November 28, 2018 10:00 AM EST Cincinnati


Mule Ear Pellet Primer Rifle By J. Medbery Rochester New York

.40 caliber, 32" wedge retained octagonal barrel with full under-rib, no SN. Browned finish, brass furniture, horn nose cap. Walnut half-stock with raised cheek rests on both sides and German silver decorations. Engraved Medbury patent mule ear pellet primer lock with exposed mainspring. Top of barrel marked in two lines: J MEDBERY / ROCHESTER. Fixed rear sight, small brass blade front sight, wooden ramrod retained by two iron thimbles and a brass entry pipe.

Joseph Medbery worked as a gunsmith in Rochester, NY ca1818-1841 (Sellers). This was an exciting time in the gunmaking community, as another pair of local gunmakers John and James Miller, had patented a revolving cylinder rifle using pellet primers in 1829. In 1826, Medbery had received his own patent for a lock that is likely the basis for the lock in this rifle. By 1827, a young gunmaker named William Bililnghurst was working as an apprentice for Joseph Medbery as well as working under the Miller brothers. Billinghurst would eventually open his own gun making business ca1834 and would purchase Medbery's business ca1841. Billinghurst's revolving rifles, based upon the Miller patent, would eventually make his name an indelible part of the history of American arms manufacturing. This rifle by Medbery probably dates to the 1830s, as it uses the pellet primer concept from the Millar revolving rifles. The cupped hammer face would hold the primer and detonate it by smashing it against the concave face of the bolster with touchhole. While a simple and elegant design using a minimum of parts, the travel from the cocked to fired positions likely resulted in many primer pellets falling to the ground prior to ignition. Equally appealing are the clean lines of the rifle and the ambidextrous cheek rest, allowing the rifle to be used either right or left handed. A lovley example of a somewhat ingenious New York rifle, elegant in its simplicity from the 1830s, by a gunsmith who helped to train and educate William Billinghurst.


Very good. Metal with a smooth, lightly oxidized brownish patina with clear markings on the barrel and crisp engraving on the lock and breech plug tang. Mechanically functional, very good bore with crisp rifling and lightly scattered pitting. Brass with an untouched golden patina, German silver decorations with nice tarnish. Wood very nice, showing only some scattered bumps, dings and handling marks.

Estimate: $1,000 - $2,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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