Military History/Musket South Africa


QUESTION: Hi there, I hope you can help.

A friend of mine discovered a musket on an old farm in South Africa.
It has a Birmingham gunmakers' view mark, and the Birmingham gunmakers' proof mark on it, with a name "Cutler" as well. Could you tell me anything about this weapon?


ANSWER: Without a bit more information it is hard to say much.  Birmingham produces a lot of muskets over the years even exporting them to the Southern States in our Civil War.

What you need to do is try to determine the following to narrow things down.

Is it a percussion cap or flint lock
Is it a rifled musket or smooth bore
Barrel length.
Caliber of the bore
If the wood is gone, can you tell how many barrel bands it has

I assume it is single barreled.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: It's a single barrel, smooth bore, it's about 1.33m in length, (stock to barrel), and it's a percussion.
The calibre is unknown.
From what I can understand from the guy it doesn't have "bands". It has brass plates with pins? that secure the barrel to the stock. (I hope that makes sense.


Yeah, it makes sense.  You might have him try to measure the interior bore diameter.  I would guess it is probably about .50 to .60 caliber.

The barrel pinning was used on older commercial guns.  I have built several black powder replica guns and that is the method they used on Guns in the 1700 and 1800s.  The barrel would have one or more receiving pieces set into a dovetails on the bottom of the barrel.  The stock would be perforated opposite the recieving piece and the pins or wedges driven though to hold the barrel in place in the stock.  The plates were to keep the wood of the stock from splitting.

Could you measure just the barrel from muzzle to just back of the cap nipple.  Here are some specifics I found on trade muskets sold by the East India Company.  Some if not all were made in Birmingham.  It seems that guns were made by Smiths and Cutlers, that is the trade not the names, Can't determine if there was actually companies by those names or the terms were just used to identify a trade...cutler being a knife maker and smith...well were smiths.   They just branched out into gun making.  If you read these you might be able to match your specimen to a type.  Good luck.

Percussion Muskets of the East India Company 1840 to 1851

There were six Patterns of Muskets designated A to F. All had 39 inch smoothbore barrels of 11 gauge (3/4 inch). The designations were used by the East India Company officials and their ordnance people in London, Some are quite rare, others were made in quantity with the predictable effects on the numbers that have survived. The 'historical facts' about these as pushed out by IMA are complete rubbish. These are not Royal Government arms subject to the Pattern designs and regulations of the Board of Ordnance and referring to them as Pattern 1839 or Pattern 1842 and mentioning the great fire in the Ordnance Stores at the Tower of London is all completely irrelevant to these muskets. The Company was normally aware of the Royal Ordnance standards and tended to use similar arms but of better quality and with such refinements as the 'bun nut' cock screws which strengthened the shaft of the tumbler which carried the hammer. The muskets were made mainly by the London Trade although most of the barrels were first rough forged in Birmingham with the basic locks made in the Wolverhampton area by the lock specialists that abounded there. It should be remembered that the lock makers supplied locks without hammers. Fitting hammers was the job of the Percussioners. The making and finishing of the complete muskets was done by Contractors in the same manner as that of the Royal Ordnance but virtually all in the London Trade. All the arms were proofed at the commercial London Proof House and carry its marks. In general it is safe to say that the Company insisted upon higher standards of quality in its specifications and in its inspecting practices than the Royal Government and the resulting arms are of excellent quality.

PATTERN A. 1840. Made from a stock of flintlock parts intended for the last of the flint muskets, the Baker Pattern. This had the rounded lock plate (as opposed to the later flat plate). They were converted in the same manner as the Royal Ordnance Pattern of 1839 with a brazed on nipple lump. They were not fitted with backsights although most had these retro fitted in India. The brass work was the same as the Baker Pattern Common Musket. 5,000 made from these parts in 1840.

PATTERN B. 1840. Made from the same parts as the Pattern A but with the breech end of the barrel shortened to have a complete new percussion breech section screwed on. They were not fitted with backsights although most had these retro fitted in India. Otherwise the same as Pattern A. 5,000 made from these parts in 1840/41.

PATTERN C. 1840-42. Made from flintlock parts from the Baker Pattern Light Infantry Musket with the scroll guard and the flat lock plate. The same screw on chamber breech as the Pattern B. This model had the rear sight fitted from new. 43,500 were made.

PATTERN D. 1841-42. This Pattern differs mainly from the Pattern C by the use of the smaller trigger guard scroll tang of the Two Groove Rifle. The trigger is longer and more curved. This Pattern incorporates a mixture of parts designs from earlier D and later E and F designs, principally in the bayonet springs. 10,000 of these were set up in later in 1842 from the Order of late 1841.

PATTERN E. 1842-45. This Pattern has dispensed with the screw on breech (needed because of the unreliability of the brazed on nipple lumps) as improved technology now permitted the welding of the nipple lump directly to the side of the breech. The nipple lump changes shape to fit the new style lock. The lock is of the new percussion type with the mainspring no longer screwed in at its small end but secured under a lip inside the lock plate. The trigger is hung in a box, part of the trigger plate, instead of on a pin in the wood, and the side plate has disappeared in favour of the later side nail cups. The bayonet spring appears in front of the fore-end cap in the Hanoverian Catch style. 60,700 of these were set up between 1843 and 1845.

PATTERN F. 1844-51. Virtually the same as the Pattern E except for the new Pattern F bayonet catch. These were set up between 1845 and 1851. It is the model most often encountered as 206,500 were made.  

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Keith H. Patton


I can answer questions pertaining to weapons and tactics, personalities, battles, and strategies in european and U.S. history.


I was a history major, and had done extensive research in the subject area. I have designed and tested numerous computer games for various
historical periods.

B.A History M.S. Science
I have had the opportunity to live abroad and walk numerous battlefields both in the United States, Europe, and the Pacific.

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