This is a high quality English Double Barrel 12 Gauge percussion shotgun made for New Orleans Arms Dealer "D. Kernaghan & Co.". Made between the 1850's up to the Civil War, many of these Southern marketed shotguns ended up in the hands of Confederate soldiers...particularly cavalry. Kernaghan was still in business at the oubreak of the Civil War and in January, 1861 placed an advertisement in the "Daily Advocate" On P. 18 "The Confederate Army" by Ron Field and Richard Hook, it states, ""David Kernaghan & Company offered 100 Minie percussion rifle muskets with bayonets as well a variety of military pistols". With New Orleans being a port city, its arms dealers were at an advantage during the first days of the Civil War bringing in arms by ship from Europe and New England. Other New Orleans based Dealers like Hyde & Goodrich, later Griswold, and Kittredge & Folsom purchased quite a number of arms destined for Confederate usage.
This particular gun was made in Birmingham England...similar to Hollis & Sons design. While most of these would be marked with their makers name, a dealer with good relations through correspondence could have guns made up with just his company name. Other Southern dealers with their names on English Shotguns we've seen are "Cofer of VA." and "Sutherland of Richmond, VA". Furthermore, for a Southern gun, this is of much nicer quality than we normally encountered over the years. The barrel secured by double keys into the one piece stock with nicely engraved supporting escutcheons. Normally, one key was enough for a half-stock shtogun..even on a most high-end guns of the era. All the furniture is made of iron with heavy re-enforced decorative tang-work on all pieces. Its really over-built and in some ways similar to Southern-made percussion rifles of the 1850's and 60's. The walnut wood is high grade burl English Walnut with a checkered wrist. Nicely engraved locks and furniture. Both locks are clearly marked "D. Kernaghan & Co. New Orleans".
Condition-wise, its in NRA Antique Good condition...but very well used. The markings are all there and legible but some of the engraving on the tangs and locks are well-worn from many years of handling. In spite of the heavy use, the wood is pretty solid with no major breaks...a testament to how well this was built by its mysterious Birmingham maker. Someone (before we found it) with good wood-working skills put a lot of hours into mending chips missing along the forewood edge along with some masterful splices behind the breech to correct what must have been burnout--or spark erosion to the thin strip of wood above the locks. This is very typical of Civil War guns in general...particularly on Confederate weapons. The damascus twist barrels on this gun appear to have been cut down to 24"....possibly for Cavalry use. In spite of the use, this is well-made example of a Civil War era double barrel shotgun with a rare Southern Dealer Marking. Best of all, between the burl walnut stock, engraving, and all elaborate over-built furniture inletted perfectly into the wood, this one has lots of eye appeal!