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 Post subject: E.M. Reilly - History and Serial Number Chronology
PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:22 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:14 pm
Posts: 2
This article was recently published in two parts in Diggory Hadoke's on-line magazine.
https://www.vintageguns.co.uk/magazine/ ... e-m-reilly
https://www.vintageguns.co.uk/magazine/ ... -of-reilly

I'm been urged to post it elsewhere. It is the most accurate information on Reilly anywhere (and it will be updated as new guns appear). The research and additional info on Reilly's can be read on this line:
http://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ubb ... 38&page=33

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Here is the final version of the Reilly history which corrects dozens of erroneous writings on the company, including Brown's Vol III, Boothroyd, and many others including every article written about Reilly in the last 15 years (see p.17 for numerous examples). I feel I can defend every word of it, much of it documented above, (and can write a justification with footnotes for each paragraph below).

And in the interest of not being politically correct..Reilly was an Irish Catholic..whether this influenced his ability to obtain a "Royal warrant" in Britain (he did in Catholic France, Spain and Portugal) or even a major contract with Arsenal is problematic. But read the 19th century papers...heck read the US papers about 1928 candidate Al Smith or about JFK and it had to have been a factor.

Attached is also the latest SN date chart which I'm convinced will get a Reilly owner close to the date his gun was manufactured. A description of the SN's mentioned in the history is available in the next post - list of extant Reilly's. [color:#CC33CC]Most of the posts in this line have been dated in this color if anyone wants to look at the source documents for any of the below statements.[/color]

=================================================================================

The Reilly firm of gun makers in London has long been viewed as enigmatic. Confusion exists on the location of the company, its products, and even whether it actually made guns or was just a retailer. Reilly's records were lost 100 years ago after bankruptcy. This new history should resolve these mysteries and re-establish Reilly as at one time perhaps one of if not the largest of gun makers in London during the mid-1800’s.

Joseph Charles Reilly was born in Ireland in 1786. He hailed from a well-to-do family and aspired to become a lawyer. In the mid-1800's he went to London to study (Irish Catholics could not study law in Ireland at the time); However, he had an independent streak; instead of law school, in 1814 he opened a jewelry shop, later described as also dealing in silver-plate, at 12 Middle Row, Holborn, hard by the "Inns of the Court." His clientele included country gentlemen and barristers. In 1817 his son Edward Michael was born, the third of four children. He prospered, buying a country estate in Bedfordshire in 1824.

Jewelry shops in London at the time often dealt in guns, engraving them and re-selling them (some such shops called themselves "Whitesmiths"). By 1825 he was a member of the Worshipful Company of Gun Makers (the London Proof House) (this is not yet confirmed) and around this time numbered his first Reilly built gun which presumably was 001. (The oldest extant Reilly is SN 162). His guns during this period often displayed the address “Holborn Bars.” The serial numbered guns included pistols, rifles and shotguns.

JC Reilly early on adopted a business model which did not change during the life of the firm: i.e. provide a quality hand-made product for a moderate price and deliver it rapidly, and "make what would sell." With this model he undercut more expensive and better known makers and made his profit on volume.

Reilly dealt in used guns taken on trade and sold guns under license. However he did not serial number guns he did not build and he numbered his guns consecutively for 90 years with certain exceptions during the move to New Oxford Street in 1847. Reilly had extensive finishing facilities in his large London buildings and at least early on may have stockpiled actions and barrel blanks imported in the white from Birmingham to allow him to meet orders three times as quickly as his competitors.

By 1833 all references to “jeweler” or "silver-plate" vanished from his advertisements and from that time forward he identified himself solely as “Gun-Maker.” (The first advertisement so far found with "Gun-Maker" appeared in 1831).

In August 1835 JC Reilly with 17 year old EM as an apprentice moved to 316 High Holborn Street. The first serial numbered extant gun with the High Holborn address is SN 1024. By circa 1837 pistols were no longer numbered in the Reilly chronological numbering system; His serial numbered guns seemed to be limited to bespoke long-guns made to order.

In August 1840 the firm’s name in advertisements changed from J.C. Reilly to just “Reilly” which may mark the advent of 23 year old EM as a full partner in the company. The names on the gun ribs continued to be “J.C. Reilly" or "Joseph Charles Reilly.” Case/Trade labels were styled like an embossed business card with "Joseph Charles Reilly," "Gun Maker," and the High Holborn address.

JC Reilly during this period also became known for his air cane guns. Young EM was billed as the expert and was so mentioned In advertisements, identified as “Reilly Junr." In 1847 or early 1848 EM wrote a widely disseminated pamphlet on air guns (mostly an advertising brochure highlighting the company's ability to produce all sorts of air-guns and parts) which is cited to this day. The pamphlet title page noted the author was "Reilly junr," used the (new) 502 New Oxford Street address and included "removed from Holborn."

In late March 1847 Reilly moved to 502 New Oxford street, a large building In the "Elizabethan" area on a new extension of Oxford Street. The last extant gun with High Holborn on the rib is 3392 At this point the main serial number chronology for Reilly long-guns was jumped [/color]up 5000 numbers to begin anew at around 8400 probably with production supervised by EM Reilly. The name on the gun ribs was “Reilly.” (And with this move, Reilly demonstrated another trait of his business acumen, i.e. "Location." He always chose prestigious, high-traffic locations for his stores.)

The first extant SN’d gun with "Reilly," and 502 New Oxford Street on the rib is SN 8463; the label notes the firm had “removed from Holborn." (There is a SN 8578 with J.C. Reilly, 502 New Oxford Street on the rib with an apparently original case label with Joseph Charles Reilly, the Oxford St. address and "removed from holborn," possibly one of the last such guns in the new 8400 series.)

Soon after the move, the trade label changed to "Reilly, Gun Maker," was rectangular shaped with scolloped corners and featured a sketch of the estimated 20,000 sq foot building at 502 New Oxford Street. Note: From 1847 to 1859 long guns and hand guns can be found with “Edward M.” Or “Edward Michael” on their ribs; however, these were not built by Reilly - they were only engraved and marketed.

Around the time of this move and the change in the main serial number chronology, J.C. Reilly appears to have kept a series of numbers for himself beginning around SN 7000 and ending around 8100 when he retired in 1857. JC Reilly often (but not always) put his full name or initials on the ribs of these serial numbers per his 27+ year tradition but with the 502 New Oxford Street address; yet the trade/case labels with "Reilly" as the firm's name and the advertisements/publicity remained the same for both number series.

The first extant SN’d gun in the JC “7000” series is 7201 (a SN 7021 exists but with the High Holborn address possibly indicating the Reillys split their numbering system a bit before the move to 502 New Oxford Street); the last (no doubt made in 1857) is 8186.

There are outlier SN's associated with JC, 3514, with "Reilly" and the New Oxford Street address on the rib, apparently made (per the trade label in the case) after 1855, 5512 from 1847, which has both the High Holborn and New Oxford St. addresses on the rib, and 2008 numbered probably in 1856, which do not fit any sort of pattern, illustrating the sometime quirkiness of JC Reilly.

Reilly exhibited at the 1851 Crystal Palace International Exposition (as Edward M. Reilly) were he was much taken by the Casimir Lefaucheaux center-break guns. Reilly, Lang and Blanch became the major advocates for these new types of guns in England. Advertisements show that Reilly had a 300 yard shooting range near his London establishment located off Wood Lane, Shepard's Bush.

Reilly also exhibited at the 1855 Paris Universelle Exposition, where he received much acclaim and "many orders were booked." The exhibit was in the name of E.M Reilly; however, advertisements make clear that though EM won the medals, the firm was still "Reilly, Gun Maker."

Reilly case labels changed after 1855 to illustrate the 1851 and 1855 world's fair medals and to highlight “Fusils a Bascule” (French for center-break guns) and other breech loaders such as Prince Patent guns which he marketed and promoted. (Note: In 1855 the British government required that bore sizes be stamped on barrels; Reilly, however, along with Greener and Manton, appears to have been amongst the very few gun makers stamping bore sizes for years before the formal requirement.)

In September 1857 J.C. Reilly retired to his country estates at Bourn End, Cranfield, Bedfordshire, where he died a wealthy man in January 1864; his last guns in the "7000" series were engraved with Caesar's words "Veni, Vidi, Vici" possibly as his swan song story of his life. "Formerly Gun-Maker, London" is chiseled on his tombstone.

In January 1859 with new partners (unknown) EM opened a branch store in a large building at 315 Oxford Street, early on also referred to as "the Armoury House" (Salvation Army hall was located behind the building), which had a 50 yard shooting gallery. It was next door to Purdey (located at 314 1/2) and dwarfed Purdey's building.

The company may have used "Reilly & Co." for a short while in Spring-Summer 1859. However, by October 1859 the company’s name had changed to E.M. Reilly & Co, a name which continued in use until bankruptcy in 1918 and beyond when the name was bought by Charles Riggs. His labels changed to reflect the new name, "E.M. Reilly, Gun Maker." The first extant serial numbered gun with E.M. Reilly on the rib is a 3 band Enfield SN *11227

A year later In circa August 1860 the company's description on labels and in advertisements changed from “Gun Maker” to “Gun Manufacturers” and at that time the sketch of 502 New Oxford Street was dropped from his case labels. The basic format for the new label remained consistent for the next 30+ years with variations (additions of medals, branch addresses, occasionally mention of royalty, etc.) (There were a few outlier labels). Business anthologies at this time identify EM Reilly as both gun and pistol manufacturers and sword/cutlery makers.

During this time frame Reilly in advertisements claimed to be making every piece of every gun he serial numbered in his two workshops on Oxford Street and invited customers to "view the progress of their order." This would make Reilly one of the very few "vertical" gun companies in London. The London (and Birmingham) gun trade at the time relied for the most part on out-sourced parts and materials, which were assembled and finished in-house. This reliance on out-workers often included engraving and barrel blacking.

In 1862 Reilly showed at the London International exposition and won a medal for an exhibit which included a gold washed 12 bore shotgun which may still exist (SN 12532).

Throughout the 1860's Reilly guns were purchased by various members of the British royal family, usually to give as gifts to foreign dignitaries or persons who had done favors for the family. Reilly tried to obtain, but without success, a Royal Warrant as "Gun Maker to the Royal Family."

From at least the 1840’s the Reilly’s tried mightily to win a lucrative military contract from the British government. JC Reilly exhibited brass mortars in 1845. EM Reilly promoted the Prince patent breech loader in the late 1850’s (joining other London gun-makers in urging Ordinance re-open the 1853 Army rifle competition which had selected the Enfield rifle-musket). He worked with the Green brothers to win a contract for their patent breech loader, to which he had manufacturing rights, in the early 1860’s (competing against the Snider which won out). He put forward the Comblain breech loader from Belgium, to which he gained patent rights in England, in 1868-70 (competing against trial guns such as the Martini and the Henry, a combination of which was adopted). And, he patented an explosive bullet in 1869, a sort of early M-79 idea. However, he never obtained a major contract (as far as the present day evidence goes).

Reilly did sell and engrave British military guns - Enfields, Snider's, Martini's and later Lee-Speeds; He hawked these guns to the Yoemanry Volunteer Militia and to rifle clubs at wholesale prices, versions of them to Military personnel going abroad and to big-game hunters for 50 years. But, unless he built them himself he did not serial number these guns.

EM Reilly always seemed to be enamored with Paris and as the 1867 Paris Universelle exposition approached, he meticulously prepared an exhibit that was extensively lauded. It won him gold and silver medals, led him to became a “gun maker” for Napoleon III, and in February 1868 to open a branch office (EM Reilly & Cie.) at 2 rue Scribe, Paris where orders for his guns could be taken. The store was located in the Grand Hotel near the Gare du Nord, a prime location. This branch office remained open for the next 17 years. The first extant gun with 2 rue Scribe on the rib is 14983.

His case labels changed at this time to feature the two medals won at the 1867 World’s Fair and often (but not always) mentioned both branch addresses. Two and a half years later after the battle of Sedan Napoleon III fell from power; the medals disappeared from Reilly’s case labels for awhile yet continued occasionally to resurface on both labels and in advertisements for the next 15 years. (Reilly's affinity for France was well known. In Fall 1870 he was prosecuted for attempting to smuggle 2,000 shells to his rue Scribe address, a violation of UK neutrality in the conflict, and in 1871 offered to sell 6,000 Chassepot rifles (stored in Birmingham) to the new French Republic).

Also around 1869 he changed the description of the company in ads to "Gun and Rifle Manufacturers" (as did many other English gun makers). This description was sometimes but not usually used on his trade/case labels for the next 15 years.

In 1876 some Reilly labels and publicity began advertising a connection to the King of Portugal and by 1882 to the Kings of Spain and The Netherlands. In addition around this time 315 Oxford Street began to use a slightly different case label and later, also for a short time, a different label for revolvers but with the same shape advertising "Breech Loading Gun & Rifle Manufacturers."

From as early as 1868 Reilly had evinced an interest in penetrating the American market. He acquired an American agent (Joseph Grubbs, Philadelphia), had his guns advertised in mail order catalogs, and exhibited at the 1876 Philadelphia centennial along side very high-standard British guns such as Purdey, and won a medal.

Reilly again exhibited at the 1878 Paris exposition and again won medals. By 1880 Reilly sold a third more - soon to be twice as many - serial numbered, hand made bespoke guns than both Holland and Holland and Purdey combined, this in addition to a very active business in guns sold under license from well known gun makers including revolvers (Trantor, Baumont-Adams, Walker, Colt, etc), rook rifles, repeating rifles (Sharps, Winchester, etc.), as well as merchandising every type of gun accoutrement - reloaders, cartridges, shells, cases, etc. and sustaining a huge business in previously owned guns. Reilly told the 1881 census taker that he employed some 300 people in his firm, an extraordinarialy high number for the times, an indication of the extent of his gun manufacturing and sales business.

Around 1881 per advertisements it appears that Reilly made a business decision to stock ready-made guns and sell them off-the-rack as well as selling his usual bespoke made-to-order guns. This might account for the soaring number of guns serial numbered per year, which grew from about 650 numbered in 1880 to some 1050 in 1882. It might also account for certain discrepancies in serial numbered guns from this time forward such as 303xx which would have been numbered in late 1888-early 1889 but still has "Not For Ball" on its barrels (a stamping discontinued in 1887). If this were the case, Reilly probably serial numbered his off-the-rack guns when sold and his bespoke guns when ordered and a deposit put down.

In November 1881 Oxford Street was renumbered; ”502” became “16 New Oxford Street” and “315” becoming “277 Oxford Street.” The first extant gun with either of the new addresses on the ribs is SN 23536. (In spite of the formal change in numbering, the old numbers occasionally appeared in Reilly ads and on gun ribs for the next couple of years).

Reilly’s business was booming and gun production topped 1000 a year. Reilly reportedly was making long guns for other London gun-makers and around this time began importing cheap Belgian-made revolvers in parts which he assembled in his buildings, engraved and sold.

He exhibited at the 1882 Calcutta fair (a British Empire only affair) and won a medal and was highly praised for his exhibit at the 1885 London International Inventions Exposition where he again won medals. Reilly guns dominated live pigeon shooting contests throughout the 1880’s and big game hunters in Africa used his guns and advertised the results (including Henry Morton Stanley, the Welsh-American and perhaps the most famous of all African explorers, Dr. David Livingston, and noted Victorian era African hunter and author Frederick Selous).

In July 1885 rue Scribe was closed. The reasons for this are not known - hand made guns were being sold at a very high rate; it may have had to do with the departure of a long-time partner (possibly a M. Poirat?). The last extant SN’d gun with rue Scribe on the rib is 27340 (there are three guns with later serial numbers which have only "Paris" on their barrels; However, these may have been ready-made prior to 1885 and only numbered when sold off the rack).

Note: In the early 1880's Reilly apparently opened a small satellite branch of 2 rue Scribe, Paris at 29 rue du Faubourg, St. Honore, Paris for a short time. A couple of gun case labels show the store would have been in existence after the November 1881 change in Oxford Street addresses but before the July 1885 closure of 2 rue Scribe. An advertisement/paid-for article with this address appeared in Jan 1886 London press touting a win by an Italian (a well known marksman) at the Monte Carlo pigeon shoot (an important event); whether the address was on the rib of his gun or on the trade/case label is unknown. No newspaper ads for this branch exist (and it was a prestigious location - Coco Chanel's apartments were above it in another century - which should have been publicized). No extant guns have thus far been found with this address. Perhaps this store was occupied while the Grand Hotel was undergoing renovation?

Reilly exhibited at the 1889 Paris World's Fair, the “Tour Eiffel" Exposition Universalle, and may have won a silver medal. However, by this time advertisements for Reilly guns had significantly declined and he did not publicize the medals if he won them. A nasty law-suit on easement limitations to the Salavation Army Hall behind his establishment at 277 Oxford Street was litigated. The fact is, something changed with the firm after 1886; Reilly's guns regularly won competitions and were donated to be given as prizes at high-end shooting competitions; but the company just gradually disappeared from mass-media print.

In July 1890 EM Reilly contracted broncho-pneumonia and passed away. Reilly's sons Herbert H. and Charles A. were teen-agers. His wife Mary was in her 40's. Business was still lively. Who ran the company during these years is not known though widows did successfully manage companies in England at the time after the deaths of their husbands. By 1894 Reilly guns were no longer being mentioned as winners in pigeon shoots; Reilly victories and promotional donations of guns as prizes had been a prominent feature in London papers for 25 years. His 28 year old eldest son (possibly born-out-of-wedlock but acknowledged) Edward Montague Reilly, "gun maker," who was involved with the company in some way, died in 1895.

In 1898 the company closed 16 New Oxford Street where it had been located for 50 years; 277 Oxford Street remained open. Bespoke guns continued to be sold in the early 1890’s at a goodly clip but as the decade advanced, and factory mass produced guns with steel barrels began to compete with Damascus, the demand for these hand-made and measured guns in a middling cost category seemed to decline. (Many London gun-makers began to have problems in this time period).

Reilly advertisements in mass media, an almost daily occurrence in the London press since 1833, declined markedly as the 90's progressed. In response, with sales diminishing, closing the finishing facilities at 16 New Oxford street while retaining the shooting gallery and smaller sales and manufacturing spaces at 277 Oxford Street would seem to have been logical. The last extant SN’d gun from 16 New Oxford Street is 34723.

After 1898 the trade/case labels changed to reflect the marketing of magazine guns and advertised the medals won in 1876 (Philadelphia), 1878 (Paris), and 1885 (London) and 1873 (Vienna) (although there is no evidence that Reilly actually exhibited in Vienna). On his presentation cases, the company description changed back to "gun and rifle makers" although the company was still "Gun and Rifle Manufacturers" in phone and business directories.

In 1903 the Company vacated 277 Oxford Street where they had been quartered for 44 years while the building was being renovated and moved 300 yards down the street to 295 Oxford Street. The company apparently was run by Herbert H. (Bert) Reilly and Charles A. Reilly, EM Reilly’s sons. The first extant gun with 295 Oxford Street on the rib is 35422. The company remained at 295 until bankruptcy was declared on 06 June 1912. The last extant gun with 295 on the rib is 35678. Reportedly during this period at least one gun was built with J.C. Reilly and the old Holborn Bars address on the rib.

Bert Reilly opened a small gun shop, E.M Reilly & Co., at 13 High Street, Marylebone in 1912 after the bankruptcy. No advertisements can be found for the shop though per London postal address, telephone and business directories they identified themselves as "gunmakers." No guns with this address on the rib have been found. The date of its closure is not noted although it is listed in London telephone directories up to 1919.

In August 1922 The Reilly name was bought by a sporting goods dealer named Charles Riggs (most Reilly history summaries put the date of purchase as 1917; this is belied by the dates of newspaper advertising). Riggs apparently decided he could use the name to promote his premium line of guns (possibly built by Osborne/Midland). Whether a Reilly had any say in the design of these Riggs-Reilly guns is unknown. Riggs remained in business until 1966. His “Reilly named” guns have six-digit serial numbers and appear to begin at around 130000. A Riggs "Reilly" with a serial number in the 150000’s is known to exist.

The Reilly's sold all types of guns in various qualities using all types of actions. Reilly serial numbered about 33,000 guns from circa 1825 to 1912, all built by them. The guns that they made had an artistic elegance and balance, which is unmistakable. Reilly was one of the first to use highly figured French walnut for their stocks and their engraving, for the most part floral scroll work, was consistently classy. Reilly's best guns were as good as those produced anywhere in England at the time.

Gene Williams, September 05, 2018; updated 07 August 2019

=================================== SN Date Chart ===========================================

Year. . . . . . . . . . . .Serial Numbers. . . . . . . # of SN’d guns made in 1 year
. . . Black-Main Chronology; Blue: JC “7000” series. . . . . . .*Marker footnotes. **Sanity checks

1825: . . . 01 - . . 20. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20. .*1
1826: . . . 21 - . . 50. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
1827: . . . 51 - . .110 - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
1828: . . 111 - . .200 - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90
1829: . . 201 - . .300. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100
1830: . . 301 - . .400. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100
1831: . . 401 - . .510. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .110
1832: . . 511 - . .640. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .130
1833: . . 641 - . .870. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .130
1834: . . 871 - .1000. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130
1835: ..1001 - .1130. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130. .*2
1836: ..1131 - .1280. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
1837: ..1281 - .1430. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
1838: ..1431 - .1500. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170
1839 ..1501 - .1700. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
1840: ..1701 - .1920. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 220
1841: ..1921 - .2160. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
1842: ..2161 - .2400. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
1843: ..2401 - .2640. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
1844: ..2641 - .2880. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
1845: ..2881 - .3120. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
1846: ..3121 - .3360. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 240
1847: ..3361 - .3400. + 7000 - 7070. + 8400 - 8500 -240. .*3,*4,*5,*6
1848: ..8501 - .8680. + 7071 - 7170. - . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1849: ..8681 - .8860. + 7171 - 7270. - . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1850: ..8861 - .9040. + 7271 - 7370. - . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1851: ..9041 - .9220. + 7371 - 7470. - . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1852: ..9221 - .9400. + 7471 - 7570. - . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1853: ..9401 - .9580. + 7571 - 7670. - . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1854: ..9581 - .9760. + 7671 - 7770. - . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1855: ..9761 - .9940. + 7771 - 7770. - . . . . . . . . . . . 280
1856: ..9941- 10220. + 7870 - 8060. - . . . . . . . . . . . 470. . . . .**1. Overdone by orders after Paris
1857: 10221 - 10530. + 8060 - 8200. - . . . . . . . . . . . 450. .*7
1858: 10531 - 10930. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 400. . . . .**2. 10782
1859: 10931 - 11340. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. .*8. .**3. 11227
1860: 11341 - 11770. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1861: 11771 - 12210. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. . . . .**4. 11716
1862: 12211 - 12740. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. . . . .**5. 12532
1863: 12741 - 13170. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1864: 13171 - 13600. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430. . . . .**6. 13333
1865: 13601 - 14030. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1866: 14031 - 14460. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 430
1867: 14461 - 14910. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 450
1868: 14911 - 15510. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600. .*9
1869: 15511 - 16110. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1870: 16111 - 16710. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1871: 16711 - 17310. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1872: 17311 - 17910. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600. . . . .**7. 17314
1873: 17911 - 18510. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 600
1874: 18511 - 19140. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 630
1875: 19141 - 19780. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 640. . . . .**8. 19286
1876: 19781 - 20430. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1877: 20431 - 21080. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1878: 21081 - 21730. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1879: 21731 - 22380. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1880: 22381 - 22930. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1881: 22931 - 23630. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 800. .*10. .**9. 23536
1882: 23631 - 24680. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1050
1883: 24681 - 25730. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1050
1884: 25731 - 26780. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1050
1885: 26781 - 27820. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1040. .*11
1886: 27821 - 28720. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 900
1887: 28721 - 29520. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 800
1888: 29521 - 30300. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 780
1889: 30301 - 31000. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 700
1890: 31001 - 31650. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 650
1891: 31651 - 32100. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 550
1892: 32101 - 32600. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 500
1893: 32601 - 33000. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 400
1894: 33001 - 33400. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 400
1895: 33401 - 33800. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 400
1896: 33801 - 34200. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 400
1897: 34201 - 34550. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 350
1898: 34551 - 34820. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270. .*12
1899: 34821 - 34960. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140
1900: 34961 - 35090. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 130
1901: 35091 - 35210. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120
1902: 35211 - 35320. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
1903: 35321 - 35420. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100. .*13
1904: 35421 - 35460. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1905: 35461 - 35500. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40
1906: 35401 - 35535. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
1907: 35536 - 35565. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1908: 35566 - 35595. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1909: 35596 - 35625. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1910: 35626 - 35655. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1911: 35656 - 35685. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
1912: 35686 - 35700. - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15. .*14

Post Aug 1922 - ? 130000 - 150000. - . . . . . . . . . . . .20,000?. . *15

==================== Footnotes ====================

Methodology
-- Reilly serial numbered some 33,000 guns from c1825-1912. The chart is based on an analysis of over 300 surviving Reilly serial numbered guns and thousands of articles about and advertisements for Reilly in 19th century print media. However, the chart may have to be modified at some point as additional guns come to light.
-- The chart is designed to allow a Reilly owner to date his gun within a few months of its being serial numbered. The chart is more accurate from 1855 to 1905 due to the number of surviving guns.

Caveats:
-- Reilly did not serial number guns he did not make.
-- When 001 was numbered or if there were a 001 is unknown; 1825 was chosen as a start date because he may have joined the London Proof House at that time (not confirmed). The first existing gun is SN 162. The earliest Reilly advertisements for guns alone so far found began in the London papers in 1827.
-- Reilly originally serial numbered pistols; that ended circa 1837.
-- The number of guns numbered per year are estimates based on date markers. Obviously numbers actually made each year varied. The curve has been smoothed as much as possible to eliminate wild swings and verified by "sanity checks."
-- There is a huge uptick in numbers in 1881-82. Reilly apparently made the business decision to stock guns and sell ready-made/off-the-rack. If so he may have numbered them when sold, accounting for some discrepancies. His bespoke guns were probably numbered when ordered per general London practice
-- Patent numbers on guns can help date a gun; but many guns were modified/up-graded; one Reilly (SN 10354) built in 1857 was originally a muzzle loader turned into a breech loader in 1895. So patent numbers can be sanity checks but no proof of date of manufacture.


*Marker Footnotes
*1 - 1825 Reilly allegedly joined the London Proof House; This date is chosen as the start date for Reilly making guns though it could well have been earlier. Likewise, 001 is chosen as the number of the first gun though it could have been "100." 1st extant SN'd gun is 162. Address was 12 Middle Row; Address on ribs is "Holborn Bars."
*2 - Late Aug 1835 Reilly moved to 315 High Holborn; 1st SN'd gun with High Holborn is 1024
*3 - Late March 1847 Reilly moved to 502 New Oxford Street. Main line SN series bumped up 5000 numbers; 1st SN'd gun with 502 along with "removed from Holborn" is 8463.
*4 - Last SN with High Holborn on the rib is 3392.
*5 - Concurrently JC Reilly appears to have kept a hoard of numbers for his own use beginning around 7000. First JC Reilly 7000 series with 502 Oxford is 7201 which also has "removed from Holborn".
*6 - SN 7021 exists (with JC Reilly on the rib) but with the High Holborn address. This may indicate the company split the numbering system shortly before the move to 502 New Oxford Street.
*7 - 1857, Sept: JC retired; the last extant SN in the JC Reilly "7000" series (with "Veni, Vidi, Vici" on the rib) is 8186.
*8 - 315 Oxford Street opened mid-January 1859. However, the company name did not change to E.M. Reilly & Co. until possibly as late as October 1859; 1st extant SN'd gun with EM Reilly on the rib is 11227.
*9 - mid Feb 1868 Reilly opened 2 rue Scribe Paris; 1st extant SN'd gun with rue Scribe on the rib is 14983.
*10 - Nov 1881 Oxford Street was renumbered; 1st extant Reilly with 277 Oxford street (or 16 New Oxford St.) on the rib is 23536.
*11 - July 1885 Reilly closed rue Scribe; last extant Reilly with "rue Scribe" on the rib is 27340. *(Note: There are 3 later guns SN 27533, 27570 and 27854 with "Paris" on their barrels. Two have Whitworth steel barrels. I've chosen not to use these as the end marker for rue Scribe, at least not yet; Reilly at this time was selling both off-the-rack/ready-made guns and bespoke guns made-to-order and I believe these may have been already engraved and sitting in the shop, but not numbered until sold. This is a subjective judgement of course. Additional serial numbers may change this.)
*12 - 1898 Reilly closed 16 (502) New Oxford Street. Last extant SN'd gun with 16 New Oxford Street on the rib is 34723
*13 - 1903 Reilly moved from 277 Oxford St. to 295 Oxford st. First extant gun with 295 on the rib is 35422
*14 - June 8, 1912 Reilly declared bankruptcy. Last extant SN'd gun is 35678. Bert Reilly subsequently opened a small gun shop at 13 High Street, Marylebone as "E.M Reilly & Co.", which lasted to about 1921; no guns with this address on ribs have been found, no advertisements for it exist.
*15 - in August 1922 (date confirmed-per newspaper advertisements) the Reilly name was bought by Charles Riggs. The name/address on the ribs was "EM Reilly, London." Riggs' had historical connections to BSA - however, some believe his guns were built by Osborn/Midland. The serial numbers became 6 digits apparently beginning around 130000 - The first extant Riggs-Reilly so far found is 134183; the last is 150570. How many of these "Reilly" guns Riggs were produced or how Rigg's numbering system actually worked is not clear.

**Sanity Checks:
**1. After his triumph at Paris in 1855 he was "overdone by orders." The increase in production by 200 guns for 1856 reflects this.
**2. 10782 - He began selling Prince Patent breech loaders soon after the Patent, probably as early as 1857. The first Reilly extant Prince Patent is 10782, dated 1858 on the chart - within margin of error.
**3. 11227 - Reilly began using E.M. Reilly in Sep-Oct 1859. 11227 is the first extant gun with EM Reilly on the gun rib and would be dated in Autumn 1859 per the chart.
**4. 11716 - Reilly .577 Enfield given as a prize Christmas 1861 per an inscription on the gun; it was certainly numbered in late November, early December 1861.
**5. 12532 - In 1862 the London Exposition ran from late May to September. His exhibit included a gold washed shotgun, much commented on which may still exist. If this is the exposition gun the chart has it being numbered a little late in the year...about July rather than May meaning he may have made 30 or 40 fewer guns in 1860 and 1861 than postulated.
**6. 13333 - Reilly obtain manufacturing rights to the Green Bros Breech loader and per a post on this board began to manufacture them about Apr-May 1864. This gun was number 23...The chart has it being numbered about May 1864.
**7. 17314 - The Martini-Henry was formally adopted (though still being trialed) in summer 1871. The first Reilly advertisement for Martini-Henry's appeared in November 1871. The chart has 17314 being numbered in early Jan 1872.
**8. 19286. H Walker patent No 455 12 Feb 1872, use number 1098. No “NOT FOR BALL” or “CHOKE” (introduced in summer 1875). Patent use number is a large number; therefore, estimate early 1875.
**9. 23536. Oxford Street was renumbered in November 1881. 23536 is the first extant gun with the new numbers on the rib. The chart would place it in mid- November 1881.





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 Post subject: Re: E.M. Reilly - History and Serial Number Chronology
PostPosted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 7:40 am 
Diamond Grade

Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2011 2:24 pm
Posts: 1100
Location: North Alabama
Press on Gene, remain ever stalwart. Capital effort.


Cheers,

Raimey
rse


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 Post subject: Re: E.M. Reilly - History and Serial Number Chronology
PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2020 9:57 am 
Utility Grade

Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2020 9:34 am
Posts: 1
I'm waiting to be in receipt of a Reilly bought at an online auction so meanwhile I've been looking up the serial number that I have. To my consternation I find that very same number mentioned in this post. It is 8578... Surely the gun I am getting must be spurious, it wouldn't be the first time I have been had. I hope it is well made and in good condition whoever the maker, this is the trouble with buying online without prior viewing. It's a long drive from Wiltshire to Sandringham and back in one day on UK's crowded roads. The gun in question is a 6-bore single-barrel wild-fowling piece, has a 42-inch barrel and ticks all the boxes for a percussion gun.


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 Post subject: Re: E.M. Reilly - History and Serial Number Chronology
PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2020 7:51 pm 
Utility Grade

Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:14 pm
Posts: 2
Sir, I assume the gun you bought was the 6 bore at Holts:
https://auctions.holtsauctioneers.com/a ... 46&image=0

I asked Holt's about that because a Swedish SxS already claimed to have that number. I also sent a message to the Swedish auction. No reply received from anyone. However, if you'll read the latest version of the Reilly History on doublegunshop,com, p.48 you'll see my conclusion. There is also a post dedicated to these two guns on p,46 of that line.

I concluded that the Holt's gun - your gun - likely is indeed 8578. I blew up the photo with the tang and it certainly looks like it:
Image

I also concluded that the Swedish gun was actually 8378 - the Reilly "3"''s and "5"'s are very similar. I concluded the Swedish gun was earlier based on the trade label and other factors:
Image
Image

The phrase on the label "Removed from Holborn" was only used from April 1847-November 1847. The paragraph in the "history" has been altered to read as follows:

Move to 502 New Oxford-Street, March 1847; changing the numbering chronology:

In late March 1847 Reilly moved from High Holborn to 502 New Oxford Street, a large building In the "Elizabethan" area on a new extension of Oxford Street. And with this move, Reilly demonstrated another trait of his business acumen, i.e. "Location." (The new road provided access to the center of London from the wealthy suburbs to the East.) He always chose prestigious, high-traffic locations for his stores. The last extant gun with High Holborn on the rib is 3329, a 10 gauge SxS percussion rifle.

At the time of the move the main serial number chronology for Reilly long-guns was jumped up 5000 numbers from about SN 3350 to begin anew at around 8350 (called for simplicity the "8400" series). The name on serial numbered guns after the move ultimately became simply “Reilly” with exceptions.

-- The first extant main-line SN’d gun from the new building is SN 8378, a SxS 12 bore muzzle-loading shotgun with “J.C. Reilly, 502 New Oxford Street, London” on the rib. The original label in the old High Holborn case label format had the 502 New Oxford Street, London address and noted the firm had “Removed from Holborn."
-- The first extant SN'd gun in the new series with only "Reilly, 502 New Oxford Street, London" is SN 8463, a .390 cal SxS muzzle loader rifle, also with "Removed from Holborn" on the label.
(Reilly used the phrase "Removed from Holborn" in advertisements after the move from April 1847 to November 1847. By December 1847 it had disappeared from his ads.).


Both the history and the edited and updated serial number dating chart can be read on the Reilly line here about 1/4 down the page:
https://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ub ... 38&page=48

The reasoning about 8378 and 8578 can be read here in a post 3/4 of the way towards the bottom of the page:
https://www.doublegunshop.com/forums/ub ... 38&page=46

I would be extremely interested in confirming the actual SN of this 6 bore when it is received. It should be on the tang, the water table, barrels and forearm. Many thanks.

Gene Williams


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 Post subject: Re: E.M. Reilly - History and Serial Number Chronology
PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2020 7:15 am 
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Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2020 6:43 am
Posts: 1
Hi Gene, today is the date I came across your message, it's the Covid, stockmarket crash, British politics getting in the way of normal life here. You've been busy in your research on Reilly, done a great job. It was a very pleasant surprise when the gun arrived from Sandringham, too far for me to collect in person, as it was obviously the genuine article. Reading from the above you had already ascertained that the other SR 8578 was misread but I'm pleased to attach pictures, if they will, to this reply.
Best Wishes,
William
p.s. pictures won't copy and paste for me, email [email protected] please.




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