Sold For: $2,905.00
Make: Thomas Wilson of Birmingham
Model: 1859 Patent No. 1318, Late Pattern
Serial Number: A1797
Year of Manufacture: 1865
Caliber: 28 Bore (.551 Caliber) Projectile in a combustible self contained cartridge with percussion ignition.
Action Type: Single Shot, Breech Loaded Percussion Rifle
Markings: The left of the barrel is marked “28 / 30” with three Birmingham proof marks indicative of production between 1855 to 1868, correct for the “1865” marking on the lock plate. The top of the breech block is marked “T. WILSON’S / PATENT”, the left of the bolt body and top strap plate are marked with “1797”, which is found again on the rear of the locking breech lever, underside of the right side mounted bolt wedge, flat of the bayonet lug and on top of the barrel, which also has an “A” prefix.
Barrel Length: 33”, Round
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a small blade, on a rectangular base, which is fixed to the barrel. The rear sight presents a “V” notch in the downward position for ‘point blank’ ranges, the notch is on a flip-up ladder with a sliding “V” notched leaf, the ladder is ranged from 500 to 1100 meters on top and the right of the base is ranged from 100 to 400 meters.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The stock has two barrel bands and a brass nose cap. The construction seems to be of walnut and the fit to wood is generally pleasant; there are some gaps in fit to the front of the brass trigger guard plate and rear of the lock plate area. The stock has a few wood filler repairs on the left flank and belly, looking to have been done a long time ago. The wood has an old varnish finish, the surfaces appear to have seen light sanding before this was done. The surfaces have scuff and scrape marks, a few deeper compression marks are found scattered on the surfaces and there is an un-repaired crack on the left by the butt plate. Heavier marks are found under the breech lever on top of the wrist. There are some chip losses on the edges of the ram rod channel. The LOP measures 13 ½” from the front of the trigger to the back of the brass butt plate. The stock rates in about Very Good overall condition.
Type of Finish: The barrel was browned, the lock plate, hammer and wedge look to have been case colored, the bolt body and ‘fish tail’ lever were fire blued. The butt plate and trigger guard are brass in the white.
Finish Originality: The top of the breech block appears to have been refinished, the other items look to have their original finish.
Bore Condition: The bore is dark and the rifling is shallow. There is moderate erosion the length of the bore, with some deep spots of dark pitting.
Overall Condition: The barrel has light to moderate depth pitting and a nice natural brown patina. The lock plate, hammer and wedge have mottled gray and brown patina with tool marks and mild erosion. The top of the breech block has some erosion under and through the current finish, some of the lettering has faded from this process. The ‘Fish Tail’ bolt piece has strong pointed checkering but for some areas of heavier compression. The brass items have various handling marks and levels of patina, the roll over tang of the butt plate has very dark patina. The screw head slots have some small chip losses and mild tooling but are still serviceable. The markings are faded but legible. Overall, this rifle rates in about Good Plus to Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. This rifle has Thomas Wilson’s Patent No. 1318 of 1859, which incorporates a breech loaded 33” barrel. The breech is accessed by first sliding out the wedge on the right of the lock plate, a Fish Tail lever is flipped up at the rear, the bolt slides back in the action allowing insertion of a combustible cartridge. The hammer has a strong spring and the trigger pull is a bit spongy but breaks clean. We have not fired this rifle. As with all previously owned firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: None; NO RAM ROD IS INCLUDED
Our Assessment: Documentation of the Thomas Wilson breech loading model of 1859 (Patent 1318) being sold to Confederate forces during the American Civil War have been observed, the exact number of items purchased and shipped to the CSA are unknown; these purchases were made after Wilson’s failure to impress the British War Department with modifications to existing platforms. His 1859 patent is certainly revolutionary and allows for faster reloading than most systems of the period. The lock plate is marked for 1865 production, which would put its potential role in the Civil War into the realm of possibility though there are no Confederate markings or blockade stamps on the stock to prove this 100%. All serialized parts are matching with a correct late pattern configuration, featuring sling swivels on the forward iron barrel band and front of the brass trigger guard. The bayonet lug would have housed an Enfield Navy pattern bayonet (not included) and would have made this a formidable weapon on the battlefield. Dozens of various long arms were used during the American Civil War, this one was certainly a departure from the norm and the breech loading design was carried through the late 1800’s due to its success in the field. We are always sad when precise details are lost to history but its inevitability make some items more interesting; this one does not lack intrigue in the slightest and should be a stunning addition to your firearm collection.