This is an early Civil War Pattern 1853 three-band rifled musket that was purchased in Great Britain by the Confederacy and run through the Union blockade. It has a Sinclair Hamilton & Company viewer's proof stamped twice on the stock as well as once on the barrel. This SHC barrel marking is something that is rarely seen. Most of these tiny little barrel marks wore off or were obscured by pitting from percussion cap fulminate which peppered the barrel around the cone. This is the only one we've ever had that was still visible. Standard 39" barrel with original three groove rifling intact. It has the double "24" gauge markings (.58 caliber) with Birmingham proofmarks. Lock is marked "1861" over "TOWER" with the crown symbol behind the hammer sans the "VR" indicating commercial manufacture. Lock and hammer are border-line engraved. Original ladder rear sight and post front sight.
Sinclair Hamilton & Company worked with Confederate purchasing agent Caleb Huse to obtain Enfield muskets, rifles, and carbines from British gunmakers, many of whom were centered in the cities of London and Birmingham. Archibald Hamilton, who was one of the main partners in SHC was also the superintendent of the London Armoury (LAC). Thanks to some fancy American tooling, the London Armoury had the distinction of being the the only privately-owned gunmaker in England capable of building military rifles with completely interchangeable parts. This made the London Armoury the primary choice for both Confederate and Union purchasing agents at the beginning of the war. The Confederacy's agent Huse got there first just weeks ahead of Union buyers but quickly learned from Archibald Hamilton that his armoury was tied up filling military contracts for the British military as well as a small run for the state of Massachusetts. LAC's tooling was supplied by Ames Mfg. of Chicopee, MA so this might explain the latter contract. In consolation, Hamilton could only offer Huse small quantities of Enfields the company produced in excess of the two contracts each month but he did offer Huse something else. He offered Huse access to his connections. From years of experience, Hamilton had extensive knowledge of UK gunmakers...much more than any "green" American buyer would know of the British market. If Huse would pay him a small commission of 2-1/2% for each Enfield obtained, Hamilton would find the Confederacy all the weapons it could handle. Huse accepted Hamilton's services and it wasn't long before gun makers throughout London and much of Birmingham were turning out Enfields for Huse and the South. Hamilton was so effective at obtaining Enfields for the Confederacy that buyers for the Union could only procure Enfields (mostly of 2nd and 3rd quality) from Birmingham with no choice but to turn to continental Europe for the remainder of their arms. Due to the numerous contractors building Enfields for the Confederacy, Huse and Hamilton employed a number of British subjects as viewers to ensure they were purchasing quality weapons. The SH over C is one such marking and gives us a clear lineage back to Caleb Huse's most important buyer, Archibald Hamilton.
Overall Condition grades to Antique Very Good which is well above average for an Enfield used by the Confederacy...especially one with an 1861 date. The metal has a pleasing smooth peppery grey patina with nice markings and edges throughout. Bolster area shows some light scattered pitting. As mentioned, you can still see the tiny Confederate viewer's proof "SHC" inside a small circle on top of the barrel. Very few Confederate weapons have survived with this mark still visible as it was placed just forward of the barrel cone. Original rear sight is intact with original ladder and elevator. The sling swivels are also intact and original. For a Confederate Enfield, most of which got put through the ringer, this rifle is remarkably intact. The only parts not original to this rifle are the ramrod...a correct reproduction and the middle barrel band which is an original period band but has British Army acceptance marks. All three bands have their original washers at the end of the tension screws. The wood original walnut stock is in Fine condition with very little in the way of bruises, scratches, and dings usually encountered on Civil War-era Enfields that saw four years of wartime service plus another 150 years. The wood is still light reddish brown in color. It looks like this one has seen a little bit of combat as there is a little bit of burnout behind the bolster but far less than most. The wood appears to have been lightly cleaned at some point but done so carefully. The original Confederate viewer's tiny SHC marking with their crowns on the bottom comb of the stock look a little rubbed but are both still legible. There is also a small "W" stamped on the left side of the stock opposite the lockplate. The general contractor's name is still sharp and legible on the bottom of the stock and reads "R. HUGHES". The bore is Very Good and has survived with its original three groove rifling intact. The lock functions flawlessly and the internals of the plate and mechanism still retain much of their original case color hardening with original fire blue on the screws. The plate is marked on the inside "MARTIN" with the letter "RM" or "RH". All in all, this early Rebel Enfield has tremendous eye appeal and has survived in exceptional condition and one of a handful of surviving "SHC's" that still retains its original barrel stamp.