This is a beautifully carved Rebel ZAR (South African) Boer War Model 1896 Mauser. Antique Pre-1898 production. Built by Ludwig Loewe of Berlin, it has 100% all matching numbers (yes, even the bolt, stock number, and the cleaning rod). Serial number is in the A6XXX range. Caliber is 7mm and comes complete with its original leather sling, Boer canteen, and what appears to be a captured British cartridge bandolier. The soldier who carried this rifle carved his name nicely across the left side of the stock, "F.D.C. Rousseau." along with his town "Langlaagte." Langlaagte was a town in an area of South Africa that was initially colonized and controlled by the ZAR...Dutch German settlers. The opposite side of the stock has a nicely carved ZAR symbol. My knowledge is a not the best on Colonial South African History so please correct me if you find any holes in what amounts to light research on my part.
It's my understanding that in the late 1800's gold was discovered in Langlaagte and from there, the inevitable seems to have occurred. It certainly appears that Rousseau was a resident of Langlaagte. With word of gold in the air, the ZAR received an unwelcome influx of British colonists into the region seeking to make their fortunes. As the new settlers poured in, the Dutch controlled ZAR and Orange Free State had a hard time maintaining their control both from internal and external pressure to cede to British rule. In an effort to stay independent, the Boers began purchasing quantities of munitions including this Mauser rifle in the late 1890's from Germany. However, as tensions escalated, the British navy blockaded the South African coast to thwart further transfusions of weaponry. By 1899, war broke out and ended with the in 1902 with the capitulation of these small Dutch Republics. Most of the combatants fighting for the ZAR and Orange Free State were tough, independent-minded Dutch farmers. They made great soldiers and their years living off the land meant that most were well-suited to warfare as well as being accomplished marksmen. With a 7mm Mauser rifle in their hands, they became deadly foes to the British army. One of their techniques was to ambush their enemies from carefully chosen rock formations where these marksmen and their Mausers could inflict serious damage. The more I learn about this conflict, the more parallels I seem to find to our own American Civil War.
This rifle is in Very Good+ condition overall and still retains quite a bit of its original blued finish on the frame and barrel. There are a few areas of patina mixed with light corrosion but overall, the rifle is in remarkable shape for a 110+ year old weapon that saw combat. The walnut wood is still a nice light reddish orange hue with numerous light handling marks that are indicative of field use. The leather sling has been there forever, marked "2" over "K4" over "87". The canteen is quite unique. I can't say I've ever seen one like this before. It's made of some type of composite molded material....somewhat like gutta percha but more grainy. It came with the gun so we are assuming it was captured from Rousseau by the British. The bandolier is leather with twelve pockets secured by brass rivets. 11 of the 12 pockets came full of very old clipped 7mm ammunition. Note: We do NOT sell ammunition nor will we ship it with this rifle. Sorry, but there will be no exceptions. The bandolier is exactly the same as you'll see worn by Boer Soldiers in old photographs. This one may have been captured or taken from another Boer as there seems to be a name etched into the leather. Over the years, we've had several Boer Mausers...a couple with names, but never a carved one...which were the subject of a recent article in American Rifleman. Hopefully, if time permits, we will be able to do additional research on this rifle and Mr. Rousseau.