This magnificent iron mounted Army Pattern 1856 Enfield Short Volunteer Rifle is a classic example of this type of high grade, high finish and highly detailed long arm. The gun is a standard Pattern 1856 Rifle and conforms to the usual P-1856 specifications but has been enhanced with engraved screw heads and furniture, hand checkered stock and burl walnut select grade lacquered wood. The rifle has a 33” barrel, is .577 caliber, is rifled with 3-groove progressive depth rifling with the standard 1:72” slow twist, and is mounted with a lug to accept a saber bayonet. The usual 1,100-yard rifle rear sight is utilized and the lower sling swivel was screwed into the toe of the stock (now missing) instead of being installed on the triggerguard; all standard features for a P-1856 rifle. It retains the original iron nipple protector device and chain attachment with ring. It also has a sterling silver oval plaque inlayed in the wrist with the period engraved name of J. Malcolme. The top of the barrel is engraved “E. Balchin, Hull” who was an English gunmaker.
Edmund Balchin was born in 1826 and baptised at Shalford on 14th May 1826 and his parents were John Balchin, Bargeman and his wife, Mary. On 26th June, 1850 Edmund married Mary Mandeville of Send, Surrey at Send Church when both were age 24. Her father was a laborer and a publican.
Edmund and Mary had at least six children, only three of whom appeared to have survived to adulthood.
Edmund became a Gun maker and probably did an apprenticeship with one of the Guildford gunsmiths. In 1850, Edmund is recorded as ‘gunsmith’ with place of residence ‘Horncastle, Lincolnshire’ and his father as John Balchin, Publican. At that time he was 24, so not long out of apprenticeship, and must have been working as a journeyman/improver.
Sometime in the 1850’s Edmund and Mary moved to Hull in Yorkshire and by 1861 owned his own business at Mytongate, Hull, employing one man and a boy. Edmund manufactured all types of guns from personal revolvers, shotguns, muskets, heavy fowling guns in 4 and 8 bore as well as punt guns. *Thanks to Rollie Wightman for the link to the maker!
The rifle lockplate has the standard Tower, crown and 1861 lockplate markings and overall, the weapon grades to borderline antique fine.
This weapon was once in the collection of Norm Flayderman, noted dealer and author, and had an associated record with “John Malcome” who, by family history, was a sharpshooter and first volunteered in the 5th Louisiana Infantry, Company K. It is not known if the spelling of the name has changed over the years, the records are inaccurate or the name was engraved incorrectly but they are slightly different, which is not all that unusual in the era.
It is accompanied by an original and correct P56 sword bayonet complete with scabbard and throg, but it is not known if the set originally came with the weapon or not.
There are NO British ordnance or issue marks (VP, crown, WD arrow, etc.) markings anywhere on the weapon and there are no standard proof marks at the breech, which is a variant of the common breech plug assembly. This was a very high grade weapon in the era and would rank near the cost of a Kerr Rifle but a little below a Whitworth. Museum and investment grade.