Here's an unusual antique for you Northwest Gun fanatics: Decorated Indian Trade Gun. You can click on the photos to get bigger pictures and a closer look.
At first blush, it appears to be an ordinary old flintlock Northwest gun, remarkable for its good condition as well as the profusion of brass tacks. It does have the expected large-bow triggerguard, ribbed brass thimbles, and .60 caliber bore. However, this one survived in its original flintlock condition, without being converted to percussion.
Is it and early gun, a "later" gun, or just an anomaly? A lot of the later flinters had reinforced or "double throated" cocks, but this one has a very shapely gooseneck. There is also some border engraving around the cock as well as the edge of the lockplate. I think the engraving may be unusual, but not unheard of. This lockplate has the little tail on the end instead of a later style rounded butt. The shape of this lockplate, to me, suggests an earlier style. However, the tang bolt or screw goes down instead of up. Most of the early guns had a bolt or screw in the triggerguard, just in front of the bow, going up to thread into the tang.
Some other unusual features include a nicely sculpted and slightly curved buttplate (these were typically flat, and formed out of sheet or plate brass), and a very atypical brass "serpent" sideplate. It looks like a plain military-style sideplate with some crudely engraved scales and serpent head added as an afterthought, and there is no scrolled tail or third screw. I believe I also see a full round barrel, rather than the more usual octagon to round configuration with the "wedding bands." I don't see a maker's mark anywhere. Maybe a Belgian knock off?
I've not had the opportunity handle any old, original Northwest guns, but I have read what I could find and I've looked at a lot of pictures. This one seems atypical, yet there is no mistaking what it is.
I hope you enjoy taking a look.
"Should have kept the old ways just as much as I could, and the tradition that guarded us. Should have rode horses. Kept dogs."
from The Antelope Wife
It is an interesting old piece. I do believe that it is an "early" NW trade gun.
I don't know much about NW guns, but I would guess that the butt plate is a replacement. Also, I think the side plate was probably not cast as seen, but had the carving added some time later. I think someone took pride in his gun and fancied it up to suit himself.
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