Austrian Castle Guard Musket after 1854
Offered here is a quite interested example of an Austrian percussion musket. As far as I can tell there is no English literature on these muskets, so I rely on Mr. Tim Prince at College Hill Arsenal for a history of this musket:
“The official designation of the musket is the Gewehr Der K.K. Hofburgwache Nach 1854, or rather the Castle Guard Musket after 1854. These smoothbore muskets were produced as a special model for the Austrian palace guards. They were originally manufactured as flintlocks (circa 1838) and were then adapted to the Augustine Consol lock ignition system (aka “tube lock” or “pill lock”) circa 1842. They were subsequently altered to percussion after 1854, the year that Austria adopted the percussion cap as their ignition system.”
While these muskets share some passing similarities with both the Muster 1842 Musket and Muster 1854 “Lorenz” Rifle-Musket, they are really quite unique for Austrian arms. First, they are stocked with walnut rather than the normally used beech, and lack the cheek rest found on most Austrian arms of that era. Second, their furniture is brass, rather than iron usually encountered on martial arms. The bore size is also significantly smaller than most contemporary Austrian muskets, measuring 15.5 millimeters (approximately .61 caliber). Other unique features include the rectangular brass sling swivels, and the Prussian style ramrod. The percussion bolster is also fairly unique for Austrian arms, and has a Prussian look, especially the hammer. The wrists of all Gewehr Der K.K. Hofburgwache Nach 1854 have a shield shaped brass thumb piece applied to the wrist. The plate is engraved with the royal crest and cypher of Kaiser Ferdinand I (ruled 1835-1848).
The barrel band arrangement is similar to the Austrian M1842 Musket, with three barrel bands including a double strapped front band. The upper and rear bands are retained by springs, but the middle band is friction fit only, same as the M1842. Like all Austrian arms the ramrod channel is mostly inclosed by the stock. The bayonet is secured by the same style Laukart clasp introduced in 1838, though the bayonet would obviously have a smaller socket diameter than regular military muskets.
Our Austrian Gewehr Der K.K. Hofburgwache Nach 1854 is in overall good to very good condition. It is completely intact and unrestored, though the metal components and stock have been cleaned. The barrel is marked with the musket’s serial number, 227, as well the production date of 1840, and an Arabic numeral “2”, which is repeated on all of the major components. Small parts, including screws are mated with two punch dots. The stock is free from any breaks or cracks, though there is some minor wood loss to the ramrod channel behind the upper band. Other than that, there are only scattered handling bruises. The metal components have been polished. The iron parts are bright and free from pitting, while the brass is mellowing out and has taken on an attractive patina. The bore is mostly smooth with some rough patches.
Overall, this is a very nice example of a scarce Austrian Musket. Apart from the example formerly offered by College Hill Arsenal, I have not seen another one of these muskets for sale before. Though there is no documentation to prove that any of these muskets were imported for use in the American Civil War, it is still a very interesting European musket that would be right at home in a collection of imported arms, especially one with a focus or good sampling of Austrian arms. I venture to say that most collections are missing an example of this rare musket.