This is a colorful 1850's era double barrel 12 gauge percussion shotgun with short barrels. There is quite a bit of pitting at the muzzle indicating this was done a long time ago. At the beginning of the Civil War, due to a shortage of military weapons, many men joining the Confederate ranks throughout the South left home armed with their personal hunting rifles and double barrel shotguns. Given that uses for a shotgun with short barrels were quite limited, this could have been a Confederate conversion for cavalry use during the Civil War. However, this could have been done after the war as well. There is one other intriguing detail about this gun that we should note. There are four small holes located at the bottom of the ramrod thimble. Whatever was attached there is long gone but one possibility came to mind. These tiny holes could have been the anchor points for attaching a sling ring or loop for a scabbard. Again, this is supposition on my part but it does raise some eyebrows.
No maker's name is present on the lockplates or barrel rib but it's an English style shotgun from the 1850's with the typical long iron finials on the trigger guard, forend cap, and buttplate. Inspection of the underside of the barrels reveal Liege proofs indicating Belgian manufacture which would have been for the English gun trade. To underline this point, the top rib between the barrels is engraved in English "LAMINATED STEEL BARRELS" in a flowing script pattern. This is quite common as many were sold through English distributors where they subsequently shipped to America. Oftentimes, names were purposely left off so that they could be added by the retailer which were small hardware stores. The locks and furniture have some nice English style engraving. Barrels are secured by a single key and a double hook breech at the rear. Breech plugs have a pair of thin platinum inlayed bands with another line and partial trace of platinum on the back of the rib. There is also an engraved cap box made of German silver on the right side of the stock. It's a little more fancy than your average shotgun. For an unmarked gun, it's got some style!
Overall Condition is NRA Antique Fair+ to Good with silvery gray metal with scattered pinprick to moderate pitting. We found this in an old gun shop in north central Florida. While the wood was quite nice, the metal had some acute rust issues from many years of exposure to the semi-tropical heat and humidity. As much as I don't like to do this, we had to get "old school" and carefully clean it in order to save it. The positive outcomes are twofold, first it displays quite well and secondly; now that everything has been stabilized, it should be good now for another couple hundred years requiring nothing more than the occasional coat of oil or wax. Overall, the engraving and markings are good. Hammers are solid and both cock. The wood has nice checkering that is still fairly sharp. We mended a couple of age checks and hairline cracks in the stock and everything is back to looking great. Just a neat old shotgun with a possible Confederate connection. This would make a perfect wall-hanger that would be sure to generate conversation in your office, over the fire place, or hanging on the wall of your man cave!