CORNISH, NEW HAMPSHIRE D.H. HILLIARD .36 Underhammer Maple Peep Sight Rifle
BEAUTIFULLY ENGRAVED New England INLAID Rifle
Here we present an antique D.H. Hilliard Percussion Underhammer Rifle, manufactured in Cornish, New Hampshire, circa the mid-1800s. David Hilliard was a noted maker of underhammer pistols and rifles. The Hilliard design bears a striking resemblance and similarity to the work of Nicanor Kendall, which bears similarity to the work of Asa Story. Because these men were contemporaries living almost within spitting distance of each other, one has to wonder who was copying whom! So far as historians have been able to uncover, Asa Story began making underhammer arms at the outset of the percussion era. Apprenticed to him was another noted New England gunmaker, Nicanor Kendall. Kendall opened his own shop in 1835 making arms very similar to those he had made while under the tutelage of Story. Kendall continued making his famous underhammers in Windsor, Vermont until 1842 when he sold the business to Hilliard who produced fine quality work until his death in 1877. Hilliard’s son George continued the business for some time thereafter.
The Underhammer was developed for several reasons. By having the ignition under the barrel, it was not in close proximity of the shooter’s eyes. It was also safer from flying debris and less distracting. Most of the debris was forced downwards in a safe direction away from the eyes. Also, the location of the percussion cap meant it was out of the weather when it rained. The ignition was also allowed for the spark to go directly into the powder under the barrel rather than a 90 degree bend like most other weapons. Most Underhammers were very simple in their moving parts. Some of the most simplistic designs consisted of only three moving parts, consisting of a main spring, trigger, and a hammer.
The first known documented Underhammer rifle was a flintlock from Germany circa 1740. On the U.S. side of the Underhammer history, in the book “The Pictorial History of the Underhammer” by Herschel C. Logan, he states that the earliest maker is listed a C. Bird & Company from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bird was a gunmaker who dates from 1790 to 1830. Herschel lists approximately 150 American gunmakers who made the Underhammer gun spanning between 1790 through 1900. In the mid to late 1840s, underhammer rifles became very popular in the United States for target shooting and hunting, though they would not become a part of the westward expansion.
The left side of the barrel is marked “D.H. HILLIARD/CORNISH, N.H.” Barrel is heavy and fully octagonal in .36 caliber.
The overall condition is fine. Nice engraving, clear markings. The action is excellent. The bore is shiny bright with sharp rifling. The maple stock is solid and smooth with gorgeous grain. Numbers match.
Own the original! This is a legitimate antique and not a reproduction.
Barrel is 29-1/4 inches.
Caliber: .36 Percussion
Overall condition as seen in photos.
Very Fast. Very Safe. FREE SHIPPING WORLDWIDE. Delivered directly to your door by express mail!
Guaranteed AUTHENTIC & Includes CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY.