This is an interesting Enfield Carbine that was produced at the very end of the percussion era. A few years back, we had an almost identical carbine, a consignment, that was supposedly captured from the British legation during the Boxer Rebellion before it was recovered by the Allied Relief Forces (consisting of troops from Russia, England, Germany, Japan, as well as an American force made up of troops diverted from the Philippines) sent to rescue American and European diplomats in 1900.
The serial number on the top of the barrel of that gun from several years back was "3617". Interestingly enough, the carbine we have today is number "3805". Both carbines have the same identical set of symbols (Chinese?) just forward of the breech plug atop the barrels. They also have the same unusual symbol on the left side of the stock of a human hand reaching towards what looks like a small object...perhaps a bird. See photos.
This carbine was made in Birmingham, England in 1880...no doubt from much of the same tooling that had once produced Enfield Pattern Rifles, Muskets, and Carbines for the British military as well as the Union and Confederate armies in America throughout the 1850's and 1860's. By the mid-1860's, most industrialized nations with militaries had shifted from percussion guns to breech-loading cartridge weapons. The market for percussion weapons dropped dramatically but it did not die out right away. Instead, it shifted to other parts of the world, especially regions dominated by colonial powers. In less-industrialized regions, powder, lead, and percussion caps...as well as flint, were far more practical, easier to acquire, and less expensive than cartridges.
This carbine is unique in that it was built with both features of a Model 1856 Cavalry Carbine and the Model 1861 Artillery Carbine. Left side of the stock has a saddle bar and sling ring but also retains sling swivels like an artillery carbine. The ramrod has been replaced but did have a captive rammer originally. The captive rammers were somewhat tedious and could be dangerous if left in the barrel when fired. As a result, many were discarded. The Confederates who used similar models of the Enfield Cavalry Carbines were not big fans of the captive rammers either...many were removed. The barrel is marked with a 25 proof indicating it's in caliber .577. The bore has five-grooved rifling which would have made this gun a bit more accurate than the earlier three groove variants. Original carbine sights include the British regulation short ladder rear sight and the post front sight. Brass Enfield style furniture.
Overall condition grades to NRA Antique Very Good with the metal turned mostly to a smooth brown patina. The wood is very light with a orange-hue. No chips, cracks or repairs. Rear swivel has been moved forward by about 1" with the original hole plugged. See photo. Condition of the Bore is Good+ to Very Good. Lock works nicely with hammer working on both half and full cock positions. Bolster and nipple area are nice with no pitting...no burnout on the stock behind the nipple. Ramrod appears to have been replaced by an older rod with a tulip-style head. All-in-all, a very decent example of an Enfield Carbine with some possible association to the British legation in China during the latter 19th century and most likely the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. The previous carbine with the writing on the stock linking it to the Boxer Rebellion was here on consignment with a price tag of $2,350. Here is virtually the same carbine with the same exact markings...a serial number a couple hundred digits away for less than half the price.