Bill Curtis and De Witt Bailey have an ongoing research project concerning original Whitworth rifles. If you have access to ANY original hex bore Whitworth from the period 1857-1865 please note its serial number and letter for recording.
Warning! - The Whitworth Research Project has identified problems with several rifles that have appeared on the open market from time to time. See notes below regarding the following original Whitworth rifles; numbers 449, B376, B678, C575.
Whitworth Rifle Number 449
This is a military match Whitworth (i.e., a full stocked target rifle, not equipped for a bayonet and having delicate sights unsuitable for military use. Not, however, as complicated as those of the later Match Rifles), serial number 449. The gun has a 36" barrel. The lock is marked Whitworth in front of the hammer with the Whitworth trademark (sheaf and crown over W) at the rear of the lock. The barrel is marked "Whitworth Patent". It has the original 52 bore proof marks on the left rear of the barrel. The buttplate is checkered, the trigger is checkered, the wrist and forearm are also checkered. There is a 'C.S.' stamped at the rear of the barrel and on the tang of the buttplate.
This rifle was sold by Christies in Australia in August 2001. Christies auction catalgue noted that the inside of the patchbox is inscribed 'Sgt. C.D.Grace 4th GA Regt. 1863'. Grace is (one of the marksmen) credited with shooting Gen. Sedgwick; who fell dead while reassuring his men that Confederate snipers "couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." The 'Grace' markings are most likely spurious.
This is a very early model made in about 1858/59 and right outside any serial number range or type associated with Confederate imports. It is remotely possible that the rifle was bought second hand and added to Confederate stocks, although there is currently no evidence to authenticate the 'C.S.' marks. These were expensive rifles and eagerly bought by the members of the new National Rifle Association.
The CSA series are in the upper B and lower C series and are good plain knock about rifles with simple sights apart from that proportion equipped with telescopes. All those known to have any provenance are marked 2nd QUALITY and nearly all follow a set pattern although a very few slight variations are known.
Whitworth Rifle Number B376
The Whitworth Rifle Number B376 which may appear on the market as a Telescope Sighted Whitworth, with the inference that this might have been Confederate, should be considered in the light of the following information.
B376 was noted by the Whitworth Research Team at the Baltimore Gun Show in March 2000.
It was then an absolutely typical Military Match in Whitworth's 'BEST' configuration, conforming to the standard form of all the 'BEST' marked rifles. It did not have either a telescope or the mountings for one.
At some time in the following three months this rifle has been fitted with a side mounted brass telescope sight and the 'BEST' removed from the guard tang and replaced with the words '2nd QUALITY'.
The rifle bears no resemblance whatsoever to Whitworth's '2nd QUALITY' rifles and bears a serial number from well before the first appearance of this series.
The telescope and its mountings are not Whitworth Pattern.
The possible inference that may be drawn from this, is that whoever committed this atrocity has read or otherwise knew that the Confederate Whitworths were marked '2nd QUALITY' and changed the rifle to tempt collectors without specialised knowledge.
Whitworth 'BEST' Pattern Number B678
This rifle was initially offered by Heritage Auctions, Dallas, and appeared in the 30 April / 1 May 2012 sale as Lot 50488. This rifle was subsequently withdrawn from the auction and returned to the vendor.
"Lot 50488 Rare Confederate Marked British Whitworth Military Percussion Rifle.... (Total: 1 Items) 2012 Apr 30 - May 1 Arms & Armor Signature Auction - Dallas #6076."
FAKE ALERT - A fine rifle has been marred by a faker stamping "NATCHEZ" into the wood just in front of the trigger guard finial. It would appear the faking was applied only a few weeks before the auction date. Purchasers should be aware of this as it will probably crop up somewhere else.
This rifle (B 678) has been recorded by the Whitworth Research Project for over twenty years through owners in South Africa, Italy, and US Auctions and the word "Natchez" has never been on it before. Apart from this, the CSA purchases were not of this enhanced and more expensive version.
Whitworth Rifle Number C575
The well known Confederate Whitworth rifle number C575 is an odd-ball which carries the so far unique lock mark for the series of WHITWORTH FOR COOK & BRO. NEW ORLEANS. The guard tang carries the inscription 'Co. F. 8th NC Regt.' C575 has spawned a whole mythology of its own I suspect. What speculation there must have been about Co. F of the 8th NC Regt !
However, I have to tell you that this rifle was sold through the Weller & Dufty auction house in Birmingham on March 22nd 1967 when IT DID NOT HAVE ANY SUCH INSCRIPTION !
We are aware of the June 1970 Gun Report article which describes the tang engraving.
I have no idea who engraved it but the time frame is clear and the 8th NC were 100 years gone by then.