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Thread: Maynard Rifle and Shot Gun information

  1. #1

    Default Maynard Rifle and Shot Gun information


    During recent restoration work on Salubria, a c. 1757 manor outside of Stevensburg, Virginia, the Germanna Foundation discovered a very interesting pamphlet in the building's attic. I would appreciate it if any of you could provide more information; our web searches have turned up very little.

    Titled "The Maynard Breech-Loading and Self-Priming Rifle, and Shot Gun.", this 16 page printed pamphlet presents endorsements and testimonials for the Maynard Rifle and Shot Gun from individuals, government officials and newspapers editors. The last is a reprint of an article in the Richmond Enquirer dated January 17, 1860.

    As you might imagine, after 150 years in an attic, the pamphlet is in poor condition. While all of the text is still legible, the paper is brittle, with tattered edges and stained pages. It is string bound and does not have a cover.

    Salubria was the home of the Grayson family during the Civil War. Both of the Grayson sons served with the Confederacy. During the winter of 1863-1864, Salubria served as headquarters to the 2nd US Cavalry, Gen'l Davies. So, the pamphlet could have been left in the attic by a CS or US soldier.

    Is this document rare? Is the information it contains of value for research or other purposes? Can you help us determine when and why it was printed...or make an educated guess how it might have ended up at Salubria?

    I look forward to reading your comments - many thanks in advance!

    Karen Quanbeck
    Executive Director
    The Germanna Foundation

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Monessen PA


    Hi Karen,

    A very neat find! A while back, while on a search for information on the Lawrence Pellet Primer System, I ordered a reprint of: Sharps' Patent Improved Breech Loading And Self Priming Rifle, Carbine, and Shotgun Booklet , originally printed in May 1864, from Dixie Gunworks. It wasn't overly useful for what I wanted, but I found that it was a good example of literature that the Sharps salesmen would have used. I assume your booklet is very similar, since the Maynard system pre-dated the Lawrence system for self priming weapons.

    Just my thoughts.

    Michael Thomas

    40th PVI, 11th Reserves, Co F

    1st USSS, Co H

  3. #3



    Not being an antique book or document expert, I cannot say as to value.

    "Value" to history or reenacitng would also depend upon what info is shared. I suspect not much other than the "usual" testamonials and claims. (NOT that that is bad in any way for they are all fascinating.)

    It was not unusual for the Period gunmakers to solicit favorable testamonials (often in exchange for free samples first.. ). I have a reprint of one for the Colt Navy apparently done for the English market as some of the testamonials came from Crimean War officers...

    They also had "drummers" or traveling salesmen who went around demonstrating their products hoping to get them sold or noticed with an eye for government contracts outside of the arms trial submissions.

    Dr. Edward Maynard of tape primer mechanism fame, had, IIRC four patents for a carbine beginning in 1851 (1856, and two in 1859). While the primer mechanism seemed such a good idea in 1855, but 1860 it had fallen from favor.
    In 1857 Maynard sold 400 of the early type to the government for tests at West Point. Over the next two years, it did well in Army and Navy tests with the exception that thez .50 version kicked too much. In the 1860 tests it finished second behind the Smith carbine. But with the rejection of the tape primer, he was out of luck.. although the Confederates liked for some reason perhaps from having a number in Southern arsenals.

    Seeing the writing on the wall in 1859 Maynard redisgned the .50 version, eliminating the "patchbox," tang sight, and the tape primer mechanism replacing it with a percussion cap cone.

    But it was not until June of 1863 that Massachusetts Aams was able to get a contract for 20,000 of the second model. However, it took a year to set up, and the first batch of 1,040 were delivered in June of 1864. The last batch of 962 arrived in May of 1865. Along with over two million Maynard cartridges.
    Because of the late deliveries, while some were issued, many remained unissued and can be found today in minty condition or surplus excellent or good.

    Being interested in those kind of things, I would love to read the "pamphlet."

    In gleichem Schritt und Tritt, Curt Schmidt

    Not a real Civil War reenactor, I only portray one on boards and fora.
    I do not portray a Civil War soldier, I merely interpret one.

  4. #4


    Hi Curt,

    Thanks for providing the context. As to the question of value, I should have been more specific. While we can not sell the item (collections ethics), my purpose of inquiring was more to the pamphlet's inherent value of content, scarcity, etc. would make it worth the expense of conserving.

    We retrieved over 10,000 artifacts from the attic - most are scraps of fabric and paper the mice carried up there for nesting - but also found pieces of floorcloth (very rare), wall paper, socks, collars and cuffs, shoes, boots, slippers, a straw hat, a silk housewife, a velvet needlecase, bone toothbrush, lamp finials, silver knee buckle, letters, school books, calling cards, and much, much more. All the small detritus of daily life that fell in between the joists and never found again. It was a four day project by professional archaeologists to retrieve it. Now, we are trying to assess the items for conservation.

    If, on the other hand, there was a museum collection where this pamphlet would find a more suitable home, the Germanna Foundation might consider arranging for a loan or gift. We have inquiries in to the NRA museum, but have heard nothing back from their curatorial staff.

    I will send you scans of the pamphlet pages as soon as our HD scanner is back on line. (We expect the technician to fix it next week.) Please send me a PM with appropriate contact info.

    thanks again


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