Key gun - percussion cap mid-1800s

Discussion in 'Firearm Appraisal' started by LadyMary, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. LadyMary

    LadyMary G&G Newbie

    Hello Gun and game members...

    Thank you for using your knowledge to help those of us who need it :) If anyone has a rough estimate for this jailer's key gun (pictures below) from about mid-1800s, I'd greatly appreciate it. My great grandfather, who is obviously passed away, gave it to my grandfather, who is sadly deceased, as well, so I cannot ask them any questions. My great grandfather, the original purchaser, bought it in 1940s but I don't know where or how much he paid for it.

    I'm pretty familiar with the various styles of jailer's key gun and their intended use, but not so much with my specific key gun. If anyone has any information about it they'd like to share, I'd appreciate it, as well.

    I live in a small community where antique gun appraisers aren't going to grow on a tree- there aren't any! Just some small antique shops, selling everything from antique dishes to furniture. With that in mind, what advice would you give me for my next step? Even the small city close by doesn't have an antique gun appraiser or even just an antique gun seller! Should I go to the big city to find one or is there a reputable online appraiser for antique guns?

    I appreciate any information anyone is willing to pass on. I'm in need of guidance! I hope the pictures are of help and if an specific picture angle is needed, I'd be glad to do so. Thank you very much!

    20161207_090910.jpg 20161207_091207.jpg 20161207_090837.jpg 20161207_090828.jpg 20161207_090649.jpg
  2. Cyrano

    Cyrano Resident Curmudgeon Forum Contributor

    New York
    I've never seen one of those outside a museum! They aren't exactly common, and even most gunsmiths aren't going to be au courant with the price on one of those. I'll ask Scotty, my gun guru, the next time I get to the gun shop; but I think you may need to talk to the National Firearms Museum. The NRA ought to have at least one curator that can give you an idea of what that gorgeous museum piece is worth.

    By the way, welcome to the Forum.
    LadyMary likes this.

  3. LadyMary

    LadyMary G&G Newbie

    Thank you very much! Naturally I had to make this difficult but I appreciate it greatly. Have a great day!

  4. Big Dog

    Big Dog Retired IT Dinosaur Wrangler Forum Contributor

    I saw one of those on an episode of "Pawn Stars", in Las Vegas. Can't recall what price their expert assigned it.
    LadyMary likes this.
  5. LadyMary

    LadyMary G&G Newbie

    Roll high! Thanks for that intel. I'll see if I can find it on YouTube. Doing quick run down in my mind of fav reality shows after reading this.. on Discovery, etc. The two moonshiners Tickle didn't die of alcohol poisoning so it was big win for him! Learned abt Popcorn Sutton. Thanks for brain workout Big Dog!

  6. It`s a replica, worth about a 100 bucks !.............
  7. LadyMary

    LadyMary G&G Newbie

    And you're qualified because ... ? If it's a replica, it's a **** fine one, considering my great grandfather bought it in the 40s. If it should happen to turn out as such, I'm fine with that, considering I didn't know what it was even called until a week ago. So if your comment was intended to upset me, you've failed miserably. With all due respect, I don't think you have a clue what you're talking about, swedesrus :)

    Have a great week.

  8. M14man

    M14man I don't take prisoners... Forum Contributor

  9. M14man

    M14man I don't take prisoners... Forum Contributor

    Size of bore? Estimate?
    View of the other side so we can see if it was percussion.(assumed)
    View of muzzle.
    It is crude, and I would guess worth several hundred if it could be documented as 1850's or so.
  10. LadyMary

    LadyMary G&G Newbie

    Thank you very much. I absolutely don't mind researching myself and appreciate your help. I wouldn't expect anyone to do that for me and wish I'd made that more clear in my initial post but I didn't realize the difficulty in what I was asking until the earlier reply that I will likely need to make a trip to Northern VA to get answers.

    Again, thanks so much for your help.

  11. LadyMary

    LadyMary G&G Newbie

    Thank you M14Man. I will get your requested pictures tomorrow and post them for you to look at. I appreciate your reply.

  12. PaleHawkDown

    PaleHawkDown G&G Evangelist

    We have a local locksmith who collects these (in fact he's the current owner of the one that was featured on Pawn Stars), and is something of an expert. I've learned a lot about these from him. He comes in every couple of months or so with his new acquisitions.

    I will pass this on to him next time I see him in the hopes that he can help, or at least confirm or deny my suspicions.

    I am by no means an expert on these lock guns, but I am a professional dealer in the weapons of that era and in reproductions.

    Based on the construction techniques of the period, and what he has taught me, this does appear to be a much later production. There was a bit of a revival of these, foo dog locks, swords, and other modern "antiquities" primarily for the GI market, in China during the Second Sino-Japanese war (what we call WWII). Italy also produced quite a few after World War I, though I've not seen a percussion one. These are also still in production in Afghanistan, but those tend to range from excellent forgery level to home-craft garbage in an attempt to replicate the originals for sale to modern GIs who are only allowed to bring back "antiques.".

    There are a lot of variations with the techniques used to create authentic ones, but the things that makes your seem the most suspicious is that it appears to be milled rather than smithed or cast, the rivets appear to be uniform rather than hand-hammered, the "tooth" of the key is basic and appears to be brazed rather than welded or cast (meaning it could never have actually been used as a key), the firing mechanism is too far forward, and it is percussion (which is far rarer on originals than flintlock, or even matchlock).

    Also, originals were all one-of-a-kind and were never mass produced. A quick Google image search showed a half dozen of this exact same model in collections and auctions around the world (three on Pinterest alone from different people), and on one Italian auction site the item was listed (thanks to the help of Google translate) as a late '30s early 40's reproduction. Unfortunately none of those places had any information on when and where this precise model was produced.

    Again, I'm not saying with certainty that this is not an authentic one, just that it doesn't seem to pass the general standards you look for in an authentic one.
  13. My post was NOT meant to upset you. I am 60 years old, been around firearms my entire life, studied Firearms Design & Repair, done time in the Army, in the Arms Room. I have an extensive Firearms collection myself, it was just my opinion that it was a reproduction and worth about a hundred dollars, but it may be worth MORE than that to you being it was your Grand Dads. My post was just an educated guess, and I apologize if it upset you in any way. You can ask the guys on here, I DON`T upset people without a reason......LOL..........Good luck with your Jailers Key !.........
  14. LadyMary this is a very informative and interesting post. I have honestly never heard of this type of firearm. Thank you for even asking about it. I cannot help you with your original question but I would happy to know what you find out about your Jailer's Key Gun. Thanks again.