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Author Topic: Billinghurst cylinder rifle  (Read 3187 times)

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Billinghurst cylinder rifle
« on: March 04, 2013, 06:04:59 AM »

Pill lock cylinder rifle by William Billinghurst of Rochester, New York.  He made these from the early 1840s into the 1860s.  They don’t have serial numbers and there are no records.  The pill lock, which is basically a detonating pill inserted into the recess on the cylinder where a nipple would normally be, was used almost exclusively by Billinghurst during his celebrated career.
This rifle has a 26-3/4” barrel and is .44 caliber.  The barrel is browned as is the cylinder.  The patchbox, buttplate and lock are caseghardened, the triggerguard nicely blued.  Among other intriguing features is that the long cylinder has its chambers rifled to match the rifling of the barrel.  It has a fold down tang site as well as a typical adjustable rear sight.  This rifle was owned by Robert Eldredge of Mt. Clemons (sic), Michigan as engraved on the patchbox (which is actually meant to hold the beeswax that the shooter would seal the pill into the recess in the cylinder).  It is unknown if this was presented or engraved on order by the maker for Eldredge.  The quality of manufacture is off the charts.  The walnut stock is especially figured.  The cylinder is hand revolved after being released by a forward motion of the catch in front of the lower portion of the cylinder.  Eldredge was a Secretary of State for Michigan and a prominent citizen of Mt. Clemens, Michigan that is now within Detroit.

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Frank Graves

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Re: Billinghurst cylinder rifle
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2015, 08:40:31 AM »

Here is a rare tin that holds the pill primers for this rifle.  It is about the diameter of a quarter.  I have shown a few of the pills that are in it.  I think it would have been pretty dangerous for a user of the day to have this tin full of explosives rattling around in his pocket.

It reads:  "WATERPROOF PILL/PERCUSSION PRIMING./Made by W. Billinghurst, Rochester, N.Y.” 
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