Alex Henry is one of the greatest names in 19th century Gun making. This prolific gun maker is best known for his rifling system which was used in the ubiquitous Martini-Henry fielded by the British Army in the Zulu War. Henry's passion and interest was in rifling systems, he was a keen experimenter as well as target shooter and competed to a very high standard in target shooting matches in order to demonstrate the capabilities of his designs.
Alex Henry Rifles - History & Overview
The three grove rifling system used in the P53 percussion Enfield rifle of the British Army was just one design of Alex Henry replacing the two groove systems used before and extending the range of the military arm. When breach loading rifles became a necessity for Armies all round the world Henry submitted his own falling block rifle for testing by the British Army. The falling block design by Alex Henry was an excellent and robust gun made in differing grades and calibres and able to withstand huge big-game cartridges. Unfortunately for Henry, the rifle was not adopted in favour of the Von Martini design action which was hammerless, quicker to shoot and simpler to mass produce, Henrys rifling system, however, was very much liked and this seven groove design became the Henry of Martini-Henry.
Alex Henry's life is a fascinating study to the firearms enthusiast, being appointed 'Gun and Rifle Manufacturer to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. His Royal connections didn't end there however as he was commissioned by Queen Victoria to build a presentation double rifle for her personal servant John Brown. Henry was also the "First Volunteer" of the Queen's Edinburgh Rifle Volunteer, as well as being admitted into the Royal Scottish Society of Arts. In his spare time Alex Henry fathered nine children with his wife Isabella.
Alex Henry Rifles in our 18th June Sale
Our upcoming Arms and Militaria sale features two superb Alex Henry Rifles.
The first a .577/450 Martini action carbine, serial number 6050, with an unusually short 21" round barrel, file engraved top flat fitted with five folding leaf sights graduated from 100 to 500 yards. The action with safety catch bearing maker's name 'Alex.r Henry Edinburgh and London', profusely engraved along with trigger guard, loading lever and butt plate, decorated with fine scrollwork and cartouches. The carbine has a beautifully figured chequered pistol grip stock and forend complete with ramrod and two sling eyes. Fitted into a Westley Richards oak case with brass cartouche reading 'Earl of Morton Conaglen Ardgour N.B.' the inside lined in green baize bearing Westley Richards label, fitted with glass oil bottle, leather strap, cleaning rod and one dummy round.
Alex Henry Double Rifle
The second rifle included in our upcoming sale is a fabulous cased .450 3 1/4 double rifle, serial number 6803. With 28" Damascus barrels file cut top ribs engraved Alex.R Henry, Edinburgh and London, maker to their Royal Highness The Prince of Wales and Duke of Edinburgh' as well as 'Made for R.B. Rodda and Co. 7&8 Dalhousie Square Calcutta' retailer.
The barrels with sling swivel and doll head extension, fitted with fixed triangle rear sight with folding 200-yard leaf, the front sight blade complemented by a folding white dot leaf, swing latch forend, Anson & Deeley's patent action engraved with grapes and vine leaves, chequered pistol grip terminating with oval disk cap containing trap, the figured stock mounted with silver escutcheon and sling swivel. The Crocodile skin case stamped with the rifle's serial number, calibre, charge and bullet type, the inner oak case lined in read baize bearing maker's label and fitted out with a plethora of cartridge reloading tools including de-capping, priming tool and bullet seating tool, bullet sizing and seating tool, three powder measures, wad punch, bullet mould, turned boxwood box numbered to the gun containing spare firing pins, front sight, also a leather pouch with pull-through cleaners, cleaning rod with jags and mops, two snap caps, screwdriver, stuck case cartridge extractor, cartridge crimping tool and G&J.W Hawksley oil bottle.