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Old 25th September 2022, 06:14 PM   #1
pbleed
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Default Southeast Asian caplock arm

Dear Friends,
Please allow me to ask for help with a caplock firearm I acquired today. It was presented to me as “Japanese,” but it certainly is not from Japan. It is a well, but lightly made. I judge it to be a .42 +/- cal, shotgun. It is delicate but well-made and has brass inlay on the top and bottom edges of the stock. And there is a series of stamped character on the side of the stock. I would deeply appreciate assessments. I assume it is a 19th century piece, but where might it be from?
Peter
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Old 25th September 2022, 10:10 PM   #2
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Hi Peter,
The stamps look to be maybe Burmese but I could be wrong there. I would have thought South East Asian anyway. Can you please post pics of the whole item showing barrel length. The stock appears to be crafted in the English style.
Stu

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Old 26th September 2022, 02:21 PM   #3
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I think they could also be Lao numerals (but if so the picture looks like it's upside down).
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Old 26th September 2022, 06:37 PM   #4
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The inscription is Thai. Your picture is upside down, as noted above. I cannot make out the first two characters, but the rest are Thai numerals as shown in the attached pic.


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Old 26th September 2022, 07:20 PM   #5
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Hah, yeah, I was looking at the wrong row header in the numerals table.

The first two characters might be letters; นพ.
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Old 27th September 2022, 01:19 AM   #6
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Hi werecow. Yes, I think you are right about the first two characters.

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Old 27th September 2022, 01:51 AM   #7
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FWIW google translate says that นพ translates to Dr..
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Old 27th September 2022, 02:02 PM   #8
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Peter, could you provide a full length picture of this gun? Any mark on the barrel or lock? If no marks, I'm wondering if this is a locally made copy of a French or British gun from the 19th C. Interesting that you note a possible Japanese connection mentioned by the seller. There were Japanese groups living in Thailand during the 18th and 19th C, and earlier.

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Old 27th September 2022, 07:14 PM   #9
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While I know little on firearms overall, it seems to me that (from what examples I can find online) the 'pistol butt' style, if you took away the 'stock' has a certain resemblance to a traditional Japanese matchlock.

There was of course certain Japanese presence in SE Asia. I recall years ago finding examples of Japanese katana among swords of India. It seems in many discussions, there have been mentions of Japanese throughout these regions.
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Old 27th September 2022, 10:25 PM   #10
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Default the whole gun snapshot

This is a snapshot of the the entire arm. I doubt that this arm is in any serious way linkable to Japan. I suspect that one or another of its previous owners felt it "looked" odd and Asian and so, "Japanese." It is unmarked save for embellishment to the brass inlay along the lower stock edge and lock counter-plate. It certainly looks not at all martial.And it does not look like a "primitive" or ethnographic weapon.
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Old 29th September 2022, 12:06 PM   #11
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It seems an exceptionally long lock, or are the photo's giving a distorted impression? It would be interesting to see what the other side looks like.
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Richard
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Old 2nd October 2022, 05:52 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
While I know little on firearms overall, it seems to me that (from what examples I can find online) the 'pistol butt' style, if you took away the 'stock' has a certain resemblance to a traditional Japanese matchlock.

There was of course certain Japanese presence in SE Asia. I recall years ago finding examples of Japanese katana among swords of India. It seems in many discussions, there have been mentions of Japanese throughout these regions.
I don't see any resemblance to a matchlock of any sort. This is a percussion-lock gun, the two mechanical systems don't have anything in common. The Japanese also didn't make side-by-side double-barrelled matchlocks (although they did make revolving three-barreled matchlock carbines, the manually-rotated barrel system resembling similar ones made in India.)

Chronologically, the 19th cent. heyday of percussion muzzle-loading guns is much later than the Japanese presence in SE Asia that you allude to.
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Old 2nd October 2022, 06:02 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard G View Post
It seems an exceptionally long lock, or are the photo's giving a distorted impression? It would be interesting to see what the other side looks like.
Best wishes
Richard
Richard, another odd thing is the extraordinarily long "neck" attached to the bolster, terminating in the nipple. I've never seen such a feature on a European or British made gun, have you?

The overall proportions of the piece also lead me to believe that this might have been produced in a non-Western country. Indian-made guns and pistols in the English style are well-known. I have also seen that in the Dutch colony of Batavia (now Indonesia), a few local artisans achieved a high level of skill in fabricating European-style firearms to local taste, on occasion making barrels of pamor steel for the better ones.
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Old 2nd October 2022, 06:06 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pbleed View Post
This is a snapshot of the the entire arm. I doubt that this arm is in any serious way linkable to Japan. I suspect that one or another of its previous owners felt it "looked" odd and Asian and so, "Japanese." It is unmarked save for embellishment to the brass inlay along the lower stock edge and lock counter-plate. It certainly looks not at all martial.And it does not look like a "primitive" or ethnographic weapon.
In many of your pics, the wood looks a bit dark. Have you taken the gun apart? I wonder what the color of the wood is on the protected interior surfaces. Having had it in hand, what does the density and texture of the wood feel like? What I'm trying to nail down is whether or not the stock could be of a timber other than European walnut. Such as some SE Asian variety of rosewood or mahogany, perhaps. Do you have any thoughts on the matter?
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Old 2nd October 2022, 06:05 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip View Post
Richard, another odd thing is the extraordinarily long "neck" attached to the bolster, terminating in the nipple. I've never seen such a feature on a European or British made gun, have you?

The overall proportions of the piece also lead me to believe that this might have been produced in a non-Western country. Indian-made guns and pistols in the English style are well-known. I have also seen that in the Dutch colony of Batavia (now Indonesia), a few local artisans achieved a high level of skill in fabricating European-style firearms to local taste, on occasion making barrels of pamor steel for the better ones.
Philip,
This is what I was trying to imply earlier in the thread. Absent maker's marks, I think this is not a European piece. Of course, marks are not always present on European muskets, rifles and shot guns, but in this case there are other features that seem not quite right. Apart from those already mentioned, the semi-grip stock would be unusual for a European shot gun where a straight grip ("English grip") was favored. The semi-grip on this gun also looks rather "chunky" to me and not very comfortable. However, Remington did produce a percussion shotgun with a semi-grip stock in various calibers in the late 19th C. Added to this is an unusually long (at least for a shotgun) fore-end of the stock.
Like many replicas/reproductions of European arms (guns, swords, knives, etc.) made in S. Asia and S.E. Asia, one often gets the impression that they are not quite "right;" close but no cigar! Perhaps the maker was more familiar with rifle stocks and used that template to create this shotgun in a somewhat European style which may explain the semi-grip and long fore-end.
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Old 2nd October 2022, 07:43 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip View Post
I don't see any resemblance to a matchlock of any sort. This is a percussion-lock gun, the two mechanical systems don't have anything in common. The Japanese also didn't make side-by-side double-barrelled matchlocks (although they did make revolving three-barreled matchlock carbines, the manually-rotated barrel system resembling similar ones made in India.)

Chronologically, the 19th cent. heyday of percussion muzzle-loading guns is much later than the Japanese presence in SE Asia that you allude to.
Thank you for the elucidation Philip, I'm afraid my unfamiliarity with firearms has been revealed. However, my working knowledge has some viability, and I know the percussion system was not around until 19th c.
The reason I used the word traditional was to note the 'matchlock' styling on some stocks I had seen were intended to note resemblance, though quite obviously much earlier.

I think you notes on the wood, and toward Richard's observation on the unusual lock length are interesting as are the suggestions of this gun being produced in the colonial sphere with Asian influencing.
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Old 2nd October 2022, 11:08 PM   #17
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This discussion has taught me more, and generated far more discussion than I had anticipated. Thank you all. I have little to add. As to the great "rosewood" question, I can only say that this gun is stocked with a dense,dark brown stock. But ALL i know about rosewood comes from looking at my grandfather's Minneapolis police night sticks. Aside from that, I see this as a third-world copy of a generic later 19th century mussel loading long gun - and we all know what a great collecting field that is! Does Thailand support and antique gun collecting community? Does anybody collect these things?
Peter
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Old 2nd October 2022, 11:22 PM   #18
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my last message may have sounded a bit pecuniary. That was not completely intentional! I think this is a "collectible" arm. But given the availabilty of surplus and other "cheap" mass produced firearms between 1865 and say 1890, why would original guns like this be made in a place like Siam?
Peter
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Old 3rd October 2022, 12:57 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philip View Post
Richard, another odd thing is the extraordinarily long "neck" attached to the bolster, terminating in the nipple. I've never seen such a feature on a European or British made gun, have you?

The overall proportions of the piece also lead me to believe that this might have been produced in a non-Western country. Indian-made guns and pistols in the English style are well-known. I have also seen that in the Dutch colony of Batavia (now Indonesia), a few local artisans achieved a high level of skill in fabricating European-style firearms to local taste, on occasion making barrels of pamor steel for the better ones.
I agree Philip. The longer the 'neck, the greater the chance of a fulminate cap failing to ignite a charge . The only mechanism I can think of with this sort of long 'neck' is the Snider breech, which, of course, contains a firing pin.
Overall, I don't see any reason why it should not be a Thai made gun in a European style.
Best wishes
Richard
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