Antique, Fine Flintlock Fowler, Outstanding, 7.5-Feet Long! Amazing Condition
British Lock Marked Grice within Rococo Ribbon, William Grice, Circa 1760-1770
Birmingham and London, Worked 1766-1777
EX Glode Requa Collection
A very fine Queen Anne fowler of extraordinary length; elegant architecture and
extraordinary original condition. Featured are full-length carved walnut stock featuring
competent relief shell carving and scrolled tendrils centering the engraved breech tang;
wonderful color and patina; the stock is without compromise. Brass furniture includes a
vacant escutcheon [thumbpiece] displaying a panoply of arms, flags and helmet. The
trigger guard and buttplate display fine engraving and are identical [slight engraving
differences] to that which is published on page 172 of Tom Grinslade’s Flintlock Fowlers
– The First Guns Made in America, American Fowling Pieces 1700-1820. (Scurlock
Publishing, 2005) The lock with sliding safety and semi-waterproof pan is also congruent
to the book plate example although the engraving of signature is stylistically different.
The .69-caliber barrel measures 72 3/8 inches in length; overall: 88.75-inches; full
length steel ramrod. The barrel displays and overall smooth plumb-brown color and
features rococo style engraving at the breech. British proofs include a “crown over WG”
centered by “crown over V” and “crown over P” within recessed sawtooth oval cartouche.
This fine original and beautiful fowler is outstanding in all aspects.
William Grice, a wealthy gunmaker who, according to his will, owned property on Bull
Street and Sand Street in Birmingham; also, property in Wednesbury (where iron was
smelted), and a mill in Coleshill…and likely had an office or shop in London. Historical
authorities usually claim that gun making only came to Birmingham in 1690; so if, as is
likely, William was the William, son of John Grice, gunsmith of Handsworth, who was
baptized at St. Mary’s Handsworth on 24th March 1715, the youngest of four children,
then he came from a family which dealt in gun making from the beginning. John Grice’s
will of 1744 (he was buried on 27th November 1745) leaves his eldest son, Joseph, a
house, the gun barrel business and a farm, and his unmarried daughter a house in
Lichfield, but to the next son he leaves £10 and to William only £6 15s. It would
therefore appear that William Grice made his own way, and he is likely to be the “Will
son of John Grice of Handsworth”, who was apprenticed to a locksmith, John Smith, in
Birmingham in 1730, as we know that John Smith made gunlocks.1.
1. William Grice the Gunmaker and His family by Jane McArdle)