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Help with Lee Enfield Mki* de-activated rifle


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Lee Enfield Mk.1* Rifle.

 

Can anyone offer me any advice on the following?

I would like to purchase a Lee Enfield Mk.1*, de-activated rifle, as I believe it is the weapon my Grandfather would have been issued in the Boer War?

I have enquired about several, to no avail, but have been offered one recently. I have been told it is totally original and from my limited knowledge seems to meet my criteria?

The present owner has sent me pictures, it has magazine cut off, safety catch back of bolt, brass butt storage for oil bottle and pull through, good woodwork, volley sights, etc.

The questions I would like members help on are the following.............

1.The owner says the woodwork is "fruitwood", I thought more likely it would  have been walnut?

2. The owner thinks the rifle is dated to 1899, but isn't sure, however I understand Mk1* 's were only made from August, 1899 to 1903, is that true?

3. On the wrist of the rifle, it is stamped BSA Co.,  and Victorian proof mark, but no year stamp? Someone told me that it could have been an officers private purchase and therefore would not be date stamped, is that true or just sales talk and would this affect the value?

4. I asked if it was all matching numbers? The seller wasn't sure where it should be stamped, i.e. bolt, sight, receiver, etc. Can anyone tell me where this rifle model would have been stamped?

5. There is no chain to secure the magazine to the rifle, does that matter?

6. Can anyone tell me what I should be paying for this rifle, the asking price is £1,100.00p, does that seem fair?

7. Would a Lee Metford pattern 1888 mk.1,  2nd. type bayonet attach to this rifle, if not what type would I need and at what cost?

8. Are there any other questions or things I should be asking or looking for to validate this rifle?

I would, greatly appreciate any help or advice anyone can offer me on the above and anything else I should be checking with the seller.

Thanks in anticipation.

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The rifle was in production from 1899 to 1905

Stock should be walnut

Pattern 1888 bayonet is correct for the type, prices vary but around £100 should get you a goodish example

The wrist marking should have Crown, V.R. date and L.E. 1*, possibly lack of date may mean private purchase or militia weapon, not 100% sure on this. Normally military marked and issued rifles command a premium.

Would say is is rare to find a chain still fitted.

As to price, as always you need to shop around.

 

Mike.

 

Edited by MikeyH
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Hi Mike,

Thank you for the help.

I have two SMLEs, a 1914 all matching numbers and a 1918 all matching numbers. Both have crown, GR date and mk111 and mk111* respectively. That's why I was confused at there being no date mark on the Mk1*. Do you know of any way I can find out if it was private purchase? What do you mean by "militia" weapon. Also what are the military marks and "issued" you mention?

I know it's difficult on price, but can you indicate what price range the Enfield Mk1* should fall within?

Hope you can help?

Thanks again,

Eddie

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Eddie,

It would be nigh impossible to find out at this distance in time if the rifle was originally a private purchase.  The county Militias were originally formed as Volunteers and the weapons would have been privately purchased and funded (I have an 1871 Snyder breech loader, ex Militia, to full military spec. with very few markings).  They later become known as Special Reserves and after 1908, were disbanded or formed into the Territorial Force.

 As you know military grade weapons are subject to more rigid proofs and upgrades and carry many identity marks.  Sometimes like my 1916 Lee-Enfield, even a brass butt disc with Regimental details. 

 

 Anything is worth exactly what the buyer is prepared to pay.

 

Mike.

 

Edit.  Have just seen a trade ad for one marked to 'The Essex Yeomanry' at the figure you mention.  But this dated 1898.

Edited by MikeyH
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It may just have been purchased as a target rifle, I have a BSA 1898 non charger loading Long Lee, that is nicely marked 'Parkers' (makers of very nice shooting equipment) along the bolt cover.  Full military spec' but the closest that ever came to a member of the Volunteers, Militia or Regulars was if the shot alongside one on the range.

 

To my mind a rifle in target configuration is probably rarer than a bog standard military issue.

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Hi Eddie,

Have just had a quick look in the Lee Enfield by Skennerton. As an example he pictures a BSA Lee Metford which has no Royal Cypher or date but Lee-Speed Patents above the BSA mark. He gives an example of the British South Africa Company buying several thousand of these commercial models of Lee Metfords, so one can suppose that all kinds of people / organisations might have bought commercial Lee Enfields. I tend to take a peek at the markings when I am at militaria shows, and these BSA commercial ones are not uncommon, and often in very good condition. Don't know why that is, maybe the loss rate was not as high as with military issued ones (which I guess were also moved on after British service). 

I suppose £1100 is a typical top end price for a good weapon, as prices seem to have climbed over the recent years.

Have attached some pics of my 1897 LE I example marked to the Naval Division, and converted to CLLE I* spec in 1908.This came back to Britain from Australia in recent times, for what that's worth!

Cheers,

Tony

 

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Hi Mike, T8Hants and Tony,

Thanks for the info. I have seen pictures of the rifle for sale. Everything looks good, i.e. volley sights, safety catch on rear of bolt, etc. Can any of you tell me where the serial numbers would be stamped on a Mk.1*?  As you all point out, price is not the most important thing, but if I'm paying "top end", I would like the real thing?

Tony, thanks for the pictures, looks like a super rifle?

Thank you all, again.

Eddie.

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The serial numbers on an MLE will be stamped along the right side of the receiver, on the bolt handle, and also on the rear-sight.

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Dear Shipping Steel,

Thank you for that. They didn't stamp the wooden stock, near the piling swivel, as my Sht. LE 1914 is?

Eddie.

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