The two charts, the chronology of extant guns on p.44 and the SN dating chart attached to the history on p.45 have been altered as has the history. The new list actually fits better than the old. It puts the first SN Reilly at 316 High Holborn, 1024, which would have been in Fall 1835..exactly in that time period...the previous chart had it in Spring...an impossibility. (of course given the paucity of guns from the period - it's all pretty much speculation - put at least it's educated speculation).

And of course the questions immediately arise:
-- Is the "nominal authority" the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers? (Perhaps why the Reilly's never bought their way to Freeman status?)
-- How much did it cost to proof a gun in London in 1828? (Must have been a lot)
-- Why did Reilly claim the proofing was by a "nominal authority?"
-- Was there a law in 1828 that London guns had to be proofed?
-- By 1830 in his ads, he clearly states he was building guns according to the "new proof laws." What were these?
Turn a stone over, more questions.


Edited by Argo44 (06/22/20 10:23 PM)
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#573510 - 06/08/20 02:10 PM Re: E.M. Reilly; History; Chronology; Serial Numbers [Re: Argo44]
Argo44 Offline
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Redoing the history/chronology - New date for closing 16 New Oxford Street - from "1898" to first week of May 1897


In addition, when I first started using the UK national newspaper database in 2017 there was almost nothing about Reilly from 1888 - 1912. I was unable to verify that Reilly actually closed 16 New Oxford Street in 1898 as numerous experts had claimed. However, after a two year hiatus I paid for a month subscription again and got back into the database to check a few things. Millions pages have been added and there were a lot of advertisements for Reilly throughout the 1890's and some ads right up to Bankruptcy. It was evident that 16 New Oxford St. was not mentioned in any ad in 1898.

Researching 1897 advertisements...16 New Oxford street is mentioned in a 01 May 1897 ad but not in an 08 May 1897 ad. So he closed the workshop the first week of May 1897 a full year earlier than previously reckoned. This was verified by looking at numerous advertisements leading up to May 1897 and subsequently. This was much like the research that showed rue Scribe closed in 1885, not 1886. I will have to change the history and chronology to reflect this...it'll take some time: (and it means that my hammer gun 12 bore, SN 34723, is now early 1897 vice late 1898....going to be interesting to squash the chronology and it'll show the Reilly decline more dramatically after the death of EM in July 1890)

. . . . . . .01 May 1897 "Sporting Gazette" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . 08 May 1897 "Sporting Gazette"


There are two national UK newspaper databases. The two apparently do not have all the same newspapers. This is the one I'm using. https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk
Caution: using this database to search key words is finicky...you can search what you think is logical and nothing comes up. Imagination then comes into play. Still...an amazing resource!!! Worth paying for..it you have a specific objective in mind.

Reilly disappears from the newspapers downloaded into the library of this database in late February 1903, still advertising as being at 277 Oxford Street, and doesn't reappear again in advertisements until May 1904, located at 295 Oxford Street. I assume this database will ultimately download more papers...but I may have to take a look at the second database to see what happened to 277 and 295. For the moment, the date of the move is "March 1903."

Modification of the date charts is complete. There is some logic to the new chart. It moves the gun Toby Barclay sold, 35079 back to late 1898. That gun still had pre-1896 proof marks on the barrel. But at least a case can be made that the gun sat on the rack for 2 years...rather than the 4 the old chart would have mandated.

By the way from the ad: 1897 - "English Damascus"??! Raimey will have a cow - what's the chance that a Damascus barrel was made in England in 1897? Almost 100% certain these would have been Liège made barrels....proofed in England. Right?


Edited by Argo44 (06/13/20 11:30 PM)
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#573536 - 06/09/20 12:46 AM Re: E.M. Reilly; History; Chronology; Serial Numbers [Re: Argo44]
Argo44 Offline
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And by the way, Sorry to be posting in the first person...it's not meant to be arrogance...I'm really talking to myself as I walk through thought processes. No historian can do work without making notes and these are sort of my notes. They will be synthesized later.

Again it's not meant to be arrogant...it's a work in progress. But at least if someone disagrees with some of the conclusions...we are working off the same sheet of music in subsequent discussions.


Edited by Argo44 (06/12/20 12:37 AM)
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#573570 - 06/09/20 04:30 PM Re: E.M. Reilly; History; Chronology; Serial Numbers [Re: Argo44]
Argo44 Offline
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Reilly vs the establishment - 1828 version


Re Reilly possibly selling unproved guns, the question was answered with help from a another poster. It was illegal to sell unproved barrels after 1813. So Reilly in the 1828 advertisement must have been complaining about other gun-makers' high priced guns...a subtle hint that you could get an excellent gun from him without paying a fortune for a name. This was part of his business model from the beginning of the company...and he returned to this theme repeatedly - including the 1868 barbs thrown at Purdey.

(remember that horrible chest-thumping poem published after his triumph at the 1867 Paris Universelle? - see. p. 14: below extract:
A place-beyond all we in London know
To Messrs. E.M. Reilly & Co.
What other houses charge sixty-five pounds
For, and keep you four or five months (which astounds),…………8 (take that Purdey)
In waiting for; one exactly the same
For which only £45 they claim —
Having it ready too in thirty days
Or less, for which they merit highest praise………………………..9
Exactly the same I’ve already said
The Gun shall be, by my Art-Heroes made,
But only here to give what’s rightly due
You may be able thus to strike more true;


Here is part of the original 1813 proof law:



Edited by Argo44 (06/12/20 11:02 PM)
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#573665 - 06/11/20 09:50 PM Re: E.M. Reilly; History; Chronology; Serial Numbers [Re: Argo44]
Argo44 Offline
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A New History of Reilly, Gun Maker, London & Paris

I've had to move this history from p.45 - as I add bits to it, I've run out of room and the bottom of the post becomes truncated. Therefore, the history and the dating chart with footnotes will be separated.

This Reilly history (edited several times since published in summer 2019) corrects dozens of erroneous writings on the company, including Brown's Vol III, Boothroyd, and every article written about Reilly in the last 45 years. A justification with footnotes can be written for each paragraph below).
-- In the interest of not being politically correct..Reilly was an Irish Catholic..whether this influenced his ability to obtain a "Royal warrant" in Britain (he did in Catholic France, Spain and Portugal) or even a major contract with Arsenal is problematic.
-- Comment: The origin of the "Reilly was a retailer only" myth possibly came out of 1922. Riggs bought the Reilly name and put 20,000 guns on the market, none made by him, with "E.M. Reilly & Co., London" on the ribs from 1922 to 1966. A generation of gun makers grew up with this in their minds, without a reference to what Reilly was before, because by 1900, 22 years and a world war before, Reilly - the classic Reilly - was essentially toast.
-- Attached is also the latest SN date chart which should get a Reilly owner close to the date his gun was manufactured. See two separate and previous charts for "Dating Reilly Labels" and for the detailed dated list of Serial Numbered extant Reilly's.

====================== A New, Short History of Reilly of London, Gun Maker =======================

The Reilly firm of gun makers in London has long been viewed as enigmatic. Confusion exists on the location of the company, its products, and even whether it actually made guns or was just a retailer. Reilly's records were lost 100 years ago after bankruptcy. This new history should resolve these mysteries and re-establish Reilly as at one time perhaps one of if not the largest of gun makers in London during the mid-1800’s.

Joseph Charles Reilly was born in Ireland in 1786. He hailed from a well-to-do family and aspired to become a lawyer. In the mid-1800's he went to London to study (Irish Catholics could not study law in Ireland at the time); However, he had an independent streak; instead of law school, in 1814 he opened a jewelry shop, later described as also dealing in silver-plate, at 12 Middle Row, Holborn, hard by the "Inns of the Court." He registered a silver mark "JCR" in July 1818. His clientele included country gentlemen and barristers.

In 1817 his son Edward Michael was born, the third of four children. He prospered, buying a country estate in Bedfordshire in 1824.

Jewelry shops in London at the time often dealt in guns, engraving them and re-selling them them (perhaps because of the influence of the artistic professionalism of Joseph Manton’s guns at the time). (Some such shops called themselves "Whitesmiths").

Sometime around Summer 1828 he numbered his first Reilly built gun which presumably was 001. (The oldest extant Reilly is SN 162, a single barrel 6 bore muzzle loader wild-fowler. Reilly's first ad for guns he specifically claimed to make is July 1830; However, ads from summer 1828 make it clear he was making guns for trusted clients (and urging customers not to spend money for a "name"). The serial numbered guns included pistols, rifles and shotguns. His guns during this period often displayed the address “Holborn Bars.”

JC Reilly early on adopted a business model which did not change during the life of the firm: i.e. provide a quality hand-made product for a moderate price and deliver it rapidly, and "make what would sell." With this model he undercut more expensive and better known makers and made his profit on volume.

Reilly dealt in used guns taken on trade and sold guns under license. However he did not serial number guns he did not build and he numbered his guns consecutively for 90 years with certain exceptions during the move to New Oxford Street in 1847. Reilly had extensive finishing facilities in his large London buildings and at least early on may have stockpiled actions and barrel blanks from outworkers to allow him to meet orders three times as quickly as his competitors.

By 1833 all references to “jeweler” or "silver-plate" vanished from his advertisements and from that time forward he identified himself solely as “Gun-Maker.” (The first advertisement so far found with "Gun-Maker" appeared in 1831).

In August 1835 JC Reilly with 17 year old EM as an apprentice moved to 316 High Holborn Street. The first serial numbered extant gun with the High Holborn address is SN 1024, an 8.5mm pocket pistol. By circa 1837 pistols were no longer numbered in the Reilly chronological numbering system; His serial numbered guns seemed to be limited to bespoke long-guns made to order.

In August 1840 the firm’s name in advertisements changed from J.C. Reilly to just “Reilly,” which may mark the advent of 23 year old EM as a full partner in the company. (EM is listed in the 1841 census as living with J.C. and his occupation, like that of J.C. is "Gun maker.") The names on the gun ribs continued to be “J.C. Reilly" or "Joseph Charles Reilly.” Case/Trade labels were styled like an embossed business card with "Joseph Charles Reilly," "Gun Maker," and the High Holborn address.

JC Reilly during this period also became known for his air cane guns. Young EM was billed as the expert and was so mentioned In advertisements, identified as “Reilly Junr." In 1847 EM wrote a widely disseminated pamphlet on air guns (mostly an advertising brochure highlighting the company's ability to produce all sorts of air-guns and parts) which is cited to this day. The pamphlet title page noted the author was "Reilly junr," used the (new) 502 New Oxford Street address and included the phrase "removed from Holborn" (see below).

In late March 1847 Reilly moved from High Holborn to 502 New Oxford Street, a large building In the "Elizabethan" area on a new extension of Oxford Street. And with this move, Reilly demonstrated another trait of his business acumen, i.e. "Location." He always chose prestigious, high-traffic locations for his stores. The last extant gun with High Holborn on the rib is 3329, a 10 gauge SxS percussion rifle..

At the time of the move the main serial number chronology for Reilly long-guns was jumped up 5000 numbers from about SN 3350 to begin anew at around 8350 (called for simplicity the "8400" series). The name on serial numbered guns after the move ultimately became simply “Reilly” with exceptions.

The first extant main-line SN’d gun from the new building is SN 8378, a SxS 12 bore muzzle-loading shotgun with “J.C. Reilly, 502 New Oxford Street, London” on the rib. The original label in the old High Holborn case label format had the 502 New Oxford Street, London address and noted the firm had “removed from Holborn." The first extant SN'd gun in the new series with only "Reilly, 502 New Oxford Street, London" is SN 8463, a .390 cal SxS rifle muzzle loader, also with "removed from Holborn on the label. (Reilly used this phrase in advertisements after the move from April 1847 to November 1847. By December 1847 it had disappeared from his ads.).

Preceding this move to New Oxford Street, around the end of 1845, perhaps anticipating the (planned) change in the main serial number chronology, J.C. Reilly appears to have kept a series of numbers for himself, called for simplicity the J.C. "7000" series. He numbered about 1200 guns over the next 11 years in this series beginning around SN 7000 and ending around 8200 when he retired in 1857. JC Reilly sometimes (but not always) put his full name or initials on the ribs of these serial numbers but with the 502 New Oxford Street address; yet the trade/case labels with "Reilly" as the firm's name and the advertisements/publicity remained the same for the “8400” main-line series and the J.C. “7000” series.

The first extant SN’d gun in the JC “7000” series is SN 7023, an 11 bore SxS percussion shotgun, a gun with “J.C. Reilly, 316 High Holborn, London” on the rib, probably numbered in early 1846. SN 7201, a .577 percussion single barrel rifle, was the first in the J.C. 7000 series with the new "502 New Oxford St., London" address on the rib, probably numbered around September 1847. It has the old style “J.C. Reilly” trade label with the new 502 New Oxford Street address and also with "removed from Holborn.” The last extant gun in the 7000 series (no doubt made in late summer 1857) is SN 8186, a .650 mimi ball single barrel muzzle-loader rifle.

There are outlier SN'd guns associated with JC,
-- 4573 – c1842, a 7 gauge, smoothbore, short single barrel, dangerous game gun with “J.C. Reilly, 316 High Holborn, London” on the barrel,
-- 5514 – March 1847, a 16 bore SxS muzzle loader shotgun, which has “J.C. Reilly 316 High Holborn now 502 New Oxford Street, London” on the rib, (the only such gun found so far with both addresses and obviously numbered around the time of the move),
-- 2008 – C1850-56, a 14 bore SxS muzzle-loader shotgun with “Joseph Charles Reilly, New Oxford Street, London” on the rib, and
-- 3514, a 13 bore SxS percussion shotgun with "Reilly" and the New Oxford Street address on the rib, apparently made (per the trade label in the case) after 1855,
which do not fit any sort of pattern, illustrating the sometime quirkiness of JC Reilly.

Soon after the move, possibly around December 1847, the trade label changed to "Reilly, Gun Maker," was rectangular shaped with scolloped corners and featured a sketch of the estimated 12,000 sq foot building at 502 New Oxford Street. Note: From 1847 to 1859 long guns and hand guns can be found with “Edward M.,” “Edward Michael,” or "E.M" on their ribs; however, unless serial numbered these were not built by Reilly - they were only engraved and marketed.

Business anthologies and gun history sites from this period note that J.C. Reilly made guns, E.M. Reilly air guns. But both worked from the same building and used the same advertisements. This distinction has been made too much of.

Advertisements from 1851 papers show that Reilly had a 300 yard shooting range near his London establishment located off Wood Lane, Shepard's Bush.

Reilly exhibited at the 1851 Crystal Palace International Exposition (as Edward M. Reilly) were he was much taken by the Casimir Lefaucheaux center-break gun. Reilly, Lang and Blanch became the major advocates for these new types of guns in England.

Reilly also exhibited at the 1855 Paris Universelle Exposition, where he received much acclaim, "all guns were sold," and "many orders were booked." The exhibit was in the name of E.M Reilly; however, advertisements make clear that though EM won the medals, the firm was still "Reilly, Gun Maker."

(Note: In 1855 the British government required that bore sizes be stamped on barrels; Reilly, however, along with Greener and Manton, appears to have been amongst the very few gun makers stamping bore sizes for years before the formal requirement.)

Reilly case labels changed after 1855 to illustrate the 1851 and 1855 world's fair medals and to highlight “Fusils a Bascule," French for center-break guns (made on the "Lefaucheux principle") and other breech loaders such as Prince Patent bolt action guns, and the Terry Patent breech loaders which he marketed and promoted.

In September 1857 J.C. Reilly retired to his country estates at Bourn End, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, where he died a wealthy man in January 1864; his last guns in the "7000" series were engraved with Caesar's words "Veni, Vidi, Vici" possibly as his swan song story of his life. "Formerly Gun-Maker, London" is chiseled on his tombstone.

(Speculation: J.C.'s retirement appeared to have been quite abrupt. At the time the debate over center-break breech-loaders, a French invention, divided families and flame wars raged in the British press. One must wonder if J.C., the traditionalist, broke with his son E.M, a very early proponent of the Lefaucheux break-action gun, over this issue - much like what happened between the Greener's father/son a few years later).

Reilly, who had begun building center-break guns as early as late 1855/early 1856, participated in the March 1858 trial pitting muzzle-loaders against breech-loaders run by "The Field." The oldest extant Reilly break-action SxS gun found to date is 10655, a "Lefaucheux" type forward-underlever, single-bite type pin-fire probably numbered around the time of this trial - March 1858.

Observation re "retailer" vs "gunmaker" from an analysis of one gun:
-- At this time, early 1858, believe there were very few gun-making firms or gun makers in general in all of UK that could have made the above 10655, a Lefaucheux-style breech-loader, (and it's twins - submitted by Reilly for the March 1858 "The Field" breech-loader vs muzzle-loader trials) or portions of it - barrels, actions, etc.
-- The two firms, who could possibly have made it, were Lang and Blanch (E.C. Hodges, the original designer of Lang's break-action gun, was making actions, labeled with his name on the plate - not found on Reilly's). The first Birmingham-made center-break gun was still several years in the future.
-- At the time the change-over from muzzle-loaders entailed a massive alteration in the manufacturing processes for guns from a breech-plug to a lump, from locks to actions, etc. - this in the face of a very conservative clientele.
-- However, Lang and Blanch had orders aplenty themselves - they likely had no time to manufacture for "the trade."
-- Thus, the most logical conclusion is that 10655 was indeed made by Reilly as he has claimed - no one else could have done it for him - and to do this, Reilly probably had already been making similar such guns for a couple of years - witness his trade label with "fusils a bascule," adopted in late 1855.
-- (This conclusion is per historical data currently available on the early origins of UK center-break pin-fires.)

By Fall 1858 Reilly (along with Lang and Blanch, the original promotors of break-action guns in UK) was reported to be "overdone with orders for his breech-loaders" per "The Field." Reilly provided 4 guns for the follow-on muzzle-loader/break-action breech-loader trial run by the "The Field" in July 1859, all built on the "Lefaucheux" principle single-bite but with the Berringer under-lever around the trigger guard, his 16 bore being singled out for excellence by the editor of "The Field."

In January 1859 with new partners (unknown) EM opened a branch store/factory in a large building at 315 Oxford Street, probably because of the surging demand for break-action breech-loaders. The branch early on was also referred to as "Reilly's Armoury House" (Salvation Army hall was located behind the building) or on labels (a separate format from the 502 labels) "The Manufactory." It had a 50 yard shooting gallery attached. It was three doors down from Purdey (located at 314 1/2 - the numbers are deceiving).

(As an observation, Purdey was located at 314, 315 Oxford St. Their buildings contained the Purdey factory/workshop, display/fitting area, and offices and was called 314 1/2 as a compromise. The entire Purdey buildings at that location were about the same size as Reilly's new 315 Oxford St.)

Reilly also began advertising rifles sold wholesale to equip "Yoemanry" militia, organizing in UK to repell a threatened French invasion.

Note: Reilly always retailed pistols of all types from the beginning of the firm to the end. He engraved them and put his name on them. However, after 1837 he did not serial number them as previously mentioned. By 1859 he was selling all types of pistols and revolvers, Trantor, Colt, Smith&Wesson; he sold Howdah's, pepperboxes, duelers, derringers, etc. But, because he did not serial number these guns, he did not build them. Reilly did assemble foreign made revolvers possibly as early as 1860. But Reilly did not serial number assembled guns - witness the Martini-Henry Reillys). Thus pistols are ignored in this post; they cannot be used to date Reilly long-guns except for those with surviving cases which had original trade labels, which helped build a data-base of Reilly case labels.

Note: Reilly almost always used a straight English stock for SxS shotguns. He almost always used a pistol grip stock for rifles, and if not, a trigger-guard extension which aped a pistol grip. If a classic Reilly "shotgun" has a pistol grip stock, it almost certainly was repurposed from a rifle.

The company may have used "Reilly & Co." for a short while from circa January-October 1859 per a few advertisements & references in books; no trade labels exist with this name. One extant gun has "Reilly & Co." along with "Oxford Street" allegedly on the barrel - SN 10811, a Prince patent breech loader, probably ordered in fall 1858, but delivered in early 1859. No photos were available to confirm the name/address on the barrel of 10811 but, relying on Christie's advertising integrity, this is probably the first extant gun made at 315 Oxford Street.

(Note: From this time forward guns with only "Oxford Street, London" on their ribs will have been built at 315 Oxford Street. Guns built at 502 New Oxford street would have (without a street number) simply "New Oxford St." The first gun with the number "315" physically on the barrel is a 3-band Enfield SN 11419, probably numbered in spring 1860.)

By October 1859 the company’s name changed definitively to "E.M. Reilly & Co," a name which continued in use until bankruptcy in 1918 and beyond when the name was bought by Charles Riggs. His labels for both workshops changed at that time to reflect the new name, "E.M. Reilly & Co., Gun Maker." The label for 502 New Oxford St. continued to illustrate the sketch of the building; 315 Oxford Street continued to have a different label but now also with the E.M Reilly & Co. name.

The first extant serial numbered gun with E.M. Reilly & Co. on the rib is a 3 band Enfield SN 11227. (Note: pre-1859 serial-numbered guns with "E.M Reilly" on the rib but without the "& Co.," have been found - 10655, dated cMarch 1858, is an example).

A year later In circa August 1860 the company's description on labels and in advertisements changed from “Gun Maker” to “Gun Manufacturers” and at that time the sketch of 502 New Oxford Street was dropped from his case labels. The separate label for 315 Oxford St. also was dropped. The basic format for the new label remained consistent for the next 30+ years with variations (additions of medals, branch addresses, occasionally mention of royalty, etc.) (There were a few outlier labels). The advertising scroll work at the bottom of the label changed slightly after 1885. (See the separate chart dating Reilly labels).

Business anthologies at this time identified EM Reilly as both gun and pistol manufacturers and sword/cutlery makers. Reilly’s name has been found engraved on bayonettes and swords from the era.

During this time frame Reilly in advertisements claimed to be making every piece of every gun he serial numbered in his two workshops on Oxford Street and invited customers to "view the progress of their order." This would make Reilly one of the very few "vertical" gun companies in London. The London (and Birmingham) gun trade at the time relied for the most part on out-sourced parts and materials, which were assembled and finished in-house.

In 1862 Reilly showed at the London International exposition and won a medal for an exhibit which included a gold washed 12 bore muzzle-loader shotgun which may still exist (SN 12532).

Throughout the 1860's Reilly guns were purchased by various members of the British royal family, usually to give as gifts to foreign dignitaries or persons who had done favors for the family. Reilly tried to obtain, but without success, a Royal Warrant as "Gun Maker to the Royal Family."

From at least the 1840’s the Reilly’s tried mightily to win a lucrative military contract from the British government.
-- JC Reilly exhibited brass mortars in 1845.
-- EM Reilly promoted the Prince patent breech loader in the late 1850’s (joining other London gun-makers in urging Ordinance re-open the 1853 Army rifle competition which had selected the Enfield rifle-musket).
-- He worked with the Green brothers to win a contract for their patent breech loader, to which he had manufacturing rights, in the early 1860’s (competing against the Snider which won out).
-- He put forward the Comblain breech loader from Belgium, to which he gained patent rights in England, in 1868-70 (competing against trial guns such as the Martini and the Henry, a combination of which was adopted).
-- And, he patented an explosive bullet in 1869, a sort of early M-79 idea.
However, he never obtained a major contract (as far as the present day evidence goes).

Reilly did sell and engrave British military guns - Enfields, Snider's, Martini's and later Lee-Speeds; He hawked these guns to the Yoemanry Volunteer Militia and to rifle clubs at wholesale prices, versions of them to Military personnel going abroad and to big-game hunters for 50 years. But, unless he built them himself he did not serial number these guns.

As an aside, the history of Reilly building Martini-Henry rifles/actions is instructive. He first advertised a "Henry-Martini" in early 1871 (it was adopted for trial in summer 1871). There is one Reilly Martini-Henry with a SN dated to Jan 1972 (SN 17314). There are many extant Reilly-made Martini-Henry's afterwards, in a half-dozen calibers, none with serial numbers. It seems that at the time Arsenal, if one wanted to build a M-H rifle, would insist on sending over the parts. Reilly, it appears, did not serial number assembled guns.

EM Reilly always seemed to be enamored with Paris and as the 1867 Paris Universelle exposition approached, he meticulously prepared an exhibit that was extensively lauded. It won him gold and silver medals, led him to became a “gun maker” for Napoleon III, and in February 1868 to open a branch office (EM Reilly & Cie.) at 2 rue Scribe, Paris where orders for his guns could be taken. The store was located in the Grand Hotel near the Gare du Nord, a prime location (British travelers to Paris arrived at the Gare du Nord). This branch office remained open for the next 17 years. The first extant gun with 2 rue Scribe on the rib is 14983, an 8 bore SxS under-lever, hammer gun, shotgun.

Note: The French press in articles about Reilly in the 20th century has claimed that the artistic elegance and balance of a Reilly gun came from its association with Paris.

His case labels changed at this time to feature the two medals won at the 1867 World’s Fair and often (but not always) mentioned both branch addresses.

Two and a half years later after the battle of Sedan Napoleon III fell from power; the medals disappeared from Reilly’s case labels for awhile yet continued occasionally to resurface on both labels and in advertisements for the next 15 years.

Note: Reilly's affinity for France was well known and commented on in newspapers at the time (was this possibly an Irish-French Catholic connection?). A French woman was found in his house in the 1861 census; In Fall 1870 he was prosecuted for attempting to smuggle 2,000 shells to his rue Scribe address, a violation of UK neutrality in the conflict; and in 1871 offered to sell 6,000 Chassepot rifles (stored in Birmingham) to the new French Republic. And, there are Reilly trade labels from the period where the owner of the gun has taken pains to erase the Paris address - Francophobia was alive and well in UK.

Also around 1869 he changed the description of the company in ads to "Gun and Rifle Manufacturers" (as did many other English gun makers). This description was sometimes but not usually used on his trade/case labels for the next 15 years.

In 1876 some Reilly labels and publicity began advertising a connection to the King of Portugal and by 1882 to the Kings of Spain and The Netherlands. In addition around this time 315 Oxford Street began to use a slightly different case label and later, also for a short time, a different label for revolvers but with the same shape advertising "Breech Loading Gun & Rifle Manufacturers."

From as early as 1868 Reilly had evinced an interest in penetrating the American market. He acquired an American agent (Joseph Grubbs, Philadelphia), had his guns advertised in mail order catalogs, and exhibited at the 1876 Philadelphia centennial along side very high-standard British guns such as Purdey, and won a medal.

Reilly again exhibited at the 1878 Paris exposition and again won medals. By 1880 Reilly sold a third more - soon to be twice as many - serial numbered, hand made bespoke guns than both Holland and Holland and Purdey combined, this in addition to:
-- a very active business in guns sold under license from well known gun makers including revolvers (Trantor, Baumont-Adams, Walker, Colt, etc), rook rifles, repeating rifles (Sharps, Winchester, etc.),
-- as well as merchandising every type of gun accoutrement - reloaders, cartridges, shells, cases, etc.
-- and sustaining a huge business in previously owned guns.

Reilly told the 1881 census taker that he employed some 300 people in his firm, an extraordinarialy high number for the times, an indication of the extent of his gun manufacturing and sales business. (WW Greener in the same census claimed to employ 140, less than half the number of Reilly; Purdey in 1871 said he employed 58, 1/5th the number of Reilly workers).

Around 1881 per advertisements it appears that Reilly made a business decision to stock ready-made guns and sell them off-the-rack as well as selling his usual bespoke made-to-order guns. This might account for the soaring number of guns serial numbered per year, which grew from about 650 numbered in 1880 to some 1050 in 1882. It might also account for certain discrepancies in serial numbered guns from this time forward such as 303xx which would have been numbered in late 1888-early 1889 but still has "Not For Ball" on its barrels (a stamping discontinued in 1887). If this were the case, Reilly possibly serial numbered his off-the-rack guns when sold and his bespoke guns when ordered and a deposit put down. (When knowledgable gun historians and makers were queried about this phenomena, they said essentially that no-one can logically explain the process at the time - some gun makers ignored or stretched the law; some pre-stamped barrels..etc.)

In November 1881 Oxford Street was renumbered; ”502” became “16 New Oxford Street” and “315” becoming “277 Oxford Street.” The first extant gun with either of the new addresses on the ribs is SN 23536, a 12 ga. SxS BLE shotgun.

In spite of the formal change in numbering, the old numbers occasionally appeared in Reilly ads and on gun ribs for the next couple of years; Reilly trade labels, however, did not appear to change definitively to the new numbering system until circa 1885. There are exceptions. (There are not enough trade labels extant from this time period to make a definitive judgement on when the trade labels changed their addresses: there is a 16, New Oxford Street label with rue Scribe on it; However, no “277 Oxford Street” labels with the Paris branch have so far been found).

Reilly’s business was booming and gun production topped 1000 a year. Reilly reportedly was making long guns for other London gun-makers and around this time began importing cheap Belgian-made revolvers in parts which he assembled in his buildings, engraved and sold. (Reilly, like Trantor and others, possibly was involved with the Belgian manufacture and "assembly trade" much earlier...perhaps dating to as early as the 1850's).

He exhibited at the 1882 Calcutta fair (a British Empire only affair) and won a medal and was highly praised for his exhibit at the 1885 London International Inventions Exposition where he again won medals.

Reilly guns figured well in live pigeon shooting contests throughout the 1880’s and big game hunters in Africa used his guns and advertised the results (including Henry Morton Stanley, the Welsh-American and perhaps the most famous of all African explorers, Dr. David Livingston, and noted Victorian era African hunter and author Frederick Selous).

In July 1885 rue Scribe was closed. The reasons for this are not known - hand made guns were being sold at a very high rate; it may have had to do with the departure of a long-time partner (possibly a M. Poirat? He was the agent for Reilly in 1871, mentioned in French parliamentary records when Reilly tried to sell the stock of Chassepot rifles in Birmingham to the French Republic.).

The last extant SN’d gun with rue Scribe on the rib is 27340, a 12 bore SxS top-lever, hammer-gun, shotgun. (There are three guns with later serial numbers which have only "Paris" on their barrels all SxS built on the Scott "triplex" system; However, these may have been ready-made prior to 1885 and only numbered when sold off the rack). The labels for both London branches changed slightly at this time, advertising different guns in the scroll work.

Note: In the early 1880's Reilly apparently opened a small satellite branch of 2 rue Scribe, Paris at 29 rue du Faubourg, St. Honore, Paris for a short time. Four different gun case labels show the store would have been in existence after the November 1881 change in Oxford Street addresses but before the July 1885 closure of 2 rue Scribe. An advertisement/paid-for article with this address appeared in Jan 1886 London press touting a win by an Italian (a well known marksman) at the Monte Carlo pigeon shoot (an important event); whether the address was on the rib of his gun or on the trade/case label is unknown. No newspaper ads for this branch exist (and it was a prestigious location - Coco Chanel's apartments were above it in another century - which should have been publicized). No extant guns have thus far been found with this address. Perhaps this store was occupied while the Grand Hotel was undergoing renovation?

Reilly exhibited at the 1889 Paris World's Fair, the “Tour Eiffel" Exposition Universalle, and may have won a silver medal. However, by this time advertisements for Reilly guns had declined and he did not publicize the medals if he won them. A nasty law-suit on easement limitations to the Salavation Army Hall behind his establishment at 277 Oxford Street was litigated.

The fact is, something changed with the firm after 1886; Reilly's guns regularly won competitions and were donated to be given as prizes at high-end shooting competitions; but the company just gradually retracted from mass-media print. The cocky swagger of the 1860's seemed to have burnt itself out.

In July 1890 EM Reilly contracted broncho-pneumonia and passed away. Reilly's acknowledged sons Charles A. was 20, Herbert H. was 15, and Gerald Atol was 13 - all still in school. His first "son" Edward Montague was 23 (see below). His wife Mary was in her 40's. Business was still lively. Who ran the company during these years is not known though widows did successfully manage companies in England at the time after the deaths of their husbands.

Observation: This study has not delved into the goings-on in the Reilly family except where it effects the business; however, here are some possible characterizations of the Reilly's (based on very limited information, much from Sally Nestor, family researcher).
-- JC comes across as something of an early 19th century/Victorian self-absorbed narcissist (this from one possibly extremely prejudiced source) - (note: He registered a silver mark - not something one can just do without true expertise and apprenticeship, and - per John Campbell - not independently confirmed - was a clock-maker. JC had some serious mechanical skills). He appears to have been rebellious, snarky, and independent, and probably was a difficult and demanding boss - but he had allies in the gun world, i.e. a relationship with John Blanch from pretty much the time when he first began to build his own guns (a deduction from very limited evidence - Blanch kept Reilly advertisements from the 1840 era in his private scrap book).
-- EM appears to have been an imaginative, far-sighted, organized, ambitious businessman (based on his business record). He also worked with his father from an early age in the gun making business and had extensive hands-on experience in making guns and air guns. He had some excellent political connections in the gun trade - the same group of gun makers appear repeatedly together in the late 1850-early 1860 time period - Prince, Green, Reilly, Blanch, and a couple of others - and given that he manufactured well in excess of 10,000 Green and Comblain breech loaders in Birmingham in the 1860's, he had connections there as well. He had to have had some people skills. He was perhaps a bit of a control freak and probably not easy to be around - especially if you were his son. (The Victorian age was not a "huggy-feely" one) (this only from interpreting the wording in his will).
-- The first son, Edward Montague b.1867 probably was the pre-marriage offspring of then 50 year old EM and his then 21 year old future wife Mary....but seeing as they were cousins, marriage was forbidden - for awhile. Four sons were born, three out of wedlock; However, only Edward Montague was called a "reputed" son. Edward Montague was an "engineer" and "gun maker" following in his father's footsteps and was designated as an executor of EM's will (along with Mary). One must wonder if it were he who kept the firm on a relatively even keel after the death of EM, from 1890 up to his own early, untimely and tragic death. (There is more to this).

By 1894 Reilly guns were no longer being mentioned as often as winners in pigeon shoots; Reilly victories and promotional donations of guns as prizes had been a prominent feature in London papers for 25 years. His 28 year old eldest son Edward Montague Reilly, "gun maker," who was involved with the company in some way, died in 1895.

In early May 1897 the company closed 16 New Oxford Street where it had been located for 50 years; 277 Oxford Street remained open. Bespoke guns continued to be sold in the early 1890’s at a goodly clip but as the decade advanced, and factory mass produced guns with steel barrels began to compete with Damascus, the demand for these hand-made and measured guns in a middling cost category seemed to decline. Reilly serial numbered gun production dwindled steadily (see dating chart below).

Reilly advertisements in mass media, an almost daily occurrence in the London press since 1833, declined as the 90's progressed. In response, with sales diminishing, closing the finishing facilities at 16 New Oxford street while retaining the shooting gallery and smaller sales and manufacturing spaces at 277 Oxford Street would seem to have been logical. The last extant SN’d gun from 16 New Oxford Street is 34723, a 12 bore SxS, top-lever, hammer-gun, shotgun.

After 1897 the trade/case labels changed to reflect the marketing of magazine guns and advertised the medals won in 1876 (Philadelphia), 1878 (Paris), and 1885 (London) and 1873 (Vienna) (although there is no evidence that Reilly actually exhibited in Vienna). On his presentation cases, the company description changed back to "gun and rifle makers" although the company was still "Gun and Rifle Manufacturers" in phone and business directories.

In March 1903 the Company vacated 277 Oxford Street where they had been quartered for 44 years while the building was being renovated and moved 300 yards down the street to 295 Oxford Street. The company apparently was run by 27 year old Herbert H. (Bert) Reilly, E.M's third son. The first extant gun with 295 Oxford Street on the rib is 35423, a 12 ga. SxS BLE shotgun.

The company remained at 295 until bankruptcy was declared on 06 June 1912 (publicized on 08 June 1912 in the London Monday morning papers). The last extant gun with 295 on the rib is 35678, a 12 bore SxS BLE shotgun. Reportedly during this period at least one gun was built with "J.C. Reilly" and the old "Holborn Bars" address on the rib.

Note: Per advertisements in September 1911 the company announced it was for sale or in need of new partners with cash. Its stock of guns was advertised at reduced prices. In December 1911 the company was changed to a limited liability company with "CW Roberts" (probably G. Watkinson Roberts - liquidator specialist) as one of the directors. Roberts was a bankruptcy lawyer. Reilly's continued advertising 295 for sale in Spring 1912 per newspaper advertisements. It appears Bert Reilly knew bankruptcy was coming and changed the company to protect his personal assets. He retained his separate homes after bankruptcy.

Bert Reilly opened a small gun shop, E.M Reilly & Co., at 13 High Street, Marylebone in 1912 after the bankruptcy. No advertisements can be found for the shop though per London postal address, telephone and business directories they identified themselves as "gunmakers." No guns with this address on the rib have been found. The date of its closure is not noted although it is listed in the London telephone directory in 1918 (but not in 1919).

In August 1922 The Reilly name was bought by a sporting goods dealer named Charles Riggs (most Reilly history summaries put the date of purchase as 1917; this is belied by the dates of newspaper advertising). Riggs apparently decided he could use the name to promote his premium line of guns (possibly built by Osborne/Midland). Whether a Reilly had any say in the design of these Riggs-Reilly guns is unknown. Riggs remained in business until 1966. His “Reilly named” guns have six-digit serial numbers and appear to begin at around 130000. A Riggs "Reilly" with a serial number in the 150000’s is known to exist. (Note: As a further identifier, a lot of the Rigg's-Reilly's have "Prince of Wales" half pistol grip stocks - something the original Reilly firm never made.)

The Reilly's sold all types of guns in various qualities using all types of actions. Reilly serial numbered about 33,000 guns from circa 1828 to 1912, all built by them. The guns that they made had an artistic elegance and balance, which is unmistakable. Reilly was one of the first to use highly figured French walnut for their stocks and their engraving, for the most part floral scroll work, was in a unique style and consistently classy. Reilly's best guns were as good as those produced anywhere in England at the time.

Gene Williams, September 05, 2018; last updated 26 Jun 2020

See follow-on SN dating chart and footnotes:



Edited by Argo44 (07/03/20 10:21 PM)
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#573666 - 06/11/20 09:51 PM Re: E.M. Reilly; History; Chronology; Serial Numbers [Re: Argo44]
Argo44 Offline
Sidelock
**

Registered: 02/21/16
Posts: 1511
Loc: McLean, Virginia
=================================== SN Date Chart ===========================================

Year. . . . . . . . . . . .Serial Numbers. . . . . . . # of SN’d guns made in 1 year
. . . Black-Main Chronology; Blue: JC “7000” series. . . . . . .*Marker footnotes. **Sanity checks

1828: . . 001 - . .050 - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50. .*1. .12 Middle-row, Holborn Bars
1829: . . 051 - . .180. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .130
1830: . . 181 - . .320. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140
1831: . . 321 - . .460. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140
1832: . . 461 - . .600. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140
1833: . . 601 - . .750. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .150
1834: . . 751 - . .900. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .150
1835: . . 901 - .1060. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180. .*2. .Aug-move to 316 High Holborn
1836: ..1061 - .1240. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
1837: ..1241 - .1420. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
1838: ..1421 - .1600. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
1839: ..1601 - .1810. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210
1840: ..1811 - .2040. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
1841: ..2041 - .2270. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
1842: ..2271 - .2500. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
1843: ..2501 - .2730. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
1844: ..2731 - .2960. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230
1845: ..2961 - .3180. + 7000 - 7020 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .240
1846: ..3181 - .3330. + 7021 - 7130 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .260. .*3,*4
1847: ..3331 - .3350. + 7131 - 7230. + 8350 - 8480 - . . . . .250. .*5,*6. .**1. 7201. .Mar-move to 502 New Oxford St.
1848: ..8481 - .8640. + 7231 - 7330. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270
1849: ..8641 - .8800. + 7331 - 7440. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1850: ..8801 - .8960. + 7441 - 7540. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1851: ..8961 - .9130. + 7541 - 7640. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1852: ..9131 - .9300. + 7641 - 7740. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1853: ..9301 - .9490. + 7741 - 7830. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1854: ..9491 - .9680. + 7831 - 7930. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1855: ..9681 - .9870. + 7931 - 8030. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290
1856: ..9871- 10170. + 8031 - 8130. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 400. . . . .**2. many orders after Paris
1857: 10171 - 10510. + 8131 - 8200. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 410. .*7
1858: 10511 - 10930. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 420. . . . .**3. 10655. .**4. 10782. .**5. 10811
1859: 10931 - 11340. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. .*8.*9. .**6. 11227. .January-315 Oxford St. opened
1860: 11341 - 11770. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. . . . .**7. 11716
1861: 11771 - 12210. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1862: 12211 - 12740. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. . . . .**8. 12532
1863: 12741 - 13170. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1864: 13171 - 13600. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. . . . .**9. 13333
1865: 13601 - 14030. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1866: 14031 - 14460. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1867: 14461 - 14910. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450
1868: 14911 - 15510. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600. .*10 . .Feb-2 rue Scribe opened
1869: 15511 - 16110. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1870: 16111 - 16710. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1871: 16711 - 17310. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1872: 17311 - 17910. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600. . . . .**10. 17314
1873: 17911 - 18510. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1874: 18511 - 19140. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 630
1875: 19141 - 19780. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 640. . . . .**11. 19286
1876: 19781 - 20430. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1877: 20431 - 21080. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650. . . . .**12. 20623
1878: 21081 - 21730. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1879: 21731 - 22380. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1880: 22381 - 22930. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1881: 22931 - 23630. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 800. .*11. **13. 23536. .**14. 23574. .Nov-Oxford St. renumbered
1882: 23631 - 24680. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1050. . . . .**15. 24534
1883: 24681 - 25730. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1050
1884: 25731 - 26780. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1050
1885: 26781 - 27820. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1040. .*12. .July-2 rue Scribe closed
1886: 27821 - 28720. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 900
1887: 28721 - 29520. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 800
1888: 29521 - 30300. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 780
1889: 30301 - 31000. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 700. . . . .**16. 30768
1890: 31001 - 31680. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 680
1891: 31681 - 32280. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1892: 32281 - 32830. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 550
1893: 32831 - 33280. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450
1894: 33281 - 33720. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 440
1895: 33721 - 34150. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1896: 34151 - 34670. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 420
1897: 34671 - 34920. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 250. .*13. .May-16 New Oxford St. closed
1898: 34921 - 35080. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
1899: 35081 - 35180. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
1900: 35181 - 35250. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70. . . . .**17. 35186
1901: 35251 - 35300. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
1902: 35301 - 35350. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
1903: 35351 - 35400. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50. .*14. .March-Move to 295 Oxford St.
1904: 35401 - 35450. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
1905: 35451 - 35500. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
1906: 35501 - 35535. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
1907: 35536 - 35565. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30. . . . .**18. 35554
1908: 35566 - 35595. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1909: 35596 - 35625. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1910: 35626 - 35655. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1911: 35656 - 35685. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1912: 35686 - 35700. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15. .*15. .June-Bankrupt; vacate 295 Oxford St

Post Aug 1922 - ? 130000 - 150000. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20,000?. . *16

==================== Footnotes ====================

Methodology
-- Reilly serial numbered some 33,000 guns from c1825-1912. The chart is based on an analysis of over 380 surviving Reilly serial numbered guns and thousands of articles about and advertisements for Reilly in 19th century print media. However, the chart is modified as additional guns/into come to light.
-- The chart is designed to allow a Reilly owner to date his gun within a few months of its being serial numbered; it is more accurate from 1855 to 1905 due to the number of surviving guns.

Caveats:
-- Reilly did not serial number guns he did not make.
-- When 001 was numbered or if there were a 001 is unknown; Summer 1828 was chosen as a start date because of newspaper ads. Reilly was NOT on a list of London gunmakers published in 1825. The first existing gun is SN
162.
-- Reilly originally serial numbered pistols; that ended circa 1837.
-- The number of guns numbered per year are estimates based on date markers - the addresses on the ribs/barrels based on specific events such as moves to new addresses or change in address numbers which are historically proven. Obviously numbers actually made each year varied. The curve has been smoothed as much as possible to eliminate wild swings and verified by
sanity checks."
-- There is a huge uptick in numbers in 1881-82. Reilly apparently made the business decision to stock guns and sell ready-made/off-the-rack. If so he may have numbered them when sold, accounting for some discrepancies. His bespoke guns were probably numbered when ordered per general London practice
-- Patent numbers or patent use numbers on guns can help date a gun; 1) but many guns were modified/up-graded; 2) patent use numbers were rarely chronological. Manufacturers bought blocs of numbers in some cases. 3) Almost all pin-fires, the dominant SxS from the 1850's to about 1872 were modified to center fire. Ditto for non-rebounding hammers. 4)In addition the relationship of patent use numbers to gun Serial Number cannot be ascertained easily. For instance Henry patent rifling would be stamped on tubes - but when these tubes were stamped in relationship to when the serial number for the gun was entered on the books is not clear. 5) So patent numbers and patent use numbers can be sanity checks but no proof of date of manufacture. (example: SN
30768. A&D Boxlock patent number 8245. The SN dates the gun to late summer 1889. The A&D patent expired September 1889. No A&D use number should be on a gun after that date.)
-- Reilly prided himself on delivering bespoke guns in 1-3 months vice the 2-3 years of other makers. The guns would have been serial-numbered upon order. However, the SN chronology is based on rib/barrel-addresses from 15 or so key date-marker guns. These addresses would have been engraved and the ribs/barrels blacked/browned shortly before delivery. Thus serial numbers may precede the rib-addresses by several months.


*Marker Footnotes
*1 - Summer 1828 - Chosen as the start date for Reilly making guns. Reilly was NOT mentioned in an 1825 list of London gun-makers. Reilly was never a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Gunmakers. The first ad in the London newspapers specifically for Reilly made guns so far found is in 1830. However, a July 1828 ad is pretty clear that he was selling guns made by him. Likewise, 001 is chosen as the number of the first gun though it could have been "100." 1st extant SN'd gun is 162. Address was 12 Middle Row; Address on ribs is "Holborn Bars."
*2 - Late Aug 1835 - Reilly moved to 316 High Holborn; 1st SN'd gun with High Holborn is 1024
*3 - Late 1845/early 1846 - JC Reilly appears to have split his main-line serial numbers with a series he kept for himself beginning around 7000. SN 7023 is the first of these with JC Reilly on the rib but still with the High Holborn address.
*4 - Last main-line SN with High Holborn on the rib is 3329.
*5 - Late March 1847 - Reilly moved to 502 New Oxford Street. The main line SN series was bumped up 5000 numbers; 1st SN'd gun with 502 along with "removed from Holborn" is 8378. (Note: This is a hypothesis since this gun was advertised as "8578," a number which another gun already carries. This gun is a J.C. Reilly SxS gun with the New Oxford St. address and "Removed from Holborn" on the label. (Reilly used the phrase “removed from Holborn” in his advertisements from early April 1847 to late November 1847; by December 1847 it had vanished).
*6 - First JC Reilly 7000 series with 502 Oxford is 7201 which also has "removed from Holborn" on the label.
*7 - early September 1857: JC retired; the last extant SN in the JC Reilly "7000" series (with "Veni, Vidi, Vici" on the rib) is 8186.
*8 - mid-January 1859 - 315 Oxford Street opened . The company used the name "Reilly & Co., for a short while in early 1859. The first gun with "Oxford St." and "Reilly & Co." is 10811, ordered late 1858 and probably engraved and delivered in February-March 1859.
*9 - October 1859 - The company name changed definitively to E.M. Reilly & Co.; The 1st extant SN'd gun with EM Reilly on the rib is 11227.
*10 - mid Feb 1868 - Reilly opened 2 rue Scribe Paris; 1st extant SN'd gun with rue Scribe on the rib is 14983.
*11 - Nov 1881 - Oxford Street was renumbered; 1st extant Reilly with 277 Oxford street (or 16 New Oxford St.) on the rib is 23536.
*12 - July 1885 - Reilly closed rue Scribe; last extant Reilly with "rue Scribe" on the rib is 27340. *(Note: There are 3 later guns SN 27533, 27570 and 27854 with "Paris" on their barrels. All three have Whitworth steel barrels and are built on Scott Climax triplex actions. I've chosen not to use these as the end marker for rue Scribe, at least not yet; Reilly at this time was selling both off-the-rack/ready-made guns and bespoke guns made-to-order and I believe these may have been already engraved and sitting in the shop, but not numbered until sold. This is a subjective judgement of course. Additional serial numbers may change this.)
*13 - May 1897 - Reilly closed 16 (502) New Oxford Street. Last extant SN'd gun with 16 New Oxford Street on the rib is 34723
*14 - March 1903 - Reilly moved from 277 Oxford St. to 295 Oxford st. First extant gun with 295 on the rib is 35422
*15 - June 8, 1912 - Reilly declared bankruptcy. Last extant SN'd gun is 35678. Bert Reilly subsequently opened a small gun shop at 13 High Street, Marylebone as "E.M Reilly & Co.", which lasted to about 1918-early 1919; no guns with this address on ribs have been found, no advertisements for it exist.
*16 - August 1922 - (date confirmed-per newspaper advertisements) the Reilly name was bought by Charles Riggs. The name/address on the ribs was "EM Reilly & Co., London." Riggs' had historical connections to BSA - however, some believe his guns were built by Osborn/Midland. The serial numbers became 6 digits apparently beginning around 130000 - The first extant Riggs-Reilly so far found is 133805; the last is 150570. How many of these "Reilly" Riggs guns were produced or how Riggs' numbering system actually worked is not clear. In addition to 6 digit serial numbers most "Riggs-Reilly's" had "Prince of Wales" stocks. The original Reilly's never had this stock (as far a current research goes).

Sanity Checks:
**1. - 7201 would have been serial numbered in late summer-fall 1847. It has the 502 New Oxford St. address (post 23 March 1847) and the label "removed from Holborn" (which existed from April 1847 through November 1847.
**2. - After his triumph at Paris in 1855 - "all guns were sold and many orders booked." The increase in production by 200 guns for 1856 reflects this.
**3. 10655 - Early 1858 Reilly pinfire on the Lefaucheux principle; No one in UK could have made that gun for Reilly other than Lang or possibly Blanch; “The Field” mentioned at this time that Reilly along with Blanch and Lang were “overdone with orders” for breech loaders, likely the reason that in Jan 1859 he opened "the Manufactory" at "Arsenal House," 315 Oxford Street - to satisfy this demand.
**4. 10782 - He began making under license Prince Patent breech loaders soon after the Patent, probably as early as 1857. The gun was serial numbered in early Fall 1858 - 1st Prince Patent gun.
**5. 10811 This Prince patent gun is dated to Autumn 1858. However, it has "Reilly & Co. Oxford Street, London" on the barrel. "Oxford St" would indicate it were made at 315 Oxford St., which did not open until January 1859. "Reilly & Co., apparently was used for a short while from January 1859 to Fall 1859. This would indicate that the gun was ordered in autumn 1858 and serial numbered at that time - but not completed until early 1859. (There are no pictures to confirm the Christies advertisement). 1st extant gun completed at 315 Oxford St.
**6. 11227 - Reilly began using "E.M. Reilly & Co." in Sep-Oct 1859. 11227 is the first extant gun with "E.M. Reilly & Co" on the gun rib and would be dated in Autumn 1859 per the chart.
**7. 11716 - Reilly .577 Enfield given as a prize Christmas 1860 per an inscription on the gun; The chart has the gun being numbered in late November, early December 1860.
**8. 12532 - In 1862 the London Exposition ran from late May to September. His exhibit included a gold washed muzzle-loader shotgun, much commented on at the time, which may still exist. If this is the exposition gun the chart has it being numbered around July 1862 rather than the start of the exposition in May. However, the article describing it was written in September 1862, validating the date chart.
**9. 13333 - Reilly obtained manufacturing rights to the Green Bros Breech loader and per a post on this board began to manufacture them about Apr-May 1864. This gun was number 23...The chart has it being numbered about May 1864.
**10. 17314 - The Martini-Henry was formally adopted (though still being trialed) in summer 1871. The first Reilly advertisement for Martini-Henry's appeared in November 1871. The chart has 17314 being numbered in early Jan 1872.
**11. 19286. The below comment about 19286 was posted on a knowledgeable UK board. The chart has 19286 as being numbered in early 1875 - at the time the UK board was still struggling with the wide-spread disinformation that Reilly had closed rue Scribe in 1872:
. . . . . . ."The action flats have the expected View mark, and they have the H Walker patent mark for his barrel bolting and safety for drop-down actions patent No 455 of 12 February 1872 ( Use No. 1098 ) .
. . . . . . ."Of equal importance to the marks are the ones that don't appear e.g. no NOT FOR BALL or CHOKE mark. The first of these was introduced in 1875, so this and the patent date mean the gun was made definitely not before Feb 72, or after 1875. "It must have been made a couple of years after 1872, say 1874 to early 1875, and we favour the latter because even if the gun was made by a large trade maker, the 1098 use number is quite a large number."

**12. 20623. Purdey patent 1104 use #4928, the last Reilly with a Pat 1104 use #. The Purdey patent expired 01 May 1877. This gun is dated per the chart circa April 1877.
**13. 23536. Oxford Street was renumbered in November 1881. 23536 is the first extant gun with the new numbers on the rib. The chart would date it to mid-November 1881.
**14. 23574. 1882 Hurlingham rules weight limit for pigeon guns was fixed at 8 lbs. This pigeon gun built in late 1881 for the new upcoming season weighs 8 lbs..
**15. 24534. 1883 Hurlingham rules weight limit for pigeon guns was changed to 7 lbs 8 oz. This pigeon gun built in late 1882 for the new rules weighs 7 lbs 8 oz.
**16. 30768. A&D Boxlock patent number 8245. The SN dates the gun to late summer 1889. The A&D patent expired in September 1889
**17. 35186 - Dated on the chart as 1901; it has a post-1898 trade label and London 1896-1904 proof marks
**18. 35554. Reilly double rifle chambered for .500/.465 with 295 Oxford St. address on the barrels. The chart dates it as late 1907. This cartridge was introduced by Holland & Holland in 1907.


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Edited by Argo44 (06/29/20 10:06 PM)
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#574223 - 06/22/20 12:27 AM Re: E.M. Reilly; History; Chronology; Serial Numbers [Re: Argo44]
Argo44 Offline
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Registered: 02/21/16
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A second pre 1881 outlier label


Trade labels and making sense of them is truly Quixotic. But, I thought I'd gotten a pretty good handle on Reilly trade labels...see the chart on p.44. But again exception rears its head.

This is a label from Reilly .450 BPE SxS rifle SN 21369 (Serial numbered in 1878 per the chart). It is from 315 Oxford Street. It has floral capitals which more resemble those from UK gun labels in the 1890's (see previous posts). I'd normally dismiss it as a reproduction (the case has been "reconditioned") except for the scolloped corners...and it's never been seen on reproduction sites.



It is very similar to this label which came in a case for SN 10354, a Reilly muzzle loader from 1857, transformed per records into a center-break breech-loader in allegedly 1895-1904 (per the consigner - pictured and discussed before). But it has "502 New Oxford Street" address...pre-1885 for sure and possibly pre 1882 (address changed in Nov 1881 - labels did not catch up for a couple of years but there are not that many to reference).



So what to make of these two labels? One can call them "outlier" (for one), get away with calling them "outliers" (for two)(but from two different workshops?). If a third appears...reevaluation.


Edited by Argo44 (06/28/20 11:21 PM)
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#574540 - 06/28/20 11:12 PM Re: E.M. Reilly; History; Chronology; Serial Numbers [Re: Argo44]
Argo44 Offline
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Registered: 02/21/16
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Loc: McLean, Virginia
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Colonel Jacob's patent rifles





Readers of Reilly advertisements on this line will note advertisements for "Colonel Jacob's" rifles from about 1858 - 1863 including advertising those that could fire "explosive shells". I've never seen a Reilly made Colonel Jacob's rifle...but the history of it is incredible as is the history of Col. Jacobs himself....the first time I went up into Baluchistan I got off the train in Jacobabad (technically Punjab..but Baluch to the core - or possibly with a goodly number of Saraiki speakers).

Here's an advertisement from the 1858 Anglo-Indian Almanack: (That book went to press in 1857 - and you'll also note the advertisement for his center-break guns):


Here is a description of his rifle:






You can read info on Wikipedia here on this amazing man:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Jacob_(East_India_Company_officer)


But here is the key part of it....if anyone has a Reilly made Col. Jacob's rifle, would love to see it:

As a Military Engineer[edit]
He wrote many pamphlets which were critical of the Indian Army as it then was, and got him into much trouble with the Government in London. He was a scientist and inventor, developing an exploding bullet,[6] or shell, that fired combustibles up to 6 miles (9.7 km).He believed this would revolutionize the art of war. Two good riflemen could, in his opinion, annihilate the best battery of field artillery in 10 minutes. Further experiments made it possible to fire shells up to a range of 14 miles. More importantly, he designed a four grooved rifle and had various experimental guns manufactured in London by leading gunsmiths, and at his expense.. (Several internet courses say he seemed to favor Manton or George Daw to build his ideas from 1846 on...but the records are not complete).


Sind plains in that area or the bare scalding mountains to its west, provide plenty of reasons why Jacobs wanted to be able to hit targets at 2000 yards.

And by the way....it again shows the willingness of Reilly to push the envelop at this time....he went after innovation - he may not have created it himself - but he surely recognized it, made it and marketed it. He had no fear of the "establishment" because he wasn't part of it.


Edited by Argo44 (06/29/20 07:35 PM)
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#574690 - 07/01/20 11:46 PM Re: E.M. Reilly; History; Chronology; Serial Numbers [Re: Argo44]
Argo44 Offline
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Registered: 02/21/16
Posts: 1511
Loc: McLean, Virginia
=========================================================================================
Arsenal and the Martini-Henry.


I've added this to the Reilly history:

As an aside, the history of Reilly building Martini-Henry rifles/actions is instructive. He first advertised a "Henry-Martini" in 1871 (it was adopted for trial in summer 1871). There is one Reilly Martini-Henry with a SN dated to Jan 1872 (SN 17314). There are many extant Reilly-made Martini-Henry's afterwards, in a half-dozen calibers, none with serial numbers. It seems that at the time Arsenal, if one wanted to build a M-H rifle, would insist on sending over the parts. Reilly, it appears, did not serial number assembled guns.

The first and only serial number Reilly in my database is 17314...dated per the chart to January 1872:
http://britishmilitariaforums.yuku.com/topic/8720/E-M-Reilly-Martini#.VrgJC3hQoqY


1st advertisement for a "Henri-Martini" - 1871 "Black's Cornwell Guide".


First ad for a "Martini-Henry" - 25 December 1871, "The Graphic":


I did some research into the topic about three years ago. I've never found another serial numbered Reilly M-H after that first one. But there are a lot around...one in caliber .75 - a real elephant gun:

Here is an example:
https://www.gunsamerica.com/999425841/Martini-E-M-Reilly-577-45.htm


Greener and others made a lot of Martini-Henry guns. Did they serial number these guns? Reilly SN'd a lot of his Enfields (those built for the yeomanry militia might be excepted) but I early on read that the Arsenal became really b**chy with the M-H (and one must wonder if this were the reason the Henry rifling patent was extended from another 14 years). Observations/comments much appreciated. Thanks.




Edited by Argo44 (07/02/20 12:55 AM)
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#574697 - 07/02/20 07:42 AM Re: E.M. Reilly; History; Chronology; Serial Numbers [Re: Argo44]
BrentD Offline
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Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 4601
Loc: Iowa
Many makers made them without many marks at all. I don't recall that this one had a SSN, but it certainly did not have a maker's mark either. Just a patent stamp.



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