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Thread: "The Ketland" Flintlock Rifle.

  1. #1
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    "The Ketland" Flintlock Rifle.

    I saw a very interesting frlintlock rifle the other day. It was a "Ketland" flintlock rifle made approximately 1780 according to the owner.

    It was a fine looking rifle and in very good condition. What was unusual about it was that it could be loaded while you were lay down.
    The backsight was about 1-1/2" wide by about 1/4" thick and about 1/2" high. It could be unscrewed and was attached to a large threaded plug. The ball was inserted into the barrel and wadding was put in behind it. It appeared to have a slight taper at the breech to stop the ball rolling out. It wasn't patched.
    The powder was put in at the rear of the opening where the sight/plug went and then was fired like any other flintlock.

    I have tried to find out more about the rifle but I only get the maker,W.Ketland, who was based in the Midlands, the actual model does not come up.

  2. #2
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    Thomas Ketland & Co. was a gun maker founded in Birmingham, England around 1760. T. Ketland & Co. is Thomas Sr., a very successful Birmingham gun maker. He started in business around 1760, expanded into the export market around 1790, died in 1816. His business was carried on until bankrupt in 1821.The company made flintlock pistols hand guns and became successful in this field of gun manufacture.
    W. Ketland is Thomas Ketland Sr's eldest son. He was originally a partner with his father and William Walker. He petitioned to liquidate his part in the firm in 1800. The partnership was dissolved in 1801. He died in 1804 but the business carried on to at least 1831. The story about an earlier W. Ketland gunmaker, going back to the 1740s (Gardner says 1715), is not verified. The directory dates are 1808 to 1831 but W. Ketland was trading under that name as early as the middle of 1801 and perhaps as early as the end of 1800. The Philadelphia Ketlands are 2nd son Thomas Jr. and John. Thomas Jr. resided in Philadelphia from 1789 to 1815. John died there in 1800. They never made guns, they were merchant princes, not mechanics and arms were only a small part of their business. Around 1801, the Ketland Co. began trading overseas and the company ceased operations around 1831.

    As you say, there is no mention of this unusual breech-loading flintlock arm.

    I'll do some digging with my pal Andy over in WA and see if he can throw any light on it. Also Doug [mooncoon on canadiangunnuts.com].

    tac
    Several guns and trains.

  3. #3
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    Okay...Andy has come back to me with this -

    tac,
    The first thought that comes to mind is that Ketland only made the lock not the whole rifle.

    While looking through the book "English Guns and Rifles" by J.N. George ... I come across several references to "Screw Barrel" rifles and "Screw Plug" rifles ... both systems seem to have been popular to experiment with during the flintlock era...
    A picture of the rifle would be a big help....
    I would be happy to look more into this rifle as more information is available.
    Andy


    Over to you.

    tac
    Several guns and trains.

  4. #4
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    This is from my contact, Doug [aka Mooncoon], on Vancouver Island BC -


    I had a look in Flaydermann's Guide and didn't see anything listed. Also did a google search and found the description you posted but no photos. There was also a hit for Ketland breach loading with a link to images but the images seemed to be for breach loading guns only and nothing that was specific to Ketland. I am guessing the gun in your description may have been a trial model and never produced in large numbers. It does sound slow to load if you have to unscrew the breach to load. I wish I could help you more

    cheers mooncoon



    tac
    Several guns and trains.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacfoley View Post
    Thomas Ketland & Co. was a gun maker founded in Birmingham, England around 1760. T. Ketland & Co. is Thomas Sr., a very successful Birmingham gun maker. He started in business around 1760, expanded into the export market around 1790, died in 1816. His business was carried on until bankrupt in 1821.The company made flintlock pistols hand guns and became successful in this field of gun manufacture.
    W. Ketland is Thomas Ketland Sr's eldest son. He was originally a partner with his father and William Walker. He petitioned to liquidate his part in the firm in 1800. The partnership was dissolved in 1801. He died in 1804 but the business carried on to at least 1831. The story about an earlier W. Ketland gunmaker, going back to the 1740s (Gardner says 1715), is not verified. The directory dates are 1808 to 1831 but W. Ketland was trading under that name as early as the middle of 1801 and perhaps as early as the end of 1800. The Philadelphia Ketlands are 2nd son Thomas Jr. and John. Thomas Jr. resided in Philadelphia from 1789 to 1815. John died there in 1800. They never made guns, they were merchant princes, not mechanics and arms were only a small part of their business. Around 1801, the Ketland Co. began trading overseas and the company ceased operations around 1831.

    As you say, there is no mention of this unusual breech-loading flintlock arm.

    I'll do some digging with my pal Andy over in WA and see if he can throw any light on it. Also Doug [mooncoon on canadiangunnuts.com].

    tac
    Hi tac,

    Thank you for taking the trouble to search out the information, it is very interesting.
    Please thank you friend as well.

    I spoke to someone who knows the owner of the "Ketland" and he told me it was an experimental model that was tested by the military and only a small number of them were made.
    While the concept of being able to load the rifle lay down appealed to the military it was rejected because the barrel leaded up because it did not use a patch on the ball.
    Because of the lead build up in the barrel the rifle became inaccurate and the barrels had to be filled with mercury for a few days to remove the leading.

    The next time the owner brings the rifle to the range I will get some photographs of it.

    Thanks again.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by enfield2band View Post
    Hi tac,

    Thank you for taking the trouble to search out the information, it is very interesting.
    Please thank you friend as well.

    I spoke to someone who knows the owner of the "Ketland" and he told me it was an experimental model that was tested by the military and only a small number of them were made.
    While the concept of being able to load the rifle lay down appealed to the military it was rejected because the barrel leaded up because it did not use a patch on the ball.
    Because of the lead build up in the barrel the rifle became inaccurate and the barrels had to be filled with mercury for a few days to remove the leading.

    The next time the owner brings the rifle to the range I will get some photographs of it.

    Thanks again.
    We are all looking forward to seeing pics - if you get any, please email them to me so's I can post them dreckly.

    TIA.

    tac
    Several guns and trains.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacfoley View Post
    We are all looking forward to seeing pics - if you get any, please email them to me so's I can post them dreckly.

    TIA.

    tac
    looking forward to seeing these too.....i have seen similiar versions on holts auction site a few years ago.
    might not be ketlands but same idea
    email...... stephenbarrow@ntlworld.com
    3 bed static at thornwick bay to let 2016....pm for details

  8. #8
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    Reading some of the posts over on sister forum muzzleloadingforum.com, it seems that Thos. Ketland made locks by the literal thousand, but not complete guns. One of his contracts was the supply of three thousand locks for the colonies...

    tac
    Several guns and trains.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacfoley View Post
    Reading some of the posts over on sister forum muzzleloadingforum.com, it seems that Thos. Ketland made locks by the literal thousand, but not complete guns. One of his contracts was the supply of three thousand locks for the colonies...

    tac
    Hi tac,

    Thanks for the information.

    The next shoot is on the 15th of Dec. I will try and get the owner of the Ketland to bring it up so I can photograph it. I will get pictures as soon as I can.
    The owner may know more of its history than his friend. From what I understand the gun was made by Ketland. I will do what I can to confirm this.

    Atb.

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