Extremely Rare Early 1873 "Nordenfelt" Harmonica Style Volley Firing Five Barreled Gun with Document

Currency:USD Category:Antiques / Firearms & Armory Start Price:10,000.00 USD Estimated At:20,000.00 - 40,000.00 USD
Extremely Rare Early 1873  Nordenfelt  Harmonica Style Volley Firing Five Barreled Gun with Document
This is a very nice example of a super rare, very early production, "5-barreled" Model 1873 Nordenfelt crank handle, volley firing machine gun. This very early 1873 Hiram maxim London Made Nordenfelt Battery Gun was captured by U.S. fleet action off Santiago Harbor Cuba during the Spanish American War. This rare gun with Bannerman provenance as this gun is also described in one of the Bannerman catalogs. This piece was salvaged from the Spanish battle cruiser Almirante Oquendo after the battle of Santiago Harbor and on display on Bannerman's island for many years. (Link: http://www.spanamwar.com/Oquendo.htm) This weapon was designed by Thorsten Nordenfelt in the early 1870s and it actually uses the earlier "Palmcrantz" system of a multi-barreled, volley firing weapon, which was developed by H. Palmcrantz of Sweden. Thorsten Nordenfelt was an early inventers/designer of multi-barreled automatic style machine guns in the late 1860s and early 1870s. His designs were eventually overshadowed by other early pioneers of multi-barreled or multi-firing weapon systems such as Hotchkiss, Gatling, Gardner and Maxim. Although some example are known in significant museums throughout the world his designs never became a big success and any surviving example known today is extremely rare. The weapon basically functions by simply moving the side mounted crank handle backwards and forwards. The initial operation of the weapon is by retracting the crank handle to the rear, this movement retracts the breech bolts rearward, which in turn allows five rounds to drop from the gravity feed hopper magazine located on top of the weapons (which is missing) through the cutouts on top of the receiver/top cover, which position the rounds behind the barrel/chambers. Upon pushing the crank handle forward, this advances the breech bolts, which chambers and fires the five rounds. The operation is repeated with the addition of the extraction and ejection function for each cartridge. The speed or cyclic rate of firing appears to be determined only by how fast the operator can move the crank handle forward and backwards. Whew! That wore me out just thinking about it. The original nomenclature plate that was affixed to the top of the rear section of the receiver is missing however it has been hand stamped on top of the brass breechblock "PALMCRANTZ, NORDENFIELD/LONDON ENGLAND/ MAXIM./ 1873". Note the anglicized name Nordernfield and the reference to Maxim as the gun was designed by Helga Palmengrantz who patented the design in 1873. The firm was merged to become "Maxim Nordenfelt Guns and Ammunition Ltd." in 1888. The same firm housed the famous machine gun Sir Hiram Maxim, inventor of the infamous Maxim machine gun. The weapon itself is all machined steel with a "U" shaped metal frame in which the five barrels are mounted in parallel, with a brass breechblock, dual sights, (one on each side) with a single large elevation knob mechanism on the left side with a large hand-cranked, worm-gear driven traverse mechanism on the bottom of the gun. The weapon is currently mounted on remaining portion of a naval lateral swivel base and wheel, that are made of naval bronze and the gun appears to be Spanish 50/70 caliber. The bronze base has broken off the ship's deck and mounted on a period wooden base which is still quite solid. This weapon may seem crude by today's standard but you have to remember this was 1873 and the US Ordnance Department had just adopted the 1873 single shot Trapdoor rifle! This lot is accompanied with a large amount of historical data that has been gathered over the years by the consignor to include a photo-copy of the original military treatise on the use of Military Machine guns as written by Thorsten Nordenfelt in 1884. In this document he compares and contrasts his weapons operation, feeding mechanism, caliber, and employment in both a land or Calvary version as well as a naval version; to the other multi-shot weapons during this time such as the Hotchkiss, Gardner and Gatling. This military treatise by Nordenfelt is very detailed and descriptive in that it depicts all of the various other Nordenfelt weapons system and how they can be used or employed in both a fixed, army version as well as several naval versions of both the multi-barreled and single barreled weapons. Also included are numerous copies of various line drawings and schematics from the US Ordnance Department, from the late 1800s and early 1900s, that show the overall weapon and firing mechanism in great detail. Thorsten Nordenfelt actually developed numerous versions of this weapon, (many depicted and described in his military treatise) to include single, 2, 3, 5, 6, 10 and 12 barreled versions of this weapon that ranged in caliber from 45 through 1inch Naval cannons. However with so many different variations being listed, there are only a handful of examples remaining throughout the entire world with most being in military museums. In fact the consignor has correspondence with both the Ministry of Defense (Enfield Pattern Room) and the National Parks Service/ Springfield Armory National Museum, seeking information on this rare weapon as well as to the availability of extra/spare parts. The Enfield Pattern Room, responded that they only have two "regular" British service weapons in their collection, one in caliber .45 and one in 1" and were sorry to say that they had never seen this early example of a Nordenfelt weapon, indicating in the correspondence that they would consider this a "Prototype" version and they had not been able to locate a weapon of this type over here, (the writer assumes, throughout England and or Europe). The Springfield Armory Museum indicted that they have a single, three barreled and a single five barreled version of the Nordenfelt weapon and that no two were alike! A similar gun is in the USMC museum in Quantico, VA should parts need to be copied. A very rare, early machine gun from the Bannerman collection.
BBL: 26 inch round/octagon
Gauge: 44
Finish: blue
Serial Number: NSN

Very good overall with a heavy old dark brown/black patina on all the metal parts, the remaining portion of the carriage and wooden stand also have a very old, and heavy dark brown/black patina finish overall. It should be noted that there are some parts missing from this rare weapons, which appears to be the breech bolts, and some internal firing mechanism parts as well as the side mounted crank handle and top mounted hopper feeding mechanism. However as noted there are numerous copies of schematics, line drawing, and pictures from the examples in the Enfield Pattern room museum, that someone with a little ingenuity and design ability should be able to recreate some of the missing parts by using a topflight machinist! This is certainly a rare weapon that is almost never seen today outside of any major military museum, that would certainly be the center piece of any advance, military collection today.