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A single shot Martini Henry sporting rifle in .45-90 winchester calibre manufactured, retailed by James W. Rosier, Melbourne, approximately 1870s.
The Martini action was developed by Swiss engineer, Friedrich von Martini (1822-97), though had resemblances to, and may have been influenced by the Peabody action of Henry Peabody. The action consisted of a lever that extended along the stock behind the trigger which, when pulled forward, dropped a sliding ramp through which the only recently developed metallic cartridge ammunition could be slid down and into the chamber.
Although limited to still being single shot when, by the end of the century most rifles would hold magazines of multiply rounds of ammunition, it was a robust and popular mechanism that was used for the better part of two decades after its adoption by the British military in 1870, and numerous adaptations of it were introduced on civilian sporting rifles, such as this one.
A solid, yet still elegantly engraved sporting rifle of the 1870s and 1880s, slightly finer in its engraved work than the similar rifle listed here in .577 calibre. Also interesting is the adoption of an American calibre - .45-90 Winchester - rather than the more common British calibres of .577 or .442. Nonetheless, a style of rifle referred to in Australia as 'Kangaroo rifles', though undoubtedly they might have been used for any larger game, including imported deer.
This particular item has a slightly interesting history for me, as I had coveted it at an auction several years ago, but my attention had been on another item and I had to let this one pass. It subsequently went through a few hands until it ended up with a collector friend of mine. His interests really lay in another area, and knowing of my likely interest in it, offered it up. It is now stands as an interesting variation to my small sub-collection of sporting Martini rifles retailed by Rosier.
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