1853 Enfield Pattern Rifle

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Hello to all,

First post on the forum. I have some questions about a rifle that has been in my family since around 1900. It's an 1853 Enfield, Parker Field and Sons lockplate, Type 3 barrel bands (Palmer), London barrel proofs, stock is marked "Crown over S over HC" one time at top of the buttplate tang, assembler mark opposite the lock is "WL" in an oval. The rifle also has a capital "I" on the left side of the stock and I have not located any anchor mark. So, my question would be: What time period is this particular rifle? Pre-Civil War, Early, Mid, Late? And, did the Iowa or Illinois regiments mark their rifles?

The stock has wear or alteration where the cheek rest is located and the condition is great. I doubt my GGrandfather or Grandfather ever shot it, but my Father said he shot it in the mid 1960s and replaced the nipple and a few screws, but he does not know who did the stock alteration. The rear sight also has a nail for the pin and he said it was like that when he was given the rifle.

The known history on this one is that my GGrandfather was given this rifle by the daughter of a Riverboat Captain or Merchant who lived in Keokuk Iowa. The gentleman's name was Oliver Spencer Conklin and he died in 1884 but was in Illinois during the war. Before the war he had a merchant trade in Vicksburg.

Info on the owner from the web:
"Oliver Spencer Conklin son of Stephen and Anna (Crane) Conkling was born in 1815. In early records his name is most frequently seen as Spencer, but as an adult he also used Oliver or O.S. He is listed as O.S. Conklin in the 1856 City Directory of Keokuk, Iowa. On 1 April 1850 he married Sarah Anne McFallen in Wayne County, Indiana. That same year they moved to Keokuk (Lee County), Iowa where they appear in the 1850 census. At that time they lived in a rooming house or hotel and Oliver was a grocer. They lived in Keokuk from 1850-57. In 1857 they moved to St. Clair County, Illinois where they lived from 1857-1866. The family then moved back to Keokuk where Oliver died in December, 1884. He is buried in Keokuk."


Enfield 1853 Parker Field and Sons lockplate.jpg
Enfield 1853 London Barrel Proofs.jpg
Enfield 1853 Sinclair Hamilton and Company mark.jpg
Enfield 1853 WL mark.jpg
Enfield 1853 I marked stock.jpg
 
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Private Watkins

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You might check out some of the previously sold listings at College Hill Arsenal and look for comparable Enfields. Tim Prince there does a really good job of documenting all the various markings, etc., and researching the pieces he sells (and sold). For example that mark by the tang might be a Sinclair Hamilton mark, or maybe Schuyler Hartley, or maybe not, but you could go through his previous listings and look for comparisons. https://www.collegehillarsenal.com/shop/home.php?cat=14

He also has a really good, comprehensive book on Enfields and other British imports called The English Connection.
https://www.collegehillarsenal.com/shop/product.php?productid=1565&cat=13&page=1

There might be others here at CWT who are experts, but I'd be practicing without a license if I did anything else but refer you to some good resources...

And by the way Welcome from Oklahoma...
 
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Craig L Barry

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To answer your question, the P53 is from the US Civil War-era. Parker, Field & Sons was a well known London gun maker. The marking SHC is generally considered to be an indicator that it was brokered from the Commission House of Sinclair, Hamilton & Co. SHC did quite a bit of business with the Confederate States early in the war, and Parker Field was a known supplier of early CS contracts placed with Sinclair, Hamilton by Caleb Huse on behalf of the government (vs the state, or speculators). The rest of the markings may or may not mean much. The WL in a circle is located where one might expect to find an inspectors cartouche, but I am not aware of who that inspector may have been or for whom he was employed.

I am not aware of any state such as Illinois or Iowa that routinely marked the stock flat on the left side with an italicized capitol "I."
 
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Private Watkins

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Ok, with all of the qualifications I can give about not being an expert and gladly yielding to those experts out there, I took a look at my copy of The English Connection and would humbly offer the following observations based on what I can tell from the photos (which can never substitute for in-person examination):
  • The mark by the tang sure looks a lot like the "Sinclair Hamilton Type I" mark shown on page 111. As the honorable Mr. Barry noted earlier, Sinclair was a noted supplier to the Confederacy. This mark has a crown over the S/HC and an arrow underneath.
  • The "W.L. in Oval" on the reverse lock sure looks a lot like the mark on page 116, which may have been one of Caleb Huse's inspectors.
  • Finally, and you can't bank on this, but more often than not a carved letter or initials seems to be more frequent on Southern used arms, as the Yanks were generally more stringent about not allowing defacement of govt. property than were the Rebs.
Again would very much recommend the book The English Connection, it's well worth the price, and you can then form your own conclusions instead of listening to some yokel like me.
 
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Thank you all for your answers. I couldn't find a comparable rifle on all the searches I have done and was hoping someone had seen one like it before. Since the wear is minimal I do suspect it did not see much use. My Dad said he removed the square nuts on the barrel bands and then misplaced them during one of our moves in the 80s. I hope they turn up one day. He still has the bayonet too, but the frog fell apart due to red rot. I have a picture of my Dad shooting it at Stone Mountain GA where his Mom's relatives are from. I'll post some more detailed photos soon.
Brad
 
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Private Watkins

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Thank you all for your answers. I couldn't find a comparable rifle on all the searches I have done and was hoping someone had seen one like it before. Since the wear is minimal I do suspect it did not see much use. My Dad said he removed the square nuts on the barrel bands and then misplaced them during one of our moves in the 80s. I hope they turn up one day. He still has the bayonet too, but the frog fell apart due to red rot. I have a picture of my Dad shooting it at Stone Mountain GA where his Mom's relatives are from. I'll post some more detailed photos soon.
Brad
It's a beauty, and having it passed down through the family makes it a real jewel. I love the old Enfield P53's... one of the most beautiful of all of the CW long arms in my humble opinion...
 

hrobalabama

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The stock markings and lock markings are fine. However the barrel markings show the "broad arrow" and there is no bore size markings. Therefore if the barrel and rest of the gun are original it is a British accepted weapon and would not have been imported to the U.S. during the Civil War.
 

Private Watkins

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The stock markings and lock markings are fine. However the barrel markings show the "broad arrow" and there is no bore size markings. Therefore if the barrel and rest of the gun are original it is a British accepted weapon and would not have been imported to the U.S. during the Civil War.
That's a good observation and I had wondered about that... in consulting my handy-dandy The English Connection (pgs. 103-104), they say that the bore size markings on a London proofed barrel were often found on the bottom of the barrel near the base of the bolster, not always on the breech like on the Birmingham barrels.

For my own education, when you say "the barrel markings show the broad arrow", what are you referring to? The middle mark, i.e. the Crown/V?

Thanks...
 
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There is an arrow on the stock under the HC, but I don't see one on the barrel.
I did read today that the London barrels had these exact marks without the "25." I am looking for an exact build date based on these markings in the photos. I need to invest in some good reference books and Pritchard's book looks really good. I also need to take better photos. I was in a hurry and it was too sunny.
 

Private Watkins

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There is an arrow on the stock under the HC, but I don't see one on the barrel.
I did read today that the London barrels had these exact marks without the "25." I am looking for an exact build date based on these markings in the photos. I need to invest in some good reference books and Pritchard's book looks really good. I also need to take better photos. I was in a hurry and it was too sunny.
Without a date on the lockplate, like the Tower marked ones have, it may be tough to get an exact manufacture date, but one might be able to deduce that it is pre or during CW time with all the right clues. Remember that in general arms demand, and in turn production, dropped off significantly with the close of the war, and if that is indeed a Sinclair mark then the Sinclair contract dates could give a range of possible manufacture dates.

Sure looks to me like a typical set of London proof marks on the breech, and the arrow under the crown/s/hc also looks right in line with the Sinclair Type I mark...
 

hrobalabama

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I had always assumed the "broad arrow" was the acceptance mark of a British issued weapon. To settle this you can log into British Militaria Forums and then into British Flint and Percussion Arms. Mr Bill Curtis is on the forum along with other experts. If you post all the photos, they will give you a definitive answer. These are men who know all British weapons front and back. They have given me answers that no U.S. publication even touches. Good luck!
 
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Thank you for the research direction hrob. It will be interesting to see what they say on those sites. I have some more detailed photos to add to this thread in case anyone else has some suggestions. I did see a gun on the Collegehill site that has the same early stock stamp from Sinclair and that lock plate is dated 1961. The gun is a Roberts Conversion https://www.collegehillarsenal.com/shop/product.php?productid=563&cat=0&page=7

These are smaller hardware makers stamps that might give clues. Markings on the 1st barrel band. I don't know what this stamp is:
Enfield 1853 1st band marking.jpg


Markings on the mid-barrel band. ?&S over J:
Enfield 1853 Mid band marking.jpg


Markings on the top barrel band. J.B.P & ? over ???
Enfield 1853 Top band marking.jpg


Rear Sight with the nail as a pin:
Enfield 1853 sight folded.jpg


Ram rod:
Enfield 1853 Ram rod.jpg


Full view of right side:
Enfield 1853 Right side 2.jpg


Full view of left side. You can see the cheek rest has been reshaped in this photo or is that normal?:
Enfield 1853 Left side.jpg
 

Kipling

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It looks to me as though you have a very nice Confederate imported P53 with the Sinclair Hamilton mark. The Broad Arrow is indeed the official marking for British military arms and other equipment. However, I did not see any Broad Arrow on the barrel as hrobalabama noted; I only saw the View & Proof marks. I have no idea what the capital "I" is on the butt... Company I? owners initial?
 
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49716948602442852cd9696e36a41b174a78039a.png
So browsing the other forum mentioned I came across this chart of the Sinclair, Hamilton & Co. markings. The mark on my rifle is the first one with the arrow under. It's hard to see but it is there.
 
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Private Watkins

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View attachment 73212 View attachment 73214 View attachment 73217 View attachment 73212 View attachment 73214 View attachment 73217
Thank you for the research direction hrob. It will be interesting to see what they say on those sites. I have some more detailed photos to add to this thread in case anyone else has some suggestions. I did see a gun on the Collegehill site that has the same early stock stamp from Sinclair and that lock plate is dated 1961. The gun is a Roberts Conversion https://www.collegehillarsenal.com/shop/product.php?productid=563&cat=0&page=7

These are smaller hardware makers stamps that might give clues. Markings on the 1st barrel band. I don't know what this stamp is:
View attachment 73163

Markings on the mid-barrel band. ?&S over J:
View attachment 73164

Markings on the top barrel band. J.B.P & ? over ???
View attachment 73165

Rear Sight with the nail as a pin:
View attachment 73166

Ram rod:
View attachment 73168

Full view of right side:
View attachment 73169

Full view of left side. You can see the cheek rest has been reshaped in this photo or is that normal?:
View attachment 73170
It really is a beauty and a keeper, you should be quite pround of it. I have a much worse condition, ole beat up P53, but I still love it all the same for all of the character it's got with its carved name, cracked stock, heavy wear, etc. It's no show piece and it doesn't have all the desirable markings, but it suits me just fine...
 
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