Extremely Rare British Contract Grice Flintlock Rifle for Native Allies

.56 caliber. 45.75" pinned, swamped octagonal barrel length. No S/N. Fullstock flintlock rifle with a blade front sight and lock that is signed "GRICE" in script. Metal with no finish, brass furniture and Baker-style patch box with full-length walnut stock. 5.875" flat lock reconverted to flint with added unbridled faceted pan and faceted swan neck cock. Upper right angled barrel flat marked with a pair of Birmingham private proof marks in imitation of London commercial proofs with a raised {CROWN/GP} and raised {CROWN/V} in depressed ovals, separated by the {CROWN/WG} maker's mark of William Grice. Wide butt measuring approximately 2.125" at widest point with Baker-style two-piece flat brass patchbox. Flat brass butt plate with faceted tang, brass trigger guard with rudimentary finger spur at rear, three faceted brass ramrod pipes, geometric brass two-screw side plate retained with a third wood screw at the tail and 1.625" brass nose cap. Dovetail for rear sight (missing), dovetailed blade front sight, wood ramrod. Full-length walnut stock with dual incised lines running the length of the forend and along the toe line, raised carved aprons around breech plug tang and at front and rear of lock mortise, raised check rest with simple Rococo raised carved motifs on the obverse butt. 

These extremely rare English-made copies of Pennsylvania long rifles first appeared circa 1781 when an order was placed by the British Board of Ordnance with William Wilson & Co to produce flintlock rifles of an American style for distribution to the Indian Allies of the British. Research by DeWitt Bailey finds an invoice from Wilson for the delivery of 312 rifles in three variants, described variously as "156 Best Rifle Guns wood boxes, moulds & cases", "108 Best Rifle Guns with brass boxes, moulds & cases" and "48 Rifle Guns wood boxes, mould and cases". A very small number of extant examples have survived to enable the identification of these guns as produced by Wilson as well as Robert Barnett and William Grice who apparently produced them under contract for Wilson. The "best" quality guns are both decorated with the urn motif raised carved aprons around the beech tangs and with the same pattern of raised Rococo carvings on the obverse butt. The Wilson produced guns has the "wood box", a sliding wood patchbox cover, while the Grice guns featured the "brass box" of a form that would become common on the British Pattern 1803 Baker Rifle. According to surviving documents, these brass patchbox guns cost one schilling more than the other "best" quality rifles. William Grice worked in Birmingham circa 1774-1781 at 5 Sand Street and died in 1790. The business continued as a partnership with Joseph Grice circa 1782-1788 and finally with Jospeh Grice alone until 1797. William Grice is probably best known for the creation of the pattern rifle that would be adopted by the British military at the Pattern 1776 Rifle, a derivative of the German Jaeger Rifle of the period. As the production of rifled arms in England was a somewhat specialized skill during this period, it seems appropriate that Wilson would reach out to a known Board of Ordnance rifle contractor to help produce these special rifles for distribution to the Native American Allies. Only a very few of these Grice rifles are known to survive, in particular a tack-decorated example in the collection of Fort Ticonderoga. According to most printed information regarding these guns, only about 4 of these rare Revolutionary War period rifles are known to exist. An extremely rare and important rifle from the period. For a nearly identical example see Rifles of the American Indians by Gale, Ness & Mickelson pages 63-68 which depicts an example in Jim Gordon's collection at his museum in Glorieta, NM.



Good. Reconverted to flint as noted with no finish, showing a moderately oxidized pewter gray patina with scattered pitting, mostly notably at the breech. Barrel and lock with oxidized mottling and age discoloration as well. Lock mechanically functional. Bore fair heavily pitted and oxidized and rifled with seven narrow, clearly discernible grooves. Stock with moderate wear and a major repaired crack though the wrist with added metal pins for support, as well as a 2.5" repaired piece of wood between the cock and breech plug tang. Additional repairs around lock mortise with some small pieces of replaced wood. Otherwise with the bumps, dings and mars expected of a rifle some 240 years old that saw service with Native American British Allies in North America.

Estimate: $6,000 - $10,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

Internet Bidding

Have a Similar Item?

Consign With Us


We are happy to announce that the Cincinnati office of Hindman/Cowan's will be moving to a new location on May 23, 2022.

In advance of our move, we are requiring that all purchased property be removed from our current Este Avenue location within two weeks of the completion of each auction. For this auction, all property must be removed by May 11.

If you have any questions, please call 513-871-1670 or email cincinnati@hindmanauctions.com.



Cowan’s Cincinnati Office offers an in-house, full-service shipping department which is unparalleled in the auction industry. Shipping costs are provided with your finalized invoice 24-48 hours after auction. For furniture and oversized items, we recommend using third-party services. For more information, click HERE or contact cowansshipping@hindmanauctions.com.  

CALIFORNIA & NEW JERSEY BUYERS: Due to recent changes to California and New Jersey law, we require all firearms, whether modern or antique, be shipped to a licensed FFL dealer. Please plan accordingly.

INTERNATIONAL BUYERS: Please note that Cowan's only ships firearms to a United States addresses regardless of antique status. It is the responsibility of the buyer to organize the export of their firearms to their country of residence. Cost of shipping to an exporter will be included on your invoice as the shipping cost, however the cost of exporting is solely the buyer's responsibility.

NOTE: All pickups and preview are by appointment only. To make an appointment, please call 513-871-1670 or email cincinnati@hindmanauctions.com