Some of the most beautiful work of this craftsman, and many others, are in this book “Liège Gunmakers through their Work. 1800 - 1950”.
For more detail see: LIEGE GUNMAKERS
Reflections on a rifle of Michel BERLEUR
A little history
The rifle of Versailles was manufactured in 1793 by the workshops which were going to become the Manufacture d’armes de Versailles.
This weapon intended for the army is considered of a quality higher than the others lawful weapons of the same time.
It is the director Nicolas BOUTET who is already at the start of this realization because it knew to recruit high level workmen, in particular in Liege, Guillaume BERLEUR is the most known example.
The weapon is produced in two versions of which the only difference is the length, that is to say 125 cm for the infantry and 78,6 cm for the cavalry.
Only the rifle of cavalry will become lawful in France.
Its barrel is with eight sides and it weighs 2 kg 500.
The barrel of 13,5 mm gauge is slightly in the shape of tromblon with the mouth and is striped with the step of 67 cm, of seven stripes out of turrets approximately a 6 mm depth.
The lock is with hammer swan neck, the small basin out of brass and the battery with light retroacts.
The iron rod is relatively thick for an obligatory loading with the mallet with a piece of skin, which for a rider could appear to be an impossible mission.
In short, although very precise, this rifle was little appreciated French riders.
It’s a copy of Liège freely inspired by the rifle of Versailles.
The barrel is short and the short stock is with cheek, it ends in a plate out of brass. The overall length is 76 cm.
The barrel octagonal is slightly tromblon and is of a gauge of 17 mm to the mouth. Its thickness with the mouth is of 6 mm.
It carries 7 stripes on the right, they have 2 mm of depth and 2,5 mm from broad at concave bottom.
It measures 38 cm except tail of breech. It is fixed at the barrel by a screw with the tail of breech, cross dowels and a screw through the nasturtium, under the rod.
The trimmings are also fixed by cross dowels.
The rise is with two layers and the back sight out of brass.
The iron rod, head of nail, under the barrel is with beam to avoid the loss with the combat.
The lock with flint models AN IX is round, with flat hammer and heart. It is engraved in English letters M. BERLEUR fct d’armes à Liège, marks which according to certain authors would have been deposited in 1810?
The small basin and it against-platinum or carries screw are also out of brass.
The brass trigger guard is with volute of the same type as that of the Austrian rifle model 1789.
Few markings on this weapon, to note however on the barrel three cartridges in hollow with letters in relief are PD - D and I, also the figure 11 and simply struck one V.
Their significance is unknown, can be for us act of markings of the gunner and markings of workshop?
Let us note the absence of punches of the proof house of Liege indicating that it is about a weapon manufactured before 1811.
The proof test house was established in 1811 in Liege suburb Saint Léonard under the cane of eprouvor LALOUX.
Commercial Michel BERLEUR of weapons to the bridge of Isle was at the time candidate assistant syndic. Besides he became it in 1815.
Michel BERLEUR was active in the hotel of the noble state in Liege in Vinâve d' Ile of 1780 to 1815. He worked in liaison with his brother Guillaume, who himself was active 1780 to 1840. The period of manufacture of this weapon perhaps estimated between 1800 and 1810 whereas that of the rifle of Versailles was abandoned in 1799 already!
Let us specify that at the time only manufacture of the weapons of war was accepted by the French empire. The present rifle thus corresponded well to the French requirements but in the absence of specific punches, nothing enables us to affirm that it was adopted by the soldiers.
"L’industrie armurière liégeoise et le banc d’épreuves des armes à feu de Liège" – Jos. FRAIKIN – H. VAILLANT-CARMANNE - 1940.
"La Gazette des armes" n° 207 – 289 -
Guillaume BERLEUR was a famous Liège arms manufacturer Liège whose activity extended from 1780 to 1840. He worked with his brother MICHEL.
At the Revolutionary period in LIEGE, the gun trade was controlled by the French military and activity was quite reduced. Around the 1800's, many Liege arms workmen were sent or went voluntarily to the Manufacture of VERSAILLE, instead of serving a mandatory military service in the ''Grande Armée'',
Therefore, G BERLEUR worked under direct control of Director Artist Nicolas BOUTET.
After the Revolution BERLEUR settled in a property recently acquired in Vinâve d' Ile in LIEGE.
In 1810 he deposits his mark: G Berleur, engraved in cursive letters on the lock of his guns.
He manufactured bayonets while also dealing in firearms.
The two flintlock pistols in the photographs have ''blunderbuss'' type barrels and 1st EMPIRE style type stocks with a splendid gilded thumb piece . All accessories are also made of brass.
I did not see any mention of any stamp or marking on the photographs. Also I cannot know the calibers nor if the gun is smoothboree or rifled (hair rifling??common at the time).
In fact the rifling of the barrel are so fine that they are called ''hair rifling".
Photographs pleasantly authorized by Collectors Firearms
Another pistol of Berleur.
This one is with double gun, double trigger and double lock. The grip is finely squared and of the trimmings in relief are affixed under the wood of the barrels. The trigger guard and the lower part of the pommel of grip are also engraved.
Fine Liege made flintlock pistol Ca. 1780/1800, octagonal barrel nicely decorated, caliber 14mm.
It carries the signature of Michel Berleur, a Liege manufacturer specialized in high quality guns, more specifically pistols. The walnut stock goes to the end of the barrel, it is finely checkered in the grip part and polished on the rest. The ramrod goes through two cylindrical parts. Overall length 40,5 cm.
Many thanks to "ARSENAL.DE" for the pictures.
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