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A Manton For A Would-Be King

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Prince Frederick Augustus, the Duke of Albany and York, was the second son of King George III of Great Britain. When he took command of the British Army in 1795, the 32-year-old prince embarked on a course of military reforms that prepared the British Empire's forces for success in the Peninsular War with Napoleon Bonaparte.

While touted in American newspaper accounts as the candidate in a highly placed government plot to establish a "king of the United States," Augustus never made the jump across the Atlantic to become ruler. But as an avid hunter and sportsman, the Duke of York possessed one of the better arms collections in Europe, among the notable prizes being this John Manton single-barrel fowling piece. A light, 16-gauge shotgun well balanced for waterfowling, this flintlock was not one of the many arms sold at the 1827 Christie's auction of the late duke's possessions, which included daggers and a silver-mounted blunderbuss that had belonged to Tipu Sultan, as well as other guns owned by Napoleon.

This flintlock is part of a collection of 2,200 guns on daily exhibition in the galleries.

Reprinted from America's 1st Freedom, January 2009.