The VR Blackmore of London, sealed pattern .577 (Snider) rifle, model ‘Crown Agent Colonial Pattern MKIII 3-band’ bridges a gap in the Armouries’ collection of sealed pattern rifles.
It was bought from Holts' December auction in London for just under estimate at £950.
A Holts spokeswoman said this particular ‘sealed pattern’ version of the Snider rifle was made specifically for colonial use. The British army have ‘sealed patterns’ of absolutely everything they use, from the cotton and buttons on their uniforms to tools, weapons and much, much more.
These ‘sealed pattern’ items bear, as the name suggests, a wax seal which verifies the standard that all similar items must be made to. They are often loaned out to individual manufacturers as patterns to copy as well as being the item that all others submitted are checked by.
Robert Morgan of Holts said: “As you might imagine, very few guns are produced as sealed patterns, making them very scarce, and most that are and subsequently sold on the commercial market are stripped of their wax seals so are unidentifiable at a later date.
“The Armouries did not have an example of the colonial Snider, let alone a sealed pattern example, so were pleased to be able to add it to their collection.”
The gun, c.1870, includes on the walnut three-quarter stock a large red wax seal to right hand side of butt reading FOR THE COLONIES and APPROVED PATTERN.
Mark Murray Flutter, senior firearms and weapons curator at The Royal Armouries, said: “We are delighted to have acquired this crown agent’s sealed pattern rifle. Sealed patterns form the core of the Royal Armouries collection and this rifle will fill a void in our collection of sealed patterns.”